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Things to Do in Mexico - page 3

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Playa Mia Grand Beach Park
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9 Tours and Activities

This beachfront park has seemingly endless options for activities on the Caribbean Sea. From swimming in the warm ocean and playing in the sand to splashing around the water park or floating in one of the many pools, there are a variety of ways to enjoy a day in and on the water.

Day passes offer access to the many facilities, including beachfront lounge chairs and hammocks, reef tours and snorkeling, and options for massage, photos and scuba diving. Get there early to grab a chair closest to the water. There are dozens of beach games and water toys, themed pools and slides and even an underwater Mayan city to explore.

When you get tired from all the splashing, there is a buffet and full bar to keep you going, as well as a Mexican cooking workshop and shopping center with handicrafts, clothes and jewelry to take home with you.

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Mandala Nightclub
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Cancun is full of places to party, but the young and energetic late-night set knows the exclusive Mandala Night Club is the best place to sip strong drinks, dance to loud beats and mingle with a truly cosmopolitan crowd. Guests love the wide-open dance floor, glittery lights and impressive entryway. Fifty dollars gets partygoers through the door and keeps drinks in their hands, too, with access to an all-night open bar.

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Chapultepec Castle (Castillo de Chapultepec)
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30 Tours and Activities

North America may not be known for its regal royalty or holding court, but Chapultepec Castle in Mexico City—the only palace on the continent—is definitely the real deal. Located more than 7,000 feet above sea level, Chapultepec has housed sovereigns, served as a military academy and was even an observatory. In 1996 the castle was transformed into Capulet Mansion for the movie Romeo and Juliet, too.

Until 1939, Chapultepec Castle served as the presidential residence. Then a new law moved it elsewhere and the castle became home to both the National Museum of History and the National Museum of Cultures instead. A stroll through these halls, followed by a tour of lush castle grounds is a perfect way to spend a Mexico City afternoon.

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Puebla Cathedral (Catedral de Puebla)
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The United States isn’t the only country with a “city of angels” (i.e. Los Angeles). Mexico is also home to a city that has that moniker: Puebla, officially called Puebla de los Angeles. Puebla is one of Mexico’s oldest cities and legend has it that its angelic name was first earned thanks to the bell tower on Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Cathedral since an 18,000-pound bell that no one could figure out how to get up to the tower mysteriously appeared there one morning; angels were subsequently credited for the bell being moved. It is also said that angels designed the layout of the city. In addition to the cathedral and its famous bell tower, Puebla is also home to a variety of Baroque and Spanish Colonial style buildings and architecture that has caused it to be designated as a World Heritage City. Food is also a huge draw of Puebla. It’s called the capital of mole for a reason, and a visit to Puebla must include a bite (or several) of this beloved Mexican cuisine.

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Cozumel Reefs National Marine Park
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11 Tours and Activities

Less than 1% of the Earth is covered in coral—yet these reefs are home to over 25% of the world’s total marine species. Unfortunately, despite their abundance of biodiversity, coral reefs across the globe are in a serious state of decline. That said, in places like the Cozumel Reefs National Marine Park off the island’s southern coast, the establishment of a protected coral reserve is helping the reef to thrive.

In the warm waters off Cozumel’s coast, 26 different species of coral house 300 species of fish. Some fish, like the Splendid Toadfish, are endemic to the reefs of Cozumel—which means that the fish are only found here in these colorful castles in the sand. Hawksbill and green sea turtles are frequently spotted in the marine park’s 29,000 acres, which also encompasses mangrove forests and sandy sections of shoreline.

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CoCo Bongo Cancun
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7 Tours and Activities

Party the night away in a disco ambiance with song and dance shows performing into the early hours of the morning at CoCo Bongo. The performances highlight music from big-name artists like Rihanna and Elvis, and you’ll also see impressive acrobatics as performers fly through the air dangling from a long rope of fabric, flip through large hoops and more. CoCo Bongo has an energetic vibe that will get you dancing along to every performance.

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Jolly Roger Pirate Ship
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Offering family entertainment that both adults and children can enjoy, the Jolly Roger Pirate Ship sets sail from the Riviera Maya and sails the Caribbean seas while dazzling passengers with swashbuckling pirate shows and hearty food. The ship is a modern replica of the Santa Maria, which Columbus is said to have journeyed on when he discovered the Americas.

The Jolly Roger features four decks and can accommodate up to 240 passengers, with plenty of space for entertainment and dining. Filet mignon, lobster, a vegetarian option, plus a special pirate kids menu are on offer, not to mention the open bar with free domestic drinks. The pirate show is a blend of comedy and adventure, interspersed by dinner, fireworks, and dancing. Expect dramatic sword fighting, exploding cannons, and amazing acrobatics, all designed to entertain, delight, and draw you in to this unique pirate adventure.

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Guadalajara Cathedral
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The heart of every Mexican city is its cathedral, and Guadalajara is no exception. Officially known as the Basílica de la Asunción de Nuestra Señora de la Santísima Virgen María, the Guadalajara Cathedral towers over the city’s central plazas. A mishmash of Gothic, baroque, Moorish, and neoclassical styles, the building is atypical for a Mexican cathedral, and its unusual design has made it an emblem of the city.

Since 1561, the massive cathedral has weathered eight earthquakes, two of which did serious damage. An 1818 quake demolished the central dome and towers. The distinctive tiled towers you see today date back to1854. The interior is awesome in the original sense of the word; the stained glass windows are reminiscent of Notre Dame, and 11 silver and gold altars were gifts from Spain’s King Fernando VII. But it’s not all just finery --- the cathedral also has its share of macabre relics.

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San Gervasio Mayan Ruins
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8 Tours and Activities

The Island of Cozumel was first incorporated into the Mayan Empire around 0 AD, and was apparently a thinly populated backwater, primarily important as a ceremonial island for women from the mainland. Although 24 archaeological sites have been identified, most are small and as yet unexcavated. The San Gervasio Ruins, dating to around 300 AD, are by far the largest and best developed for tourism, but still won't impress tourists hoping for the grand pyramids of the Mayan Imperial Cities. Adjust your expectations, however, and the sacred gardens of Ixcel, the Goddess of Fertility and Rainbows, are a serene escape. Most of the low, stone structures cluster around a central plaza, which archaeologists suspect was enhanced with wood and adobe building. The main temple, however, was probably the large Ka'na Na building, located close to the cenotes, or natural wells. There are several other intriguing ruins scattered throughout the jungle, all awaiting your personal interpretation.

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More Things to Do in Mexico

Dolphin Beach (Playa Delfines)

Dolphin Beach (Playa Delfines)

22 Tours and Activities

Playa Delfines is a welcome respite from the crowded beaches and bustling nightclubs that make Cancun a popular Spring Break destination. One of the highest points in the city, this beach lies just beyond the “Hotel Zone” strip and offers breathtaking views perfect for tropical vacation photo ops. The quiet stretch of sand is ideal for a leisurely stroll or a relaxing lounge and the untouched nature of Playa Delfines makes it a favorite among travelers eager to get off the beaten path. Be advised, its rustic feel means there are few places to purchase food or drink, so it’s best to pack your own. And while the shores are calm, the undercurrent can be rough and waves impressive, so proceed with caution when dipping your toes in the ocean here.

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Cancun Hotel Zone (Avenida Kukulkan)

Cancun Hotel Zone (Avenida Kukulkan)

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Love it or hate it, Avenida Kukulkan is a Cancun strip where nearly all visitors will end up. If you’re staying at one of the oceanfront resorts across from Nichupte Lagoon, Avenida Kukulkan is the pulsing thoroughfare that leads to all of the resorts. Lined with shops, restaurants, cafés, and thumping late nightclubs, it’s also home to what many visitors consider as Cancun’s best shopping. And, while brand name stores and high end labels aren’t very difficult to find, there are still pockets of local boutiques selling traditional, handmade Yuacatan crafts for those who take the time to explore.

The stores and restaurants and shopping malls aside, one of the best activities on Avenida Kukulkan is simply going for walk. Along the length of this long, flat strip, visitors can marvel at the manicured resorts and their ornately designed entranceways, or get views looking out at Nichupte Lagoon and people watch by the shops.

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La Quebrada Cliff Divers

La Quebrada Cliff Divers

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Acapulco's iconic attraction, made famous in Elvis flicks, Ray Austen stunts, and every cheerfully scrawled holiday postcard sent home ever since, are La Quebrada Cliff Divers. Beginning in the 1920s, these brave young men and women began leaping for the crowds some 45 craggy meters (150 terrifying feet) into a wave-crashed inlet just 4 meters (13 feet) deep. And that's if they time it just right.

The ritual begins with a prayer at the shrine to La Virgen de Guadalupe, carved into the cliff-top platform. Then, the divers carefully calculate when their target will have enough water to soften their fall. Finally, they leap. First in the afternoon, and as the sun sets, again. The final dive of the night plunges past torches into a sea of fire (lit with flaming gasoline), no easy feat.

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Cancun Wax Museum (Museo de Cera Cancún)

Cancun Wax Museum (Museo de Cera Cancún)

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Marvel at more than 100 famous faces (and bodies!) at Cancun's only wax museum. Wax figures from the world of entertainment (music, television, movies, sport and politics included) cover the 7,500-square-foot (700-square-meter) museum, providing visitors with some surreal photo opportunities. Each wax figure has been carefully and meticulously crafted, with everyone from Albert Einstein and Queen Elizabeth to David Beckham and Amy Winehouse on display. With a collection of well-known children's characters as well, the Cancun Wax Museum is especially popular with kids, and is therefore the ideal attraction for families. For maximum convenience and to avoid disappointment, it's best to book a Cancun Wax Museum admission ticket in advance.

Insider's Tip: A visit to the Cancun Wax Museum makes the ideal start or end to a day of shopping; the museum is located inside the La Isla Plaza shopping village in the Cancun Hotel Zone.

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Frida Kahlo Museum (Museo Frida Kahlo)

Frida Kahlo Museum (Museo Frida Kahlo)

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Explore the life—and contextualize the legacy—of Mexican surrealist artist and feminist icon Frida Kahlo at Playa del Carmen’s Frida Kahlo Museum (Museo Frida Kahlo). At one of the city’s first cultural spaces, learn about Kahlo’s work, illness, and tumultuous relationship with Diego Rivera by way of interactive and sensory exhibits.
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Ventura Park

Ventura Park

10 Tours and Activities

Whether it’s riding the wave pool’s serious 3-feet swells, soaring down the crazy Twister waterslide or floating down the Lazy River, Wet’n Wild water park offers visitors a chance to escape the heat, enjoy the sun and really splash around.

The speed slide Kamikaze thrusts riders over a seriously steep drop, while the Bubble Space Bowl launches guests down a 49-feet pass at 31 miles per hour. Those less inclined to a white water adrenaline rush can navigate bumper boats or even schedule a swim with friendly dolphins.

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Polanco

Polanco

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8 Tours and Activities

For visitors looking to experience how Mexico’s other half lives, there is no better place than Polanco. This upscale neighborhood in the Miguel Hidalgo borough of Mexico City is home to some of the wealthiest and most influential families in the country. The city’s most luxurious hotels, priciest restaurants and swankiest clubs line the streets of the five colonias that make up this district.

Major malls like Antara Polanco and Plaza Carso attract patrons in search of true destination shopping, while a stroll down the high-end Avenida Presidente Masaryk provides a taste of Polanco’s most expensive real estate and window-shopping at some of the neighborhoods exclusive boutiques. But Polanco is more than just luxury. Visitors can wander through Chapultepec and Parque Lincoln, or get a taste of culture on a visit the National Museum of Anthropology and the Modern Art Museum in the neighborhood as well.

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Plaza de la Constitución (Zocalo)

Plaza de la Constitución (Zocalo)

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Located at the heart of Mexico City in the center of the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan, Plaza de la Constitucion—better known as Zocalo—is where old and new Mexico meet. Pre-Hispanic ruins exist side-by-side with impressive colonial structures, and white-collar workers stroll among cultural performers and traditional art vendors. This city-block square is also a gathering place for political protest and cultural celebration—and it’s an ideal spot to savor the flavor of real Mexico City.

Tour nearby Palacio Nacional, just east of Zocalo, where massive murals by Diego Rivera depict the nation’s vibrant history. Next, pass through the doors of Catedral Matropolitana for a look at religious colonial art and impressive golden altars. When it’s time for a break head to the Gran Hotel Ciudad de Mexico, where incredible views and strong drinks from the terrace bar round out the perfect day.

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Palace of Fine Arts (Palacio de Bellas Artes)

Palace of Fine Arts (Palacio de Bellas Artes)

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Considered one of the world's most beautiful buildings, the Mexico City Palace of Fine Arts - or Palacio de Bellas Artes - is a harmonious synthesis of Art Nouveau, Art Deco, and Baroque styles, a style sometimes called "Porfiriano," after architecture-obsessed Mexican President Porfirio Díaz, who commissioned the project.

The exterior, surrounded with gardens, rises in elegant columns and domes above the cool, green Alameda Central. Inside, it is an exceptional art exhibition, filled with a permanent collection of statues, murals, and other outstanding ornamentation. In addition, there are regular world-class art exhibitions open to the public.

In addition to its daytime attractions, you can appreciate the building's acoustic excellence by enjoying a performance at its National Theater. International artists appear regularly, but try to catch Mexico City's own Ballet Folklórico de México Compania Nacional or National Symphonic Orchestra.

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National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM)

National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM)

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9 Tours and Activities

The National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) isn't your average university. The Mexico City-based school was started in 1551 by King Philip II of Spain (at which point it was called the Royal and Pontifical University of Mexico) and is the oldest university in North America and the second oldest in all the Americas. Today, it is the largest university in Mexico and has a strong emphasis on research and cultural impact. UNAM isn't just for students, though; travelers to Mexico City who love history will also enjoy visiting this prestigious school.

The main draw for visitors is to see the Central University Campus, which wasn't built until the 1950s. The Central University Campus is a work of art in and of itself thanks to its modern architecture that features the focal point of a massive block of a building with the side adorned in murals done by Diego Rivera, Diego Alfaro Siqueiros and other prominent artists.

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Diego Rivera Mural (Exekatlkalli)

Diego Rivera Mural (Exekatlkalli)

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Formerly known as Exekatlkalli (the "House of the Winds") the Mural Diego Rivera was once the home of Dolores Olmedo, the final lover of Mexican master artist Diego Rivera. He spent the last years of his life with her here, and in 1956 created his final mural. It is an outstanding piece, made of mosaic tiles, and depicts at its center Quetzalcoatl, the Feathered Serpent of the Aztec religious pantheon. Other figures include a frog (a reference to Dolores' pet name for him) and a hammer and sickle, symbolizing his continued commitment to communist ideals. There were plans to turn the Mural Diego Rivera into a museum, and for several years the interior was conserved, including several sketches and paintings by Rivera. However, the house was recently sold, though the Mural Diego Rivera, outside, remains in public view, the cultural pride of Acapulco.

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Alameda Central

Alameda Central

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7 Tours and Activities

Mexico City Alameda Central was first set aside as public green space in 1592, when Viceroy Luis de Velasco had dozens of alamos, or poplar trees, planted above the city's premier destination. It was not until the late 1700s, however, that it was remodeled to its current glory.

The park was first fitted with five fabulous fountains, each echoing the extravagant tastes of Louis the XIV, the "Sun King" of France, which were then surrounded by suitably posh landscaping. Later, President Porfirio Díaz, well known for his architectural achievements, had the Palacio de Bellas Artes built above the park. Today, it is a popular spot, particularly on weekends, when families gather beneath the spreading trees.

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CoCo Bongo Playa del Carmen

CoCo Bongo Playa del Carmen

9 Tours and Activities
From circus performers swinging from the ceiling and dancers crowding the floor, to celebrity impersonators and Broadway-style musicals, Coco Bongo is a nightclub unlike any other. At the Playa del Carmen location, you’ll find extravagant stages, multiple bars, VIP table service, and a dance floor known to rock through the wee hours.
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