10 Entertaining Activities to Do While in Mérida, Mexico
In the southeast of Mexico is one of its most culturally rich cities: Mérida, Mexico. This city has a bit of everything for everyone, from an outstanding culinary scene to a vibrant cultural life. Merida boasts impressive archaeological sites and natural wonders.
Keep reading to learn all about this amazing city. Let’s explore what’s so unique about Yucatan Mérida and review 10 entertaining activities for your next visit to this vibrant place.
Where Is Mérida, Mexico?
Mérida, Mexico is the capital of the southeastern state of Yucatan, which gets its name from the peninsula where it’s located. As you can see in the Mérida Mexico map below, Yucatan borders to the East with the state of Campeche, to the Southwest with Quintana Roo, and to the North with the waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
Mérida itself is located in the north of the state, less than an hour from the beach town of Puerto Progreso.
What’s Unique About Yucatan Merida?
There are many reasons to visit Mérida, Mexico, like its beautiful colonial architecture that makes people call it La Ciudad Blanca (the White City). It’s also the beating heart of the Yucatan Peninsula and a proud center of Mayan culture.
Actually, the people from Yucatan Mérida are so proud of their unique Mayan heritage in Mexico, that at some point in the Mérida, Mexico history they tried to get their independence from Mexico and applied to become a US state!
Yucatan cuisine is a world in itself, heavily influenced by Mayan traditions and ingredients. Mérida, Mexico also enjoys an enviable location near plenty of Mayan archaeological sites, glorious beaches, and stunning cenotes.
10 Entertaining Activities to Do While in Mérida Mexico
If you’re planning to visit Mérida, Mexico, make the most of your visit by engaging in these 10 entertaining things to do.
1. Discover Pok Ta Pok
You can’t go to the heart of Mayan culture in Mexico without getting to know their famous ancient ball game. Representations of Pok Ta Pok take place in several spots across the Yucatan Peninsula, but the one taking place in Yucatan Mérida is famous for its authenticity.
A Pok Ta Pok representation takes place every Saturday night at 8:30 p.m. at the Plaza Grande in downtown Mérida.
2. Visit Hacienda Sotuta de Peón
From the 18th to the beginning of the 20th century, the Yucatan Peninsula was full of huge henequen plantations organized in a semi-feudal system. However, instead of castles, Yucatan had sprawling haciendas that produced a few super-rich families in the region.
Today, those haciendas have been restored and reconverted into tourist attractions. Some of them are even luxury hotels. Perhaps the most famous one is Hacienda Sotuta de Peón, a place of magnificent beauty.
3. Go to the Beach at Progreso
The most popular of the wide variety of Yucatan Mérida beaches is Puerto Progreso. It’s also the closest one to Mérida Mexico. Progreso has become like Mérida’s own private beach, as many families have a second home there.
The people of Mérida Mexico call themselves lucky because they have a lovely beach so close to their city. In just a short 30-minute drive, you’ll be feeling the sand on your feet and getting ready to completely unwind.
4. Visit the Corchito Ecological Reserve
Nature enthusiasts love the Reserva Ecológica El Corchito. Set in a zone of cenotes, it’s a spot of extraordinary biodiversity where visitors see diverse wildlife.
This stunning ecological reserve is located just 1.2 miles (2 km) from Progreso and offers easy access for visitors to Mérida, Mexico. To get to the reserve, you need to cross a small canal in a boat. The short trip costs $90 Mexican pesos ($4.50 USD) for foreigners.
5. Discover the Magic of Izamal
When talking about the Yucatan Peninsula, most people focus on its gorgeous beaches or stunning archaeological sites. However, the interior of the peninsula has a few magical towns.
One of them is Izamal, an all-yellow town of colonial past and incredible beauty. It’s currently a tentative UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its extraordinary architecture and richness in archaeological sites.
Izamal is home to a wide range of quality hotels and the impressive 16th-century Convento San Antonio de Padua, a historic convent.
6. Visit The Mayan World Museum
The Gran Museo del Mundo Maya de Mérida (Mérida’s Great Mayan World Museum) is a state-of-the-art museum that deeply explores the history of the great Mayan culture.
Opened in 2012, the museum is in a modern building that makes the most of the massive amount of Mayan artifacts and artistic expressions discovered at the nearby Mayan archaeological sites.
There’s an entrance fee of $150 pesos ($7.20 USD) for foreigners and parking costs $20 pesos ($1 USD) for 3 hours. Plan your visit in advance at the museum’s official website.
7. Try the Famous Yucatan Cuisine
Perhaps you’ve heard that traditional Mexican cuisine has been declared Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. In fact, Mexican gastronomy is so rich and diverse that each region is a whole culinary universe in itself. Among these, Yucatan cuisine is one of the most recognized in Mexico and in the world.
Arguably the most popular dish of the traditional Yucatan cuisine is cochinita pibil (slow-cooked pork). This is a delicious dish that you can find anywhere in Mérida Mexico. If you want to try the best cochinita pibil tacos, head to the famous restaurant La Chaya Maya.
8. Take a Walk at Paseo Montejo
If Paris has the Champs Elysees and Mexico City the Paseo de la Reforma, Mérida Mexico has the iconic Paseo Montejo. Named after the founder of the city, Francisco de Montejo, the Paseo Montejo is Mérida’s main avenue and, as such, it’s filled with a diversity of restaurants, museums, cultural centers, and buzzing social life.
Most Sundays, Paseo Montejo is pedestrian-only for a few hours, and the people of Mérida Mexico walk or ride their bikes with their families on this gorgeous avenue.
9. Enjoy an Evening at Plaza Grande
Widely recognized as one of the most beautiful main squares in Mexico, the Plaza Grande is as old as the city itself. It’s home to the city’s cathedral and city hall, and it’s full of street vendors, artists, and all kinds of traditional activities.
Most Friday and Saturday evenings, events are scheduled at the Plaza Grande. If you go on a Friday night, you can watch the Mayan game ball representation mentioned in point #1 on this list.
10. Take a Day Trip to Chichen Itza
Although not exactly in Mérida Mexico, Chichen Itza is just an hour and a half drive from the city and it definitely deserves a visit. Named as one of the 7 Modern Wonders of the World, Chichen Itza is the most extraordinary of the many Mayan ruins in the area.
The general admission ticket for foreigners costs $533 pesos ($26 USD). If you watch the amazing light and sound show of the Kukulkan Nights, the entrance fee is $600 pesos ($29 USD). The show begins at 7:00 p.m.
Visit Mérida, Mexico and Practice Your Spanish
The capital city of Yucatan is a place of great cultural life and extraordinary gastronomy. Its location is prime, as it’s close to a wide array of Mayan sites, beautiful beaches, and stunning biological reserves. Visit Mérida, Mexico, and practice your Spanish when ordering your first tacos of cochinita pibil!
Sign up for a free trial class at Homeschool Spanish Academy before your trip to Mérida, Mexico. At HSA, our certified, native-speaking teachers will help you learn travel and food vocabulary that will come in handy during your visit to Mérida. They teach over 24,000 students every month, offer flexible scheduling, and tailored Spanish packages.
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