14-Night Road Trip Itinerary for Yucatan and Quintana Roo Mexico with Kids

We are heading out on a summer adventure this year to Mexico on a self-drive road trip around the Yucatan and Quintana Roo region of the country. Organised through a local family travel company Stubborn Mule Travel this is an ideal opportunity to lead the travelled so far dad gently into more independent travel like I am used to from my backpacking days. So before we head off here’s our plan and route for our 14-day self-drive tour of the Yucatan and Quintana Roo regions of Mexico with Kids.

Uxmal one of the sites to visit in the Yucatan with Kids

Yucatan and Quintana Roo Mexico

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We are were asked recently why this was our summer 2019 destination of choice and it’s partly a long-held dream of mine but also because in school J has been learning about the Mayans and rainforests and it’s really captured his interest as a destination so it was an easy choice.

The Yucatan and Quintana Roo are two regions of Mexico probably most known for their ruins and jungles.

Back when I lived in Costa Rica “the plan” was that in August 2004 I would leave Costa Rica and travel overland to the USA before heading home in October/November with a long stop in Mexico particularly in the region we will be visiting.

Although nature has always been my passion I am fascinated by ancient history and the cultures so really wanted to explore the Mayan ruins and evidence of the civilization that you can see today.

Planning a Mexican Road Trip with Kids

When we started to plan this we contacted Stubborn Mule Travel and gave Kelly our travel advisor some pretty specific requests.

We wanted to

  • Have access to swimming every day
  • Explore some well-known ruins as well as see some lesser-known ones as well
  • Visit some of the Spanish Colonial towns/cities as well as the Mayan
  • Get into the jungle and let the kids experience this as well
  • Have a rest at the end where we could snorkel and experience a bit of the beach life but without being too crowded and touristy

We also wanted to stay in smaller hotels and most likely self-drive rather than go guided especially after watching some of the YouTube videos and finding out how similar a lot of the main roads are to those in Greece and Cyprus where we have driven frequently.

Stubborn Mule Travel and Kelly took our list and created a tailor-made trip for us covering lots of different activities and travelling around the area quite extensively.

With such a varied list of activities and a smallish hire car for our trip, we’ve had to think carefully about what to bring. If you are travelling the same trip or similar then check out our family packing list for a Self Drive Mexican Adventure

14-Night Self-Drive Tour of Yucatan and Quintana Roo with Kids

So where are we going on our summer road-trip adventure this year?

Here’s the plan!

We’ve linked through to the hotels that Stubborn Mule have booked for us as well as a quick highlight of some of the activities that we will be doing during the trip.

Getting to Mexico

We decided to book our flights and car-hire ourselves. We have used British Airways a number of times in the last few years and know from experience that if they have a fly drive option for a destination it can often be cheaper to book than if you book a flight on it’s own.

I know crazy right!

So we are flying in from Gatwick on a BA flight to Cancun where we are picking up the car.

If you are planning to do this kind of trip then we would really recommend looking at this as an option or asking your tour company to look into it.

It’s saved us money and BA do one of the only direct flights into the area from the UK so although it’s long there is no risk of missing our connections due to delays.

Day 1 – Cancun

Upon arriving in Cancun International airport we’re picking up our car (Stubborn Mule Travel did provide us with an option of organising the car hire for us and getting us to the hotel but as you can see above we saved money by doing this part ourselves).

Read more with our Guide to Driving in the Quintana Roo and Yucatan now we are back.

Then drive to our first hotel -> Beachscape Kin Ha Villas and Suites.

We are only spending the night here and we know that with the jetlag we are likely to be heading off very early the next morning on our adventure.

Day 2 – Cancun to Valladolid

We’re heading from Cancun to Valladolid passing through the jungle and some ruins on the way to stay at Hotel El Mesón del Marqués.

Our current plan is to visit 2 places on our way. Coba and Punta Laguna. Giving us a great introduction to the nature of the area at Punta Laguna and also Mayan Civilization at Coba.

Day 3 – Valladolid to Izamal

This when we started planning was what I thought would be the highlight of the trip as the plan is to get to Chichen Itza today and explore the ruins there.

We also plan to visit some Cenotes with the kids and it’s something that they have been looking forward to as they can’t wait to swim in the caves.

Afterwards, we will leave and head to Izamal where we will be staying at Hacienda Santo Domingo.

Day 4 – Izamal

As I wanted to explore the different cultures of the area as well as have some downtime with the kids to rest and relax the plan for day 4 is to stay around Izamal and explore this town that combines many different cultures as well as relax at the hotel which appears to have a great pool.

Day 5 – Izamal to Merida

Heading to the Northern part of the Yucatan and the city of Merida. We are hoping to book a Mexican cooking experience here to do with the kids. It’s something that they love to eat however, I suspect that my version isn’t as authentic as it could be and to be taught how to make it in Mexico is certainly something that we are keen to experience.

We’ll be staying at Hacienda Sotuta de Peón which is not just a hotel but a historical site in itself.

Day 6 – Celestun

We will have a second night at Hacienda Sotuta de Peón but the plan is to visit the town of Celestun on the coast.

Here we hope to take a tour on the Lake and see some more of the natural wonders of the region including the Flamingos.

Day 7 – Uxamal

Another Mayan site and one that I saw first over on the Instagram feed of Becky (see below) from Kid World Citizen. I loved the fact that unlike the ruins I’ve seen of Chichen Itza this one is still very much part of the jungle.


After visiting there we return back to Hacienda Sotuta de Peón for a final night.

Day 8 – Merida to Bacalar

We’re crossing the Yucatan and venturing into Quintana Roo region on this day. There’s a couple of stops on the way but this will likely be the longest journey around a 4 hour trip we think according to Google Maps directions that we’ve printed out.

On the way we’re hoping to see

  • Ticul
  • Loltun Caves

Once in Bacalar we’re staying on the lake at Hotel Rancho Encantado.

Day 9 – Lake Bakalar

We have a day at the lake here. We’ve done a little research and think we’re likely to do a bit of a nature day but with the likelhood of visiting the Fort and Pirate Museum.

We’ve got another night at the Hotel Rancho Encantado before moving on to our next location for Day 10.

Day 10 – Bakalar to Tulum

Although a relatively short drive between the two locations we do plan to have a full day.

Visiting another Mayan site this time of Muyil one of the oldest in the area and then heading into the reserve Sian Ka’an and taking a boat ride. Whether we do it in that order or the other way round will depend on what we discover as we are travelling around.

We’re then staying at Rosa del Viento in Tulum.

Day 11 – Tulum to Akamul

For the last part of our trip we are heading for a few days at the beach resort of Akamul.

We’re hoping that unlike the busier resorts of Cancun and Playa Carmen that this will be much more us and laid back.

Of course, before heading there we are planning to see Tulum and some of the Cenotes between the two areas.

Our hotel for the remainder of our trip will be Hotel Akumal Caribe.

Day 12, 13, 14 and morning before departing Akamul

Although we will be located at the beach. That doesn’t mean that our time will likely be spent on the beach.

We’ve been checking out some of the Eco-Parks in the area as we love Water Parks and these are Water Parks with a difference.

We’re also looking at lots of snorkelling and swimming as well as visiting any of the ruins that we may want to revisit.

So that’s our plans. Don’t forget that you can follow us over on Instagram where we’ll be sharing some of the highlights of the trips whilst there and then more once we return and have greater access to download pictures etc…

Check out our Mexico – Yucatan and Quintana Roo With Kids Pinterest board

We are collecting ideas and inspiration for our trip on our Pinterest Board check it out below

We are linking up to

Check out these other road trips to do with kids:

the cliffs at Hunstanton with the wave cut platform in front one of the stops on the North Norfolk Road Trip with Kids

The North Norfolk Coast, England with Kids

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  1. Mexico is one of those places I’d love to visit one day. I’d love to visit some of the Mayan sites, especially Tulum. I’ve seen photos and it looks beautiful!

  2. Tulum is one of the places that we are most looking forward to. I’ve always loved the look of the ruins and how different but similar they are to the Egyptian Pyramids.

  3. I’m really really looking forward to it and it’s been so long in the making I can’t wait 🙂

  4. I think my 26 year old self that first planned this trip would be very jealous. The original plan was only half of this trip

  5. What an amazing trip – I went to the Yucatan years ago and it’s somewhere I’ve always fancied returning to with my daughter. The culture and history fascinate me. Although I’d be a bit more nervous about self-drive!

  6. I’ve never been and if it had been just me and the kids we would be going independent with backpacks and using public transport. My husband not there yet – so a self drive is half way between his comfort of a guided tour and my idea!!! Stubborn Mule do do guided tours for the region as well.

  7. My parents did it a lot for us if they could and I think it led to both my brother and I have a wide range of interests and knowledge. Learning happens best when people are interested and no better way to be interested than to experience it

  8. You’re going to one of my favourite places in the world!! This is such a great itinerary and a really lovely introduction to one of the country’s prettiest states. I look forward to following along!

  9. That was the big thing for us the mix. I think too much of either and someone in the family would be bored.

  10. I’ve been to Mexico twice and this has made me realise I still have so much more I have to see. You road trip criteria are spot on – a great balance. It sounds like it’s going to be a great family adventure.

  11. We’ve heard the same and all the staff we’ve met are great. We’re really excited and counting down the days.

  12. I really hope so – I planned a lot of this when I was 26 it’s just taken a few years to come through.

  13. Wow what an epic itinerary!!! we visited Mexico years ago and I am ashamed to say we didn’t venture far from the beach and hotel. I can’t wait to follow your trip Cerys!

  14. J keeps saying it’s EPIC too – he’s hoping for a summer of Epic fun!!! Keep an eye on Insta and here as we share the trip 🙂 We really can’t wait

  15. Great Itinerary & road trip shared by you specially by kids i am planning a trip to there so its very useful for me and thanks for sharing this
    useful information I have a baby girl and ready to visit there

  16. Wow, that sounds like a full on trip! We’d have to have a ‘chill out day’ in between each ‘adventure/travel day’ I think or my girls would never cope! It looks amazing – I’d love to visit Mexico (and these areas in particular). I’ll look forward to reading all about it once you’ve been!

  17. Oh wow! What an exciting adventure! It sounds fantastic, I love the idea of a cooking lesson. I bet the kids will love that. I am very envious! #CTWM

  18. wow, that is some trip. I have serious envy and adding this to my travel wish list. Great informative post for anybody trying to recreate similar. #ctwm

  19. It’s been a dream for a long while and I really can’t wait now… counting down the hours 🙂 Hopefully it will help others when they start to plan

  20. amazing, we are travelimg to the same area. we are from mexico but live in san diego california and have never been to cancun so reading your tips definitely makes me want to stop by some of the places you mentioned and others that I have researches as well..thank you so much.

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