8 reasons to love Mexico City

Just a short plane ride away, Mexico City is a gritty and charming alternative to the cruise ports along Mexico’s coast. As it sheds its violent past, the city remains a highly affordable destination for adventurous travelers. Here are eight reasons why I’ll be returning soon.

1. It’s safer than you think.

Located in the center of the country, Mexico City isn’t prone to the drug violence plaguing the U.S.-Mexico border. Sure, you want to stay vigilant and stick to the beaten path, but you’ll find Mexico City is not the dangerous, crime-ridden place some would have you believe.

2. It’s cheap.

One U.S. dollar currently nabs you 13 Mexican pesos. Street tacos can be had for pennies. A high-end meal with wine and multiple courses will set you back $80 for two. Entry into museums is just a few dollars and silver jewelry sells for $10 to $20.

3. You can eat grasshoppers!

Look on the menu for “chapulines,” or toasted grasshoppers. They’re squishy, sour and, surprisingly, not disgusting. After the waiter brings your order, you may need to down a few shots of mescal to summon the courage to try one. Just a slight breeze and those suckers look alive.

4. The food is amazing.

In addition to bugs, you will also find homemade soups, grilled cactus, fresh seafood and the best guacamole in Mexico City. Each restaurant serves its own salsas. Lime slices adorn every table. Do a little research, as food quality and safety can vary among restaurants, but in general you’ll find fresh food at ridiculously low prices.

5. The museum scene is world class.

Tourist officials claim that Mexico City has more museums than any other city. I don’t have time to count, but I can tell you there are a lot. There’s modern art and ancient ruins, wall murals and ornate post offices. The most famous is Museo Nacional de Antropologia, which houses relics from the Mayan, Aztec and Olmec civilizations, to name a few. The museum is surrounded by gardens filled with replicas of ancient villages and temples.

6. It’s like Venice. Sort of.

When the conquistadors arrived, Mexico City was called Tenochtitlan, capital of the Aztec empire. The Aztecs lived on a series of manmade islands connected by footbridges. When the Spanish conquered Tenochtitlan, they drained the lake but spared one area called Xochimilco. Now Xochimilco’s canals are traveled by colorful flat-bottom boats full of partiers, mariachi bands and food vendors. Sundays are an especially lively day to cruise the canals.

7. It’s not Cancun.

Most visitors to Mexico don’t venture past the jewelry hawkers and blanket vendors hustling at the cruise ports of Cancun and Cozumel. There are no spring breakers in Mexico City. Know a little Spanish, or at least carry a good map and be prepared to smile and point.

8. Beer cocktails!

Why settle for a plain old Corona and lime? Mexico City serves up some mean beer cocktails. A “michelada” tastes like a mix of beer, lime and salt. A “cubana” tastes the same, but with hot sauce and spices. They’re a delicious and refreshing way to spice up Mexico’s light beers.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Travel

From peppers to pork pies, the most interesting food festivals of the year

There are plenty of tasty reasons to let your appetite determine your destination this year. From festivals celebrating familiar foods to those where you can try more unusual ones, and events where both culinary world superstars and lesser-known chefs cook for the crowds, traveling in the coming year promises to be a palate-pleasing proposition. ...
Aloha, partner: Riding the Hawaiian range

Concho wants to gallop. I can tell. He's a horse, after all, a headstrong one, and rippling green hills spread in every direction. Every so often, a break in the clouds reveals the barren summit of Mauna Kea to the south. But galloping is still a little ways outside my skill set, so with a twinge of guilt I pull the reins to keep my mount at a slow...
Pilot program allows Disney World resort guests to check in with Fido
Pilot program allows Disney World resort guests to check in with Fido

At sunset on a warm January evening, I walked my dog along the edge of a man-made lake at Walt Disney World’s Art of Animation Resort. She sniffed the grass and marked her territory while I kept my eye out for alligators and staffers’ ubiquitous golf carts hauling guests’ luggage to and from their rooms. Six months ago, this would...
Off the hook
Off the hook

“OK, y’all, I’m about to bring out the owl,” says Kelly Reetz, a naturalist with Alabama’s Gulf State Park, pulling on a tough brown leather glove from a box marked “owl encounters.” A group of excited kids encircles Reetz in the park’s nature center, quiet for just this moment, while she introduces them...
What’s new in Scandinavia for 2018
What’s new in Scandinavia for 2018

Anyone traveling in Scandinavia this year will find a region that’s investing productively in itself. Numerous urban, cultural and transit projects are underway, continuing the Scandinavian devotion to quality of life for residents and visitors alike. Here are some newsworthy notes to keep in mind as you travel in the region in 2018. In Denmark&rsquo...
More Stories