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Vacations are supposed to be fun, but they can also be rewarding and enriching experiences for children when parents choose the right destination and activities. Mexico excels when it comes to keeping kids engaged and entertained. Here are five great examples to inspire that next trip.
Go All-Inclusive in Cancun Cancun is home to multiple all-inclusive hotels that cater to kids, at a variety of price points.
The Grand Oasis Palm and its adjacent property, the Oasis Palm, both offer access to a large kids club, which has its own pool with slide, a crafts room, a video game room, a restaurant and even its own disco “nightclub.” Travelers can also request special kid-themed guestrooms with colorful nautical and jungle decor. www.oasishotels.com
At the Omni Cancun Hotel & Villas, kids get their own backpack upon check-in as part of the Omni Sensational Kids program. They’ll also receive milk and cookies delivered to their room on the first night, and families can request a rolling backpack filled with toys and games. www.omnihotels.com
Meet the Marine Life in MazatlanIn the so-called “Pearl of the Pacific,” families can come face to face with a diverse array of marine life at Acuario Mazatlan, the Mazatlan Aquarium.
Live entertainment includes a sea lion show, a dive show and a bird show, while activities (for adults and older kids) include swimming with sea lions and sharks and a stingray encounter that allows participants to pet, feed and swim with these fascinating creatures. Meanwhile, the calm waters off of the coast can provide a good setting for beginning snorkelers to see fish in their natural habitat. www.acuariomazatlan.com
Kid-friendly Museums in Mexico CityMexico’s capital may be a giant metropolis, but that doesn’t mean that kids won’t enjoy it. Parents of younger children might consider a visit to the Papalote Museo del Nino (the Papalote children’s museum), which has exhibits about science and nature, play areas designed specifically for children age five and under and a giant IMAX screen that shows 3D movies about wildlife and other kid-friendly topics.
One play area with ample photo opportunities is the mini-supermarket, scaled to children’s size and stocked with products to buy and checkout stations that teach children how to choose the right products in order to lead a healthy and eco-friendly life. The Lego-sponsored “Construyo la Ciudad del Futuro” is another highlight, where kids plan and construct their own cities.www.papalote.org.mx
Language Learning in OaxacaThis culturally rich city is home to numerous Spanish-language schools for adults — and kids aren’t left out of the learning possibilities, either.
Instituto Cultural Oaxaca offers a children’s Spanish-language program, targeted at kids between the ages of six and 12 and tailored to their experience with Spanish. Classes often include visits to museums, markets and even a chocolate factory, and parents can join their kids for cultural workshops that include ceramics, weaving and salsa dancing. www.icomexico.com
At Vinigulaza, another Spanish-language school in Oaxaca, classes for kids and teens include role playing and what activities that incorporate “Total Physical Response,” a language teaching method that encourages students to act out what they’re learning. www.vinigulaza.com
Arts, Crafts and Animals in Vallarta-NayaritThe region that encompasses Puerto Vallarta and the Riviera Nayarit is yet another ideal place to connect kids with culture and nature.
Among the family-friendly hotels is CasaMagna Marriott Puerto Vallarta, where the “Secretos de la Familia” program offers Spanish-language and Mexican cooking classes for children — in addition to tequila-tasting sessions for adults. Kids can also join the property’s sea turtle rescue program that takes place between June and November. www.marriott.com
Just north of Puerto Vallarta, families flock to Aquaventuras Park Vallarta, an attractive water park with 10 water slides. Perhaps the biggest reason to visit Aquaventuras is Dolphin Discovery Vallarta, an attraction located inside the park where families can sign up for encounters with sea lions and dolphins. www.aquaventuras.comwww.dolphindiscovery.com
During the summer and fall months, visitors can also head to Grupo Ecologico de la Costa Verde’s marine turtle nursery, located in San Francisco. Here turtle hatchlings are released just after sundown, and each Wednesday evening during the nesting season, the organization conducts an educational slideshow at the Costa Azul Hotel, followed by — if there are any — the releasing of young hatchlings.www.project-tortuga.orgwww.costaazul.com