From toddlers to teens, here’s how to keep the kids occupied in Cancún.
What is there do with kids in Cancún? In a word: lots. Whether you’re looking for budget-friendly archaeological ruins and gentle water slides that will entertain your toddlers or are more interested in adrenaline-pumping adventure parks and culture-filled excursions, there’s something to suit families with children of all ages in and around Cancún.
Planetario de Cancún
Those of you with science-mad kids will want to make an obligatory stop at the Cancún Planetarium while on vacation. Offering a change from the usual ziplining and swimming options, at the Planetario de Cancún you can peer through a telescope (on select days), explore interactive exhibits and watch film screenings in the dome, all while enjoying a respite from Cancún’s often oppressive heat and humidity. Who said learning wasn’t fun?
You can’t go to Cancún and not spend at least a day lounging on the beach and dipping in and out of the turquoise ocean. But not all beaches are as kid-friendly as the last, so choose carefully if you’re traveling with little ones and not-so-strong swimmers. The calm and shallow waters at both Playa Langosta and Playa Tortugas make them great for families, while the nearby amenities are an added bonus; however, be careful on popular Playa Delfines. The rip tides can be rough.
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Explore the El Rey Ruins and Museum
When you think ruins close to Cancún, your mind likely leaps to Chichén Itzá or even the Tulum Pyramid and with good reason! They’re some of Mexico’s most popular archaeological sites but getting there can be a slog for families with little ones. Instead, visit the somewhat lesser-known (and admittedly much smaller) El Rey ruins instead. Conveniently located smack bang in the Hotel Zone, combine a visit to El Rey with a stop at the nearby Museo Maya, which also includes entry to the San Miguelito Ruins.
Related Story: 10 Best Things to Explore on the Yucatán Peninsula
Ride the Ferris Wheel
One of the most recent additions to Cancún’s smorgasbord of family-friendly attractions, the giant Gran Rueda (or, Big Wheel) is a great place from which to enjoy views over the surrounding lagoon and Hotel Zone. While it’s probably not worth going out of your way to visit, definitely take time to enjoy the Ferris wheel if you’re spending an afternoon at the nearby La Isla shopping mall. While you’re there, stop by the Cancún Interactive Aquarium too.
Visit Ventura Park
If venturing beyond the Hotel Zone for family-friendly activities in Cancún seems like a drag… then don’t. Ventura Park (once known as Wet’n’Wild) is situated at km 25 of the resort capital of Cancún and features water slides, wave pools, Go-Kart tracks, and ziplines spread across six distinct zones. Whether you’re vacationing with sulky teens or tiny toddlers, Ventura Park will have something of interest for all.
INSIDER TIPFor more adventurous kids, Selvatica (located about an hour outside of Cancún proper) is another great option.
Take a Dip in the Cenotes
Cenotes—a.k.a., natural swimming holes sacred to the Mayans—are found the length and breadth of the Yucatán Peninsula. Most of the more popular ones that offer kid-friendly services like life jackets and snorkel rental (think: Gran Cenote, Cenote Dos Ojos, and Cenote Azul) are closer to Playa del Carmen than Cancún though, so you might have to sacrifice some time to travel if you fancy taking a dip.
INSIDER TIPThere are plenty of cenote-centric tours if you don’t want to deal with the logistics yourself.
Ride a Mexican Gondola at Xoximilco
Modeled on the waterways of Xochimilco in Mexico City, Xoximilco is the only place you can ride a colorful Mexican trajinera (gondola) outside of the capital. Float down jungle canals as your guide gives you an insight into Mexican culture and tradition. Traditional Mexican foods and drinks are provided onboard—the kids’ menu is tailored to more sensitive taste buds, so there’s (hopefully) no need to worry about tantrums. Live mariachi performances are also included to round out the experience.
Take a Day Trip to Isla Mujeres
Just 20-minutes by boat from Cancún—perfect for travelers with kids who don’t want to sit still for very long—Isla Mujeres is one of the most easily accessible Caribbean islands. There, you can lounge on the sands of Playa Norte (North Beach) and splash or snorkel in the shallow aquamarine waters. If you’re beached-out, instead explore the small island with a rented golf cart and don’t miss the Tortugranja (Turtle Farm).
Learn About Crocodiles at Croco Cun Zoo
Developed as a crocodile breeding farm, Croco Cun Zoo has since expanded to become one of the top interactive animal attractions in Cancún with a focus on conservation. There, children of all ages will enjoy learning about crocodiles (obviously) as well as a wealth of other local creatures, such as turtles, spider monkeys, and snakes.
INSIDER TIPChildren aged five and under enter for free at Croco Cun Zoo, so it’s one of Cancún’s more budget-friendly attractions.
Dive into one of Cancún’s Eco-Adventure Water Parks
Xel-Há, Xcaret, and Xplor–even travelers with only the vaguest idea of Cancún’s top attractions will likely have come across one (or all) of these names before, so popular are these exciting eco-adventure water parks. Combining archaeology, culture, live shows, and adventure activities like snorkeling, ziplining, and quad biking, a visit to one of these parks is a top family activity in Cancún. If you’re traveling with teens, the adrenaline-pumping appeal of Xplor may be more appropriate, while water babies will likely prefer Xel-Há. And Xcaret? That’s got something for everyone.
Attend a Pirate Dinner Cruise and Show
If you’re traveling with younger children, a pirate-themed dinner cruise and show can be a fun family-friendly way to round at an evening of beach-hopping and playing in the pool. Hop on board either the Captain Hook Pirate Dinner Cruise (which takes place on a replica 18th-century Spanish Galleon) or opt for the Jolly Roger Pirate Show Cancún. Both set sail daily and include an open bar for the adults, dinner, costumed staff, and immersive live shows that will keep the kids enthralled.