The afternoon I landed in Mexico City (CDMX), I never imagined that it would be my first of three trips in just a month. Typically, when I travel, I visit one gorgeous place after another, taking in everything, loving it, but leaving it with just the colorful memories made. I love leaving a destination with just a taste in my mouth, I rarely ever return,( not that I wouldn’t want to) mainly to save time for new adventures and destinations.
“I found more in Mexico City than just your iconic museums, vibrant culinary scene, or city rich in culture and heritage, that’s for sure.”
Also, after planning, I was told how dangerous and polluted CDMX was, how a blonde like me would be kidnapped in broad daylight, never to be seen again. I think too many people watch fictional movies. After visiting, I just laugh at those people’s worries. I genuinely felt safer in CDMX than I do in some parts of LA. Of course, there is an unavoidable reality of petty crime here, like any large city, but if you keep vigilant and use common sense, you shouldn’t worry. I would also definitely not let it deter you from a visit. It’s wise not to wear flashy clothing or jewelry. Leave the Rolex and necklaces at home, people. Keep your bags closed, wallets zipped up, and leave nothing in your back pockets. All the usual stuff you would do while traveling in a big city. Every place I visit touches me somehow, but this place and experience is one I will hold on to forever and smile while thinking back on it all. I found more in CDMX than just your iconic museums, vibrant culinary scene, or city rich in culture and heritage, that’s for sure. I found a special connection and some magical familiarity with the city and with *him*.
“CDMX is one of the top cities in the world for food lovers and top restaurants.”
Mexico City (CDMX) is one of the oldest and largest cities in the Americas. It’s full of history, charm, beauty, and the most fantastic food scene ever. If you’re a foodie like myself, then you’ll indeed be in Heaven. CDMX is one of the top cities in the world for food lovers and top restaurants. The food is probably my favorite part. It makes a joke of LA. (sorry)! Below is everything you need to know, from where to eat and drink, to the best neighborhoods to stay, to the fantastic things to see and do while there. Bear with me here and enjoy everything CDMX. First things first; How do you get there? Well, depending on where you are flying from, many airlines have direct flights. Most major cities have direct options with Delta, Aero Mexico, American Airlines, and budget airlines such as Viva and Volaris. From LA and Miami, it’s about 3.5 hours, Dallas, 2.5, DSM, 6.5, and London 11 direct on British Airways. The airport is MEX, Mexico City International, or Aeropuerto Internacional Benito Juarez. It’s a large airport, with plenty of amenities, and upon landing, customs is quick, which is nice. Remember to keep ahold of your landing card for exiting.
When is the best time of year to visit? The best time to visit would be the dry season which is December to April. Although the winter can be chilly, I would say End of February to April are great months to visit. Warmer and more crowded, but it adds to the vibrancy and atmosphere. At the end of May, it starts to get quite rainy, but showers don’t typically last all day.
How many days does one need? That’s so hard because I have spent over two weeks there and still feel like I have a lot to see. I would give yourself five full days to see the top attractions, get out of the city one day, and experience the unbelievable culinary scene. If you only have a long weekend, it’s enough to wet your whistle and leave you wanting more. It’s a massive city with so much to see. The museums alone could take you weeks to get through. There are over 150 of them!
What areas and hotels should you stay in? I stayed in Polanco, and I loved it and felt it was the best area for my taste and budget. I split my vacation between two hotels I loved, The Orchid House Hotel and The JW Marriott. The Orchid House Hotel is a small boutique hotel full of, you guessed it, Orchids, loads of them! The rooms were cozy, authentic, and full of plants which I loved. It felt very green and sustainable. The JW Marriott is one brand I love, and they never miss a mark. The detail to service here, the huge room, and the views were superb, especially from my shower. I loved the goodies they left me as well. Who wouldn’t be thrilled with Clase Azul? JW Marriott also has a great pool and sun deck. The locations of the two were perfect as both were in the heart of Polanco, and you could easily walk to restaurants and cafes from both. Also, both were super professional and Covid compliant. It was a more than pleasurable experience at both.
“The Avenue is lined with some of the top trendiest restaurants in Mexico City. It’s very lively and vibrant.”
Both hotels were very different, but equally impressive. I typically always book a smaller boutique hotel on a stay to get a more authentic experience and great detail to customer service. Then I book hotel brands I love and have loyalty to, like JW Marriott.
Ok, back to the neighborhood, Polanco is the upscale, prestigious area of Mexico City. It’s close to some of the most famous museums, hosts high-end brands for shopping, and its renowned street Avenida Presidente Masaryk. The Avenue is lined with some of the top trendiest restaurants in Mexico City. It’s very lively and vibrant. Polanco is one of the safest areas in all of Mexico City. There are some beautiful parks there as well, with great cafes around them. Lincoln Park is so cute. I loved it there and found it worth it to stay in the area.
If you want to save a little money on food and accommodation, I would recommend La Roma or La Condesa, which is trendy, hip, full of hot nightclubs and bars. This area is also safe and great for someone’s first trip to Mexico City. You won’t get bored staying in these areas, and they also have some wonderful and cheap street food. La Roma is colorful and coined the “Hipster Heart of Mexico City.” It’s is filled with art deco mansions that have beautiful detail and colorful street art. It’s a nice area to walk around and has some fantastic restaurants such as Contramar, a must-visit while in CDMX. La Condesa is another gorgeous area with high-end shops, beautiful architecture, lush green parks, and classy nightlife. You can’t go wrong staying in this area either. Stroll through Parque Mexico and enjoy people watching and the beauty of the park.
What is some general advice? (MISC)
Brush up on your Spanish or learn basic key phrases. It’s appreciated and super helpful when trying to order, ask a question, or negotiate a cab fare. It’s good to know how to ask for directions or how much things are. It’s also polite to use basic words like “good evening,” “Hello,” “Please,” and “Thank you.” If you don’t have time, a language app can be super helpful.
Most places take credit cards, but it’s good to have cash to pay for things like street food, museums, or other tourist attractions. It’s also wise to carry small bills in case they don’t have change. Do not exchange currency at the airport, or you will be ripped off. Learn from my experience. Use ATMs or go to a local cash exchange for a better rate. Mexico City is very cheap compared to places like LA or NYC so keep that in mind. Tipping is 15 percent, not the standard 20 like in the USA.
Do not drink the tap water, or you could get sick.
If you are someone who suffers from allergies, then bring medicine. My allergies were insane while I was there, and I was sneezing 100 times a day. I’ve heard many people complain about how bad their allergies were there.
Use Uber as much as you can. It’s very cheap. If you can’t, then remember to negotiate the taxi fare before you enter. Also, find them at taxi stands, not just off the street.
Be mindful of pickpocketing and be smart about the purse you choose or where you carry your wallet or cell phone. Know the area you’re going to before and how safe or unsafe it is. Like every city, there are not so secure areas with more petty crime. Be mindful.
Mondays tend to be the day that many museums and attractions are closed, so keep that in mind. Teotihuacan is open on Mondays though if you do find yourself there on a Monday.
Now, let’s get into my favorite part of Mexico City! The amazing cuisine!
There are so many excellent restaurants and cuisines. I mostly ate Mexican because it’s my favorite, but we also switched it up occasionally, having seafood and sushi as an option. I’m celiac, so I must have food without gluten, so my options were a little more limited, but I still had an unforgettable culinary experience. Most restaurants had options for non-gluten eaters like myself. So, no worries about any dietary restrictions. They accommodate well.
“I don’t eat meat, but the fish at Dante was gorgeous, and the cocktails even more impressive. Try the oysters, ceviche, or the tuna tostadas here.”
Some of my favorite restaurants were; Dante, An Argentinian steakhouse with dim lighting, fun artwork, a buzzing atmosphere, and incredible food. I don’t eat meat, but the fish at Dante was gorgeous, and the cocktails even more impressive. Try the oysters, ceviche, or the tuna tostadas here. Dante was one of my favorite spots and a particular spot where I had one of the best first dates of my life. 11/10 recommend. I recommend more if you’re a spicy food lover as they do it well here. Enjoy.
Another great restaurant is ANIMAL Masaryk. The food is beautifully presented. It’s young, glam, hip, and the interior designs are just divine. I loved the energy here. It’s very LA. It’s full of beautiful models and influencers, so if you’re a single guy, you’ll enjoy this place. The drinks, again, are also great.
“H Bar was very dark with ambient lighting and a cool and sophisticated crowd. I enjoyed it there.”
Two restaurants I went to that are owned by the same people and are delicious are Contramar and Entremar, similar menus but different locations and energies. I liked both. I think I liked Contramar a little more due to the lively and packed outside seating area. The table matters, so make sure they give you a good table.
If you want something great for lunch or a more casual dinner, then Bellopuerto is terrific. It’s great for tostadas and ceviche. They have a great cocktail list and a cute inside. It’s more relaxed but still has fantastic food and décor.
Another place I loved and went to my first meal in CDMX was Harry’s Prime on Presidente Masaryk. The oysters were incredible. The service was phenomenal. They treated me like a princess, and they gave me the cutest blue cotton candy after my meal. They have a bar in the back called H Bar, and it’s super cool. H Bar is very dark with ambient lighting and a cool and sophisticated crowd. I enjoyed it there. It’s upscale, but the prices were so fair.
Another great spot we ate at, with adorable vibes and a cute back terrace, was La Unica. It was definitely a romantic spot. There are exquisite flavors in the fresh seafood here, taste from Baja to Nuevo Leon. It’s a great date spot.
Another delicious lunch spot I visited was called Makoto. It had unbelievable sushi and sashimi. We were lucky enough to go on a date where they were showcasing a 300 lb. tuna fish. They did the entire presentation in front of us, and everyone ate amazing sushi and sashimi from it. The presentation was impressive, and the food even better. It’s worth the visit with or without the show, but I would see if they happen to be doing it while you’re in town as I believe it’s a once-a-month event. Brassi is another great spot for lunch or dinner, it’s a French menu with some Mexican flare. They have some superb fish dishes and the tuna tar tar is amazing, a little spicy, but delicious.
“We were lucky enough to go on a date where they were showcasing a 300 lb. tuna fish. They did the entire presentation in front of us, and everyone ate amazing sushi and sashimi from it.”
If you want a great rooftop with unique cocktails and views of the city, I would check out Supra or Toledo. The restaurant at the top of St. Regis is also great, and they even do a Veuve champagne brunch on Sundays with excellent Mexican dishes and some fresh and delicious seafood. It’s a swanky spot you’re sure to enjoy a Sunday in the sun with a few too many glasses of champers.
A few other great restaurants are Jaleo for casual, but amazing Spanish Tapas El Japonez for great sushi with a beautiful terrace. Also, if you’re vegan or just enjoy great food that doesn’t taste plant-based, try Plantasia in La Roma. It is vegan, the décor inside is adorable and makes you feel as though you’re in Bali, and the drinks and food were divine. It was also super cheap.
“Fresh, authentic, and brimming with flavor,” Quintonil is another foodie’s delight and a true gem in Mexico City.
For more upscale, try Pujol for beautifully presented food. Pujol has been listed as one of the top 50 restaurants in the world in 2019. It’s fancy and delicious and an authentic culinary experience. Another noteworthy restaurant that has like, Pujol, made top 50 lists is Quintonil. “Fresh, authentic, and brimming with flavor,” Quintonil is another foodie’s delight and a true gem in Mexico City.
For Breakfast, try Café C on the southern side of the city for a change of neighborhood and super cute dishes. They do all sorts of unique designs in their lattes and acai bowls. It’s an influencer’s dream there. Another cute café that’s an influencer or blogger’s dream is Isabella Café Condesa. It’s girly and pink and has adorable drinks. Everything inside reminds you of a themed café in Japan. They serve lunch food as well. Don’t forget to take photos here. If you’re looking for more than just fun photos, other cafes for great food are El Cardenal, super authentic and very popular for locals. You will get a truly authentic experience here. Eno in Polanco is another great breakfast spot with a few locations and is ran by the same chef as Pujol. If you’re looking for a traditional American breakfast, this is your spot. El Campotoro, with only two tables inside and most of the seating outside, this spot is still charming and brings so much happiness to its customers. You’ll enjoy a great meal here. As far as bars and clubs, I didn’t go out much due to Covid restrictions. Still, some good bars are Gin gin, Departamento, Xaman Bar, Limantour, Pata Negra, Tokyo Music Bar, Julz Basement, Café Paraiso, Terrazas. Another thing for tourists to do if they love authentic food and drinks would be to do a street food tour or Mezcal tasting. I didn’t do this due to my dietary restrictions, but I’ve read great things about it. You can book them online for reasonable prices, just compare companies as there are many on offer.
Now for the top things to see and do in Mexico City and Beyond;
You must head downtown to El Centro. (downtown) This section is where you’ll find many of the top attractions.
‘I would have a coffee or juice across the street on the 9th floor of the Torre De Latin America for a fantastic view of the Palacio and the city below.”
In downtown, your first stop could be Palacio de Bellas Artes. Palacio de Bellas Artes takes the trophy for stunning architecture and beautiful landscaping. It is quite a romantic little spot with a beautiful park around it and a garden in front. The inside is a museum full of stunning murals, some by the famous Diego Rivera. To me, this is one of the most beautiful buildings in Mexico City. I would have a coffee or juice across the street on the 9th floor of the Torre De Latin America for a fantastic view of the Palacio and the city below. The Torre is one of Mexico City’s most widely recognized skyscraper. It also holds a 360-viewing restaurant platform at the top. Next to the Palacio de Bellas Artes is the Palacio Postal aka Palacio de Correos de Mexico. This is their main post office, but truly such a mesmerizing display of architecture inside. It reminded me of a very European design. I, for some reason, thought of the Titanic inside while looking around. You need just 5-10 mins inside, but it’s undoubtedly worth peeking inside since you’re already right there, and it is gorgeous and unique, especially for a post office.
“This is their main post office, but truly such a mesmerizing display of architecture inside. It reminded me of a very European design. I, for some reason, thought of the Titanic inside while looking around.”
There are gorgeous and very Europeanesque type buildings all around that area. If you walk around the post office, there is a unique blue-tiled building that is a restaurant and great for photos. I sat in the windows here and got some cute pics. The whole vibe reminded me of being in Lisbon, Portugal, as many buildings there are like this. There is such a European influence in some of the architecture here, and I love it. If you dropped me off in Mexico City blindfolded and then told me to guess where I was upon seeing it, I would have a tough time deciphering where I was.
If you continue down the street about 5 or 6 blocks, you will run right into the Zócalo, aka Plaza de la Constitucion. This is the main square in Mexico City. Here you will see a gigantic Mexican flag wavering over the square. You will see the historical, iconic, and beloved Catedral Metro (Spanish name). The Cathedral was built between 1573 to 1813. It has so much history, design inspiration and is truly one of the most notable buildings in Mexico City. There are also crypts underneath you can tour if you’re into that stuff. I wouldn’t miss this building. I like it because I love the gothic style of architecture. In the Zocalo, you will find The National Palace. Since 2018, it is the official home of the president of Mexico. The Zocalo is the center of the government and is a popular place for people to gather for rallies, protests, and anything political. On September 15, every year, the president of Mexico comes out to perform the Grito de Dolores to the crowded plaza. September 15 is Mexico’s Independence Day, no it is not Cinco De Mayo like everyone thinks, ha-ha, that was just a victory of the Battle of Puebla.
“It is a truly historic site being excavated, and it is said that The Aztecs believed it was the center of the universe and was a very sacred spot. “
A block away from the square is The Templo Mayor (Spanish name). These are ruins of the old Aztec temple. It is a truly historic site being excavated, and it is said that The Aztecs believed it was the center of the universe and was a very sacred spot. These ruins were only found in 1978. There is now ruins and a museum there that holds artifacts and pictures that give a good look into how life was during the Aztec period and living in the ancient city of Tenochtitlan.
After leaving the Zocalo, you could head to Chapultepec Park, a beautiful park in the middle of the city that reminds me of Central Park in NYC. It’s 1,600 acres, the largest park in Mexico City, and even has a castle on the top of the hill that is stunning and has amazing city views.
“It’s great to get away from the skyscrapers and city and come for a relaxing and more chilled day here within nature.”
Inside the park, you will come across the National History Museum, a part of the castle (which is gorgeous), the Museum of Modern Art, and the Rufino Tamayo museum. If you continue to explore the park, you can find a small lake to paddle boat and canoe. There are two cute restaurants in the park, one with a lake view. I opted to set up a picnic in this park as it’s so beautiful, and on a nice day, it’s so relaxing and pleasant. It’s great to get away from the skyscrapers and city and come for a relaxing and more chilled day here within nature.
If you take a little stroll down the Reforma, one of the main roads in Mexico City, you will come onto the gorgeous National Museum of Anthropology. The museum has two gigantic floors of high-quality exhibits. I would allow a few hours here, at least. This is one of Mexico City’s most famous and visited museums. It is the one museum I could go inside during Covid and explore. That being said, all should be open now. This museum has a gorgeous water fountain display outside and has a room with photos of excavations around Mexico and Latin America which I found so fascinating. It’s a must-see if you’re into ruins and prehistoric works and artifacts.
Another famous and popular museum is The Soumaya museum which is the most visited and hosts over 66k works. It has a unique shape on the outside and is great for photos. Museo Jumex is an art museum. It’s a private art collection museum and has works from Warhol to Hurst to Gursky. It’s right next to The Soumaya, so easy to check out if you have time. The outside is excellent too.
If you’re an art lover like myself, and also love Van Gogh, then check out “Van Gogh Alive” experience. It’s a small museum with digital viewings of his work. It’s a pretty special place and you only need about an hour. The main exhibit is just one grand room with numerous screens of various sizes to view his work and his story. The scoring (music) that goes along with it is just magical. It’s sophisticated, enthusiastic, and at times filled with depth and sadness, but very moving and beautiful. Check it out!
‘The scoring (music) that goes along with it is just magical. It’s sophisticated, enthusiastic, and at times filled with depth and sadness, but very moving and beautiful.”
“Coyoacan is magical and vibrant and means “The place of Coyotes.” It’s a very historic and charming area.”
Another museum you can’t miss is the Frida Kahlo Museum on the Southside of the city in the Coyoacan neighborhood. The Frida Kahlo museum is a stop if you’re into her very moving and interesting story and like her work. You can truly see the pain in this women’s portrait. If you aren’t entirely familiar with her story, google it, and then take a trip to the museum. It’s worth the 12-dollar admission fee, and after that, you can walk the streets of Cóyoacan with beautiful gardens and courtyards, cute squares, brightly colored colonial homes, and a famous market with unique and authentic street food. Coyoacan is magical and vibrant and means “The place of Coyotes.” It’s a very historic and charming area. If you love museums and want even more than I listed, Mexico City has over 150 museums and art galleries, more so than anywhere else in the world. You will be in utter historical bliss being here. You will need months to see it all, but there is a museum or gallery for all tastes and interests.
“This is where the Aztec temples of the sun and moon are, and the whole place is just so old and sacred.”
Another incredible and spiritual place that I think is a must-visit is The Teotihuacan Pyramids, about an hour outside of the city. This is where the Aztec temples of the sun and moon are, and the whole place is just so old and sacred. I loved walking around here and exploring even though it was March and the heat was blazing. I am really into history and temples, though, so for me, it was so worth it all. Another cool experience is waking up super early and coming here to ride on Hot Air Balloons above the Pyramids. I’ve not done this, but I have had friends do it and said it was a magical experience that they would surely do all over again. I certainly wouldn’t miss this spot as it was one of my favorites. You can do a cheap day tour here or have your hotel hire you a driver for the day. It’s cheap and easy to get to and safe there.
One last fun thing you can do is visit a market in Mexico City; numerous ones sell colorful and cute items. You can haggle with them on price, but remember these people work hard and don’t earn top dollar so keep that in mind when you argue over a few bucks. You can get all sorts of lovely items and gifts here. Be mindful of pickpockets here, but other than that, most markets are safe and fun and great to do for a couple of hours in the afternoon.
Now a few bonus things you can do if you have the time and want to explore a little more of Mexico and want to get away from the city;
If you’re an adrenaline junkie or feeling like a daredevil, then why not go skydiving at Skydiving Cuautla Yes, I said, and yes, I did it! I did it on a total whim when someone just sent me a reservation without asking much what I thought. It was a blast, and I will do it again for sure! If it’s you’re first time, ask for Danny to be your tandem, he’s the best. I’ve dived with him twice now and he’s incredible! Cuautla is about 2 hours south of Mexico City, the grounds are nice, simple, and the staff is incredible and super helpful. Skydiving Cuautla will make the whole experience unforgettable, fun, and comfortable. I recommend!
“Skydiving Cuautla will make the whole experience unforgettable, fun, and comfortable. I recommend!”
Another thing to do outside of the city that you could combine with skydiving is visiting Las Estacas. It’s a beautiful nature park with water so clear you can see the bottom. Las Estacas reminded me of swimming in some of those magical cenotes in the Yucatan peninsula. Pure beauty! There is a little river you can swim, snorkel, raft, or paddleboard on. It’s filled with so much nature, animals, and greenery. It is magical. There are also pools, picnic areas, camping, and glamping. We opted for the glamping experience, and it was enjoyable. We had an amazing time there. It’s best to go during a weekday to beat the crowds. One night here is enough, and as I said, you could even go skydive in the morning and then go here in the afternoon and check in for the night glamping.
“Las Estacas reminded me of swimming in some of those magical cenotes in the Yucatan peninsula. Pure beauty!”
All in all, Mexico City was truly an amazing city that I fell in love with. It’s not often I repeat the same place over and over. It’s also not often I go to a city and see it as a place I could live. Mexico City had that for me. It had everything I would want in a city and to me, the lifestyle there is lovely. I cannot recommend it enough to visit. You will undoubtedly fall in love with it as I did! Have fun and enjoy!