What Does Mexico Have to Offer Your Family?

Until a few years ago, Mexico attracted mostly adults looking for fun in the sun and a different type of cultural experience. With the opening of special children's attractions and resorts with special children's programs, the adults who used to come to Mexico alone are now taking their kids along. Besides the warm climate, beautiful beaches, and cultural activities that everyone can enjoy, you and your children can explore special children's museums, zoos, theme parks, underwater caves, and archaeological sites — you can even swim with the dolphins. These attractions weren't built for just tourists, so as an added bonus, you'll be mixing with the Mexicans and their families.

TRAVEL TIP

If you're traveling with a baby or toddler, you'll find just about anything you may need, including disposable diapers and baby food. Just keep in mind that few hotels offer baby cribs. Since Mexicans travel with their families, you'll find family accommodations in Mexico's major cities and resorts.

Ecotourism

Ecotourism has become a popular alternative to traditional tours in Mexico. With diverse terrain and an abundance of natural resources, you'll find Mexico an ideal destination for experiencing nature firsthand. Until recently, only traditional camping and hiking tours were available. Now, however, integrated tours encompassing not only nature but the cultures of Mexico's many indigenous peoples make it possible for you and your family to experience unique adventures.

Beginning as a grassroots movement, ecotourism now includes many small tour operators who have the support of the Mexican government. Generally, you'll find ecotours are less expensive in Mexico than elsewhere; they also offer a true cultural immersion. Ecotours allow you to experience another ethnic culture, integrating local traditions and festivals. Tour operators conduct their tours with small groups of eight or ten people. Each includes the local foods of the region, along with explanations about how they're prepared.

FAST FACT

An ecotour offers a true Mexican experience while making you more aware of the local plants and animals by having experts on hand to explain them. They also promote the real traditional folk art designs, as tours help provide a market for almost-extinct handicrafts.

Sporting Activities

Mexico offers numerous sporting opportunities for your family, both as a spectator and a participant, including some of the best snorkeling and diving, fishing, and golf in the Western hemisphere, as well as horseback riding, sailing, and parasailing.

For Those Who Just Like to Watch

If you're planning a short vacation in Mexico or you're not much for jumping in and joining in the fun, then perhaps your family might enjoy attending a game of soccer, Mexico's national sport. Most large cities have a soccer stadium with regular matches throughout the year.

If you're in the mind for more traditional Mexican sport, you might attend a charreada, or Mexican rodeo. Held on Sunday mornings, these events feature charros, or gentlemen riders dressed in traditional outfits complete with large sombrero, competing in exhibitions of skilled riding.

And if the charreada is too tame for you, attend a corrida, or bullfight. But bullfights aren't for the faint of heart. They're usually gory spectacles full of pomp and circumstance in which up to six bulls are slain as the crowd yells, “Ole!

Snorkeling and Diving

You'll discover some of the best snorkeling, skin-, and scuba-diving spots in the world off Mexico's 6,000 miles of coastline. Prime under-water sites in Mexico fall into three main categories: the west coast/Sea of Cortés, the Caribbean, and the unique cenotes of the Yucatan Peninsula. On the Caribbean, the clear, warm lagoons of Cozumel, Cancún, and Isla Mujeres teem with tropical fish and incredible coral deposits of intricate formation and colorful hues. Those resorts on the west coast also offer ideal conditions.

Fishing

Anglers from the world over have fallen in love with Mexico. Its coasts offer some of the best deep-sea fishing in the world, and fishermen travel the Baja and Pacific Coasts as well as the eastern Gulf and Caribbean coasts looking for snook, sea bass, dorado, striped marlin, sailfish, red snapper, billfish, and shark. Some experts believe that the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula at Los Cabos offers some of the best game fishing in the world.

Golf

Mexico has become a golfer's paradise. With ideal weather and scenery in both the Pacific Coastal area and the temperate central highlands, golf is a year-round sport, with many exciting and challenging courses laid out by top-name designers.

With more professionally designed courses completed and dozens in development, visitors can putt from Mexico City to Los Cabos and Cancún. The degree of difficulty on Mexico's greens also varies dramatically. From the short, fun courses of Club de Golf Acapulco to Baja's Cabo del Sol Golf Club, there's a golf game for everyone.

Horseback Riding

If you like to ride horses, Mexico offers your family a long tradition dating back to the conquest by the Spaniards. Mexicans are enthusiastic riders — in some cases, a bit too enthusiastic. Unlike gentle group rides that you may have taken on vacations in the United States, you'll find a horseback ride in Mexico to be a more independent affair. Though you may be part of a group, you'll find that your Mexican leaders aren't as watchful as those in the States since accident lawsuits are nonexistent under Mexican law. If you or any of your family members doesn't know how to ride or ride very little, then maybe you should save this activity for another vacation. But if you have riding experience, then there's nothing like a family ride along the beach.

Sailing and Parasailing

The major Mexican beach resorts all offer water-sports activities, including sailing and parasailing. Again, Mexico generally isn't the place to learn these sports. Many Pacific beaches have dangerous lateral currents and undertows, and few have lifeguards. The beaches at Acapulco, Mazatlán, and Puerto Vallarta on the Pacific, as well as Cancún on the Caribbean offer parasailing, in which you participate at your own risk.

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