Even if I’m no longer considered a tourist in Cancun…I have absolutely no problem taking advantage of all of the fun touristy things this amazing area of Mexico has to offer! Since Mexico is a very family friendly country I find an awesome perk is that most area attractions & parks give free entrance to young children. Often kids are free until 4 or 5 years old here in Mexico compared to most Canadian & American attractions that only offer free admission for children under 2 or 3.
As a very active toddler mom I’m constantly on the look out for the best, safe & most entertaining places to take my daughter. We visit various places as a family but often it’s just me alone with my daughter so nice wide open places where she can safely burn off energy & hold her attention are a win win. I love to fill our days with lots of new experiences & mini adventures.
Here are my top 10 favourite attractions & activities to do with a toddler in Cancun & the Riviera Maya…
Xcaret is by far our favourite place to spend an entire day. I always tell everyone I know coming here on vacation that if they’re only going to do one excursion Xcaret is by far your best bet…especially if you have young kids! It’s an amazing place because it gives you a small sampling of so many different things the Riviera Maya is known for but all in one big beautiful & safe location…from underground rivers, amazing cultural shows, lots of wildlife, small archeological sites, a replica Mayan village, traditional Mexican cemetery, hands on workshops, a boat ride through their Paradise River, an incredible view of the entire area from the 360 rotating scenic tower and a huge children’s play area filled with waterslides & obstacle courses. With young kids it means they can pretty much participate & enjoy every activity & show at the park since it’s completely family friendly for all ages.
As locals we have an annual membership that allows us to visit the park as many times as we want throughout the year & kids under 5 are free. We love it so much we go at least once or twice a month. I’ve been going with my daughter since she was just 1 and I truly feel it’s the perfect place for a toddler to safely burn off energy running around while also getting to explore and learn so many things firsthand along the way.
*Children under 5 are free
Heading to the island for the day has always been such a fun activity! We usually keep it simple by just heading over on the ferry ourselves (we prefer to take the ferry from Puerto Juarez), rent a golf cart & do our own little tour around. I don’t think there’s any kid out there who wouldn’t think getting to ride around an island on a golf cart isn’t tons of fun! The island is fairly small and you can drive around the entire island in about 45 minutes.
There are lots of great little spots to stop along the way like the Tortugranja (turtle farm), the cliffs of Punta Sur, the Ixchel Mayan temple, great casual eating spots in downtown Isla Mujeres and lots of beautiful beach options. I’ve taken the ferry alone with my daughter several times and can easily spend a whole day with her there.
Crococun Zoo is one of those small but awesome little spots to visit! I don’t think they advertise very much or get a lot of push from hotel concierge booking excursions but it’s definitely worth checking out. You go through the zoo with a bilingual guide in small groups allowing you to get hands on with snakes, birds, deer and of course crocodiles. My daughter was 2 the first time she went and was still able to touch or hold all of the animals with a little assistance and supervision. The tour probably took around 1.5 hours.
After the tour you’re welcome to stay to have something to eat or drink from their cafe or use the playground on the property. This became an unplanned highlight for us because the trees in the area are filled with spider monkeys! While having a snack & playing with my daughter in the playground we had lots of monkey visitors overhead and really it was one of the coolest experiences ever!
*Children under 6 are free
Mayan Museum of Cancun/San Miguelito Archeological Zone
This is one of those places I find many people don’t even know exist but it’s a great little hidden gem right in Cancun. Admission to the museum is just a few dollars & gives you entrance to both the Mayan Museum and the archeological site (San Miguelito) attached to the property. Isla and I will head there maybe once every month or so just to walk the pathways weaving around the small ruin sites. If you don’t have the time or energy to head out on a bigger day trip to see the larger Mayan ruins such as Chichén Itzá, Tulum or Coba…San Miguelito is perfect! I prefer it over El Rey (which is also in the Hotel Zone) only because of all of the gorgeous mature trees that provide lots of shade. All of that shade and safe quiet pathways are absolutely perfect for a toddler!
I don’t always go in the museum part because many of their displays are completely open with just small marked lines acting as a mental barrier to the artifacts instead of actually having them physically enclosed. It’s hard to explain to an excited toddler why she can’t feel all of the markings on the stones so I always need to decide as we go whether or not we’ll venture into the museum that day. If you know your little one will get tired outside and then possibly rest in a stroller afterwards save the museum portion until after your walk through the archeological zone.
*Children under 12 are free
La Isla Shopping Village
La Isla Shopping Village is a beautiful open-air mall in the Cancun Hotel Zone built over channels of water coming from the lagoon. We often head to La Isla just to walk around & grab some ice cream. There are lots of stores varying from higher end brands to a few souvenir type shops but we tend to just do a lot of window shopping enjoying the atmosphere. If you time it right for dinner there are lots of casual family friendly restaurant options along the lagoon side which means you can watch a gorgeous sunset during your meal.
Activities you may want to consider while at the mall are riding the new La Gran Rueda ferris wheel, visiting the Interactive Aquarium or the bungee trampoline for kids.
Cancun just got a new giant observation wheel in the Hotel Zone and it’s lots of fun. Each individual passenger car is air conditioned with large clear windows so you get a great aerial view of the Hotel Zone in all directions. The ferris wheel is located right at the entrance of the La Isla Shopping Village at KM 12.5 and reaches a height of 60 metres. Since it sits a little closer to the mall you get a better view of the lagoon with only partial views of the ocean through the nearby hotels located on the beach side. If you’re going to head to La Isla the ferris wheel is still a fun addition to your afternoon and toddler friendly.
*Free for kids under 4
Captain Hook Dinner Cruise
This is likely the best night time activity you can do with kids! You board a giant pirate ship (actual 18th century Spanish Galleon replicas) in the Hotel Zone and become immersed in a super fun & interactive dinner show sailing just off the coast of Cancun. I first took my daughter when she had freshly turned 1 but she still loved watching all of the action even at such a young age. There were pirates swinging from top areas of the ship, lots of music and even a mini “battle” ensued between our pirates and a rival ship of pirates who boarded our boat. To be honest the food was better than I thought it would be as all of the meats come straight off the grill in front of you. You can also fill your plate from the buffet with items like steamed vegetables, potatoes, rice, pasta & a dessert.
*Kids are free between 2-12 years old with a paying adult
360 Scenic Tower
Up until recently the 360 scenic rotating tower located at KM 4.5 in the Hotel Zone (El Embarcadero) was really the only way you could get a birds eye view of Cancun. In my opinion the observation tower gives you a much better view than the ferris wheel at La Isla only because the tower is located right next to the water. You get an unobstructed view of the ocean to the east and the lagoon to the west. The cabin area is air conditioned and slowly rotates up 80 metres. Since the benches sit on a wide platform it’s comfortable with little ones and a nice slow gradual rise to take some of the fear out of it if anyone is a little unsure about heights.
A bonus if you visit an Xcaret Xperience Park (Xcaret, Xel-Ha, Xplor, Xoximilco or Xenses) & keep your wristband on you can visit the Cancun scenic tower for free. If you’re staying in Cancun during your vacation it’s definitely worth the little outing to also head to the tower.
*Children under 5 are free
All Ritmo Waterpark
I’ve been to other water parks with my 3-year-old but we didn’t really enjoy them as much because she was limited as to which slides she was allowed to go on or things just seemed more geared to older children. The All Ritmo Waterpark is a smaller waterpark attached to a resort in Puerto Juarez just north of Cancun that is much more toddler friendly. Entrance to the park is fairly inexpensive especially considering food & beverages are included with admission. The waterpark is really one large open area circled around a big water play area filled with fun places to climb, slide, shoot water & get buckets of water dumped down all over the kids. There are also more toddler friendly water slides and play areas along the side as well as mini golf. It’s a great inexpensive day in the sun with your little one that won’t break the bank!
*Children under 5 are free
This is a great park if you’re looking to stay right in Cancun without factoring a lot of travel time in. Located at KM 25 in the Cancun Hotel Zone Ventura Park is a mini water park & amusement park all rolled into one. The park is the recent add-on to Wet n’ Wild that’s been a longstanding popular attraction. Entrance gives you access to both the water play area and Fun World but it’s important to note that there is a minimum height requirement to be allowed on most of the rides. My daughter who is 3 could only ride on the Carousel in Fun World but she excitedly asked the operator to keep the ride going for a good 15 minutes straight since it wasn’t busy (that alone made her day). As for the Wet n’ Wild side she loved the lazy river & kids water park. Overall the park isn’t my top pick for toddlers due to the height restrictions limiting what they can participate in but it’s a decent trade off since kids under 5 are free, the location is great and the park includes food & beverages. It’s still a fun day in the sun!
*Children under 5 are free
Cancun & the surrounding areas are filled with so many incredible options to get you and your family off the resort for the day. With so many great promotions giving young children free admission it definitely helps make venturing out more affordable. Above are just some of my favourite toddler friendly activities & parks that I can proudly say I’ve tried & tested (several many many times) with my own energetic spirited little one!
Activities, Parks & Excursions mentioned…