9 Things To Do In Yucatan – Perfect For A Family Vacation

The Yucatan Peninsula is a region in Mexico that has been home to some of the most influential civilizations in history. It's also a place where you can experience everything from lush jungles and sandy beaches to Mayan ruins and colonial cities. In this blog post, we'll share 9 things to do while visiting the Yucatan!

The Yucatan Peninsula is a beautiful and diverse region of the Mexican peninsula. It consists of more than 300 miles of coastline, including some of the most pristine beaches in Mexico. The largest city in the Yucatan is Merida with about 1 million residents; however, there are many smaller towns dotting this area as well. There are so many things to do here that you'll have trouble deciding what to do first!

Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula

So you’ve finally made it to the Yucatan. You’re ready for some relaxation, but don't want to be bored. Don't worry, because I have a list of things you can do in the area that will make your trip memorable!

Here are my top 5 favorite activities in Yucatan:

  1. Visit Chichen Itza and explore the old Mayan ruins
  2. Explore cenotes
  3. Get lost in Valladolid
  4. Try out different food dishes from around the world
  5. Spend time on one of many beautiful beaches  

If you're looking for a popular Yucatan Peninsula destination, we've got you covered! Here are some of the top cities you can check out in the Yucatan:

  • Playa Del Carmen, Tulum, Merida, Akumal, Cancun, and Izamal.

Check out these hotels the Yucatan Peninsula when planning your trip.

What The Yucatan Is Famous For

1. Relax At The Beaches & Resorts Of Cancun 

Cancun is a favorite beach destination for many people and is usually the starting point of their Yucatan travels. The beaches are beautiful and the resorts offer top-notch accommodations, delicious food, and lots to do in between relaxing at the beach or by your pool. 

Cancun Resorts by the beach

Whether you're looking for an active vacation with plenty of activities or just a relaxing getaway enjoying some time on the sandy shores, this Mexican city has it all. It's one of Mexico's most popular tourist destinations and it has plenty of resorts that will make sure you have a great time. Even if you're not into all-inclusive resorts (and they can be fun!), there are still some beautiful places to stay in Cancun that won't break the bank.

Enjoy activities like parasailing or jet skiing on the Caribbean Sea before taking a dip in one of their many pools.

2. Have Fun In The Town Of Playa Del Carmen On The Coast

We'll get right to the chase with this one: We loved visiting Playa Del Carmen because of the variety of good quality food available with the benefit of being close to the beach! There are also amazing restaurants that serve delicious seafood dishes like ceviche and shrimp tacos. It felt very comfortable staying there and traveling around as a family with a little one, similar to our visit to Costa Rica.

The town is very walkable and has all the amenities you could need, so we also love it as a great long-term stay location as it reminded us of the time we lived in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

international food in Playa Del Carmen Yucatan Peninsula

Playa del Carmen is one of Mexico's most popular tourist destinations for good reasons: its spectacular white sand beaches lined with palm trees, warm turquoise waters perfect for swimming or sunning yourself on the beach, and an active nightlife scene where you can enjoy traditional Mexican food or international cuisine.

Playa Del Carmen is a great destination because it offers an endless list of activities from diving to snorkeling or just relaxing on the beach with some frozen margaritas. The vibe is fun and relaxed, perfect for families with kids or couples!

3. Enjoy Akumal's Peaceful and Stunning Beaches

Akumal is a coastal town about 45 minutes south of Cancun, Mexico. The beaches are stunning and peaceful, making it the perfect place to relax during your next vacation or getaway.

This is where you want to be if you really want to get away from it all, yet have access to other great locations if need be. Tulum is close by as well as Xel-Ha Park. It has a real secluded vibe so you'll want to get set up at an all-inclusive and just let go! We chose Sunscape Akumal Resort and it was a great place to do just that!

Akumal Beach - Yucatan Mexico

4. Tulum: The Chic & Trendy Town Of The Riviera Maya

Tulum is located on Mexico’s Caribbean coast about an hour drive from Playa del Carmen, which hosts luxury resorts like The Royal Hacienda or Secrets Akumal Bay. This chic town features many trendy restaurants, shops and galleries where you can browse local artwork by talented Mexican artists. Do not miss this opportunity to experience life at its best!

We had a bit of a hard time finding family friendly places to stay on the beach as Tulum is really catered to the young traveling as couples or friends. However, don't be discouraged if you want to go there with your kids, just have more realistic expectations and know that there is not much there to offer them other than the beach.

Tulum Beach Resort in Yucatan

Travel to Tulum requires a higher budget. While some are able to keep it "cheap" by staying in town and only going to the beach hotels for the clubs and restaurants, it's still not that budget-friendly.

5. Izamal - The Yellow Town

Izamal, Mexico is a great place to visit if you love history and want something besides the typical beach scene. The town has an interesting past as it was once the center of Mayan religious activity. Today, Izamal is known for its bright yellow walls (quite literally the whole town!) and architecture which date back to colonial times when Franciscan priests were in charge of running things.

Mayan Pyramid in Izamal Yucatan

The locals are friendly and kind and easy going, and they make you feel right at home! Izamal might be small, but there's plenty to see here: giant churches, towering pyramids (that you can climb), and historic plazas.

Convento de San Antonio and Pirámide Kinich Kakmó should be on your list of must see places in Izamal!

6. Valladolid - Colorful & Charming

It is one of the most intimate cities in the Yucatan Peninsula. Valldolid has maintained its colonial charm and authenticity. This city offers travelers authentic Mexican cuisine, beautiful architecture, and warm, welcoming locals.

Valladolid is known for its amazing food and beautiful buildings. The streets are filled with markets and restaurants that sell local dishes like cochinita pibil and pan de cazon. You can find delicious Mexican desserts like coconut candies at these markets as well!

Valladolid Mexico - Yucatan Peninsula

Valladolid is also home to many beautiful Spanish colonial-style buildings, such as the Convent of San Bernardino de Siena and Templo de Santa Ana. If you're looking for something fun to do during your visit, check out the Cenote Azul or take a tour through one of the nearby Mayan ruins! There is also a home whose tenants have turned into a museum due to their love of collecting Mexican art. Make sure to check out Casa Del Los Venados and be amazed by their beautiful collections and their home!

Our stay at Casa Tia Micha was just as magical as our visit to the town!

7. Big City Life In Mérida

Merida is located in the Yucatan peninsula and is a popular tourist destination for travelers looking to explore Mexico. It is the capital city of the state of Yucatan and is a must see city for those who want to see more of the local Mexican life.

Merida - PLaza Grande

The city has many interesting historical sites and attractions, such as the Catheral de San Ildefonso with its famous altar, Museo Regional de Antropologia which houses Mayan artifacts from early civilizations dating back centuries ago, and of course we can't forget about the beautiful beaches that lie just outside of Merida where tourists can enjoy water sports like snorkeling or diving.

If you're looking to experience something unique during your visit to Merida then be sure not to miss out on an adventure through one of their underground cenotes! This natural wonder features some incredible stalactites and stalagmites

What You Should Not Miss In The Yucatan: Cenotes & Mayan Ruins 

8. Dip Into The Natural Pool Of Cenotes

  • Cenote Azul - Closest cenote in proximity to Playa Del Carmen
  • Cenote Car Wash - Near Tulum and most underrated cenote
  • Cenote Elvira - Private cenote complete with amenities for groups to have parties or weddings
cenotes in Yucatan Peninsula

9. Explore Mayan Ruins In The Yucatan

The Yucatan is a beautiful and deeply fascinating region with an equally rich history. It's important to remember that the peninsula has been inhabited since around 1500 BC, and there are many archaeological sites to visit which help paint a picture of how life was lived in those times. The area also played host to some of the most powerful empires in the world - including Mayan, Toltec, and Aztec - who all left their mark on this region. 

Don't Miss These Historic Sites:

Chichen Itza - Most popular and closest to Valladolid

Tulum Archeological Site - Beautiful and fascinating coastal ruins

Pirámide Kinich Kakmó In Izamal - You can climb this one!

Playacar Mayan Ruins - Easy access (even walking distance) in Playa Del Carmen

Tulum Archeological Site

Will You Visit The Yucatan Peninsula?

The Yucatan Peninsula is a popular tourist destination for those looking to explore the history, culture and natural beauty of Mexico. It's also home to some incredible beaches that are perfect for relaxation or water sports on your vacation. If you're considering traveling there soon, above are just a few things not to miss when visiting this beautiful place! 

What about safety? Is it safe as a tourist in the Yucatan? We hear many people ask us if they should be worried going there. Should we worry about crime while exploring the peninsula? You shouldn't have any worries at all! In fact, locals will tell you how friendly everyone is and what a wonderful experience it can be traveling around.

Here are our favorite travel resources that you can use to plan your trip:

  • Our Travel Insurance Recommendation
  • What we use to book hotels
  • Travel Gear and Products You Might Need
  • The Best Tours and Experiences
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    Taiss Nowrouzi

    About the Author

    Taiss Nowrouzi

    Hi! I'm just a California girl addicted to travel and adventure with a passion for art and dance on the side. Born in Iran, but I consider myself a citizen of Earth, adhering to the belief that "The world is but one country and mankind its citizen." I strive to make a positive impact on everyone I meet and learn as much as possible from them. My degree out of college is in Marketing. However, I entered the hospitality business at an early age and worked my way up to hotel management. After about 13 years in that industry (5 of which I was a hotel assistant manager), I made the decision to move to Thailand and leave the 9 to 5 grind behind. My husband and I set off for a life of living abroad and hopes to continue traveling the world, just 3 months after our wedding. It all started with the two of us, along with our cat, together in Thailand. Can't wait to see where life takes us next!

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