Mexico City is HUGE. It’s home to almost 9 million people, encompasses more than 550 square miles and has some of the worst traffic in the world. Knowing that I knew I had to go prepared and so, after making lists and reading travel blogs and getting a ton of recommendations, I picked three things that I absolutely had to see while I was there. Visiting the ruins of Teotihuacan (teh-oh-tee-wah-kahn), located just about an hour from the city center, was on the top that list.

I didn’t know anything about Teotihuacan before I starting investigating what to see and do in and around Mexico City. Even when I got on a plane and flew to Mexico I still didn’t know a lot about the site. I’d heard good things, read blogs about how to get there and looked at a few photos, but mostly I wanted to be surprised by it and I wanted to do the learning in Mexico, not in my living room flipping through guidebooks and travel blogs.

Teotihuacan || TERRAGOES.COM

As I discovered once I got to Mexico, Teotihuacan includes the third largest pyramid in the world, the Pyramid of the Sun, pictured above, and encompasses around two kilometers of ruins that run along what is known as the Avenue of the Dead.

Established around 100 B.C. and under construction until around 250 A.D., the city likely contained a population of around 150,000, making it the sixth largest city in the world during its peak. It was, according to National Geographic, “one of the first great cities of the Western Hemisphere.”

Fast forward a few hundred years, to the 7th or 8th century A.D., and the city collapsed. Maybe it was invaders or an internal uprising or maybe it was a catastrophic agricultural type of failure. No one really knows for sure, although there are lots of theories.

One of the fascinating things about Teotihuacan is that nobody knows who built it. The Aztecs showed up about 1,000 years after it was built and were very, very impressed. They gave it the name Teotihuacan, meaning “birthplace of the gods,” and claimed a common ancestor with whoever the hell it was who built the incredible site.

Teotihuacan || TERRAGOES.COM

Getting to the site was pretty easy. We took an uber to the central bus depot, Autobuses del Norte, and then followed, these directions to navigate through the bus depot and onto our bus. Everything was exactly as described – go inside, turn left, find the right counter and head outside to wait for your bus and it would have been pretty straightforward getting to Teotihuacan too if our bus hadn’t backed into another bus on the way out of the bus station. We ended up having to wait for another bus and the delay cost us around thirty minutes, but really, it was all sort of hilarious and ridiculous and I didn’t care at all once we finally made it to Teotihuacan.

Entry to the site cost $70 MXN, or about $3.70 USD. There are vendors lining your way in selling all manner of Mexican giftables, along with roving vendors scattered throughout the site. I bought a hat on the way in for about $90 MXN and it proved to be invaluable over the next several hours spent wandering around the sun.

Teotihuacan || TERRAGOES.COM

Unlike lots of other really old pyramids in the world, you can climb the biggest one at Teotihuacan, the Pyramid of the Sun, which claims the title of the third largest pyramid in the world. It is steep and exhausting, but we all agreed we got to the top quicker than we expected and while it was definitely an effort, the view was pretty fucking great.

Teotihuacan || TERRAGOES.COM

Then there’s the Pyramid of the Moon, which you can climb half of and which sits at the top of the site. I’d say if you’re only going to climb one pyramid, climb this one. The stairs felt steeper and there were fewer natural resting points but the view is incredible and allows you to look down the entire Avenue of the Dead and gives you an impressive view of Pyramid of the Sun.

After wandering around for a few hours, we were hungry. There is very little shade at Teotihuacan and we’d expended a fair amount of physical effort climbing all the pyramids.

Everything I’d read about the site told me the best place to get lunch was at La Grunta, a restaurant inside of a cave just a short walk from the ruins. We decided to try it, each of us craving a good meal and a cold beer (or three). We followed the trail behind the Pyramid of the Sun to the parking lot and then followed the black La Grunta signs to the restaurant. It led us down a gorgeous road and while we weren’t expecting much from a tourist-touted establishment next to one of Mexico’s biggest attractions, we were impressed from the start.

Teotihuacan || TERRAGOES.COM

The place was busy when we arrived in the middle of the afternoon so service was a little slow, but once we ordered, our beers came quick and our food followed shortly after. I even managed to cool down enough that I had to put my jacket back on because, you know, it was in a fucking cave and caves are delightfully cool.

Teotihuacan || TERRAGOES.COM

After we ate, we headed back to Teotihuacan for a bit more wandering. It was almost 5 p.m., closing time, and there were only a handful of people still wandering around.

When we first came in, there were a bunch of wild dogs hanging out on the outskirts of the site, but it seems to be their’s by night. I talked to some of them as we headed to the exit. They were curious, polite and funny.

Teotihuacan || TERRAGOES.COM Teotihuacan || TERRAGOES.COM

We stayed until about 5:30 p.m. or so and then made our way out of the park, via Gate/Puerta 2. There’s an insection just outside the gate along with a bus sign and within a few minutes, our bus was there to take us back to Mexico City.

Teotihuacan || TERRAGOES.COM

We saw a lot during our time in Mexico City, but this was definitely one of my favorite sites. To climb a 2,000-year-old pyramid, the third largest in the world, to walk paths walked by hundreds of generations before me and to be in a place so well-preserved and magical was incredible.

Visiting Alcatraz Island is maybe my most favorite thing to do in San Francisco. To me – a true crime lover, a National Park nerd and a history buff – the place is fascinating. I love the access visitors get to the notorious former prison, the views of San Francisco from the island, the self-guided audio tour and the intensely spooky vibe of the place.

Alcatraz Island is just one piece of Golden Gate National Recreational Area. In total, the GGNRA includes around 25 National Park Service-administered sites spread across San Francisco and Marin and San Mateo Counties.

Alcatraz Island || TERRAGOES.COM

To get to Alcatraz Island, you have to take a ferry. It’s a short ride, with indoor and outdoor seating. It offers incredible views of both Alcatraz Island and the San Francisco skyline and occasionally, on clear days, the Golden Gate Bridge. The ferry has snacks, including wine, beer and soft pretzels, but anything you purchase, other than water, must be consumed on board the boat as no food or drink is allowed on the island.

Once you get to Alcatraz Island, a park ranger gives a brief rundown of the rules, mostly that no food is allowed, not to wander off the marked paths and when the last boat of the day leaves, along with an overview of what there is to see and do on the island, where the bathrooms are and where to get water. After that, they send you off on your adventure, to wander the prison island known as “The Rock.”

Alcatraz Island || TERRAGOES.COM

Once you make your way up the hill, past the old officer’s quarters and gun positions, you’ll come to the prison. There, staff will ask your language and hand you an audio device with headphones and then you’re free to tour the prison at your own pace.

The tour is narrated by former prisoners and guards. They recount what it was like to live and work there, what some of the more infamous inmates, like Al Capone, were like, what solitary confinement was like and how lonely it was on New Year’s Eve, when prisoners could hear the sounds of revelers welcoming in the new year on boats outside their island prison. As the story is told, the narrator directs you through different parts of the prison, down different prison blocks, through the mess hall, into the offices where prison staff worked.

Alcatraz Island || TERRAGOES.COM

You get a lot of stories on the tour, a lot of details about significant events at the prison, but my favorite is the 1962 escape attempt.

Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary was designed to house the worst of the worst, the prisoners with no hope for rehabilitation and who had caused problems or trouble at other prisons. It was notoriously rough and, allegedly, impossible to escape from, mostly because it’s a rocky island in the middle of the San Francisco Bay.

Still, 14 escape attempts were staged by 36 inmates during the 29 years Alcatraz served as a federal prison. Most were recaptured and six were shot and killed. Two drowned and a few others were never found, but were listed as missing and presumed to have drowned.

In June of 1962, three men – Frank Morris and brothers John and Clarence Anglin staged an incredible escape. They’d been digging for six months, slowly widening the ventilation duct in their cells with tools that included spoons they’d stolen from the dining facility. They concealed the holes with well-painted cardboard and shook the excess dirt from their pant cuffs during their time outside.

When the time came to escape, each inmate put a papier-mâché-type head on his pillow, well-painted and complete with full heads of hair and eyebrows, made from hair clippings they’d stolen from the floors of the barber shop. They piled towels and clothing on their beds to mimic the shapes of their bodies, snuck out of their self-dug tunnels into a forgotten corridor they’d used as a workshop and gathered their supplies. They’d managed to accumulate around 50 raincoats, which they’d sewn together to make rafts.

From there, the men climbed the ventilation shaft to the roof, slid 50 feet down a kitchen vent, climbed two 12-foot perimeter fences and inflated their rafts when they reached the water. According to tests conducted later, the rafts were so well-made that they would float indefinitely.

Alcatraz Island || TERRAGOES.COM

Allegedly, the three were heading for Angel Island, some two miles away.

Their escape wasn’t detected until the morning, when a 10-day search was launched. Authorities found a paddle, a wallet that belonged to the Anglin brothers and some shreds of a raincoat, presumably the remnants of a raft. But that’s it. No human remains were ever found and after a 17-year investigation, the FBI closed their case, ruling that the prisoners probably drowned in the cold waters of the San Francisco Bay. The U.S. Marshals didn’t give up so easily, and their case is still open and will remain so until the men are either found or until their 99th birthdays.

Chances are they drowned, but maybe they didn’t. The Anglin brothers were excellent swimmers. In their teens, they spent summers in Michigan, picking cherries with their family and swimming in the lake while ice still floated on the surface.

Over the years there’s been speculation on whether or not the men could have survived, with shows like MythBusters testing the feasibility of their escape.

A few months ago I listened to an episode of the podcast Criminal that talked about the Anglin brothers and their sister, now 82-years-old. She and the rest of the family still believe the brothers are alive, that they survived the escape and made it to Brazil.

Personally, I’m a sucker for a good mystery. There’s a certain amount of magic in the idea that these men escaped the most fearsome prison in America, made their ways to some far away land and are living out their old age in a tropical paradise somewhere.

Alcatraz Island || TERRAGOES.COM

Outside the prison there’s more to explore. There’s a whole garden club that keeps the vegetation looking lovely and the island is a happy home for a variety of bird friends. There’s a gift shop, too, and a video that goes into the full history of Alcatraz, beyond its use as a federal prison.

Alcatraz Island || TERRAGOES.COM

Once you’re done exploring, you’re free to leave on any available ferry. Even though the ride is short, I’ve made it a tradition to get a wine on the ride back, to quickly sip as I ponder the possibility of prison escapes.


Alcatraz Island is accessible by commercial ferry at Pier 33 on San Francisco’s Embarcadero. Tickets go on sale 90 days in advance and have been known to sell out, especially in the summer and during holiday weekends. Tickets range from $37.25 for a day tour to $44.25 for an evening tour, with other tour options and programs available seasonally. Alcatraz is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years Day. 

When 2017 started, I was in Kuwait. It was the end of my deployment though and by the middle of January I was back in America. I’d spent most of the National Park Service’s centennial year (2016) in foreign lands and I came home determined to make up for my absence.

Two days after being released from the clawed paws of the U.S. Army, I visited my first National Park unit of the year, in New York City, and then spent the rest of the year dreaming of future park visits, driving across Virginia to visit close-to-home parks and generally annoying nearly everyone with my incessant National Park chatter.

It was a good year, at least for National Park adventuring.

2017's National Park Adventures || TERRAGOES.COM

2017’s NATIONAL PARK ADVENTURES

1. THEODORE ROOSEVELT BIRTHPLACE NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE 
Jan. 16, 2017, in New York, New York

I always knew Teddy Roosevelt was a badass, but this park added a bit of depth to his legend.

2. JEAN LAFITTE NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK & PRESERVE
Feb. 9, 2017, in New Orleans, Louisiana

This visit almost doesn’t count, as we just had enough time to visit the park’s visitor center in the French Quarter.

3. CHATTANOOGA NATIONAL MILITARY PARK
Feb. 10, 2017, in Chattanooga, Tennessse

While driving from Houston, Texas, back to Richmond, my travel companion and I pit-stopped here for some military history and, later, some top-notch BBQ.

2017's National Park Adventures || TERRAGOES.COM4. GOLDEN GATE NATIONAL RECREATION AREA
Feb. 18, 2017, in San Francisco, California

Golden Gate National Recreation Area is one of the largest urban national parks in the world and includes around 25 different locations, spread throughout the city of San Francisco and into Marin and San Mateo counties. One of my favorites is Alcatraz Island, which was the only part of the park I visited on this trip.

5. CABRILLO NATIONAL MONUMENT
Feb. 22, 2017, in San Diego, California

This was my first trip to San Diego and other than meeting some seals in La Jolla and eating tacos for almost every single meal, tide pooling at Cabrillo National Monument was my favorite part.

2017's National Park Adventures || TERRAGOES.COM 6. FORT MONROE NATIONAL MONUMENT
Jul. 23, 2017, in Hampton, Virginia

Nicknamed “Freedom’s Fortress,” Fort Monroe was a bastion of freedom for enslaved blacks during the American Civil War.

7. CEDAR CREEK & BELLE GROVE NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK
Jul. 31, 2017, in Middletown, Virginia

I pit-stopped at Cedar Creek on my way to West Virginia for work and managed to arrive just in time for a ranger-led tour. It was just me, the ranger and a retired couple and was probably the height of this year’s national park nerdery.

2017's National Park Adventures || TERRAGOES.COM8. HARPERS FERRY NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK 
Aug. 2, 2017, in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia

On the way back from West Virginia I stopped here to explore the place where the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers come together and to learn a little more about the history of the place.

9. MAGGIE WALKER NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE
Aug. 19, 2017, in Richmond, Virginia

I took friends from Washington, D.C., here, to the park closest to my home.

10. MANASSAS NATIONAL BATTLEFIELD PARK
Sept. 3, 2017, in Manassas, Virginia

One of the first major battles of the American Civil War was fought at Manassas, with tragic and occasionally ridiculous results.

2017's National Park Adventures || TERRAGOES.COM11. GEORGE WASHINGTON BIRTHPLACE NATIONAL MONUMENT
Sept. 16, 2017, in Colonial Beach, Virginia

George Washington was born in what is today Virginia’s Northern Neck. It’s a beautiful spot, but the sheep are exceptionally unfriendly.

12. APPOMATTOX COURT HOUSE NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK
Sept. 17, 2017, in Appomattox, Virginia 

I learned the basics of Gen. Robert E. Lee’s surrender back in high school, but there was a lot to the story I didn’t know.

13. PETROGLYPH NATIONAL MONUMENT
Sept. 28, 2017, in Albuquerque, New Mexico

I’d only been off the plane for a few hours by the time I went to Petroglyph National Monument, the first park I visited on a solo trip to New Mexico.

14. PECOS NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK
Sept. 30, 2017, in Pecos, New Mexico

My second park in New Mexico, where I started to learn about the history of both New Mexico and it’s native inhabitants.

2017's National Park Adventures || TERRAGOES.COM15. FORT UNION NATIONAL MONUMENT
Sept. 30, 2017, in Pecos, New Mexico

Due to its ghost town-like feeling, Fort Union wins for eeriest park I visited in 2017.

16. VALLES CALDERA NATIONAL PRESERVE
Oct. 1, 2017, in Jemez Springs, New Mexico

This was the most alone I felt on my trip to New Mexico, in the best way. I think I might have met divinity out on the winding, bumping roads of Valles Caldera.

17. MANHATTAN PROJECT NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK
Oct. 1, 2017, in Los Alamos, New Mexico

I hesitated to include this visit, as the Los Alamos part of this park is mostly closed to the public. Still, I did wander around Los Alamos, recognized as the birthplace of the atomic bomb.

2017's National Park Adventures || TERRAGOES.COM

18. BANDELIER NATIONAL MONUMENT
Oct. 1-2, 2017, in Los Alamos, New Mexico

After visiting Bandelier late in the afternoon, I woke up before the sun to visit again and to hike along ancient trails. I was the only one on the trail that morning and spent five minutes standing still watching two chipmunks welcome in the morning.

19. SHENANDOAH NATIONAL PARK
Oct. 21, 2017, near Waynesboro, Virginia

Shenandoah is only about an hour from me, so the boy & I loaded up on the best biscuits in town and headed out for a day hike and to admire the fall foliage.

2017's National Park Adventures || TERRAGOES.COM

20. PETERSBURG NATIONAL BATTLEFIELD
Nov. 25, 2017, in Petersburg, Virginia

I’d driven by this park more than 100 times and finally took the time for a proper visit this year. It’s got three parts, so chances are good I’ll head back soon to see more.

21. WOLF TRAP NATIONAL PARK FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS
Dec. 16, 2017, in Vienna, Virginia

I went to high school near Wolf Trap and never knew it was a national park. Having done the backstage tour I’m not anxious to go and see a show.

22. COLONIAL NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK
Dec. 20, 2017, in Jamestown, Virginia

When my Portlan-dwelling bestie me back for the holidays, she demanded a national park visit, so we went to Jamestown, a place neither one of us had been since we were tiny pups.

2017's National Park Adventures || TERRAGOES.COM

2017 NATIONAL PARK VISITS BY THE NUMBERS

In 2017, I visited 7 National Historical Parks, 6 National Monuments, 2 National Historic Sites, 1 National Battlefield, 1 National Military Park, 1 National Recreation Area, 1 National Battlefield Park, 1 National Preserve, 1 National Park & 1 National Park for the Performing Arts for a total of 22 visits to National Park Service units in seven states.

Did 2017 take you to any National Park Service units? 

Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts in America’s one and only national park dedicated to the performing arts. It’s located in Vienna, Virginia, just outside Washington, D.C., and is super close to where my grandmother used to live. I grew up knowing about Wolf Trap, but for some reason I never realized it was a national park.

Wolf Trap, as it’s full name suggests, is a venue for the performing arts. It’s an outdoor venue, with its main season running April – October, and it hosts a variety of performers, from musicians to dancers, symphonies to comedians. Wolf Trap’s main stage, the Filene Center, is an amphitheater, with room for 3,800 in-house, including 88 pit seats, plus additional space on the lawn. In total, the Filene Center can accommodate 7,000.

A few times a year, during Wolf Trap’s off-season, the park offers guided tours of the Filene Center. Along the way, you get a glimpse into the dressing rooms and the musician’s lounge, the backstage area and finally, the curtain comes up and you get to stand on a stage that’s hosted performers including Ringo Starr, Ke$ha, Elvis Costello, ZZ Top, Billy Idol and a whole host of Grammy-award-winning performers.

Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts || TERRAGOES.COM

WOLF TRAP’S HISTORY

In 1930, a woman named Catherine Filene Shouse, of the same Filene family who founded Filene’s Basement, started buying up land in an attempt to create for herself a refuge from Washington, D.C. She first purchased 53 acres at $100 an acre and by 1956, she’d acquired 168 acres. She used the property as a working farm where she bred horses and dogs, raised crops and other critters.

Years later, as Northern Virginia grew, development started to make her farm less of a refuge. Mrs. Shouse wanted to preserve her land, to turn it into a cultural landmark. She wanted something uniquely American, but also to create something new.

Mrs. Shouse first approached the National Symphony Orchestra to see if they might be interested in developing her land as a venue. They passed, so she went to the National Park Service, straight to the Secretary of the Interior, and in 1966, she donated 100 acres of her land to the federal government.

Wolf Trap was, essentially, an experiment by the National Park Service. They figured if the whole National Park for the Performing Arts thing worked, they’d build more. But that idea never materialized, despite the success of Wolf Trap over the past 50 years.

Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts || TERRAGOES.COM

Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts || TERRAGOES.COMAt the same time the park was created, a nonprofit, the Wolf Trap Foundation, was founded to assist in running the park. Together, the park and the foundation make Wolf Trap work, with federal dollars paying for grounds maintenance and park staff, and foundation money and support managing the performances.

Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts || TERRAGOES.COM

Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts || TERRAGOES.COMA few years later, in 1971, the Filene Center hosted it’s inaugural performance, featuring Van Cliburn, Julius Rudel with the New York City Opera, the National Symphony Orchestra, the Choral Arts Society of Washington, the United States Marine Band and the Madison Madrigal Singers.

Then, on April 4, 1982, the Filene Center burned to the ground. It happened in the middle of the night, was likely started by an overheated piece of equipment, and wind gusts helped fuel the fire. Nearby residents reported that dinner plate-sized pieces of ash floated down into their backyards.

After the fire, millions of dollars came in from more than 16,000 donors from 47 states and five foreign countries, and included support from President Ronald Reagan and former Presidents Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter.

Despite the fire, the Wolf Trap Foundation said the season would go on, and it did, in a big-ass tent in a nearby meadow, called the Meadow Center.

The new Filene Center opened in 1984 and Mrs. Shouse herself was in attendance to witness the dedication of the new building.

Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts || TERRAGOES.COM

THE TOUR

Our tour lasted about an hour and a half and started at the Stage Door, where staff are responsible for getting an autograph from each and every performer who passes by. We learned about the history of the park, about Mrs. Shouse and the first and second Filene Centers. We explored a dressing room, complete with a private outdoor area, and the musician’s lounge, then headed backstage to learn about how the venue works. We learned about the fly system, about the way different parts of the stage are used and moved to accommodate different types of performances, then the park ranger raised the curtain and we headed out onto the stage.

Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts || TERRAGOES.COMWolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts || TERRAGOES.COMWolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts || TERRAGOES.COM

From the stage, the seats feel impossibly close and the view is great. The Filene Center is beautiful, built from Douglas Fir and Southern Yellow Pine and there’s not a bad seat in the house.


Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts is open every day from 7 a.m. to dusk, except on New Years, Thanksgiving and Christmas. In addition to the venues, the park includes several walking trails. For a schedule of upcoming events at Wolf Trap, visit wolftrap.org.

In November, I went to Mexico. I’d been hearing about the magic of Mexico City for a while now, and finally planned a trip with a friend and her boyfriend. We tacked on a few days in Playa del Carmen to the end of our adventure, but we spent the bulk of our time in Mexico City, eating, drinking, wandering and, in my case, excitedly pointing out all the dogs walking the streets with their people.

I’d been to Cozumel before, and Tulum, very briefly almost a decade ago while on a cruise. Mexico City is not that sort of Mexico. I have, on several occasions, explained that going to Mexico City was like going to real Mexico, while going to the beach was just like being in America, only sometimes you have to pay in pesos. In Mexico City, you always pay in pesos, you’ll hear next to no English and when you do, you’ll be surprised. It is quite obvious that you’re in another country when in Mexico City, a fact that’s occasionally easy to forget at the beach.

We picked Mexico City for a few reasons. We all wanted to get out of the country, to get another stamp in our passport. We wanted to go somewhere relatively inexpensive, which Mexico City absolutely is. We wanted someplace with a lot of culture and good food and we didn’t want to spend forever and a day traveling to our destination. All that, plus a Spanish-speaking travel companion made Mexico City an easy choice, especially since we all had friends who recently traveled there and returned raving about it.

HOW TO SPEND 5 DAYS IN MEXICO CITY

5 Days in Mexico City || TERRAGOES.COM

DAY 1: ARRIVE IN MEXICO CITY & EXPLORE YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD

We took an early flight out of Richmond and made it our Airbnb around 1:30 p.m., allowing us time to rest for a bit, wash the travel off, and then scamper around our neighborhood. We stayed in the leafy and trendy Condesa, which is centrally located, beautiful and filled with good food. We didn’t plan much for this first day, other than exploring Condesa and neighboring Roma, eating tacos and drinking Mexico beers, which was the perfect way to ease ourselves into our Mexican adventure.

5 Days in Mexico City || TERRAGOES.COM

DAY 2: EXPLORE CENTRO HISTÓRICO.

Some of the most iconic Mexico City sites are in Centro Histórico, including the Palacio de Bellas Artes, pictured above. The city center is also home to the Zócalo, the city’s main plaza, which is the largest plaza in Latin America, with room for around 100,000 people. There’s a ton of museums to visit here too, with topics ranging from art to military history, cartoons to economics, plus a few gorgeous cathedrals and Templo Mayor, a series of Aztec ruins dating back to the 1300s and an active archeological site.

PRO TIP: There’s a Sears right across the street from the Palacio de Bellas Artes that offers an absolutely incredible view from its 8th floor coffee shop. Better yet, the coffee is actually good.

5 Days in Mexico City || TERRAGOES.COM

DAY 3: EXPLORE TEOTIHUACAN.

Teotihuacan is an ancient Mesoamerican city. Established around 100 B.C., the city reached its peak around 450 A.D., with a population somewhere over 150,000. The central pyramid here, the Pyramid of the Sun, is the third largest pyramid in the world and, amazingly, visitors are still able to climb all the way to its top for an astounding view of the entire site and the surrounding countryside, although I think the view from the middle of the other big pyramid, Pyramid of the Moon, offers the best view of the site.

If you have more than two days to spend in Mexico City, I’d recommend a trip to Teotihuacan. The site is huge – around 4 kilometers in length – and walking through a well-preserved 2,000 year old city is one of those once in a lifetime experiences that I promise you won’t regret.

Plus, there are dogs and, if you’re willing to walk an extra ten minutes, you can have a lunch in cave.

5 Days in Mexico City || TERRAGOES.COM

PRO TIPS: Entry to the site is 70 pesos, or about $3.70 USD. We took a bus there and back, which was mostly trauma-free, super affordable and easy to do by following these directions. Every site that mentions Teotihuacan mentions how you can have lunch in a cave at La Grunta and we went, not expecting much, but the restaurant was beautiful and the food was great. To get there, follow the trail behind the Pyramid of the Sun to the parking lot and then look for the black La Grunta signs. It’s a 5-10 minute walk from Teotihuacan. Be sure to take water, sunscreen and a hat with you as there’s very little shade at Teotihuacan.

5 Days in Mexico City || TERRAGOES.COM

DAY 4: VISIT FRIDA’S HOUSE & EXPLORE COYOACÁN.

We went to Coyoacán to visit the Frida Kahlo Museum and opted to spend the rest of the day exploring in one of Mexico City’s most historic neighborhoods. Not only was it a refuge for the counterculture, with artists and exiled political figures calling it home in the earlier 1900s, but it’s also where Hernán Cortés based himself as the Spanish dismantled the Aztec Empire in the 16th century. Coyoacán still feels like a colonial village, with cobbled streets, beautiful churches and a lively square surrounded by restaurants, street vendors and shops.

There’s also a handful of really outstanding markets in Coyoacán, including one that’s packed with delicious snacks. Some of the best tacos I had in Mexico City, I had at the market in Coyoacán.

PRO TIP: The Frida Kahlo Museum is a bit of splurge compared to other Mexico City museums, with admission costing $200 pesos, or about $10.50 USD. If you want to take any pictures inside, including iPhone photos, spend an extra $30 pesos ($1.60 USD) for a photo pass.

5 Days in Mexico City || TERRAGOES.COM

DAY 5: EXPLORE CHAPULTEPEC PARK & THE CITY’S MUSEUMS.

Chapultepec Park is huge – almost 1,700 acres – and is one of the largest city parks in the Western Hemisphere. It’s home to Chapultepec Castle, the only castle in the Americas to serve as the residence of a sovereign; the Museo Nacional de Antropologia, the largest and most-visted museum in the city; squirrels that will climb you and reach into your purse in an attempt to steal your snacks; and a whole assortment of additional museums. 5 Days in Mexico City || TERRAGOES.COM

We spent almost half a day in the anthropology museum and a good bit of a morning wandering around the castle, and I’d recommend both. The views from the castle are worth the climb and the collection at the anthropology museum is vast and assorted, which means it kept even me, a self-professed museum-hater, entertained.

5 Days in Mexico City || TERRAGOES.COM

Then there’s the Museo Soumaya, which is not in the park, but is worth a visit for art or architecture fans. The $70 million building allegedly holds something like $700 million worth of art, including the largest collection of Rodin outside of France, and is covered in 16,000 aluminum hexagons.

5 Days in Mexico City || TERRAGOES.COM

FINALLY, FLY AWAY. 

After five days, we woke up on the morning of our sixth day in Mexico City, packed our bags, frowned at our massive pile of used plastic water bottles, called an Uber and headed out, on to our next adventure in Playa del Carmen.

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