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Mexico City is filled with a vibrant art scene, incredible shopping, history, and, of course, some of the world's best cuisine. But with so much to see and do, it's impossible to tackle the city all in one day. We've narrowed down the list to the best things to do in Mexico City if you only have one day to explore.
9 a.m.: You are going to be out and about a lot and will need some fuel to get you going. But, you don't want to fill up too much to save room for the afternoon street food tour. So, starting your day with breakfast at Cafebreria El Pendulo in the Polanco neighborhood is the best bet. The stunning bookstore has soaring ceilings lined with books and a giant spiral staircase that's made for an Instagram photo. Plus, it has a restaurant inside where you can order a light bites like fresh fruit and yogurt. Snag a table overlooking the literary labyrinth to relax before your day of action.
10 a.m.: After finishing breakfast, you are going to make your way to the Museo Nacional de Antropología. Along the way though, you should walk through Bosque de Chapultepec, one of the largest city parks in the Western Hemisphere. You'll pass by picturesque lake and winding paths covered by trees before making your way into the museum. If you have children, quickly bypass the museum and make a pit stop at the Juegos Infantiles Parque Tamayo, a great nature-surrounded playground.
11 a.m.: Your leisurely stroll (about a 25-minute walk from breakfast without stopping) will land you at the most visited museum in Mexico City. The large space features several galleries of artifacts from the country's pre-Columbian heritage encircling a large open internal courtyard with a stunning fountain named El Paraguas (The "Umbrella). Spend an hour roaming around while being sure to check out the Aztec Xochipilli statue and Stone of the Sun, an Aztec calendar stone.
12 p.m. All of that early-morning walking will certainly help you work up an appetite. That will change very quickly. Book an afternoon tour through Mexico City Streets to sample some of the best street food the city has to offer. Your tour guide, Lydia, is an American living in Mexico City who researched and wrote a book about every restaurant and street food stand in the Roma neighborhood. Over two to three hours, you'll sample Chicharrón, vegan tacos, fresh juice at the market, and even dessert at the hip new Mercado Roma (think Chelsea Market vibes). She'll explain the history of the neighborhood and food scene while you stuff your face with several tacos.
3 p.m.: Once you're sufficiently full, you'll probably want to walk a little more. Take another 30-minutes to stroll over to La Ciudadela artisans market in the historic city center. You can also opt for a quick Uber ride to skip the walk. The car service is safe, widely used, inexpensive, and drivers are always available. Whichever way you arrive, spend a couple of hours wandering through what seems like an endless amount of stalls. Here you'll find everything from embroidered pillows as a shirt with colorful designs to musical instruments, toys, and one-of-a-kind pottery. While many vendors do accept credit cards, it's best to have cash on hand. Plus, it's easier to bargain a price in pesos.
5 p.m.: The artisans market puts you in a prime position to check out the historic center of the city. As you wander, you'll see the historic food market called Mercado de San Juan, walk through the central square, aka zócalo, and see the ancient site Aztec-era site of Templo Mayor. Take a break at the peaceful Alameda Central before paying a quick visit to Palacio de Bellas Artes, which is home to famous murals and a Tiffany stained glass curtain.
7 p.m.: Everyone will recommend dining at one of the world's best restaurants, Pujol. If you can snag a reservation, go for it. But if you want something more up-and-coming, but still delicious, book a table at 25DOS in the W Hotel. The menu consists of a spin on many dishes the chef's grandmother made, and they source local, organic, and fresh ingredients originating from the floating city of Xochimilco. Those are mixed with hints of Mediterranean and South American ingredients to create flavorful dishes. One salad is even an interactive experience.
9 p.m.: You can't spend a day in Mexico City and not get churros. El Moro in Polanco is just a 15-minute walk from the restaurant and serves up fresh churros the size of your head. Best yet, they're open 24-hours. So, you can come back if you get a late-night craving.
Where to Stay
Located across the street from Bosque de Chapultepec in the upscale neighborhood of Polanco, the JW Marriott is in a prime location to see some of the city's best attractions. The hotel itself is spacious as are the rooms, which feature simple yet comfortable furnishings. Request a room overlooking the park for stunning views and book an executive-level room for free food and drinks in the executive lounge all day long. And if you're traveling with children, the welcoming staff will set up a tee-pee complete with stuffed animals and activities.
Las Alcobas, A Luxury Collection Hotel
The modern hotel, an American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts property, is a great boutique option with only 35 guestrooms and suites. The sleek design feels more like a private home than a hotel and is also positioned in a central location. Though it's smaller in size, there are still two onsite restaurants and a gym available to guests. When you do want to leave the hotel, the concierge is available to help set up tours, book dinner reservations, or give you recommendations of the best spots to visit in the city. Children under seven are not allowed, so this is definitely a quieter spot for a couple or solo travelers.
This five-star, 31-story luxury hotel, another American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts property, is buzzing with local and foreign visitors. For those from out of town, you're greeted by a grand lobby with views of Castillo Chapultepec, the Angel of Independence statue, and the Diana the Huntress fountain. The rooms are equally luxurious with spacious settings and impressive vistas through the floor-to-ceiling windows. Best of all, every room comes with a dedicated butler to take care of your every need. Children are treated like royalty here with a separate check-in desk, fully-stocked playroom, and in-room glamping setup. And, if you happen to be in town on the weekend, book a table for the hotel's epic Sunday brunch complete with a mariachi band.