Culture, vibrant traditions, friendly people, and lots of flavor is what you will find in the beautiful Aztec City. Just a short 3 hour direct flight from Skyharbor International Airport, Mexico City is not a place where you will be easily bored. The city counts with a wide array of museums (over 150) and a varied selection of activities to do year-round. Among its more popular museums are the Museo Nacional de Historia (National History Museum) found in the Castillo de Chapultepec, the Museo Nacional de Antropología (National Anthropology Museum) and the Museo del Templo Mayor (Main Temple) which is right by the Plaza de la Constitución or Zócalo in the main square in downtown Mexico.
The history of Mexico City is vast as it dates back to 1325 when Tenochtitlan was founded by the Aztecs and later captured by the Spanish in 1521. I don’t want to talk to you about history though. Instead I want to share my experience visiting this city and tell you about some of the neat activities and places that might not be traditional tourist attractions for Americans…but more of what Mexicans enjoy doing in the city.
My first stop, Polanco! For those of you that have not yet visited this breathtaking city, Polanco is about a 20-30-minute cab drive east of the airport (depending on traffic of course). As a rule of thumb, when taking a cab at the airport, always take an authorized cab. This means, purchase your cab ticket inside the airport opposed to hailing a cab outside. Cabs to Polanco run about $250 pesos or $13 dollars.
Every Mexican knows that the most cosmopolitan part of the city is Polanco. Polanquito (little Polanco) is in the heart of Polanco and is reduced to a few streets (most knowingly Masaryk Ave.) that are filled with high end designer shops, boutiques, restaurants, coffee shops and Lincoln Park. Yes, Lincoln Park named after, you guessed it, Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln Park was the first park designed for this neighborhood and is surrounded by some of the first colonial houses built in this area. The name of the park was said to be given due to the great appreciation Mexicans felt for Abraham Lincoln as he was opposed to the Mexican-American War. The park of course, has a statue of Abraham Lincoln as well as one of Martin Luther King.
If you are a foodie like me, you will absolutely love this city for its exquisite cuisine and world known restaurants and chefs that are in this posh district. Included are Quintonil, Pujol, and Biko all of which are in the top 50 restaurants worldwide according to Eater and The Worlds 50 Best Restaurants for 2016. Across from Lincoln Park you will also find some other delectable and well known restaurants in the area such as El Japonez (teppanyaki), Ivoire (international cuisine), Tori-Tori (sushi), Brassi (Mediterranean), and Bec (French) all of which are staples in the city and where you will find crowds of locals enjoying hour long meals and drinks with family and friends. Polanquito is a sight that is not always visited by American tourists, but should be enjoyed either by day or night given the delectable restaurants, vibrant energy and ambiance it transmits. You will not be disappointed in spending an evening in this lively area.
La Monumental Plaza de Toros Mexico is the largest bullfighting ring in the world! It seats around 48,000 people and is a must if you are visiting Mexico. Bullfighting, although claimed to be a blood sport, is a tradition and cultural expression of many countries including Mexico. Tickets range anywhere from $10 up to $100 depending on the season and bullfighters. There are two seasons, the smaller one commencing in April/May and the big one around September and going through March. This is an activity that isn’t available anywhere so when in Rome…!!!
A gem for me in the City of Mexico is its numerous amounts of plays. If you enjoy a good Broadway show or other types of plays, this city is comparable to New York City south of the border. There are musicals, monologues and adaptations in the cities’ hundreds of theatres, and if you know a little Spanish, I am sure you will find a play that is of your liking. You can find these on Cartelera de Teatro and if you are lucky, you might be able to catch an actor/actress leaving the theatre and take a picture with them too!
I believe this is a well-known tourist attraction, but let me tell you a bit about Xochimilco. In Xochimilco you will get in a trajinera or canoe and go through its canals as would the mexicas in the pre-hispanic period. You can enjoy Mexican folklore music with some drinks as well as some very traditional food such as quesadillas with cheese, (yes, you do have to specify you want them with cheese!), tlacoyos which are another typical meal that consists of oval shaped dough that is thicker than corn tortillas with a variety of toppings such as huitlacoche (corn smut), nopalitos (prickly pear), cheese, beans, or other ingredients. So tasty!
If you happen to find yourself in this city on a Sunday and want to take a stroll in a bike, Paseo de Reforma is where to do it. Mexico’s main avenue (modeled after Champs-Elysees in Paris) closes the street to cars from 8AM – 2PM every Sunday so that people and families can ride their bicycles and skate throughout the heart of Mexico. You can find bike rental stations throughout the avenue or at BicibusDF which offer low cost hourly rental rates. Reforma has some of the most beautiful monuments in the city including The Angel of Independence, most commonly known by El Ángel and others including, Niños Héroes, Monument to Cuauhtémoc, Christopher Columbus, Simón Bolívar, Diana the Huntress Fountain, and Monumento a la Revolución. Whether you go bike riding on a Sunday or not, Paseo de Reforma is a must see when visiting La Ciudad de México.
For additional Mexico City pictures, go to the Photography page.
What are your Mexico City favorites? Let us know in the comment section below.