Before leaving for our Mexican vacation to Playa del Carmen, I made a point to research outdoor things to do with kids that didn’t involve spending a ton of money. While I’m thankful for other families’ accounts of family activities, I simply learned during our 10-day stay that Playa is similar to any other town (by the sea) – and all the usual suspects apply: PARK, BEACH, WALK, TREATS – and POOL if you have one.
There are a few differences, of course. Playgrounds in Playa del Carmen (or any Mexican city) are not as abundant as we are used to Toronto and they are mostly unkempt, if not a little dangerous! Having said that, we managed to seek out a few (shaded!) playgrounds in town where the boys were able to get the ants out of their pants and have some fun!
1. Parque la Ceiba (Calle 1 Sur / Diagonal 60)
Mexico is hot! Even in January – so coming upon this playground set in a jungle-like setting with shade trees was such a welcome!
Parque la Ceiba, located way off the beaten path, is an environmentally conscious, financially sponsored green space that teaches children about recycling and the environment. There is an Internet cafe, yoga classes, a theatre and two little playgrounds, all found by walking along little paths through the forest.
The larger playground is made up of discarded truck tires turned into swings and climbing structures, an old train car and basically just ropes and wooden posts – all in an effort to reuse and recycle. The boys had a great time trying out new things and we all enjoyed walking along the paths and discovering new little areas.
2. Parque Fundadores (Juarez at 5th (the beach)
The newest playground in Playa and thus the best! Set up like a little castle and best suited for smaller children, this wooden structure with its slides, monkey bars and ramps is right at the beach! During the day, it was pretty quiet, but in the evenings when the Mexican children were out of school, it seemed the liveliest place to be! Plus with shops and fruit stands along either edge of the boulevard, hoards of people arriving from the ferries and the Voladores de Papantla performers, who swing upside down from a 98f pole in the square, the energy of this playground made it our favorite!
3. Benito Juarez & 15th Av
This little park, with its basketball court and broken-down pirate-themed playground seemed to be a local favorite. Cheap vendors come out in the evenings, as well as many local families who come to play and snack on street foods and fresh churros.
My guys managed to climb, swing from thick metal cables and jump from tire to tire for awhile, but I was so worried someone would get cut from the rusty slide or fall through the wooden bridge with its missing planks, I basically encouraged them to stay on the ground. Although falling apart, the park was rammed at night with local children. Still, an adventure!
4. 24th Calle east of 20th Av
Among all the lush foliage in the main tourist neighbourhood, sits this little playground – the one we visited most during our stay in Playa. Equipped with the basics – swings, a rusty slide, and a little playhouse plus some benches and a beautiful shade tree – my youngest was able to get some much needed exercise! He had the greatest fun sliding down the broken plastic slide that almost sent him over the side each time! Great location, safe and quiet – we definitely appreciated this one!