Offbeat things to do in Mexico City?
September 3, 2019 12:58 PM   Subscribe

I'm going to Mexico City for a week mid-month, staying in a friend's apartment in Del Carmen. I'm trying to plan a loose itinerary of one thing per day, a mix of must-sees and more offbeat stuff. I'm looking for things to add to the latter category, either in the city or within day-trip distance--music, food, culture, etc. A lucha libre show is one possibility--what about some others? I speak Spanish and I'm comfortable poking around and using public transportation on my own.
posted by gottabefunky to Travel & Transportation around Mexico City, Mexico (16 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
This 99% Invisible podcast made me seriously want to visit the Pedregal de San Angel Ecological Reserve near Mexico City.
posted by jquinby at 1:16 PM on September 3, 2019

I went on the Eat Like a Local food tour in Mexico City last summer based on a MeFite's recommendation and I cannot recommend it enough. We went to different restaurants, a bunch of food stalls and kiosks, a few different markets, and it was just me, the tour guide, and her friend. So much fun, I learned so much about Mexican culture and food, and there was so many amazing things to eat. Pace yourself, though!
posted by rue72 at 1:24 PM on September 3, 2019 [2 favorites]

La Isla de las Muñecas Atlas Obscure tagline: An island filled with hundreds of hanging, decomposing, decapitated dolls.
posted by achrise at 1:27 PM on September 3, 2019

Most of my "must see" recommendations are at the top of every guidebook: Teotihuacan, the archeological sites downtown, the big museums.

The one obvious thing that I put off for many trips, 'cause it sounded cheesy, was Xochimilco. That was a mistake. Hiring a boat and exploring the canals is absolutely worth it. It is cheesy and also surprisingly expensive, but there's a reason it's a huge tourist attraction. It's genuinely great fun. (Bring lots of cash in small bills.) [On preview, La Isla de las Muñecas sounds fantastic, but it's a full day and five thousand pesos to get there if you don't have your own boat. Or, it was the last time I looked into it. I'm hoping to do it some day, but it requires some planning.]

Walking around and trying to spot pre-conquest stones set into colonial walls is my favorite hobby, but I'm not sure most people would find it as much fun. A half day walking around Chapultepec or the UNAM campus is a nice, quiet break from the city. I have personal nostalgia for the Torre Latinoamericana and visit it every time; if you go there, it's worth noting that two drinks at the restaurant bar are cheaper and much nicer than standing in line for the viewing platform. (I also always stop first for a meal at the ornately tiled Sanborns nearby, but I don't claim it's actually good.)
posted by eotvos at 1:33 PM on September 3, 2019 [1 favorite]

Also, you're visiting at the right time to eat some chiles en nogada. It'd not exactly obscure and won't be hard to find, but it's worth trying if you haven't had it.
posted by eotvos at 1:38 PM on September 3, 2019

Watching this with great interest as I'm planning a trip to Mexico City myself. The most interesting offbeat thing I've come across in my research is the Mujam Toy Museum.
posted by Gortuk at 1:41 PM on September 3, 2019

Visit the cake museum upstairs at Pastelaria Ideal and then buy all the pastries and small sandwiches you can, they are delicious. On the off chance that you are queer and like dancing, Marrakech Salon is the most best time I have had. It is super crowded and everyone is incredibly welcoming. The Museo del Objeto del Objeto is a great little design museum. Have fun, Mexico City is amazing!
posted by velebita at 2:21 PM on September 3, 2019 [1 favorite]

Like Gortuk I am also planning a Mexico City trip! Thanks for this question.
posted by kittensofthenight at 4:07 PM on September 3, 2019

-UNAM campus if you like mid-century architecture (it's a UNESCO world heritage site). The library building is amazing.
-Go to a soccer match, I'm not sure of your exact dates but America is playing Pumas on the 14th at Azteca (one of the great soccer stadiums).
-Wander around La Merced market (just east of the city center) and get lost. It's enormous! We hired a local guide which was helpful.
-Eat at the Sanborns in the beautiful House of Blue Tiles - it's like a Mexican Denny's so the food is so-so but it's probably the only diner you'll eat at that was built in the 17th century and has a an Orozco mural.
posted by plasticpalacealice at 4:59 PM on September 3, 2019 [1 favorite]

Oh, and definitely make use of the Metro. Your mileage may vary, but I have a soft spot for it due to the wonderful maps and the rubber-tired train cars.
posted by pykrete jungle at 8:45 PM on September 3, 2019

You should definitely go to Xochimilco, and pay extra money to go on s two or three hour trip, not just the typical one hour trip. Getting to go in the side canals is very cool.
posted by leahwrenn at 9:37 PM on September 3, 2019 [1 favorite]

Xochimilco: definitely worth going, but don't go alone if you can help it. I went by myself as a day trip and it was extremely awkward, because canal trips are considered a family/group activity and a whole lot of people made it clear they thought it was weird that I was all alone. People on other boats were literally yelling stuff at me like "where's your boyfriend? why don't you have a man?" and vendors ignored me for the most part (often with this look on their faces like they were embarrassed for me). So I felt uncomfortable and bored. I travel on my own a lot and usually enjoy taking things in, getting lost in my thoughts, etc, but that one It's a very cool place but much less fun solo.

Oh yeah and this is a small thing, but: I took public transportation the whole time I was in Mexico City because I have very little Spanish (so taxi/rideshares were intimidating), and it was very easy and pleasant EXCEPT that you have to buy a card/ticket before you get on the bus. You can't pay your bus fare with cash once you're on the bus. Ask me how I know! hahaha

Also, something else that I wanted to do but didn't have the chance to is to see the Ballet Folklórico de México. It looks amazing, and the opera house is also beautiful. I actually got tickets last year, but was too exhausted to make the performance. Can't 100% recommend since I haven't actually seen it, but wanted to put it on your radar.
posted by rue72 at 7:14 AM on September 4, 2019 [1 favorite]

My retired Spanish 3 teacher has a blog about his travels in Mexico. He lives there about 6 months of the year. He has lots of recommendations on things to see and do along with spectacular photography.

Travels of a Retired Teacher
posted by kathrynm at 8:10 AM on September 4, 2019

Go out for pulque and a ramble downtown. La Burra Blanca en el Centro makes their own in several flavors, has a decent independent house beer, and great murals. Good place to rehydrate with friends between exploring more actively. Note: plan to avoid the bathrooms, when I went the plumbing was something out of a horror film.
posted by VelveteenBabbitt at 8:33 AM on September 4, 2019 [1 favorite]

Food tour with Culinary Backstreets (best part of our trip - which included eating some of the best sausage tacos at the back of the flower market that we would never have found on our own).

Lucha Libre - Tuesdays and Fridays at Arena Mexico - a couple places said the neighborhood around here wasnt the best but we took a car there and walked to a bar a few blocks away after without issue or even the slightest feeling of being worried. This is super fun - there were guys outside trying to sell us ticket packages at something of a markup but we just waited in line, you can also purchase in advance if you have the ticketmaster app. fights last about 2 hours (there are numerous fights) and its a ridiculous but very entertaining time. Highly recommended.

You MUST try to go to Masala y Maiz, a singular eating experience. Its a small restaurant run by a couple who met in the bay area, shes Mexican and hes Indian-American and they make absurdly delicious fusiony food. The menu is a bit hard to navigate but they are super hands on and can answer questions and talk about what they do - they also have fun and funky wine list. [they are relocating but i think will be in their new spot - with an attached natural wine bar - by the time you are there. we got reservations online but Saqib, the owner, told us to just send him a message on instagram in the future if we arent seeing time slots online.
[it appears time magazine just named it one of the worlds greatest places:]
posted by something_witty at 10:14 AM on September 4, 2019 [1 favorite]

I went to Mexico City a couple of years ago and I had a REALLY good time on all three of the AirBnB Experiences that I signed up for. Learning how to make tacos al pastor from a local chef was a particular highlight, but the lucha libre evening excursion/history lesson and the Jamaica Market food tour were also awesome.

Also, this would be kind of a journey from Del Carmen, but if you were interested in trying a bunch of different Mexican craft beers, I loved the El Trappist bar in La Condesa.
posted by helloimjennsco at 11:08 AM on September 5, 2019

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