Mexico City: Places to Explore

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Bosque de Chapultepec and Zona Rosa

Bosque de Chapultepec, named for the chapulines (grasshoppers) that populated it long ago, is the city's largest park, a great green refuge from concrete, traffic, and dust. It's also home to a castle, a lake, an amusement park, the Mexican president's official residence, and five world-renowned museums. If you have time to visit only one of Bosque de Chapultupec's museums, make it the Museo Nacional de Antropología.

Stores, hotels, travel agencies, and restaurants line the avenues of the touristy (with the mushrooming of fast-food spots and some tacky bars and stores, the area has lost some of its former appeal) Zona Rosa, just east of the park. There aren't many sights in Zona Rosa, so consider combining some time in the park with a meal and some shopping here. The 29-square-block area is bounded by Paseo de la Reforma on the north, Niza on the east, Avenida Chapultepec on the south, and Avenida Floréncia on the west.

Most of the buildings were built in the 1920s as two- and three-story private homes for the well-to-do. All the streets are named after European cities; some, such as Génova, are garden-lined pedestrian malls accented with contemporary bronze statuary.

You can head right to the park or start your exploration of the Zona Rosa at the junction of Reforma, Avenida Juárez, and Bucareli. The best-known landmark here is the Monumento a la Independencia, also known as El Angel, which marks the western edge of the Zona Rosa. To enjoy the Zona Rosa, walk the lengths of Hamburgo and Londres and some of the side streets, especially Copenhague—a veritable restaurant row. There's a crafts market, Mercado Insurgentes, also known as Mercado Zona Rosa, on Londres. Four blocks southwest of the market, at Avenida Chapultepec, you'll come to the main entrance of the Bosque de Chapultepec.

You can easily spend an hour at each Bosque de Chapultepec museum, with the exception of the Museo Nacional de Antropología, which is huge compared with its sister institutions. There you can have a quick go-through in two hours, but to appreciate the fine exhibits, anywhere from a half day to a full day is more appropriate. Tuesday through Friday are good days to visit the museums and stroll around the park. On Sunday and on Mexican holidays they're often packed with families, and if you get to the Museo Nacional de Antropología after 10 am, you can expect to spend considerable time there, waiting.

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