I recommend beginning with breakfast somewhere fun and bakery-esq such as El Globo on Prolongación de Montejo or Márago Coffee on Paseo de Montejo. Both are full of delicious baked goods. Márago also has a more substantial breakfast menu if you want more than pastries. The coffee at Márago, in my opinion, is the best in town and my husband rates El Globo’s coffee pretty highly too.
For the next part of the day you’ll need to pack the kids’ swimming stuff, sunscreen and snacks. Grab a taxi or an Uber (or head to Parque San Juan to take the local bus) to ANIMAYA, a free safari park style zoo in Caucel, just on the edge of Mérida. Quite apart from the animals, kids will have the opportunity to run, play and explore to their hearts’ content. There are playgrounds, a brand new snack area, cooling stations, and plenty of bathrooms on site. The main draw has to be the splash zone that’s open every weekend. Kids can spend hours running (or walking, hopefully!) between the fountains and the new pool area.
The animals roam around pretty freely here and visitors watch from above. There is also a separate lion enclosure and a reptile house to be checked out. My kids love watching zebra bums for some odd reason. Apart from zebra bums look out for giraffes, monkeys and plenty more, too.
At the weekend you’ll also find a free safari boat and truck but be warned, queues build up quickly. You can get tickets for both from 9.45 am for morning rides and from 1 pm for afternoon rides. It’s worth getting there promptly or you risk a long wait in the sun. Please note that kids under 90 cm are not allowed on the boat and this is strictly enforced. A new little train has arrived at the park recently. It costs $5 pesos and you must go early or risk a very long wait time. You can also ride to the top of the giant Maya obelisk for great views over the area. This is open 10 am – 2 pm and 3 – 5 pm every day.
Once you’re done here, head home for a rest before wowing your kids once more with Noche Mexicana, a weekly exhibition (Saturdays only) of traditional Mexican dancing and food stalls at the bottom of Paseo de Montejo, from 8 pm. Here they can join local kids enjoying the show and running around on the grass, grab a delicious supper snack, possibly even imbibe some culture and then be taken home to collapse, content, into bed.
Editorial and photos by Cassie Pearse for Yucatán Today’s use
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