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Mexico City: A Whole New World Awaits

by Tonya Kerr

QUICK FACTS

HYATT REGENCY MEXICO CITY:

  • Two-hour flight (999 miles south of Houston)
  • Transportation options include taxi, Uber, Lyft, Metro/Subway approx. 30-45 min
  • Downtown high rise overlooking Chapultepec Park
  • Solarium swimming pool and outdoor sun deck
  • Teppan Grill tableside Japanese cuisine
  • Institut Esthederm Spa
  • Located in upscale Polanco Bureau of Mexico City
  • 24-hour concierge service (transportation, tickets, etc.)
  • Babysitting service
  • Multi-lingual staff

Family-Friendly MEXICO CITY:

  • Teotihuacán Pyramids- Built around 100 BC, and often compared to ancient Rome, these pyramids and architectural marvels were built before the Aztecs arrived and are often referred to as the Birthplace of the Gods. 
  • Frida Kahlo Museum- A colorful, whimsical and historic house museum dedicated to the life and work of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo.
  • Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe- Mulit-complex shrine built in 1500’s; a world-renowned pilgrimage site for Catholicism. 
  • Chapultepec Zoo and Park – A free zoo in the Chapultepec Forest/Park. The park also has activities like paddle boats, playgrounds, daily markets, eateries and free performances.
  • La Dulcería de Celaya- World-renowned, family-owned candy shop opened more than 150 years ago.
  • Inbursa Aquarium – One of the largest aquariums in Latin America.
  • Six Flags Mexico – The only Six Flags park in Latin America.
  • Granja de las Americas (“The Americas Farm”) – An elaborate learning museum for children.
  • Papalote Museo del Niño – An interactive museum designed for kids with a focus on science and technology.

 

Flying just two hours south of Houston will transport your family to a “whole new world.” Yes, Mexico City is a great family-friendly destination and probably one of my biggest travel surprises in years.  

Easily on par with New York, Los Angeles or even Hong Kong, the world’s seventh largest city (by population) bustles with every modern convenience coupled with an incredible history and welcoming people. And when it comes to a big-city vacation, Mexico City is one of the most affordable out-of-the-country vacations for families.

Southwest Airline’s “wanna-getaway” fares can go as low as $101 one-way, and you can’t beat the convenience of Houston’s International Terminal at Hobby Airport with four direct flights per day to Mexico City. Once you land, Uber can get you downtown for US$15.  It’s a 10-mile ride, but with constant traffic where stop signs and red lights are only suggestions, don’t even think about renting a car. Leave the driving to the pros.

My parents, who honeymooned here in the 1960’s, traveled with me and were constantly flabbergasted by the growth of the city still surrounded by the familiar mountains and foothills.  We booked two nights at the Hyatt Regency Mexico City overlooking the nearly 1,700-acre Bosque de Chapultepec (translation: forest of the grasshoppers), which is twice the size of NYC’s Central Park, complete with winding walking paths, bicycle rentals, paddle boats, street vendors, museums, a zoo and even a castle.  We could have stayed here for days.

The Hyatt’s staff and amenities were on point, and the concierge desk helped us book tickets to attractions with our own private car and driver.  We drove an hour outside of Mexico City and climbed the Teotihuacán Pyramids, which were built about 100BC— before the Aztecs arrived to build the city above intricate canals still used today.  We popped by the whimsical house of Frida Kahlo and the food and retails markets of Coyoacán, an artsy and upscale borough of Mexico City lined with shops and galleries.  

Historic architecture and lush parks make each car ride feel like its own entertainment, but one of the most awe-inspiring churches was undoubtedly the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Millions of Catholics have made the pilgrimage to see the Tilma of Juan Diego at this national shrine since the early 1500’s. 

The lights and energy in Centro Histórico (the historic old town district) were mesmerizing as we ducked into Azul Historico for dinner where the chef prepared multi-course meals combining ancient and modern recipes as we sat under the stars. For dessert, La Dulcería de Celaya’s tamarind bars mixed with sugars and peppers lived up to their 150-year-old reputation. 

The sense of history and community was strong everywhere. Many Texans commute here for work, and the expat community welcomed us with plenty of “howdy’s.”  Because our U.S. dollars go further here, a name-brand bottle of water or even a beer at an upscale restaurant is a fraction of the price we would pay in the States.  If you’re only staying a few days, as with any foreign country, drink bottled water until your body has time to acclimate.

Safety is the other public relations hurdle for Mexico City, but despite the politics of the border and news reports of cartel, we felt as safe in Mexico City as any other large metropolis.  We saw neighbors helping neighbors, engaging law enforcement and top-notch tourist areas.  

A two-night stay wasn’t nearly long enough to visit everything on my Mexico City bucket list, but it’s good to know there’s an affordable option for a quick weekend getaway south of the border.

 


INTERNATIONAL TERMINAL at HOUSTON HOBBY AIRPORT 

Since Southwest Airlines opened Hobby’s International terminal three years ago, Houstonians now have more affordable opportunities to explore the world outside the U.S.A. “LUV” is the perfect description for the hassle-free experience with less-crowded, recently updated immigration and customs areas that are fast and family-friendly.  Appealing kiosks, restaurants and gift shops, plus a number of new gates and 10 possible international destinations, make the new International Terminal an easy and pleasant start to a new family adventure.

Caribbean

  • Aruba, Dutch Carribean  (AUA) seasonal
  • Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands  (GCM)
  • Montego Bay, Jamaica  (MBJ)

Central America

  • Belize City, Belize  (BZE)
  • Liberia, Costa Rica  (LIR)
  • San José, Costa Rica (SJO)

México

  • Cancún  (CUN)
  • México City (MEX)
  • Puerto Vallarta (PVR)
  • San José del Cabo (SJD)
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