Frommer's attractions in Mexico City

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The diverse attractions in Mexico City spring from its complex layers of history. From the simple pleasure of a stroll through a bustling mercado to museums filled with treasures of artistic and historic significance, Mexico City has much to explore.

Mexico City was built on the ruins of the ancient city of Tenochtitlán. A downtown portion of the city, comprising almost 700 blocks and 1,500 buildings, has been designated Centro Histórico (Historical Zone). The area has surged in popularity, and once-neglected buildings are rapidly being converted into chic clubs and trendy restaurants, recalling its former colonial charm.

Remember that this is a city, and a major one at that; dress is more professional and formal here than in other parts of the country. The altitude makes temperatures rather cool, which is often a surprise for travelers with preconceptions of Mexico as perpetually hot. In summer, always be prepared for rain, which falls almost daily. In winter, carry a jacket or sweater -- stone museums are chilly inside, and when the sun goes down, the outside air gets quite cold.

Several of Mexico City's outlying neighborhoods are worth a visit. Outside the Historic Center, San Angel, Coyoacán, and Xochimilco have developed their own unique appeal and attractions.

Especially for Kids
The Ciudad de los Niños (City of Children) is an innovative attraction for youthful visitors to Mexico City. It is a comprehensive fantasy village where children interact as part of a "virtual" economy and have the chance to experience adult life -- complete with working, then choosing whether to spend or save their earnings. They first board an American Airlines replica plane for the "trip" to Ciudad de los Niños. When they "arrive," they enter the airport, pass through immigration, and receive some "money." They can choose to put this in the bank or spend it at various community establishments, which include restaurants, a gas station, a beauty shop, a racetrack, and other service providers. They can also choose to "work" at any of the above places and earn more "Niño money." Ciudad de los Niños is in the Santa Fe shopping mall, Vasco de Quiroga 3800 (tel. 55/5261-1099), next to the Liverpool store. It's open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 4 to 9 p.m. Admission is $6 for children 2 to 3 years old and adults, $12 for children ages 4 to 16. Free for travelers with disabilities and seniors. Visa and MasterCard are accepted.

Note: It's mostly Spanish-speaking, but go anyway -- children seem to quickly move beyond any language barriers.

For more on what to see and do in Mexico City, visit our complete guide online at

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