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3 spots to explore in Mexico City

Whether you are visiting Mexico City for the first time or you live there, nothing will stop you from being amazed by its many wonders.  The city is very attractive due to its great diversity of environments and dynamics full of life, culture and fun. Of course, there are areas and neighborhoods that are the most touristy and representative within the city, but if you are one of those who likes to explore the small nooks and crannies and immerse yourself in the culture like a local, this list is for you.

 

1. Santa María La Rivera 

If you like small, not-so-touristy places, Santa María La Rivera is definitely for you. It is a friendly neighborhood that feels like a small town within the city and is characterized by its great sense of community.

At the beginning of the 19th century it was a part of the suburbs, and it was not until the middle of this century that it was considered the second neighborhood to be integrated into the urban layout. Its maximum splendor was reached at the beginning of the 20th century, which is why here you will find beautiful architecture corresponding to the era. A clear example is the Institute of Geology museum, which on the façade shows details of fossil remains and inside there is an interesting Art Noveau style staircase that is completely dismantled.

Another of its most representative buildings is the Chopo University Museum, known at the time as the crystal palace for its large windows and, like the stairs of the previous building, its structure can be disassembled as if they were Lego pieces.

One more example of this architectural skill is the iconic Arab kiosk that is surrounded by a beautiful park and is the heart of Santa María la Ribera. Various artistic and cultural events have been held there and, until recently, it was a very popular place for the traditional quinceañera photo. Plus point: it is removable, too!

After walking through its colorful streets, you can delight in its varied gastronomic offerings that cover different cuisines: both regional and foreign. One of the most interesting is Estanquillo El 32, which works mostly with local producers. But if what you want is a good coffee, one of the best options will be Camino a Comala, where you can enjoy excellent coffee from different regions of Mexico. Of course, don’t forget to take our  Traditional to Contemporary: Santa María´s Hidden Gems tour where you can learn more about Mexican gastronomy and try the gastronomic secrets that this neighborhood has waiting for you.

 

Traveler tip: Visit Santa María La Ribera on the weekend to enjoy its family atmosphere, sit on one of its benches in front of the park and eat a delicious snow cone or buy one of the various Mexican snacks such as elotes, esquites, chicharrones or fruits with chili powder. To do this, we recommend that you consult the previous Street Snacks note which will serve as a practical guide to identify the most popular options.

You can’t miss in the area: La Dalia is a popular market where in addition to various personal and household items, you can find flowers, fruits, delicious aguas frescas and traditional fondas, which are small restaurants that offer homemade food at an affordable price.

2. Historic Downtown Area

In addition to its emblematic buildings and museums, you cannot miss the different places to appreciate the oldest and most charming part of the city. To begin, we recommend the Monumento a la Revolución, which has a museum, cafeteria and amazing views in its special viewing area.  It is ideal to visit this area in the evening.

The Torre Latinoamericana was the most emblematic building in Mexico City in the 1960s and is very popular for its famous viewing area.  However, if you want to avoid long lines we recommend visiting its restaurant and enjoying its Mexican breakfasts or having a drink in the afternoon.

Be sure to also visit one of the restaurants overlooking the Zócalo of Mexico City, our recommendations are the Gran Hotel of Mexico City, which also has a beautiful lobby built at the end of the 19th century and Balcón del Zócalo which offers excellent gastronomy.

 

Traveler Tip: The Historic Downtown Area is one of the busiest neighborhoods in the city so there will always be someone wanting to cross the street before you. Even if you have the green light indicating you can go, it is better that you make sure that the cars have come to a complete stop, as well as turning to both sides before crossing the street.  This since many cyclists do ride their bikes in the opposite direction of the street.

Not to be missed in the area: If you are a person who enjoys food, you cannot miss our tours to two of the most emblematic markets of the Historic Downtown Area: Journey Through La Merced Market which is the second largest market in Mexico City, and the Gourmet San Juan Market considered a place that has a wide variety of unusual products.

 

3. Chapultepec Park

With its more than 600 hectares, Chapultepec Park is very well known for housing the largest and one of the most important museums in Mexico City, which is the National Museum of Anthropology. However, if your interest focuses more on art, we recommend the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Museum of Modern Art, as well as their recurring outdoor exhibitions which are displayed on the fences that protect this enormous park.

If nature is more your thing, be sure to visit its beautiful botanical garden, walk through its hills and lose yourself for a moment in its audiorama, the perfect space to rest. If you want a peaceful moment, make sure you visit this section during the week, since the weekends tend to be very crowded.

The Bosque de Chapultepec is an excellent option if you come with children as there are countless vendors with toys and soap bubbles that will make your visit a magical moment. Children and adults can enjoy different activities such as painting, rowing on the lake, entering the zoo and playing in peace.

 

Traveler tip: Remember to drink enough water to stay hydrated, use sunscreen and bring a cap or hat with you as it will be a long walk if you decide to visit this place.

Not to be missed in the area: One of the best ways to learn about the culture of a place is through its food tradition, so you cannot miss the Cencalli Museum, whose relevance lies in exposing the different cuisines of the native peoples and the important role that corn plays within them.

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