Palacio de Bellas Artes is a performing-arts center in the historic city center. // © 2015 Mexico Tourism Board
Feature image (above): Mexico City is a hot spot for travelers looking to shop. // © 2015 iStock
Large cities are, by nature, great for shopping. And in Mexico, the best place for shopaholics is, arguably, the nation’s largest metropolis: Mexico City. After all, it’s a hub for culture, fashion, design and commerce — so whether you’re a fashionista, a culture vulture or just a globetrotter looking for unique, nontouristy finds, you’ll find lots to pack into that suitcase when visiting Mexico City.
Several of the capital’s best tourist sites are also great shopping venues. Palacio de Bellas Artes (Palace of Fine Arts), a gorgeous performing-arts center in the historic city center, has a sizeable gift shop filled with books about art and photography, as well as home decor items. Also noteworthy for decor downtown is Museo de Arte Popular (Museum of Popular Art). It opened in 2006 in a former fire house dating back to 1927, and it’s been beautifully renovated in an art deco style. The museum’s expansive gift shop is often mentioned in listings of the city’s best museum stores and is overflowing with renditions of the facility’s impressive collection of textiles, pottery, furniture, and alebrijes, brightly colored Oaxacan folk-art sculptures.
Another must-see stop, Museo Nacional de Antropologia (National Museum of Anthropology) — one of the world’s best anthropology museums — is home to an impressive lobby gift shop that’s stocked with reproductions of some of the venue’s most treasured pieces (including the Aztec calendar), as well as traditional Mexican clothing, educational toys, posters, jewelry, handicrafts and a plethora of books about Mexican history.
A bit off the tourist trail, visitors can find unique treasures of a different kind. Clotheshorses may want to head to Calle Havre, a street known for its fashion-forward style, where top clothing stores include Common People, which features the creations of independent fashion designers, and Sioux Boutique, a concept store that stocks brands from Mexico, Europe, the U.S. and Asia.
A relatively short cab ride away is the upscale neighborhood known as Condesa, where small, independent shops stock an array of interesting finds. Art lovers might want to peek into Tinta Naranja, a tiny art gallery where illustrations, photography and creative sculptures — the work of up-and-coming Mexican and international artists — fill the small space. (Mexican artist Manuel Castaneda’s works, which consist of vintage, rotary-dial telephones revamped as desk lamps, would be sure attention-getters for any office.)
A few blocks away is a store with a very different retro angle — Abbey Rock: La Casa de los Beatles. Fans of the Fab Four will find every possible type of Beatles memorabilia here, from figurines and posters to actual albums.
Even travelers who don’t have time to seek out the best shopping on their own can do well in Mexico’s capital. The swanky St. Regis Mexico City has its own “Cultural Curator” just for shopping; fashion stylist Marco Corral can provide guests with a private consultation during a St. Regis Tea Ritual at the hotel’s Glass House Cafe.
Afterward, he accompanies the guest on a private, four-hour tour through shopping spots that suit the traveler’s tastes — whether vintage clothiers and boutiques of emerging designers in the artsy Roma district, or high-profile, big-name designer showrooms in the glitzy Polanco district.
Another hotel property popular with style-conscious travelers is Condesa DF, the chic Grupo Habita property in the upscale Condesa district. Here, guests can pick up handmade jewelry, accessories and home decor items right in the small lobby gift shop — or perhaps a copy of Animal, the hotelier’s artsy, in-house magazine that features the work of local and international artists. With so many possibilities in Mexico City, it’s easy to find gifts to fit any suitcase or budget.