Finally, the perfect season to visit Yucatán’s archaeological sites is upon us. Days are cooler (though you may find that hard to believe), it’s less rainy (or not at all), and there aren’t as many mosquitos, so your kids will probably have a nicer time. Do consider that the sun is still somewhat extreme and that days are shorter in the winter (only 11 hours of daylight). Are you planning to visit and get a few sites off your bucket list? If you haven’t decided where you’ll stop afterwards for your family to eat and relax, you’re in luck, because I’m about to tell you.
Traveler tip: begin your tour as early as you can—if you’re traveling with little ones, let them sleep on the way there—to beat the tour buses and avoid the masses and the heat while making the most of available daylight. Plus, you’ll be out of the site by noon, a perfect time to grab lunch.
Chichén Itzá + Pueblo Maya
We all want to visit Chichén Itzá, don’t we? An essential stop on any traveler’s first visit to Yucatán; after all, it is one of the new seven wonders of the world. If you want to truly learn about its history, make sure to hire a certified guide by the ticket booth. The site itself is pretty extensive, but El Castillo (where the obligated photos are taken) is the first thing you’ll see going in, and the Cenote Sagrado will be a short walk to your left. In every direction there are constructions worth exploring; my favorite views are the Ball Court and the Group of the Thousand Columns. In the former, children will be able to run around and marvel at the size of the structure (and the height of the hoops!); in the latter, every curious mind will love discovering a “secret” path that takes you to the back of the platform, where even more columns await. See who can spot the most Toloks (iguanas)!
Make sure to be out of the site by 12 pm to avoid the sunniest, most crowded time of the day. Then, you’ll only have to drive one kilometer (less than a mile) to Pueblo Maya, a restaurant where kids can swing in hammocks, walk along the botanic garden (properly labeled for a fun learning experience), check out the handcraft market, and enjoy an all-you-can-eat buffet featuring Yucatecan dishes and desserts while you watch traditional dancers performing live. Bring your bathing suit; there’s also a pool available.
Carretera 180 (or Calle 15), Pisté; 1 km away from Chichén Itzá
FB: Pueblo MAYA
Buffet: $230 pesos per person
Ruta Puuc + La Finca Puuc
Where can we eat if we go to the Puuc Route? Do I have to plan around lunch at Uxmal? These are questions I’ve been asked more than once; the answer is no, and I have Cassie Pearse to thank for the recommendation.
La Finca Puuc is that oasis in the middle of the road where you definitely want to stop after a beautiful day exploring the area’s archeological sites. They serve regional food, but you’ll also find international options and delicious variations, such as their Poc Chuc Nachos. Unlike the above, La Finca Puuc is à la carte, but prices are also very affordable. Between my companion and myself, we spent less than $150 pesos each, and we still got to take home leftover Nachos. I recommend choosing a table at the Palapa terrace so the kids can run around the garden; the breeze is very nice even when it’s hot out. Don’t forget your bathing suit and change of clothes.
You should note that the restaurant opens from 12 to 6 pm; entrance to the archeological sites in the area is between $65 and $70 pesos (except for Uxmal), and is free on Sundays for Mexican residents with ID). Plus, the architecture at the Puuc sites (Kabáh, Sayil, Labná, Xlapak y Uxmal) is unique, richly decorated with reliefs and a monumental quality you won’t see anywhere else. Unlike Chichén Itzá, they’re smaller sites, though that doesn’t mean you should plan for, say, 15 minutes at each; we spent a little over two hours at Kabáh. But if you have the time, explore all the sites you can in the morning, and then head to the Finca in the afternoon.
La Finca Puuc
FB: La Finca Puuc
Every day 12 – 6 pm
Mayapán + El Príncipe Tutul Xiu
Mayapán is a perfect spot for a Sunday visit, with or without children. To be honest, its buildings, with their peculiar size, are unforgettable: they’re miniature compared to others, and they can still be climbed! You’ll see a structure similar to El Castillo at Chichén Itzá, but much smaller. Kids will love running around (and on) constructions; remind them to be very careful!
My recommendation for a restaurant to visit after Mayapán will have you driving away from Mérida; however, the Poc Chuc at El Príncipe Tutul Xiu in Maní is well worth it—any of its dishes are, in fact. The restaurant is about 40 minutes south of the archeological site. Plan to be there as early as you can (we got there at 1:30 pm on a Saturday and beat the rush) since its popularity attracts travelers from all over.
El Príncipe Tutul Xiu
Calle 26 x 25 y 27, Centro, Maní
FB: El Príncipe Tutul-Xiu
Every day 11 am – 7 pm
Editorial by Olivia Camarena Cervera
Yucatecan communicologist. Your favorite Assistant Editor. Writer, blogger, and bookstagrammer in her spare time. She also experiments with TikTok.
Photography by Cassie Pearse, Olivia Camarena Cervera, Yucatán Today, and Carlos Rosado for use in Yucatán Today.
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