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Family Travel Planning Made Easier

Cancun with Younger Kids

Cancun might sound like a place to visit during a college spring break or on a honeymoon, but it can also be a very family-friendly destination.

My husband, sons – ages 9 and 11 – and our neighbor friends who have boys about the same age traveled to Cancun earlier this year. We flew on a direct flight from O’Hare, and it was very easy.

Although this area is very touristy and not an authentic representation of Mexico, Cancun just about guarantees fabulous weather and allows you to be as adventurous or as lazy as you want to be.

Our group had a blast, and I would highly recommend Cancun for a family vacation. Here are some tips and suggestions.


The Westin Lagunamar Ocean Resort Villas & Spa, Cancun

We chose this resort based on our ability to use hotel points (both my husband and the wife of the family we traveled with travel for work, so we had a ton of points to use). It’s not an all-inclusive, but it’s a beautiful resort with three pools, including one with a water slide and water sports for kids like water polo and paddle ball.

The resort offers numerous daily activities for kids including daily beach soccer, ping pong, boogie boarding (rental necessary) and a kids’ club. Our kids played beach soccer one day and loved it.

Our room had a kitchenette with refrigerator. It was a five-minute walk to a very nice, modern grocery store that offered delivery to the hotel for a nominal fee and was totally worth it. Bar and food service is available at all of the pools as well as on the beach. There are a few different restaurants to choose from, and all of them are kid-friendly.

There are also many restaurant options very near to the hotel. Honestly, all of the food options beyond the hotel were fine, but not great. There is also an outdoor mall called La Isla Shopping Mall across the street that has lots of expensive shops but is fun to walk around.


The grocery store also sells beach gear such as boogie boards, goggles, water wings, etc. that are much cheaper than hotel rentals.

If I had to do it all over, I would opt for all-inclusive. You just can’t beat the ease of this with kids. None of the food we ate at restaurants was good enough to make me give up on the convenience of an all-inclusive. You can always venture out for one or two meals to get a “feel” for the area.



We left the hotel for two excursions. One was to the Mercado 28, and one was to Xel Ha Park.

Mercado 28

You can catch a bus in front of the resort to the Mercado. It’s about a 20-minute bus ride.

The Mercado is pretty overwhelming. Think Chinatown with lots of people trying to get you to look at their stuff, hardcore bargaining, and lots and lots of the same stuff for sale.

All of the kids got soccer jerseys, and although they aren’t authentic, everyone was happy. The salespeople worked their butts off to find the kids the jerseys for the players they wanted.

We ate at the Mercado, and it was one of the best meals we had. I’d say this place is an “experience” but not for the faint of heart and not necessary unless you are looking for cheap, somewhat authentic souvenirs. It is a good half-day activity if you need a break from the sun and pool.


When you get off the bus, you are NOT at Mercado 28. Instead, you are at a “fake” mercado where people are very aggressive to get you to go in and tell you that you are at the right Mercado. Just ignore them and keep walking. We had some trouble finding the correct Mercado, but Google maps got us there.


Xel Ha Park

We all ventured to this water park, and it’s a full-day excursion. You can get tickets from any resort, and the tickets include a very good breakfast and lunch buffet that includes alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.

The buses pick you up early in the morning and drop you back at the hotel at night.

This was a really fun experience, and anyone looking for water adventures such as zip lining, cliff jumping, lazy river, agility course, and snorkeling will love it.



My kids loved this, but it’s definitely for kids who love water and are looking for water adventure. It’s expensive, so if your kids aren’t into being adventurous or are even a little scared of water, it’s not worth it.

What I liked about this place was that even though yes, it’s touristy, once you get there, you are pretty much on your own. There’s no guide, no timeframe of stuff to do. Plus, the scenery is gorgeous!

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