I am a big believer in the mind-expanding power of travel and the health benefits of vacation. Vacations have been proven to increase overall health and wellness countless times. So, if you haven’t taken one for a while- DO IT! Even just a quick, inexpensive weekend trip to a cabin, beach, lake, desert, mountains.. whatever it is thats close to you and accessible. There are so many reasons not to that we tell ourselves.. time, money, kids, pets, etc etc etc. But guess what? Screw it. If money is the issue, set a few bucks away with every check that is your vacation account. If time is the issue, make more of it. If kids are the issue- find a sitter. Trust me, you will be glad you did.
I have heard many great things about Mexico City and it did not disappoint. I am fortunate to live in San Diego just 25 miles north of the border. Even in a border city where things are basically bilingual and weekend trips to Baja are the norm, its easy to develop preconceived notions of Mexico. Mexico City or CDMX, for short, is a game changer. This sprawling metropolis of 25 million people- yes you read that right- 25 MILLION is a behemoth that will take multiple trips to fully appreciate. Luckily, its an inexpensive and quick 3 hour flight from San Diego or Tijuana. Think of CDMX as like visiting New York. Its so big and there is so much to see that there is no point in killing yourself trying to see and do it all. Just tell yourself you’ll be back soon and pick out the things that really interest you. The streets are clean, lined with massive trees, fountains and statues.
For such a huge city the people were polite and friendly.
I recommend finding and AirBnB in the neighborhood of Polanco. This is the “Beverly Hills” of Mexico City. Its safe, walkable an near the other hot neighborhoods of Condesa and Roma. Getting from place to place takes a long time as the traffic is horrendous and public transport is a no-go so just factor that in to your plan. We used Uber when needed and it worked out great.
We spent the first day exploring Chapultapec Park (think of Central Park) along with Chapultapec Castle built by Emperor Maximilian in the 1860’s. The site of tons of history, its also on a hilltop providing breathtaking views over the forested park and the skyscrapers of Reforma. We bar and restaurant hopped the rest of the day (the food scene here is OUT OF CONTROL amazing). This trip basically became a eat and drink everything in site and, oh ya, there is culture to partake in too!
Normally, Im not one for those corny city tour double decker bus things. But, with this being such a massive city, it was a great call. The hop-on, hop-off set up allowed us to stop in different neighborhoods knowing that we could just catch the next one that came on by showing the driver our bracelet/ticket. We made stops in Reforma, Condesa and the Zona Historica the site of the main cathedral built upon an ancient Aztec temple. We wrapped up the day with cocktails and one of my favorite meals at Comedor Lucerna. So delis and inexpensive.
Again, normally Im not one to spend an inordinate time in museums on trips. I really enjoy being out amongst the people and feel like time away from that is not the best use of it. This was an exception. The Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim built and stocked a world class art museum named Museo Soumaya in honor of his late wife making it free to the public. This architecture was so funky and cool. I loved how the contemporary outside contrasted with the countless Monet, Rodin, Manet, Picasso, Degas, Gibran….. etc etc etc. It was incredible and I’d go back again for sure.
Markets or “Mercado’s” abound and there are famous permanent markets all across the city. Much to the chagrin of my travel companions, I was pumped to go explore them. Im a sucker for a good “antique” market and we found a great one called mercado de cuauhtémoc.
All kinds of people bring their wares to bargain and banter. It was like the most amazing garage sale you have ever been to smattered in with art for sale. I ended up buying a couple of pieces I will get framed that I am super excited about! We wrapped up the day back in Polanco for a Flower Festival. All the swanky shops in the neighborhood do massive outdoor flower instillations. We strolled around a bit and then found a great outdoor bar to have drinks and do some hard core Polanco people watching. The main thoroughfare is basically the Rodeo Drive of Mexico and it could go toe-to-to with Beverly Hills.
I can’t wait to go back and eat more! I guess I should do some other things too though.. Frida Khalo’s house is still on the list as are a few more markets. Also, a day trip outside the city to the pyramids or the town of Puebla would be great too. I speak fluent Spanish so that helped but, honestly, it wasn’t crucial. If you stick to the neighborhoods I recommended, most of the restraints have some staff that speak the basics and go with an AirBnB host that speaks English as well. As always though, learn some Spanish basics. Its not only fun but also respectful to at least try to speak when engaging with the locals. You will be welcome warmly in CDMX- a ti te prometo!