Pitched 7,000 feet above sea level, Mexico City is the largest city in North America, and the oldest.
Nestled between two volcanoes, the sprawling city center can often feel congested, but within the chaos are a surprising amount of refreshing recreational areas. From hiking volcanoes, to Hi-NRG dancing, here’s a rundown of our favorite recreational activities in Mexico City.
Nevado de Toluca:
Nevado de Toluca is Mexico’s fourth highest mountain and offers some of the best alpine climbing in Mexico. However, since the mountain lies to the west of Mexico City, in the opposite direction from the other high volcanoes, it’s a little less popular and more serene than Popocatépetl, aka El Popo. The mountain provides a stunning setting for climbing, since its crater contains two large lakes — Laguna de la Luna and Laguna del Sol. These lakes are extremely cold, yet according to Secor, scuba diving is still practiced by bold divers unafraid to dive at elevation.
Pro-Tip: You are going to want to leave early in the morning to get ahead of the mid-day sun.
Throw everything you know about dance clubs out the window. Ok, sure, some body to body dancing, crazy lines, and people spilling drinks happen here, but it’s different. Why? Because most of the dancing happens inside a circle. And most of the dancing is so next level, so devoted, so devastatingly wild, that unless you are really going to BRING THE HEAT, don’t step onto the floor. This club, which has been around since the 80s and only opens on Friday nights, is the heartbeat of Mexico’s long running love affair with Hi-NRG music, designed to get your butt (and arms, and legs) moving in ways that are, perhaps, unusual. You will sweat. You will be achy in the morning. And you will feel great about it. If you are hunting for endorphins on a Friday night, this is absolutely your spot. (Thank us later).
Pro-Tip: Arrive by 10pm to scope the scene and get your bearings, before diving on the dance floor. Trust us.
Estadio Olímpico Universitario at UNAM:
One of the best parts is that you can take most of Reforma all the way to Estadio Olímpico Universitario, the Olympic stadium that hosted the 1968 summer games. The stadium is located at UNAM, Mexico’s National University, and today, is the home to the UNAM PUMAs, one of the Mexican Soccer League’s elite teams. Not only that but it’s considered an architectural wonder, with American architect Frank Lloyd Wright dubbing it, “the most important building in modern America”.
Games tend to start at noon on Sunday, however, we recommend arriving earlier to take in the festivities. Also note, the stadium lacks shade. Bring a big hat and sunscreen, as you will be graced with a direct line of sun all day long.
More than a fair share of tourists have left the stadium pinker than they arrived. Don’t be THAT guy.
Not only that, but every other day of the week, the stadium is open to the public, which means you can run on the Olympic track Monday-Saturday.
Pro-tip: We can’t stress this enough — bring lots of sunscreen. You are going to need it.
Can we interest you in a chill walk through one of the most beautiful streets in Mexico City? Looking to sweat out last night’s mezcal over a morning jog? We got you. Calle Amsterdam, a looping circle of a street named after the city, is your spot. It’s laced with great breakfast spots for coffee, and there’s even a juice place called Elixir if you need to get a detox drink of sorts. Its sweeping, lush greenery will get you back to reality, as you take in a gorgeous melange of architecture — everything from French colonialism to Art Deco to Minimalist Modern. It all exists here in some sort of perfect union. Sounds weird, but we’re serious. You’ll notice.
Pro-tip: People know about this jogging spot. They love this jogging spot. So head out early, and be mindful, because the sidewalk is pretty thin, and should be enjoyed by everyone. Also, grip a cold-pressed juice at Elixir. It’s a great way to cool down.
Noguchi Playscapes at Museo Tamayo:
Museo Tamayo, a museum devoted to one of Mexico’s most famous painters — no, not Frida Khalo, rather Rufino Tamayo. The Tamayo has been host to an incredible amount of art since it opened, including an exhibition in 2017 about Isamo Noguchi’s Playscapes. Behind the museum is a permanently installed Noguchi swing set and playscape. Hang from the monkey bars, swing on the swings, or simply awe at the minimalist beauty that encompasses the playground. This is not your standard playground, and you’ll immediately notice the difference between this and nearly anything in your hometown.
Pro-tip: Read up on Isamu Noguchi’s Playscapes before you head to the Tamayo. It’ll make your visit a little more special.
Have a favorite recreational space in Mexico City? We want to know! Drop us a comment, and keep the conversation flowing.
Written by Michael McGregor