Whether escaping Seattle’s gray days or simply looking for an excuse to hit the beach, the year-round sunshine in Mexico consistently attracts travelers with its warmth. And with sandy beaches and luxurious resorts beckoning, who can resist?
The best part about planning a family vacation to Mexico is the trip needn’t be costly, thanks to value-packed destinations and a favorable currency exchange. Plus, with direct flights to the most popular beach towns and port-packed cruises as options, a fun family getaway is quickly within reach.
Follow our lead with these top family getaways combining the best culture, cuisine and coastal fun Mexico has to offer.
Value-Packed San Miguel de Cozumel
Cozumel is a beautiful island off the southeast Mexico shoreline. It shares the warmth of Caribbean waters and, as such, is a popular destination for tourists seeking sandy beaches, vibrant reef snorkeling and high year-round temperatures. Major carriers fly directly into Cozumel International Airport, with downtown resorts and attractions less than five minutes away.
For families seeking a beachfront property central to island attractions, Hotel Cozumel & Resort offers a little something for everyone at a value price point. Kids will love playing along the white sandy beach, splashing in the massive resort pool or joining peers in daily Kid’s Club activities. Adults can pass the time with free introductory scuba lessons, fitness classes or the beachfront lagoon and poolside jacuzzi. All-inclusive dining packages are optional with two buffets and a pool snack bar on site. Adjoining rooms are available for larger families while smaller groups may prefer a two-bedroom master suite complete with dining and living room.
Throughout downtown and greater Cozumel, families will find economical dining options and activities. Plaza Punta Langosta is a popular shopping and dining destination with daily live free entertainment central to hotels and the cruise terminal. Rolandi’s Restaurant and Bar is a cozy family spot for leisurely waterfront cocktails, local dishes and brick oven pizzas for finicky young appetites. Casual eatery Pancho’s Backyard has a value menu loaded with tamales, nachos and island-famous guacamole. There’s also an abundance of food trucks to sample while taking a walking tour of downtown.
Outdoor enthusiasts may enjoy a horseback beach ride, parasailing over turquoise waters or greeting flamingos and turtles at Punta Sur Park Ecological Reserve. Climb up to the lighthouse here for a great view well beyond the beach. Then explore botanical gardens or zipline across lagoons at Chankanaab National Park.
Culture seekers should explore the interactive exhibits at Cozumel Island Museum and tour the ruins of San Gervasio Mayan Archeological Site. Then take a tasting tour of Kaokao Chocolate Factory to see how single origin chocolate is made on the island.
Mexican Riviera with Carnival Panorama
First-timers to Mexico and those seeking a seamless all-inclusive experience could sail aboard Carnival Panorama, a brand-new family-oriented ship sailing the Mexican Riviera. This round-trip Pacific Coast cruise departs from Long Beach, California and makes multi-generational family travel super easy and wallet-friendly with dining, activities and cozy accommodations included in the cruise fare.
With multiple pools, waterslides, mini-golf, a suspended cycling course and more available to the whole family at no extra charge, at-sea days will be packed to the brim with activity. Included dining ranges from Guy Fieri’s burger joint, a taco bar, comfort food buffet and main dining rooms. Plus, kids will rejoice over the endless ice cream bar.
Request adjoining rooms to keep the family connected or stay in a Family Harbor suite for dedicated access to a kid-friendly lounge and snack bar. Join family dance parties on the lido deck, catch a movie under the stars, or take in a stage performance. Optional add-ons include an indoor trampoline park, exclusive club for teens, and a pampering spa where adults can catch some me-time.
With cruise fares as low as $464, the Carnival Panorama sailing is a great way to experience popular port cities Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlán, and Puerto Vallarta. Each of these destinations offers easy access to dining, culture and beach activities. Watch dolphins and Humpback whales as you sail into Cabo, take a culinary tour through the historic market in Old Mazatlán and admire the architecture in Puerto Vallarta’s romantic zone.
In Cabo San Lucas, cruise excursions include off-road ATV rides, snorkeling alongside the famous arch rocks and camel riding at an oceanside ranch. Mazatlán excursions range from visiting the colonial villages of Copala and Concordia, ziplining through a canopy forest or relaxing at an all-inclusive beach resort with lunch buffet. In Puerto Vallarta, ride on horseback through waterfalls, go on a tasting tour with tacos and margaritas or explore the culture of 16th century village El Tuito. As sun sets, head back to the ship for a relaxing dinner with family or take in a high-energy musical act.
Art & Culture in Riviera Maya
Known for its lengthy beaches and warm Caribbean waters, Riviera Maya is located on Mexico’s northeastern Yucatán Peninsula. Private transfers shuttle guests from Cancún International Airport to the breadth of all-inclusive resorts dotting the coastline. While summer months can be quite humid, Riviera Maya is a popular family destination year-round thanks to its gorgeous natural scenery and abundance of arts and entertainment.
One of the most popular family attractions is JOYÀ, Cirque du Soleil’s first resident show in Mexico. In this dedicated theater, the senses are delighted with a dinner performance drawing on local history and heritage. A family quest story is told through acrobatics, ballet and contortion while guests enjoy regional flavors including shrimp gazpachos and fresh fish, Mayan chili and braised short rib. The whimsical show was created with families in mind and is only available at the Cirque du Soleil Theater at Vidanta Riviera Maya.
Los Fundadores Park in nearby Playa del Carmen is home to traditional Mayan dance performances, larger than life sculptures and an active children’s play area. This is a great venue for watching sunsets along the beach or catching a performance by Voladores de Papantla, cultural dancers who fly from a 98-foot pole to the sound of drums and flutes. Day trips to the Cobá ruins reveal three pyramids and ancient architecture accessible by walking paths. A visit to Ah Cacao Chocolate Café will satisfy local chocolate seekers with Mayan criollo chocolate, known for its smoky vanilla undertone and citrus notes.
Year-round outdoor activities throughout Riviera Maya include cycling, ziplining, hiking and swimming. Snorkelers and divers alike are drawn to the clear water and extensive coral reefs home to tropical fish. Adventure seekers enjoy kayaking the Kantemo caves, home to hundreds of snakes, a bat colony and ancient marine fossils. For the leisurely at heart, there’s plenty of pristine beaches perfect for lounging with a favorite cocktail.
Whether you enjoy the ease and comfort of an all-inclusive resort or simply know this is a guaranteed way to keep the kids entertained with activities, Riviera Maya is known for these dreamy accommodations. Making its debut in spring 2020, Margaritaville Island Reserve Riviera Cancún promises the perfect seaside escape for everyone in the family. Their complimentary Parakeets Kid’s Club ensures even the youngest guests have fun from sunrise to sunset, while the whole family can enjoy beach soccer, standup paddleboards and karaoke under the stars. From wine tastings to cooking classes, the resort works well for multi-generational travel and the culinary curious. Wellness seekers can stretch out with on-site aqua fit and yoga sessions or take time out at the full-service spa.
No visit to a Margaritaville property would be complete without a tempting food and drink menu. This all-inclusive property invites guests to indulge with four restaurants and six specialty bars just steps from your suite. Sample Riviera Maya’s famous agave-based cocktails, explore Latin-Asian fusion with locally-sourced ingredients and enjoy live music at the signature 5 O’Clock Somewhere Bar.