Are there some great places I can visit in Monterrey, Mexico with my kids?
Of course there are!
When people think of visiting Mexico, Monterrey doesn’t top many people’s lists. It’s not on a beach. It lacks that quaint, picturesque charm that oozes through Mexican villages like San Miguel de Allende. (Because, well, it’s a HUGE, modern city!)
But it is an easy two-hour drive just south of the Texas border. Hop on I35 and keep heading south! A few years ago, it was pretty scary, but that isn’t the case anymore. Of course, do use your head–it is a BIG city! We lived an hour from Monterrey for over 10 years, and we enjoyed a lot of Spring Breaks, long weekends, and daytrips in Monterrey. There are some great places to visit in Monterrey with kids! (After all, thousands and thousands of kids call Monterrey home!)
Looking for a list of great things to do in Monterrey for all ages? Click here.
For kid-specific ideas, read below!
Hands-down, my kids’ favorite place to visit in Monterrey is KidZania. When my kids know they have a vacation or long weekend coming up, the first question they ask is, “Can we go to KidZania?”
What is KidZania? It’s a self-contained city, and the kids are the citizens of that city. Once we pay our entrance, the kids are given a check to cash in at the bank. With that money, they can make their lunches at Domino’s Pizza or McDonalds, get spa treatment at the Fiesta Americana, take an airplane ride, buy toys at Liverpool, bottle a Coke . . . the options are seemingly endless.
And when they run out of money, they work to earn more! Visitors to KidZania then turn around and run the spa, fight fires, deliver packages, direct traffic, do surgery . . . honestly there are more ways of earning money at KidZania than there are of spending money!
(Because my cell phone pictures are terrible, here’s KidZania’s official overview.)
KidZania is best for kids over the age of 5, until they’re probaly about 12-13. (Although I have seen groups of middle-schoolers running through there.) Younger kids do go often, accompanying older siblings. There is a special area for kids 5 and under with a sandbox, bounce house, ball pit, and huge play kitchen. Little kids who can follow directions can join in on some of the older kid jobs. Sunnyjim discovered the Fire Station the last time we were there and kept waiting in line to ride the fire truck about 5 times.
Be warned: KidZania is on the pricey side. That being said, I do tend to be a cheapskate, and I still try to take my kids there at least once a year. (But–let’s be honest–it’s not much more often than that!) Before you go, visit KidZania’s website–sometimes they advertise some good deals. Then, buy the tickets online, as those deals may not be valid at the counter. But, before you buy with KidZania’s deals, check out GruponPeixe Monterrey–they often have better deals for KidZania! (Use this option as long as you have somewhere to print your vouchers or can download your vouchers to your phone.)
Admission: kids ages 4-16–$325MXN
kids ages 2-3–$180
babies and one-years olds are free
Location: next to the Valle Oriente shopping mall (between WalMart and Costco). Don’t park in Costco’s parking lot! (The one in front of KidZania and WalMart is big enough.)
Let me make a wild comparison and go so far as to say that Parque Fundidora is Monterrey’s Central Park. Sure, Monterrey can’t be compared to New York and Parque Fundidora can’t be compared to Central Park . . . or can it?
It’s centrally located, has great walking and biking paths, the Paseo Santa Lucia runs thought it, boasts a number of excellent attractions (Horno3, Ninos CONARTE, the CINTERMEX convention center, and the Sesame Street amusement park), often has amusement park rides. And, for those who really want an amusement park–well, one geared for younger children–the Plaza Sesamo amusement park takes up a significant chunk of one end of the park.
Our family has spent entire weekends walking around Parque Fundidora, without getting tired of it! Our feet may have gotten tired from all the walking, but we still agree that it’s one of our favorite places to go in Monterrey.
The best part? The entrance to the park is free, of course! Parque Fundidora can be as frugal or expensive as you make it.
Despite its name, Planetario Alfa is Monterrey’s children’s museum. There is–or was–a planetarium, but the planetarium part of the museum is really more of a glorified Power Point presentation. It’s fun, but not what I was expecting.
Fortunately, the rest of the museum did not disappoint! Outside, we frolicked in the prehispanic sculpture garden, where they display replicas of VERY famous prehispanic sculpture. They also have an animated dinosaur and interactive physics toys to play with outside. (The dinosaur is just for looking at.)
Inside, wander through three levels of educational displays. One floor contains the Planetario Alfa’s permanent collection, mostly of interactive displays one would expect to see in a children’s science museum.
Another floor hosts exhibits on loan from other children’s museums. This past spring, we spent a long time learning everything there was to learn about baseball in one of these exhibits.
The last floor usually contains an exhibit appropriate for the preschool/toddler set. The first time my kids and I visited Planetario Alfa, we spent the endire day on the third floor in an exhibit dedicated to Clifford, the Big Red Dog. At the time, I was itching to explore the rest of the museum. Once I finally got the chance, I was glad we spent so much time with Clifford, as the rest of the museum is really geared for school-aged children.
The Planetario Alfa does have an IMAX, but I’m not into those, so we’ve never experienced that.
Admission: Museum only–$90 MXN–children, students, adults, and seniors
Museum + IMAX= $130 MXN
The Bioparque Estrella, Monterrey’s biggest zoo, is actually a considerable distance from Monterrey itself. But that’s because they NEED the space they have, which they never would have been able to get any closer to Monterrey!
This place is huge! There are a ton of animals, activities, and attractions. Come prepared for their waterpark (because, being Monterrey, it will be hotter than blazes, unless you go in January).
Admission: $270 per person
$199 for kids under 90cm
$199 for seniors with proper credentials
Babies to age 2 are free.
Paseo Santa Lucia
I felt like I was cheating with this one, giving it its own category, as the Paseo Santa Lucia does connect to Parque Fundidora. But really, it connects the Macroplaza to Parque Fundidora. A family could walk the entire thing (and we have), but then you usually end up with whiny children who feel that they’ve been horribly abused, being forced to walk such a distance. *sigh*
So, if the line isn’t insanely long (and you’ve got enough cash to justify this), take the canal boats to Parque Fundidora from the Macroplaza (or vice versa). The canal boats are such a nice way to get from one end to the other. Furthermore, the ride itself is a great way to pass part of an afternoon and learn a bit about the city.
The boats run from 10am-9:30pm every day. Tickets are $70MXN for adults and $40 for kids ages 5-10 and seniors. (Kids under 5 are free.) Try to go during the week, as the lines are very long on weekends.
These suggestions are just the smallest of samples of what there is to do with kids in Monterrey. We always went there as tourists (even thought we lived very close to Monterrey). A real regio would probably have a lot more suggestions!
But these are tried and true great place to go with kids in Monterrey!
Tip: The week of Easter and the week after is the best time to visit Mexico’s huge cities. All schools in Mexico are on Spring Break for those two weeks (EVERY school. EVERY year), and everyone wants to go to the beaches or touristy towns. Holy Week and the week after Easter are the BEST weeks to explore cities, like Monterrey, Mexico City, and Guadalajara.
Pictures of the Bioparque Estrella courtesy of R. Benitez.