Walking the length of Paseo de Montejo might not immediately strike you as a super kid-friendly activity, but we are going to challenge this view here. I say everything is fun for kids if you make it fun (and no, that doesn’t mean bribes, don’t heckle me in my first paragraph).
Paseo de Montejo is Mérida’s Champs-Élysées. Named after the Conquistador who founded the Colonial city of Mérida (atop the Maya city T’hó, ahem). It was constructed by hacienda owners and wealthy business people in the late 19th-century as somewhere for them to congregate and live together. Today it is an eclectic mix of museums, boutique stores, and eminently accessible cafés and restaurants. With its wide sidewalks, it’s the perfect place to let the kids explore safely.
For the purpose of this article, I took my two children and their best friends and instructed them to (demanded they?) have fun while walking the length of Paseo de Montejo, and let me tell them historically interesting things. I followed them with my wallet and a camera.
We began at Café Tala on the Remate de Paseo (don’t forget to poke your heads into the attached Hotel Casa San Ángel) for Pay de Elote – it’s a super traditional and extremely delicious cake – oh, look a cultural activity already!
Before leaving the Remate, the kids wanted to have a quick climb on the grassy sides and have their photo taken with Señor Herrera Álvarez: you’ll know him when you find him.
Next, we climbed on the incredible tree roots outside Cafetería Impala before chatting about the historical and modern significance of the Monumento de los Montejo. The kids were initially not very interested, but by turning facts into stories and asking questions, I soon sparked enough discussion that we almost missed the cute, new, teeny-tiny nature garden opposite (made possible by Proyecto Santa María).
Once we had removed the children from a tree, they headed for Tejón Rojo, a boutique store that will fill everyone with delight and offer fun souvenir options. Rudely, the children didn’t ask to stop at either Casa Chica or Hennesy’s for a refreshing alcoholic beverage, so we carried on walking.
Cielo, the famous hammock store, provides a good blast of AC and is a fun place for the kids to persuade you to buy a hammock that is as ethical as they come.
If the small people are flagging already there are good drink options in Zinc, Hennessy’s (they welcome children), and Choco, a Chocolatería. Or you could persuade them on a little until you reach the iconic Dulcería y Sorbetería Colón where the traditional sorbets will refresh you instantly. This is what we did. If that isn’t what you’re after, there’s an Oxxo convenience store, a Korean restaurant, and a small juice bar coming up.
Of course, once you’re done with ice cream, the kids will immediately demand to check out the wild and crazy Galerías El Triunfo. On this occasion, we escaped with just a photo outside, but it’s absolutely worth a look inside. Keep walking on the same side and although you can’t go in, do point out the five decaying houses that look over an empty parking lot. They’re beautiful enough that kids will even pause long enough to look at them.
The final (or midway) point on this city-stroll is the Monumento a la Patria, the giant roundabout, which you can visit once you’ve sat in the famous Yucatecan Confidente chairs and taken your photo with the mini-Mérida letters. Everyone has to have at least one photo taken on this stunning, hand-carved monument, but do take the time to really look at it with the kids for it tells stories of the history of México. See what the kids can pick out – there are gods, important figures, references to Yucatecan nature, and around the back, carvings for each Mexican state.
So what didn’t we do on our walk?
Well, we didn’t go inside any of the incredible museums, we didn’t enter boutique stores like Casa T’HŌ – my kids simply can’t be trusted – we marched right on by, and we didn’t grab a Marquesita, which surprised me.
Activity Tips: Saturday night is Noche Mexicana here where you’ll find dancing, music, food and artisan stalls. Sunday morning is Biciruta where the length of Paseo de Montejo (and more) is closed off to vehicles. Rent a bike or bring your own, and cruise the road on two wheels.
Nature Tip: As you walk, keep your eyes peeled since there is a surprising amount of nature on this urban road. Look out for the stunning (and sometimes climbable) trees, some even bearing fruit.
Get your kids to check out the main monuments dedicated to:
- The Montejos: this monument is historically and culturally fascinating as it remembers the two Montejos who founded the city (father and son). It was recently painted during feminist protests.
- Felipe Carrillo Puerto: a famous politician and journalist from nearby Motul, who is famous for attempting reconciliation between the Mexican government and the Yucatec Maya after the Caste Wars.
- Doctor Justo Sierra O’Reilly: a Yucatecan writer and historian.
- Quinta Montes Molina.
- Palacio Cantón, the Anthropology Museum.
- Montejo 495 (also known as the Casas Gemelas or twin houses).
- Cacao Museum.
Editorial by Cassie Pearse
Freelance writer and blogger, born in the UK. Cassie has a BA from Oxford University and an MA from SOAS, University of London. She lives in Mérida and loves exploring Yucatán with her family.
Photography by Cassie Pearse, Ernesto Ancona, and Sorbetería El Colón for its use in Yucatán Today.
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