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The Riviera Maya is an oceanfront located within the Mexican state of Quintana Roo on the Yucatán Peninsula. It stretches from Puerto Morelos, located just south of Cancún, all the way down to Punta Allen, and includes Mexican hotspots like Playa del Carmen, a former fishing village, and trendy Tulum.
When vacationing with your family in Riviera Maya, don’t miss a chance to check out Xcaret Park, located a short drive south of Playa del Carmen. This gigantic waterfront nature park is a dream vacation activity for kids and adults alike, with attractions such as snorkeling, archaeological ruins, swimmable underground rivers, an aquarium, kids play area, shows and performances, wildlife encounters, caves to explore, and even a chapel and Mexican cemetery.
Another popular family attraction in Mexico is the Biosphere Reserve of Sian Ka’an, a UNESCO Heritage Site that’s home to sea turtles, undisturbed land, and hundreds of bird species. Take a tour into the lagoons and coastal wetlands of this beautiful slice of nature for an enriching getaway from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Exploring the caves, underground rivers, and zip lines of Aktun Chen, located between Playa del Carmen and Tulum, is also among the best family vacation spots in Mexico.
Where to Stay
The Riviera Maya is lined with family-friendly resorts to meet all budgets and price ranges. At the Grand Velas Riviera Maya, one of the best resorts for all inclusive Mexico family vacations, families can indulge in luxurious amenities as well as three swimming pools, kids and teens clubs, water sports, and even a baby concierge. The hotel regularly offers unique experiences like tequila tasting classes and even churro cakes for purchase.
Walk the lively Quinta Avenida, the main street of Playa del Carmen, which runs parallel to the beach and is lined with street performers, restaurants, hotels, souvenir shops, and more. While it’s free to stroll the street, you may want to pack your pockets with a few pesos in case you spot a trinket you can’t resist.
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Situated on the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula, Los Cabos is actually two unique towns: Cabo San Lucas, a lively hub for shopping and eating, and San José del Cabo, a mellow pueblo with the historical Misión of San José del Cabo Añuití at its center. Stretching over a 20-mile tourism corridor, the area offers families two distinct vacation vibes.
Los Cabos is beloved for its water sports: think kayaking, waterskiing, windsurfing, and parasailing, which older kids and teens will love. You can also snorkel with hundreds of species of fish at the serene eco-reserve Cabo Pulmo Marine Park. For teens who surf—or want to learn—the biggest waves hit during the summer, especially at Playa Acapulquito. Book a lesson (starting at $79) at Mike Doyle Surf School, located inside the Cabo Surf Hotel alongside Cabo Surf Shop.
Boating in Los Cabos is also a must. Young kids will love the chance to meet other mates aboard the Buccaneer Queen pirate ship in Cabo San Lucas, or you can also take the whole family for a sail on La Princesa, a catamaran that transports you up the Cabo San Lucas coastline to the Santa Maria Cove marine preserve. If you’re lucky, you may even spot whales or dolphins swimming alongside the boat.
Where to Stay
Families flock to Playa Grande Resort & Grand Spa in Cabo San Lucas for its relaxed, oceanfront setting, onsite childcare, and gorgeous pools, complete with a poolside restaurant so you never have to stop the fun in the sun. All rooms are suites and come with kitchenettes and balconies, making for a comfortable family stay.
Everyone raves about the sunsets, but be sure to get up early at least once during your vacation to catch a spectacular sunrise. If you’re not an early bird, you can hit the beach instead: Playa El Médano, near downtown Cabo San Lucas, is popular with families due to its musicians, food stalls, and pick-up volleyball games for tourists and locals.
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Puerto Vallarta is located in Mexico’s Jalisco state on the Pacific coast. Between the hike-friendly foothills of the Sierra Madres and the 26 miles of super-soft sand, you’ll find Puerto Vallarta, a charming town set along the horseshoe-shape Banderas Bay, to have both ocean and mountain diversions for the whole family to enjoy.
Hit the beaches of Puerto Vallarta, try out water sports and other adventures, or tour the cobblestoned city center for a true taste of Mexican culture. Find locally made leather huaraches (sandals) and bright sarapes (shawls) at the main flea market, Mercado Municipal, then head to Basilio Badillo (known as Restaurant Row), where you’ll find the bustling Café de Olla. Stop in for authentic Mexican fare like enchiladas and quesadillas.
You also won’t want to miss El Malecón, a beachside walking district with restaurants, shops, and sculptures. Outside of town, you can take a horseback ride at Rancho el Charro.
Where to Stay
Puerto Vallarta has a variety of highly rated family-friendly resorts to choose from, making it one of the best family vacation spots in Mexico. Most are located on or near the beach. Familiar names like the Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa and The Westin Resort & Spa, Puerto Vallarta make the choice easy, or you can also opt to try the Villa Del Palmar Beach Resort & Spa or Club Regina Puerto Vallarta, both of which have suites with kitchenettes.
Spend an afternoon on the city’s south side at the picturesque Playa de Los Muertos, a bustling beach where musicians and dancers perform.
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Cancún is easily one of the best places in Mexico for family vacation because it’s chock full of family-friendly resorts that offer tons of amenities the kiddos will love. If you want a hassle-free trip, all-inclusive Mexico family vacations are the way to go! Kids will have a blast at the water slides, kids club, and beautiful pools of Cancún resorts.
Plus, Cancún makes for a great base in Mexico, as there are tons of fun day trips within short driving distance, and it’s easy to reach Cancún from most major airports across the U.S.
When in Cancún, Chichén Itzá is a must-see: it’s a 2-hour drive away, but it’s listed among the New Seven Wonders of the World and is one of the most popular archaeological sites still in existence. Visiting is a bit like time-traveling back thousands of years.
During a trip to Cancún, you should also consider a day trip to Isla Mujeres, a small Mexican island located off the coast of Cancún in the Caribbean Sea. It’s home to Playa Norte, a world-renowned kid-friendly beach, and the family can enjoy snorkeling and scuba diving on the surrounding coral reefs. Head to the southern tip, Punta Sur, to visit the remains of a Mayan temple as well as a lighthouse and sea turtle sanctuary.
Where to Stay
Most resorts in Cancún are located on the Zona Hotelera, or Hotel Zone, which is actually a barrier island separating the Caribbean Sea and the mainland. For unending family fun, check out the Seadust Cancún Family Resort, built with kids in mind: there’s onsite shows, performances, zip lining, climbing wall, mini golf, and even a water park called Treasure Island. One visit and you’ll see why Cancún is a favorite destination for all-inclusive Mexico family vacations.
Put on a smile and go grab a photo at the famous “Cancún Spot,” which features a colorful larger-than-life Cancún sign. It’s located on Playa Delfines, a public access beach worth visiting, and makes the perfect backdrop for a family vacation photo you’ll cherish for years to come. The Cancún sign is located near El Rey Archaeological Zone, another super-cheap family-friendly activity, so combine them all for the ideal family outing during your time in Cancún.
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If you’re a family that loves to eat, then you can’t beat a trip to Oaxaca, easily the best place in Mexico for family vacation when memorable food is a must. Graced by centuries-old Spanish architecture and green mountain vistas, this city in the center of the country is known as the Land of the Seven Moles (pronounced MO-lays) because of its variety of delicious sauces. Foodie families will feel right at home here.
In the postcard-pretty Zócalo (the main public square of Oaxaca, with lots of restaurants and historic buildings), spend an hour sipping sweet-spicy Mexican hot chocolate while observing the parade of street vendors selling Mexican goods and trinkets. Stroll Oaxaca’s cobblestone streets on a hunt for tamales de mole negro wrapped in banana leaves, yummy tlayudas, or nieves, a traditional Oaxacan ice cream.
Want to bring Mexico’s delicious cuisine home with you? Get your hands dirty at The Real Oaxacan Cooking Experience, which begins by heading to the local Xoxocotlan market to select fresh ingredients for preparing a Oaxacan feast.
Where to Stay
The upscale Quinta Real Hotel is popular for Mexico family vacations thanks to its onsite pool and outdoor dining options. The Colonial-style hotel is housed in a 16th-century convent, so there’s also educational opportunities attached to a stay here, and it’s well located in Oaxaca to make for easy walking access to many of the city’s best restaurants and attractions.
Head to the colorful, cobblestoned Jalatlaco neighborhood to get a feel for what Mexico would have looked like 100 years ago. Walk the streets and imagine you’ve stepped back in time.
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Tulum's Hotel Escencia
Tulum's Hotel Escencia
Tulum has it all—picturesque beaches, Mayan ruins, and even the Gran Cenote—so it’s easy to see why it’s become such a popular Mexican vacation destination in recent years. Just head south from Cancún, through beach, jungle, and mangrove, and you’ll run into this laid-back beach town.
When in Tulum, don’t miss a chance to learn about the the formerly walled city’s ceremonial buildings and fascinating Mayan architectural ruins, located seaside. The Tulum ruins—called the Zona Arqueológica de Tulum—are among the most popular archaeological sites to visit in Mexico, after Chichén Itzá and Teotihuacán.
A short drive from Tulum, Xel-Há Park is another favorite for families. A natural aquarium where kids can snorkel and swim with dolphins, it’s easy to spend a full day at Xel-Há Park. It has a pretty hefty admission fee ($50 to $97 for children, and even more for adults) but the price is all-inclusive, with all-you-can-eat food and drinks.
Where to Stay
Dreams Tulum Resort & Spa is one of the most popular spots for families in Mexico. All of Tulum’s top attractions are located within a short drive, though you may never want to leave the all-inclusive resort: it’s set on 44 beachfront acres and features a gorgeous pool complex, nine onsite restaurants, and clubs for both kids and teens. The resort even offers babysitting services so the parents can play, too.
Hit the beach! Many consider Playa Paraiso to be the best beach in Tulum, if not the best beach in all of Mexico. The good news is that Playa Paraiso is publicly accessible, so it’s completely free to visit. Playa Paraiso translates to “Paradise Beach” in English, and one look at the flawless white sand, turquoise waters, and swaying palm trees will show you exactly how it got its name.