Veracruz, Mexico is one of the most overlooked family travel destinations in the country - but it shouldn't be. There are so many places to visit in Veracruz for families to experience!
The city of Veracruz itself, (officially known as Heroica Veracruz but also known as Veracruz Port) is the oldest city in the Americas. It’s full of culture and history. But, it's also one of the most family friendly destinations abroad that you will find.
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This post was written by Sara Tyler.
While Veracruz city isn't as easily accessible as Cancun or other tourist hotspots in Mexico, it remains an authentic Mexican destination where you can immerse yourself in the local culture. You can also try all of the traditional food of Veracruz. And of course, practice your Spanish language skills with friendly locals. You can even get a head start with these basic Spanish phrases!
Veracruz is the perfect family vacation destination. Families can visit parks, encounter the best beaches in Veracruz, and experience other Veracruz Mexico tourist attractions for children and teens of all ages.
Take a look at these Mexico guidebooks to research some of the best places to visit in Veracruz:
Lonely Planet Mexico (Travel Guide)
DK Eyewitness Mexico (Travel Guide)
Read other Gulf Coast posts here.
The port city of Veracruz is located within the state of Veracruz, situated along the Gulf of Mexico, in central/southern Mexico. It is a 5 hour bus ride from Mexico City and 2 hours from Puebla. From Veracruz state’s capital city, Xalapa, Veracruz Port is about 90 minutes by bus or car.
Veracruz is not a major international tourist destination due to a limited availability of direct, international flights. However, you can find direct flights to Veracruz from Houston, Texas.
The majority of the flights into Veracruz run through Mexico City. So you’ll find that most of the Veracruz Mexico tourism comes from Mexicans traveling from Mexico City, Puebla, and the surrounding areas. Daily domestic flights from Mexico City and Cancun are less than 2 hours in total flight time.
If you’re planning to rent a car to get to all the places to visit in Veracruz, you can book a car rental through Avis for pick up at the Veracruz airport.
The largest city in the state is Veracruz Port, which is often combined with its southern neighbor, Boca del Rio. Together, Veracruz Port and Boca del Rio host the majority of the tourist attractions, annual festivals, and cultural events, not to mention the malecon and the beaches.
Many hotels in Veracruz are located along the coast, from the Zona Centro neighborhood to the Costa de Oro neighborhood. These neighborhoods are convenient to many of the places to visit in Veracruz that are highlighted in this post. In Boca del Rio, you’ll find hotels scattered throughout the city.
If you're looking for a place to stay in Zona Centro, consider staying at this well-rated hotel:
Veracruz is one of the safest cities to visit in Mexico. The city has moderately low crime and safety rates, according to Numbeo. And according to the website, Crimen en Mexico, which takes crime and homicide data from the Mexican government, Veracruz has some of the lowest crime rates in the country.
What this means for families is that Veracruz is a great place to visit with kids. Families know they’ll be safe adventuring through all the places to visit in Veracruz on their next trip to Mexico.
Is Mexico safe? Read this post to find out.
There are plenty of amazing places to visit in Veracruz within the port city itself. From boardwalks to museums, Veracruz has something for every age.
If your time in Veracruz is limited, pick one or two of these suggestions to make the most of your time. But if you have longer to stay in Veracruz, see them all to make your vacation extra memorable.
Within the city, the malecon (boardwalk) is itself one of the most popular tourist attractions in Veracruz Mexico. Recently renovated, the malecon consists of over 10 miles of a wide beachfront path, where families gather after the sun goes down. You will find locals and tourists alike walking, jogging, cycling, skateboarding, rollerblading, and more along the beach.
You will also find benches, tables and chairs to dine, and children's parks along the malecon. Additionally, there are public gyms/workout equipment every few miles. It’s one of the best places to visit in Veracruz if you’re looking for a glimpse of local life!
At the northern end of the malecon, you will find artisan markets and street vendors that sell everything from authentic, handmade clothing and goods, to the typical souvenirs that you can expect in any beach destination.
The artisan market, officially called Mercado de Artesanias Miguel Aleman Valdes, is located in front of the Port. This is one of the best places to visit in Veracruz Mexico because in addition to the typical vendors, you will see local dance and music performances at night. And you’ll also get plenty of street food.
For families looking for educational places to visit in Veracruz, head to the Aquarium del Puerto de Veracruz. The aquarium is located in Plaza Acuario, a local shopping mall, next to Playa Villa del Mar. It features exhibits which focus on the local flora and fauna of the Veracruz coral reef system.
The aquarium is a great option for family friendly attractions in Veracruz. Your family will enjoy learning about sea life, especially the turtles, which are native to the Veracruz area. The aquarium is free on Tuesdays.
If you’re looking for some unique Veracruz points of interest after your visit to the aquarium, head to the Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum and nearby Museo de Cera (the wax museum). Both are located in the same plaza.
You’ll also find a small food court in the plaza. Additionally, in front of the plaza, you can buy tickets for double decker tourist buses that take you around the historic downtown area.
Alternatively, you can book your double decker tourist bus ahead of time online to get a panoramic tour of all the places to visit in Veracruz.
Panoramic Sightseeing Tour of Veracruz
Playa Villa del Mar is one of the most popular beaches in the Port of Veracruz, and also one of the best beaches in Veracruz. It hosts over 20 local, authentic restaurants right on the shore for visitors to enjoy. Restaurants and palapas are located along the beach where you can rent tables outright, or by consuming food or drink off the menu of traditional Veracruz dishes.
For families looking for some water-themed places to visit in Veracruz, you can find vendors selling Veracruz sightseeing tours to Cancuncito (an area just a few miles offshore which is unusually shallow due to a hurricane a couple decades ago). It is called Cancuncito because of the white sand and transparent water that appear just like Isla Mujeres or the beaches of Cancun. Vendors sell spots on collectivos (group trips) which include a tour of the local area and a visit in front of Isla de las Sacrificios (Sacrifice Island).
If you’re looking for more low key and off the beaten path Veracruz tourist attractions, head to Playa Marti. This is a small local beach where you can find competitive soccer games most nights.
On the malecon directly in front of the beach is a new, large playground area for small children. Free, public workout equipment is located 2 blocks north for teens and adults. This beach is a hidden gem among all the places to visit in Veracruz!
One of the fun things to do in Veracruz Mexico in early spring is to experience Carnaval. Veracruz Port has the largest Carnaval celebration outside of Brazil.
The date for Carnaval changes each year as it follows a religious calendar, but is usually held in February/March. Similar to Mardi Gras in the United States, there are nightly Carnaval parades along the malecon. A family-friendly parade is always scheduled for Sunday morning, and is usually free of charge.
In addition, you can attend free concerts and the crowning of the King and Queen of Carnaval. The beaches of Veracruz are some of the best places to visit in Veracruz during Carnaval. Along the main boulevard in front of the local beaches you’ll find vendors selling street food, beer, and souvenirs during the week-long festival.
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Another must for Veracruz things to do is to visit the Zocalo. The historical center of the city, the Zocalo is located near the northern end of the malecon and is the site of many weekly cultural events.
The Palacio Municipal (or local town hall) is located in the center of the town square and is a great local option for places to visit in Veracruz. It is surrounded by local family friendly restaurants/bars. There is a large fountain in the center, surrounded by benches and street vendors selling everything from Cuban cigars to ice cream. On the weekends, you can listen to live music and watch locals dancing.
Zaragoza Park is one of the best family friendly places to visit in Veracruz. It is located next to the local market, where you can eat at many of the authentic food stalls, or buy meat, fruit, and vegetables at local prices.
Recently remodeled, the park is home to playground equipment for small children, as well as family bicycles and remote control Power Wheel rentals. On the weekends, the park is lined with bouncy houses where kids can jump and play for a small fee ($10-20 pesos per 15 minutes).
For families who have longer than a few days for their vacation, here is a list of other places to visit in Veracruz that are perfect for learning about the culture and history of the city.
Book this sightseeing tour to pack in multiple places to visit in Veracruz into one action-packed day:
Veracruz City Sightseeing Tour, San Juan de Ulúa Castle & Aquarium
Grab a copy of Born to Travel: Wanderlust Families That Collect Passport Stamps Instead of Toys to read amazing stories from traveling families.
If you’re looking for more places to visit in Veracruz, why not take a day trip from Veracruz Port? Day trips give families a chance to see more of Veracruz state and experience life outside of the city. Take a look at these great day trip ideas for places to visit in Veracruz state.
Veracruz is one of the first cities colonized by Spain in the 1500s. But prior to the arrival of the Spanish, Veracruz state was home to a diverse population of indigenous groups, according to the site, Indigenous Mexico.
There are many places to visit in Veracruz where families can learn about pre-colonial and colonial history of the area. Families can visit the archeological site of El Tajin, a 3 hour drive from Veracruz Port, to learn about pre-colonial history.
Book one of these tours of El Tajin for your family:
Magic Town - Papantla And Tajin In Veracruz
El Tajín Ruins and Papantla Day Trip from Veracruz
Tajin And Papantla Tour From Veracruz Or Boca Del Rio
Additionally, families can visit the town of Tlacotalpan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which is 2 hours from Veracruz Port by car.
Book this day trip to Tlacotalpan from Veracruz:
Tlacotalpan World Heritage Site and Alvarado Day Trip
You can also visit some of Veracruz state’s Pueblos Magicos (Magic Towns), by booking this tour. Coatepec is known for its coffee cultivation, while Xico has plenty of delicious local cuisines that families must try.
Xalapa with the Magic Towns of Coatepec and Xico
Anton Lizardo is a sleepy fishing village located about 20 minutes to the south of Veracruz Port/Boca del Rio. It is home to some of the calmest waters in the state of Veracruz, so it is extremely popular for families with kids of all ages And it's a great option for places to visit in Veracruz state. Palapas and restaurants line the beach where you can rent tables outright for $150-$200 pesos or by consuming food and drink from the menu.
Anton Lizardo has a population of less than 5,000 residents, with a large chunk belonging to the local navy school. There are limited hotel options in the area as a result (most families will drive down from Boca del Rio for the day and drive home).
One recommendation, however, is Java John´s Suites. The owner is an expat originally from Texas, who speaks English and Spanish. He offers family-friendly rooms at an affordable price ($25-35 USD per night) and just 1 block from the sea.
Isla de Enmedio is a small island and protected turtle sanctuary located just 15 minutes off the coast of Anton Lizardo. So small, you can walk around the perimeter in less than half an hour. Its pristine, virgin beaches rival even the beaches in the Riviera Maya.
Around 2018, a group of local visitors had an unauthorized party on the island, leading to the destruction of endangered sea turtle eggs. As a result, the island was closed off to visitors for almost a year.
It reopened with new regulations to the public. Visitors may only stay under the supervision of the boat captain, cannot disturb the local wildlife, and things like speakers and beach umbrellas are banned to protect the turtle eggs. Now, visitors are allowed back on the island where they can swim and snorkel for 3-4 hours on group or private tours. For families looking for places to visit in Veracruz state for snorkeling, this place is a must!
Local vendors on the beach in Anton Lizardo sell spots on collectivos to visit the island on the beaches in Anton Lizardo for around $750 pesos per person. Children under 5 years old are not currently permitted to visit.
Orizaba is a Pueblo Magico (Magical Town) located about 2 hours from Veracruz Port by bus. Buses run every 1-2 hours from the main ADO bus station in town for about $11 USD. Located higher above sea level than the Port, Orizaba is typically 10-15 degrees cooler than the hot, tropical weather along the coast.
The downtown area is walkable and very safe, so it's a great option for places to visit in Veracruz state. Within a 6-square block radius, you will find:
A short 10-minute taxi ride from Orizaba will bring you to 2 of the town’s biggest attractions for kids:
Expo Parque de los Dinosaurios (the Dinosaur Park) features real life sized dinosaurs inspired by the movie Jurassic Park. Kids can climb into the airplane and jeep for pictures, and take pictures in front of T-Rex and other famous dinosaurs. Admission is free of charge.
Parque de las Sonrisas (Smile Park) is a free park located 200 meters from the Dinosaur Park. It is made from completely recycled material. All of the attractions are part of a typical city and include fire trucks, ambulances, schools, trains and stations, etc.
These fun places to visit in Veracruz state are perfect for families with very young kids.
Read up on these Mexico travel tips before your trip.
The city of Veracruz is rich with history and culture for families to learn about. And the area surrounding Veracruz Port is just as amazing! This list of places to visit in Veracruz is an excellent way to get a taste of the city's history and culture.
Come here to immerse yourself in the local culture and language, make friends for life, and eat the best regional food in Mexico. While in Veracruz, make sure to try all of the local antojitos like picadas, empanadas, and chiles rellenos.
Whether you decide to stay in the Veracruz Port/Boca del Rio metropolitan area or venture into other parts of the state, you will find many affordable and family friendly places to visit in Veracruz!
Want to visit more coastal cities in Mexico? Take a look at these posts:
The Top 12 Memorable Progreso Activities and Progreso Excursions
9 Amazing Things To Do In Puerto Vallarta With Kids
Sara Tyler has lived in Mexico since 2010 and currently resides in Boca del Rio, Veracruz with her partner and 2 daughters, ages 3 and 6. She is the founder of Nomad Publishing, which helps aspiring authors share their travel experiences in bestselling books. She also organizes TEDxBocadelRio annually.
Sara is the author and publisher of the book, Born to Travel: Wanderlust Families that Collect Passport Stamps Instead of Toys.