Mexico City Weekend Getaways
An easy flight from the U.S. by air, and you’re in one of Latin America’s most exciting cities. Beyond the Aztecs, Diego, and Frida, a new generation of artists, architects, chefs and hoteliers are embracing the D.F. and transforming its many neighborhoods—and the towns beyond city limits. Take off and see what this burgeoning Latin American culture scene is all about.
Cultural Adventure in Tepoztlán
An hour due south of Mexico City in the shadow of the Tepozteco National Park, the tiny village of Tepoztlan offers everything from artisanal shopping to cooking classes.
Parque Nacional El Tepozteco: Hike to the Tepozteco Pyramid about two kilometers straight up for a small Aztec relic and fantastic views over the valley below.
Town Market: Each Saturday the entire town center of Tepoztlán becomes an open-air craft and food market.
Ex Convento de la Navidad: Declared a UNESCO heritage site in 1994, this convent was built between 1555 and 1580.
Cooking Classes: Chef Ana Garcia offers Mexican culinary immersion days in the shadow of the mountains. Calle Aniceto Villamar, 62520; lavillabonita.com.
Tubo Hotel: A groovy hotel made of concrete “tube” rooms (literally concrete tubes, stocked with beds, and minor amenities), each stacked in pyramids that also allow onsite camping. Tlacaltipac Glorieta Km. 17 S/N San Sebastián, 62520; tubohotel.com; doubles from $30.
Romantic Getaway in Mexico City’s Coyoacán Neighborhood
Once the edge of Mexico City, Coyoacán is now in the southern central area of the DF. Absorption into the city hasn’t diminished the charm of the cobbled streets, filled with centuries old churches, tiny artisanal markets, and art museums.
La Casa Azul: Known as “The Blue House,” artist Frida Kahlo’s former home and studio have been a museum since her passing in 1954. Spend the afternoon browsing the marvelous permanent collection. Londres 247, Del Carmen; museofridakahlo.com.
Museo Diego Rivera-Anahuacalli: About ten minutes south of Frida (take Av Division del Norte) Diego Rivera has his own space, as he did in life. His former studio, and his enormous collection of pre-Columbian art, are housed here. The space is open also to music, dance, and other cultural events. 150 Col. San Pablo Tepetlapa; museoanahuacalli.org.mx.
Plaza Hidalgo and Jardin Centenario: The two squares that anchor this old community are filled with artisanal crafts on Saturdays. Go early for deals.
Museo Leon Trotsky: Explore where the Communist exile settled upon fleeing the Soviet Union in 1936. Viena 45, Col. Del Carmen.
Mercado de Coyoacán: Dozens of farm-fresh stalls filled with colorful piles of everything from freshly harvested avocado to grasshoppers to tostadas stuffed with beef or octopus. Ignacio Allende, between Malintzin and Xicoténcatl; open daily, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Casa Piedra: This six-room luxury bed and breakfast brings a modern touch to a traditional Coyoacán home. Doubles from $125; Cerrada del Pedregal, 82; Col. Santa Catarina Delegacion; (877) 662-6988; bedandbreakfast.com.
Family Getaway in Mexico City
Mexico City isn’t just a playground for adults. The city is ripe for a visit from the youngest set.
Papalote Museo del Niño: Designed by architect Ricardo Legorretta, this interactive wonder has a day’s worth of science, technology, art, and film activities designed to appeal to all ages. Av. Constituyentes 268, Daniel Garza, Miguel Hidalgo; papalote.org.mx.
Parque Zoológico de Chapultepec (Bosque de Chapultepec): Open since 1923, and famous for its Russian Pandas, this ecological park was upgraded in the ’90s. Paseo de la Reforma S/N; sedema.df.gob.mx.
Museo del Templo Mayor: Introduce the kids to archaeology and Mexico’s rich past with this indoor/outdoor museum that lets families walk through an open-air archeological dig. Seminario, 8; Centro Histórico; templomayor.inah.gob.mx.
Las Alcobas: Check into these accommodations with great little family-friendly amenities, including a spa and well-stocked, and free, minibars in each room. Masaryk 390, Polanco Chapultepec; lasalcobas.com; doubles from $330.
Affordable Getaway from Mexico City to Tlaxcala
Two hours due east of Mexico City, go where the students go to hang out (with free wifi in the public square!), see contemporary art, visit ancient archeological mysteries, and meander streets filled with great Mexican colonial architecture of the 16th century.
Museo de Arte de Tlaxcala: A well respected cache of Frida Kahlo paintings hang here, along with a great contemporary Mexican collection. Free on Sundays. Plaza de la Constitución 21.
Museo Vivo de Artes y Tradiciones Populares: A museum for those who want to understand Mexican village life, along with traditional art demonstrations, and a next-door-artisanal market. Blvd. Emilio Sánchez Piedras 1 esq.; 1° de Mayo Centro.
Zona Arqueologica de Cacaxtla: See the best-preserved murals from the era before the Spanish conquest, and the pyramids of the Zona Arqueologica de Xochitelcatl. Circuito Perimetral S/N, San Miguel del Milagro.
Walk from Plaza Juarez to the Legislation Palace to Parroquia (Church) San Jose, the historic center of Tlaxcala historic center. Outside San Jose lies the Plaza des Armas, the central plaza of this small city.
Hacienda Xalostoc: This charming 16th-century hacienda-turned-guesthouse was completely renovated in 2000. Revolucion 13, Centro Txacala; haciendaxalostoc.com; doubles from $75.
Mexico City Tour of Centro Histórico
Basilica de Guadeloupe and the “New” Basilica de Guadeloupe: Sixteenth century Mexico faces 1970’s Mexico in these companion Roman Catholic churches, both of which are pilgrimage sites. Believers swear the virgin appeared to Juan Diego, a Mexican peasant, in 1531. His coat is on display here. Plaza de las Americas, 1.
Murales de Diego Rivera in the Secretaria de Educacion Publica: Artist Diego Rivera’s first murals (painted between 1923 and 1928) hang in this former convent for public viewing. Republica de Argentina, 28, corner of San Ildefonso Street.
Museo Jumex: This gorgeous and squeaky new (opened November 2013) contemporary art museum designed by David Chipperfield Architects has set the global art world in a tizzy. Think not Aztecs but Cy Twombly. Miguel de Cervantes Saavedram, 303; Colonia Ampliacion Granad; fundacionjumex.org.
Museo del Juguete: Not just for the kids, this toy museum is a bizarre and enchanting collection of play things—and the largest collection of its kind in the world. Dr. Olvera, 15, Col. Doctores CP; museodeljuguete.mx.
Broka Bistrot: Seasonal, fresh, nouveau Mexican cuisine. The menu changes daily – at night it is a fixed meal of 10 tapas, during the day it is a four plate prix-fixe – but locals swear the sandwiches often served at lunch are the best in the city. Zacatecas 126, Col. Roma; 55-4437-4285; brokabistrot.com.
St. Regis Mexico City: Luxe urban elegance in the heart of the city with a decadent, onsite, Rémede Spa to sooth the weary traveller’s skin. Paseo de la Reforma, 1; 52-55-5228-1818; starwoodhotels.com/stregis; doubles from $250.
Hiking Iztaccíhuatl Volcano
For the truly courageous there is Iztaccíhuatl (43 miles southeast of Mexico city). This dormant volcano—the third highest mountain in Mexico—is recommended for the heartier, experienced climber. Elevation hits 17,126 feet above sea level and the terrain ranges from scrambling over rock fields to ice climbing, depending on the time of year.
La Arista del Sol, The Ridge of the Sun: Like Everest, every mountain has its recommended paths. This is Iztaccihuatl’s ascent; it can be done in a day, but altitude may make visitors think twice about racing to the top without acclimating.
Hacienda Panoaya: Before you begin, fortify at this hiker-favorite B&B with an on site restaurant that prides itself on its volcano views. Nearby hikers can also load up on snacks at the Amecameca open-air marketplace. Carretera Federal México Cuautla Km. 58, Amecameca; 52-597-978-5050; haciendapanoaya.com; doubles from $65.
Alpine Ascents: An outfitter based out of Seattle, Washington, will take hikers from Mexico City to Iztaccíhuatl on a multi-day, guided tour of the volcanoes of Mexico. The cost is $3,200, which includes all gear, guides, park permits, meals, transfers, and lodging. alpineascents.com.
Italian Trek: This outfitter will do the trip in shorter, less expensive bursts (though still over the course of at minimum two days or three for altitude acclimation) starting at $600 for one person, or $480 per person for two people, which includes guides, ice climbing equipment, and park permits. From three days the price also includes lodging. italiantrek.com.
Altzomoni Hut: At 12,500 feet above sea level, this acclimating base camp hostel has basic bunk beds and bathrooms. Cost is nominal, and usually covered by in the guide price.