Our first day in Mexico City was perfect. We scheduled a morning bike tour of the city to get a feel for the city. Before our bike tour we stopped at a local favorite for breakfast, El Cardenal. The restaurant was full of locals and lively at 8:30am. It was so busy we probably should have made a reservation! If you choose to go to El Cardenal, you must try one of their excellent fresh baked breads to go with your latte or coffee. If you have a sweet tooth, start your day with their local hot chocolate! As far as heartier breakfast options go their omelette with zucchini and mushrooms with salsa verde and corn was outstanding.
Once we were full and fueled,. it was time for our bike tour around Mexico City. If you are looking for a bike tour I highly recommend Mexico Bike Tours. Marco our guide was excellent. We spent four hours exploring the upper and lower parts of Chapultepec Park. This is a very popular park amongst locals to visit on the weekends. There is a lake where you can rent paddle boats, playgrounds for the kids, and tons of space for puppies and people to walk and exercise! Did you know it is twice the size of Central Park in New York? I never would have imagined it being so lush with greenery. It is a peaceful and beautiful place to get away from the hustle and bustle of the big city.
From Chapultepec park we ventured closer to downtown via Paseo de La Reforma and begin eating our way around various neighborhoods! Our first stop was in the Juarez district where we stopped at the Museo de Chocolate! My favorite was the mango covered chocolates. Be sure to buy a few chocolates to bring home! Right around the corner from Fuente de Cibeles was our next stop, Panaderia. This adorable side walk cafe served delicious pastries. We tried 5 different ones! They are known for their Rol Guayaba. If you find yourself in Mexico City close to Dia de Los Muertos be sure to try their pumpkin bread!
While on our bike tour we discovered just how many parks and playgrounds there are in the city. If you have kids Mexico City is a fantastic destination. There are so many parks and playgrounds for children to run around!
We biked our way around the Condesa neighborhood before stopping for lunch at Tacos Don Juan. This street corner taco stand is a popular brunch spot for locals. We were able to try two different types of tacos- the beefsteak and cactus. These were then piled high with local favorite toppings - pickled onions, avocado creama, and salsa verde. We were once again full and fueled up for the end of our bike tour. It was now time to bike back through Chapultepec park to end our tour. What a fun way to begin exploring the 6th largest city in the world!
After our tour we walked to Lincoln Park! Named after the one in Chicago and features a statue of Abraham Lincoln. It was almost like I was home but in reality I was a few thousand miles away. Located in the Polanco neighborhood, across from this park, was an adorable Churro stand, El Muro. We of course had to grab a churro snack! Are you into bookstores? I love bookstores and could honestly plan a trip based on visiting some of the most beautiful bookstores and libraries in the world. A quick walk from El Muro was the perfect bookstore cafe, Cafebrería el Péndulo. It was the kind you could browse, sip on a cafe and just relax.
The Polanco neighborhood was one of my favorite neighborhoods in Mexico City. It was filled with bustling restaurants with inside and sidewalk dinning, and lots of shopping. If you are looking to do a little shopping, shop along Avendida Masaryk!
We capped off our first day with dinner at Zuzu. This fun rooftop restaurant had a couple of boutique shops in levels below. You can dine there rain or shine! It unfortunately was monsooning while we were there so we did not get the full open air rooftop experience. Everything we had on the menu was great, including the guava mezcal. It is in walking distance to a local mezcal bar, La Levanderia Nocturnal. This dark quaint bar was the perfect spot to grab one last drink and be immersed with the locals.
The only museum we had planned while in Mexico City was the Frida Khalo museum. Located about 30 minutes from the city this is a must see for everyone. You learn so much about a person, stepping into their home, viewing their artwork, and getting a glimpse into their daily life. She truly is an inspiring woman. Be sure to book your tickets in advance!
We did not have enough time to wander around the neighborhood after visiting the Frida Khalo museum. We grabbed an Uber and headed to the Palace de Bella’s Artes. Ubers are very easy to find and inexpensive in Mexico City. I highly recommend taking them over public transportation. There are several other sights around the palace to see . We stopped at Corres de Mexico and Alameda Central. Alameda Central was the first park in the city! After walking through the park we found ourself at a local taqueria.
Immerse yourself into the local culture through an authentic taqueria experience at Taqueria el Progresso (Calle Maestro Antonio Casa). Everyone who worked there and were dining there were so welcoming and helpful. If you find yourself at a taqueria you typically order first, eat, and then pay! Be sure to try their fresh flavored waters! They are so large you could share but they are the perfect pairing with their beefsteak tacos.
What is a visit to Mexico City with out shopping at a local market? We chose to visit Mercado de Artesanias. This large and colorful market was so much fun to walk around and explore. There are handmade clothing items, blankets, pottery, and toys. The best part is no one hassles you! We all left the market with beautiful painted pottery souvenirs.
We had a little time to walk around and explore before we finished the day with our cooking class. We stumbled upon Jardin Juarez. This was one of the prettiest beer gardens I have been to. It was decorated with gorgeous flowers and vines. The massive greenery covered pergola had picnic tables underneath for guests to sit and gather. It was the perfect spot to enjoy a beautiful day, sip on a local beer, and relax.
The second market on our list was Juarez Mercado. We stopped here during our evening cooking class. Our small group cooking class was in a locals home. We shopped at the market right around the corner for ingredients for dinner before going to the apartment to cook. This hands on cooking class was taught by an esteemed chef who used to work at Mexico City's world renowned and three Michelin Star restaurant, Pujol. We cooked an authentic dinner consisting of guacamole, tacos, porchetta and chorizo soup, chicken and mole. Everything was made from scratch with the fresh ingredients we purchased at the market. It was another wonderful experience immersing us in the culture of Mexico City.
Today I crossed one off of my bucket list! I finally rode in a hot air balloon! I was nervous prior due to my fear of heights but I ended up being perfectly find. Words cannot express what a spectacular experience it was. We were picked up at our hotel in the early morning hours and transferred to the to the balloon site where we had coffee and a snack prior to getting in our balloon! After a slight weather delay we were able to watch the balloon inflation process before loading into our assigned balloon! Before we knew it we were up, up, and away! Floating high in the air, looking out upon the fields and mountains around us was a calming and beautiful experience. It was a truly a spectacular 50 minute ride looking down upon the Teotihuacan Ruins and seeing the early morning sun rays shine through the clouds. After our celebratory landing with champagne we were then driven back to the balloon site for a surprise breakfast fiesta complete with mariachi band!
After breakfast our morning continued with a guided tour of Teotihuacan- seeing both iconic Aztec pyramids the Temple of the Moon and Temple of the Sun. These two temples are connected by a 1.5 mile road referred to as the Avenue of the Dead. This road was used for processions. The Temple of the Moon was designed to look like the mountain behind it, its larger twin The Temple of the Sun is same but located to the Southeast. The Temple of the Moon is smaller but the top of the temples are at the exact same height due to sloping of the land. How the builders of these temples calculated this is mind blowing! The Temple of the Sun is the 6th tallest pyramid in the world and the 3rd largest in volume behind Giza! Having recently been to Giza, you can read more about my trip here, it was fun to be able to compare the two!
We ended our day with drinks at the roof top bar of the Ritz Carlton. Our tour guide recommended we go here and it did not disappoint! Get there before sunset for breathtaking views as far as the eye can see. On one side you look out over Chapultepec Park getting a first hand look at how expansive the park truly is. On the other side you have a view of Mexico City's downtown. Grab a drink and sit back as you watch the clouds roll over the mountains. Hungry? Head to Bellopuerto in my favorite neighborhood, Poblanco!
Our last day in Mexico City was full of sightseeing, crossing off places we had yet to visit, and a 4 hour food tour! We started early at Chapultepec Castle. The castle is not easy to get to since you must walk through Chapultepec Park and up a hill to the entrance of the castle. The beautiful castle also known as Castillo de Miravalle takes about an hour or more to explore inside and out. The expansive views over the lush green park and out to downtown are gorgeous, even on a cloudy day!
We had time for one last tour, a food tour. I had never been on a food tour until this one! We visited 8 different locations while getting a tour of various landmarks along the way. We tasted fresh seafood, tacos, mole, and had drinks at a local cantina. The cantina was my favorite spot. This is place to go to watch a soccer match and spend time with friends. There is always a sporting event or music playing. The tables are made with special drink holders down below so that you can play board games! We ended our tour, waiting in a long line with locals, to then be immersed into the chaos of buying fresh baked goods from a local pastry shop! We were beyond full but learned so much about the culture and food through this tour.
If you are looking for a destination that you can eat your way through Mexico City is a fantastic choice. This city is full of fantastic food, history, and culture. It is an easy 4 hour flight or less from most cities in the United States. A perfect spot for a three day weekend getaway with friends or family!