Image showing several bright yellow, red and blue flat-based canal boats lined up along the canal, with trees overhanging the water

Mexico City with kids: A Guide (2024)

Mexico City (or CDMX to the locals) has a reputation as a slightly crazy place, so it was a bit daunting planning a trip with the kids. So is Mexico City family friendly? What is there to do in Mexico City with kids?

One thing we’ve discovered on our travels with the kids is that the boys (and us!) really need downtime every few days to just chill out. Being on the go constantly is hard work (even as an adult). There is so much to take in when you’re travelling to new places all the time that I think it can get a bit overwhelming at times. We are definitely a slow travel family!

So spending a few days in a notoriously crazy busy city might not seem like the most obvious way to chill out, but we definitely needed a few days where we did a bit less.

We only really did a handful of things in our 5-6 days in CDMX (considering the ridiculous amount of stuff that we COULD have done – the list is endless). If you’re thinking about a family trip to Mexico City with kids, then below are our personal highlights!

Sign outside the entrance to the Frida Kahlo museum in Mexico City, saying Museo de Frida Kahlo, surrounded by bright flowers

Where to stay in Mexico City with kids

I was really relieved when we checked in to our Airbnb in CDMX and discovered that it was a) lovely and big, b) had a fab roof terrace space and c) was pitch black at night and REALLY quiet (despite being right in the centre). The apartment turned out to be really good value for CDMX at £60 a night. It was right in the heart of the Centro Historico so just steps from some of the major sights and sounds of the area. And also close to the Metro for when we wanted to travel a bit further afield.

There were several little restaurants and cafes nearby as well as bakeries and mini-marts for picking up essentials.

The other popular areas to stay in Mexico City – particularly for families – are Coyoacan, Ploanco and Condesa. We spent the day in Coyoacan with the kids and really loved it. It’s definitely worth checking out as a good base in Mexico City with kids.

How to get around Mexico City

The Metro system in Mexico City stretches pretty far and wide across the city. It’s also one of the cheapest in the world! It has had a reputation for being a hotbed of pick-pocketing and general crime. However, we didn’t experience any issues at all during our stay. We did try to make sure that we travelled outside of peak times to make sure it wasn’t too busy, so we didn’t really experience any crowds (except for on the overland train back from Xolchimilco on the Friday afternoon, which was busy but manageable).

You need to buy either a paper ticket from one of the ticket windows, or a Metro Card (10pesos) that you can top up. We opted for the cards. As we were staying for a few days they seemed easier to manage for multiple journeys. You can top them up at the machines as well as the ticket booths.

One fun thing for the kids about Mexico City’s metro system is that all the stations are both names and depicted by a symbol. The boys loved checking out the symbols for each station and checking out which ones we were getting on/off at each day.

On the platforms at the Metro stations there are pink gates towards the end. These sections are for women and children only. If you’re travelling with kids or in a female-only group and feel a bit nervous you can head down to this section.

Lucha Libre at the Arena Mexico

Wrestling ring in arena with around 15 wrestlers in it, with two referees standing to the edge of the ropes

One of the things at the top of the list was a Lucha Libre bout at the Arena Mexico. We’ve been to a few local wrestling shows at home which the boys absolutely loved so we definitely wanted to get the full Lucha Libre experience. We arrived on a Tuesday and as they have shows on a Tuesday and Friday each week we opted to go that first evening. 

It was a LOT of fun! The Tuesday night shows are less popular than the Friday evening so we had a big choice of seats (which we were able to buy at the ticket counter on arrival). They were on the floor but not too close to the front so came in at £30 for all four of us. Even the floor seats are tiered at least a bit so the boys were fine in terms of a view.

We got there early so it was a bit quiet at the start. There were four bouts in all, and by the time we got to the third the place was about half full so the atmosphere was pretty good. There were a couple of tag team bouts, then a full blown Royal Rumble style one involving about 20-25 wrestlers, which was both a complete spectacle and hilarious. The gymnastics on display were just amazing – huge leaps out of the ring, some spectacular flips and all kinds of flinging each other around. There was of course also the whole good guy vs villain dynamics going on too so the crowd (including us!) were quickly involved in cheering/jeering/chanting. Although the boys got a bit tired by the headline bout (which was another tag team, but with what I assume were more famous wrestlers!) we had a brilliant time and would definitely recommend booking tickets if you’re in Mexico City with kids.

The Arena Mexico is in the Doctores area of CDMX which is notoriously dodgy, so we got an Uber there and back (which was a bit hectic trying to find at the end but still felt much safer than walking back to the Metro).

You can book a tour that takes you to a Lucha Libre show via GetYourGuide – however, when we researched this option most of the tours seemed to be more geared towards groups of adults than families.

Museo del Arte Populare

We headed here as it had been recommended online by several different ‘Mexico with kids’ type blogs and it was definitely worth a visit. The exhibitions are really bright and colourful and take you through Mexican history, art and myths. I (obviously) loved the exhibition dedicated to the afterlife and Mexico’s celebrations of Day of the Dead.

Colourful sculpture of peacock with it's beak open

The boys really enjoyed the ‘Fantasy’ exhibit with it’s sculptures of mythical creatures and artwork depicting the devil. Some of the sculptures are really impressive and because they were so colourful and full of myths and fantasy elements it kept the boys engaged. It was also REALLY good value, coming in at £5.66 for all four of us.

Intricate sculpture made up of hundreds of tiny items in various bright colours
Sculpture of mythical winged cat on display in museum courtyard

A trip to the Xochimilco canals

I’d seen lots of pictures of the colourful boats that cruise up and down the canals here (as well as the macabre Isla de Munecas with all the lost doll parts) and had stuck it on the list for CDMX months ago.

It was a bit of a trek from the Centro Historico where we were staying down to Xochimilco, taking about an hour on a Metro then an overland train (but only costing us £2.80 – return! – in the process. The Metro system in CDMX is one of the cheapest in the world). We headed in to the huge market when we arrived at Xolchimilco to stock up on lunch (as ever, the boys were hungry!).

The market here – as with some of the others we’ve wandered round in Mexico – was enormous and a bit overwhelming. It took a while to get our bearings and find our way around but we came out with some steaming corn-on-the-cob (complete with some unidentifiable sauce in the bottom of the bag – being Mexico, I assumed this would be hot!), a big bag of random sweets (as we can never get the boys past these stalls without capitulating), a stack of fruit and one giant cheese quesadilla (and I mean giant, it fed all four of us with plenty to spare)

Bright yellow, red and blue flat bottomed canal boats lined up on the edge of a wide canal in Mexico City

It was about a ten minute walk from here down to the Embarcadero spot for the canal boats – there are signs everywhere so it’s not difficult to find, and it you stop for a split second a helpful passerby will assume you are looking for the boats and point in the right direction!

After a bit of negotiation (as the initial price they quoted was a LOT more than we were expecting) we managed to get a boat for £23.50. It was only us on board so it was quite nice to have so much space to ourselves. The initial part of the canal cruise was a quiet drift along, then we seemed to join the bigger main canal which was pretty full of boats. Initially I was a bit put off by how busy it was, but after a few minutes I actually really enjoying the sights and sounds of the other boats – some had full mariachi bands on board playing music, others were birthday parties/hen parties with music blaring out, then there were smaller boats selling everything from cocktails to cooked food and souvenirs. I know this sounds very touristy but it was a really fun atmosphere and most of the boats seemed to be occupied by locals rather than tourists (we’d been told by our Mexico City native friend that the canal boats were where groups of friends would go down to on a Friday after school/university/work to have a few drinks).

View from the front of a canal boat drifting along the canals in Mexico City. Scene shows the front tip of the boat then a wide expanse of green water with other colourful canal boats to the left and trees overhanging the waterways

The cruise lasted about an hour, and although we didn’t get to the weird Isla De Munecas we did see a lot of random doll parts decorating parts of the canal, so I was happy. No axolotl spottings though for Angus (there are very endangered now so we didn’t really expect to see any!)

Check out the reviews of the canals here on TripAdvisor for more tips and info. You can also book pre-arranged tours via GetYourGuide here if you want to go for an option where everything is organised for you!

Mistu Cat Cafe

Mistu Cat Cafe was the unexpected star attraction of our visit to CDMX (at least for Griff and Angus anyway). Steve likes to have a google of local attractions near to each place we stay and this came up – we went on the day we arrived in CDMX and the boys loved it so much we had to go back again later in the week! They have 19 rescue cats in total, ranging in age from quite small kittens to older cats (most of the older ones like to perch on the shelves high up and adopt that disdainful air that cats do so well). 


Two tabby cats relaxing on a purple cat bed surrounded by cat toys
Cup of coffee with the smiling cat face drawn in the froth on the top
Two boys sit on the wooden floor surrounded by cats and kittens

They do tasty burritos and snack food and some lovely hot chocolates, as well as a whole heap of cat-related bits and pieces for sale. Lots of the cats were really playful (especially the kittens) and they had lots of cat toys that you could tempt them with. 

Although they were all up for adoption we had to explain to the boys how impossible this was (even though they were desperate to take one home!). We took their maths workbooks and used the cafe as a base for home-schooling one afternoon (on the basis that they had to do their maths before they got to play with any cats!). 

Coyoacan – including a visit to Museo de Frida Kahlo

I’d read that this was a lovely district to wander round, especially on the weekends when the main plaza is full of people/balloons/candyfloss. Which it really was – however, our main reason for visiting (along with lots of other people’s!) was a visit to Casa Azul, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera’s home which has been turned in to a museum. 

Inscription on the bright blue wall at Mueso de Frida Kahlo that states 'Frida y Diego vivieron en esta casa 1929-1954'
Outside view of the oldest church in South America established by Hernan Cortes. Picture shows an old wooden entry door surrounded by a carved facade with yellow pillars to both sides.

In the end, due to my reliance on an outdated Lonely Planet I managed to miss the ticket sales for Casa Azul. They were completely sold out for the next three weeks! Fortunately Steve did a bit of scurrying around online and managed to get me on a bike tour of Coyoacan that included admission to Casa Azul. As there was only space for me, this meant a delicious whole afternoon to myself 🙂

And actually, the bike tour was brilliant – a (very) leisurely cycle round the little hidden plazas of Coyoacan, churros and tacos in the market before ending at Casa Azul. I then got to spend a good 90mins in Frida’s former abode, which was a wonderful mix of information and personal effects. 

Small cobbled square full of greenery with a small restaurant with whitewashed walls and blue windowframes. Mexican paper garlands are strung across the square and people sit outside the restaurant on red plastic chairs.

Being there – especially in the beautiful courtyard garden – really evoked a sense of Frida and Diego’s lives together. 

We booked the bike tour – which included entry to Casa de Frida Kahlo – on Viator here. Highly recommended!

Meanwhile, Steve took the boys to Casa Leon Trotsky for a bit of a whirlwind education on the Russian revolution and the roles of Trotsky, Stalin and Lenin. Griff could reel off a whole load of facts about this when we met in Plaza Hidalgo at the end of the day, so it must have been interesting (definite points for Steve here for some excellent random home schooling).

Two boys stand in front of bronze statues of Frida Kahlo and Diego Riviera in a suqare in Mexico City

Mexico City with kids – the verdict

Yes, Mexico City is MASSIVE and overwhelming, and chaotic, and the traffic is insane. But there is also a huge wealth of things to do and see. Whilst we stuck to dipping our toes in to just a tiny amount of what the city has to offer we really enjoyed our time there. I would definitely love to come back again to dig a bit deeper! It’s so much more family-friendly than you might think. We think Mexico City is a great destination with kids!

A final note – as there was so much amazing art to see in Mexico City we did tag-team our time there slightly on a couple of occasions. If you can wangle any time to yourself I would highly recommend visiting the Palacio de Bella Artes in the Centro Historico to take in all the enormous murals by Mexican artists that line the walls, including several by Diego Riviera (the boys were more interested in the cat cafe!).

Planning a family trip to Mexico with kids?

If you’re visiting Mexico on a family vacation or travelling for longer with kids, check out some of our other posts for inspiration on where to go and what to see!

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