The state of Yucatán, Mexico is a stunning destination that offers an amazing experience for travelers of all ages. If you’re looking for a family vacation with stunning beaches, a rich cultural heritage, and numerous outdoor activities, head to Yucatán. A trip to Yucatán state is sure to please everyone as there are plenty of attractions, adventures, and activities to keep children engaged and entertained. Whether your kids love exploring ancient ruins, swimming in crystal-clear cenotes, or learning about a new culture, a trip to Yucatán with kids is sure to be a memorable and exciting adventure.
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Amazing Things to do in Yucatán State with Kids
1. Explore the historic towns of Yucatán
Mérida is the capital city of Yucatán state and an obvious choice for first-time visitors to the region. The city’s historic center is filled with elegant colonial buildings, museums, and plazas.
Families visiting Mérida won’t want to miss the Gran Museo del Mundo Maya (a museum dedicated to Mayan history) and Parque de las Americas (a great place to run around and play).
If you’re there on a Sunday, join in the Biciruta Mérida where families can rent bikes to ride on the Paseo de Montejo without worrying about cars. There’s also a Museum of Chocolate (C.A.C.A.O) that is sure to be a hit with kids and adults alike!
Izamal is one of Mexico’s official Pueblo Magicos (Magical Towns), known for its bright yellow buildings (the entire town is painted yellow).
There are a couple of historical sites to visit, including the San Antonio de Padua Convent (a 16th-century monastery built on the site of a destroyed Mayan temple) and Kinich Kakmo pyramid (believed to be one of the largest Mayan urban centers during its time). If your kids (or teens) love taking photos, this is the place to go.
Valladolid is another one of the Pueblo Magicos in Yucatán state (Sisal and Mani are the other two). It’s the perfect place to use as a base for exploring the region as it is less than a half hour from Chichen Itza, which means you can arrive before the crowds.
The town itself is easy to explore in a day. Leave some time for visiting the city’s San Servacio Cathedral and the colorful Casa de los Venados Museum. Other nearby places to explore include Ek Balam Pyramid, Rio Lagartos, and El Cuyo.
2. Swim in one of the Yucatán cenotes
A cenote is a natural swimming hole created when limestone bedrock collapses and reveals the groundwater underneath. The water in a cenote is usually crystal clear, offering a refreshing escape from the heat. There are 3,000 cenotes in the Yucatán region, but only half of them are open to the public. Kids will love the opportunity to swim in a cenote and if you don’t have a car, there are many cenote tours. Some of the favorite cenotes to visit in Yucatán with kids include:
- Yax Bacaltun in Homún (there are actually 20 different cenotes in this town)
- Cenote Xooch in Cenotillo
- Cenote Suytun in Valladolid
- Cenote X’batun in Mérida
- Ik Kil near Pisté
- Cenote Samula and Cenote Xkeken near Valladolid
- Cenote San Lorenzo Oxman
3. Visit the archaeological sites of Yucatán
There are many archaeological sites throughout Yucatán, but here are a few that families are sure to enjoy.
As we mentioned, the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza aren’t far from Valladolid. Chichen Itza was one of the largest cities of the Mayan civilization between the 7th and 13th centuries. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is considered one of the 7 Wonders of the Modern World.
Ek Balam is an archaeological site about 30 miles north of Chichen Itza with structures that are equally impressive. The centerpiece is El Torre, one of the largest Mayan structures in the Yucatán.
Located about 90 miles southwest of Chechen Itza, Uxmal was once a prominent cultural and religious center for the Mayans. The site is unique in that it is not laid out geometrically, but in relation to astronomical events.
4. Learn about Mayan cooking with a food class or market tour
What better way to learn about the Mayan culture than getting a hands-on class about its culture and food? There’s a market tour and cooking class in Mérida, and several classes in Valladolid.
5. Head to Pig Beach
This is exactly what it sounds like, pigs wander around this beach near the town of Progreso, and visitors can pet them. If your kids are animal lovers, make sure to add a stop to your Yucatán itinerary.
6. Learn about Yucatán on a vintage Land Rover Tour
Mayaland Adventures offers off-road adventures in a vintage Land Rover and families can explore Uxmal, cenotes, and/or the beach. The company arranges expeditions that include some of the area’s highlights along with a private guide who will tell you about its history.
7. Visting an adventure park
What kid doesn’t love spending time outdoors exploring natural wonders? There are a couple of outdoor adventure parks in Yucatán that would be perfect for families.
Chichikan Eco Tourist Park
Visitors can swim in Chichikan Cenote, visit a Mayan village, and enjoy a Mayan lunch through this tour.
Kaalmankal Adventure Park
Families can have a different view of nature by zip lining, rappelling, and climbing in this adventure park. They can also explore nearby caves and take a ride on a giant swing with epic views of the surrounding countryside.
8. Go paddleboarding at El Cuyo
El Cuyo is known for its beautiful beaches and laid-back vibe. It also is one of the best places in Yucatán to go paddle boarding or kayaking. Several vendors have boards and kayaks available to rent.
Those looking for more adventure should consider a kite surfing lesson. El Cuyo has a lot of windy days, and the shallow water makes it perfect for those wanting to try out the sport. There are several kite-surfing schools in the area that can help you get started.
9. Go snorkeling in Sisal
Sisal is a beach town about an hour from Mérida, and one of the more unique things to do in the area is to go snorkeling in the local mangroves. Several companies offer this as a Mérida day trip.
10. Explore the area’s caves
The Yucatán region has an unbelievable number of caves to explore, and kids are sure to love the opportunity to go underground at one of these unique destinations.
In the southern part of Yucatán state near Tekax, these four caves offer close-up encounters with stalagmites and stalactites. There’s even a chance to rappel into the cave if you’re brave enough.
Also located near Tekax, these caves include a zip line before you descend into the dark caves below and explore the Crystals Grotto.
These caves are about 45 minutes from Mérida, and you’ll have to descend through a hole in the ground to see what lies beneath. This includes thirteen cenotes and stunning limestone formations.
Grottos of Loltún
These caves are the largest cave system in the southern part of Yucatán and have cave paintings, petroglyphs, and seashells. It is an archaeological treasure trove and one you’ll want to visit if you’re exploring the area.
11. Learn about Mayan astronomy at Sihunchén
About 45 minutes south of Mérida is the eco-park Sihunchén. Here families can explore a Mayan observatory and learn about the Mayan calendar and how they used astronomy in their daily lives.
12. Check out the best Yucatán beaches at Costa Esmeralda
The Emerald Coast of Yucatán state stretches 60 miles along the Gulf of Mexico, from Chuburná to Dzilam de Bravo, and offers some of the most pristine beaches in the area. Some of the best beaches for families are Celeste, El Cuyo, and Progreso Beach.
13. Head to the pink lagoons of Las Coloradas
The pink lagoons of Las Coloradas are man-made salt lakes that are pink in color due to a specific type of algae. You can’t touch the water (because it’s a salt production facility), but it’s definitely worth a visit, especially if you combine it with a visit to Rio Lagartos as listed below.
14. Flamingos at Rio Lagartos
Rio Lagartos is about 30 minutes by car from Las Coloradas, so we recommend booking a tour that visits both. At Rio Lagartos you will see over 400 bird species, but the most popular is the pink flamingo. Kids will love seeing these beautiful animals in their natural habitat.
15. Learn about the area’s history at San Marcelino Mayan Village
San Marcelino is a Mayan village that is open to visitors. Here you will meet the 27 Mayan residents who live in the village without influence from the modern world. You will learn about their daily lives, cooking, and traditional Mayan culture. A must for families visiting the Yucatán.
As you can see, there are endless opportunities for adventure in the state of Yucatán with kids No matter the ages of your children, your family is sure to have the experience of a lifetime.