Mexico City was a destination I heard everyone, especially the folks I work with, talk endlessly about. It wasn’t initially on my radar as I usually don’t lean toward hot weather destinations, but as time went on and I heard well-traveled people rave about the food and art, I began to get excited about the idea of going. For my 25th birthday, I decided to book a trip to Mexico City for a short and sweet winter vacation. (Between the 21st and 30th birthday, there aren’t any milestone birthdays, so I decided to make my 25th a bit more fun!)
I had a really, really amazing time in CDMX. The weather was absolutely perfect—sunny, dry, and warm but not hot—and the city was beautiful. I had amazing food, and although I didn’t have time to do everything I wanted (I unfortunately failed to get tickets to La Casa Azul ahead of time), I had the privilege of enjoying many great activities. Most of my itinerary was around visiting museums, but there were some unique things that I really love. I’m excited to share with you my favorite experiences in Mexico City!
Museo de Arte Popular
I went to several museums in Mexico City and while I found all of them enjoyable and insightful, the Museo de Arte Popular was my personal favorite. There is beautiful folk art at this museum, with everything from clothing to pottery to traditional crafts. This is a small museum with far fewer visitors than other landmarks and museums, but there is plenty to see inside.
What I loved about the Museo de Arte Popular is that I got to see artwork and craftsmanship that spanned many centuries, including pieces from pre-colonial Mexico, and from different regions of the country. I also found the bright, colorful pieces throughout the museum joyful, and these were the highlight of the visit.
Museo Nacional de Antropología
This one was a no-brainer—I had to go to the National Museum of Anthropology while in Mexico City. So many people I know recommended this museum and for good reason; there is so much history in one building, and the architecture of the museum is quite beautiful. Nearly all of the descriptions and signs are in Spanish, so if you’re like me and don’t know the language, it’s handy to have a translator app on hand.
The museum is massive, with an extensive collection of Mexican art and cultural artifacts and exhibits about the indigenous people of Mexico. Many of the exhibits are permanent, and some halls are dedicated to specific regions of the country. Make sure to have at least two hours to see everything in this museum (and it doesn’t hurt to grab a coffee before heading in for that boost of energy)!
Churro Class with Churros el Chamo
When I was planning my CDMX trip, I knew I wanted to find either a tour or a class led by a local to learn more about Mexico City and its culture. I ended up booking a churro making class with Christian because 1. I love fried dough and 2. I thought it would be great to learn to make something I don’t know how to make. The class ended up being a wonderful experience; Christian was very knowledgeable in the history behind churros and taught us the specific techniques to make good churros.
The class took place in Christian’s home which is beautifully decorated and very cozy. In addition to the churros, we also made a spicy chocolate dipping sauce and cafe de olla. We were joined by another small group in this workshop, and it was lovely to all share the tower of churros we made and enjoy some conversation. I will definitely be seeing out a food-related workshop or tour on another trip to Mexico City down the line!
Sitting atop a hill, Chapultepec Castle is at the top of every Mexico City visitors’ guide (pun intended). This castle that is over 200 years old has a rich history—in the past two centuries, it has served as a military academy, presidential residence, and imperial residence. Today, it serves as the site of the National Museum of History. The architecture and interior design are beautiful, and there are artifacts and exhibits throughout that highlight different periods of history for the castle.
Chapultepec Castle has unparalleled views of the city, and though I went midday, I’m sure it would be even more amazing around sunset. In fact, I was so distracted by the great views that I nearly missed half of the castle! There are also lovely gardens where you can sit and cool off. Down the hill there is Chapultepec Park, which is Latin America’s oldest and largest park, enjoyed by locals and tourists alike.
Open-Air Coffee Shops
Wow, this. Maybe it was just that I came during a week of perfect sunny, high-70s weather which made things so much better, but open-air cafe culture is magical. Many cafes, and some restaurants, open up their front door which is often the whole side of the shop. It makes getting coffee much more enticing and overall, these cafes feel very welcoming. You have the option to sit in the shade or out in the sun. You can sip your coffee and read your favorite book or you can enjoy a snack and people watch. The espresso is good almost anywhere in the city, and the food served on the side is often tasty as well. What’s not to love?
Palacio de Bellas Artes (+Alameda Central Park)
The Palacio de Bellas Artes is one of Mexico’s biggest and best-known art centers and home to a huge collection of Mexican art. The exterior of the building is striking due to the yellow-orange dome at the top, and the Art Deco-style interior is equally brilliant. At the time of my visit, there were some modern Mexican art, but the real highlights of the Palacio are the massive murals by Diego Rivera, Rufino Tamayo, and others.
I would say the Palacio is a must-see in Mexico City, both for the art and the historical significance of the palace. The Palacio hosts many events including performances from the Folkloric Ballet and the National Symphony Orchestra of Mexico. In 1987, it was also recognized as an artistic monument by UNESCO. Don’t forget to walk around the Alameda Central Park after, where locals and tourists come to get some outdoor air or take a break from trekking around the city.