Mexico City is a vibrant city full of life, tasty food, and cosmopolitan neighborhoods. Read on for things to see in Mexico City and where to stay in Mexico city.
Mexico City is open for business and welcoming travelers with open arms,” says Paula Feltrin, the Director of Marketing and PR at the St. Regis Resorts in Mexico.
Mexico City Earthquake
Mexico City and the surrounding areas suffered a devastating 7.1 magnitude earthquake just a few years ago. It killed more than 200 people in Mexico and toppled dozens of buildings. While some areas were hit badly, all the main tourist areas have been repaired. The airport was only closed for a few hours the day of the quake and most museums and cultural attractions reopened soon after and were approved as structurally sound.
With no doubt, one of the best ways to help citizens is by traveling to Mexico City and supporting local businesses, such as hotels, restaurants, museums, parks and attractions,” says Feltrin. “Though some buildings did get affected, especially in Condesa and Roma neighborhoods, restaurants are open for business and in need of support from diners.”
Vibrant Mexico City
The Mexican economy depends on tourism, so planning trips at this time, will help the country. Plus a visit to Mexico City will very likely change your opinion of Mexico (one of “dangerous” places or Cancun spring-break beach parties). Last year, the New York Times named it the number one place to go. That hasn’t changed. The city is thriving, cosmopolitan, and vibrant. With a rich colonial history, upscale neighborhoods, world-class museums, and an amazing food scene, the modern metropolis is a refreshing and exciting escape.
Things to see in Mexico City
Mexico City (aka CDMX, Ciudad de Mexico, or DF, Distrito Federal) is one of the cheapest capital cities in North America. From the U.S. flights are cheap (my round trip from Chicago was about $300) and on the ground, food is plentiful and extremely affordable. A nice dinner with drinks for two can be $50 or less.
The Neighborhoods of Mexico City
One of Mexico City’s biggest draws is its collection of unique neighborhoods, or colonias. The historical center of the city, is the Zocalo (main square), a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It encompasses the sprawling Constitution Plaza, where you’ll find the palace and massive cathedral. Discover the ruins of the cradle of the Aztec empire at Templo Mayor.
Spend some time in Chapultepec, the city’s enormous park (it’s twice the size of New York’s Central Park). Inside you’ll find the colonial castle, the zoo, museums, and tons of gardens, forests, and ecological reserves.
Polanco is arguably the fanciest of them all, with incredible restaurants, cafes, and hotels. I stayed here and loved it. The main drag, Avenida Presidente Masaryk, is like Michigan Avenue or 5th Avenue, but on steroids. It just kept going and going with some of the most high end shops around. The wealth here was quite astounding. I loved wandering the side streets with all the modern cafes and parks.
Spend an afternoon strolling around the more bohemian neighborhoods of Roma and Condesa, full of cafes and boutiques. Grab lunch at the trendy Mercado Roma, a food hall with numerous counters to tempt your taste buds. Watch the sunset with a mezcal cocktail atop the nearby chic Condesa DF Hotel.
A little further south is the charming San Angel with its cobblestone streets, art galleries and markets. Come on Saturday for the bazaar and browse lots of art, handicrafts, jewelry and more. I loved strolling the back streets to see some of the beautiful, vibrantly painted colonial homes. Also the Museo Casa Estudio Diego Rivera y Frida Kahlo is nearby.
Outside of the City
For a fun afternoon venture a little bit out of the city head to the floating gardens of Xochimilco Mexico City. If you are looking for some more history, go see the ancient city of Teotihuacan, home to pre-Columbian pyramids. It’s about 25 miles northeast of Mexico City. Here’s how to actually get to Teotihuacan from Mexico City.
What to Eat in Mexico City
The food here is rated as some of the best in the world. Suffice it to say, the food was my main motivator for visiting and now just one of many reasons I will return. I’ve dedicating another post entirely to what to eat in Mexico City. But for now, here’s a beautiful teaser:
Mexico City Arts
With more than 150 museums, 100 contemporary local art galleries and 30 distinct architectural and historic sites, the city is a mecca of fine art and treasures that speak to its vast history. Mexico City is the capital city with the most museums in the world including the well-known Museo Nacional de Antropología and Frida Kahlo Museum.
Bicycling in Mexico City
For a great overview, take a Mexico Bike Tour on a Sunday, when the Paseo de la Reforma closes to traffic and masses of families and locals come out to enjoy a car-free ride on a sunny day.
Break from Mexico City
If you feel like you need a break from the world-class museums and archaeological sites of Mexico City and you are interested in a more relaxing, beach-style experience, head to Cancun for a few days. This popular spot is full of beautiful beaches, stunning hotels, vibrant nightlife, and very convenient transportation. City Car Rental will save you time so you can spend more time at the beach relaxing.
Where to Stay in Mexico City
Las Alcobas, a luxury boutique hotel in the upscale Polanco neighborhood, is the perfect home base for shopping and eating around the swanky area. The modern 35-room hotel offers a butler with your stay to tend to any needs. Contemporary rooms come with hardwood floors, floor to ceiling windows, handmade soaps, and a fancy touchscreen “command center” from which you can control climate, music, lighting, and the curtains. But it’s the warm and approachable service that really sets them apart.
The top-rated, five-star St. Regis Mexico City towers above Paseo de la Reforma, the European-style wide thoroughfare that cuts through the heart of the city. The plush hotel is the perfect place to recharge from the humming city outside. It delivers on all points: highly appointed rooms, a large spa and pool, huge gym with great views, and multiple restaurants. Enjoy the bountiful breakfast buffet on the delightful, sunny outdoor patio.
For more, see this article which I wrote for Luxury Las Vegas Magazine on Mexico City.
Disclosure: During part of my stay in Mexico City, I was hosted by Las Alcobas and the St. Regis. As always, all writing and opinions are my own.