Words by Ben Leavitt, PlaidFox Studio

My husband and I visit Mexico City every year because it’s a different adventure every time. I wouldn’t describe it as a relaxing trip, but it is completely energizing. A five-hour flight from Vancouver feels like you’ve travelled across the world for how different it is, from the architecture to the art and cathedrals. Inspiration is underfoot, overhead, across the street—everywhere! Mexico City has a deep appreciation for art and design, and all my senses wake up here and try to take it all in.

1. Sunrise Hot Air Balloon over the Pyramids
I’m not the kind of person who can function without a coffee the size of your head in the morning, but seeing the sunrise over the immense Teotihuacán Pyramids (built in about 100 BCE) is something I’ll never forget—and it’s worth the 5 a.m. pickup. It’s such a unique vantage point, and landing in a farmer’s field is half the thrill. airbnb.ca/experiences.

2. Luis Barragán Home Tour
Skip the lines and tourists at Frida Kahlo’s house and instead visit the home of esteemed global architect Luis Barragán. Built in 1948, Casa Luis Barragán is a true marriage of minimalism and bombastic colour. Outside you’ll see hot-pink walls, and inside there are genius light features that turn whole rooms blue and chartreuse. Just go—you can’t even imagine. casaluisbarragan.org

3. Biking Tour
A biking tour (yes, I opted for electric) is the best way to see the city and the local guides are super knowledgeable, showing you lots of interesting history that tourists would otherwise pass by. Despite the city’s size and congestion, it also has some of the largest urban parks in the world and this is a big part of the tour. airbnb.ca/experiences


4. Cocktail Scene
While underground shaman-themed speakeasy Xaman Bar has been my go-to (visually it’s a mix between a bougie spa and a rustic cave dwelling), new hot spots like Blanco Colima (great drinks, great scenery) and Ololo (moody pumpkin-orange ambiance) are my new favourites. @xamanbar; blancocolimamx.com; @ololo.condesa


5. Roam the Streets of Roma Norte
Unlike more modern areas like Polanco, Roma Norte is a neighbourhood that still has that original Mexico City feel. The bustling streets are lined with colonial revival buildings in every colour and it’s the youthful spot for cafés, charming bakeries, tons of cool design stores (like Chic By Accident—more on that next) and ceramic shops that sell locally made pieces.

6. Shop at Chic By Accident
The design spot in Roma Norte I tell all my friends about is Chic By Accident. The owner is an architect and designs amazing brutalist homes; his shop is a treasure trove of curated artifacts and interior design relics. chicbyaccident.com

7. Lucha Libre
Wrestling is a cultural phenomenon in Mexico. You get the picture when you step inside the giant Mexico City Arena to see whole families screaming in their seats! Book spots close to the ring, order the largest beer you’ve ever seen and get ready to take in a spectacle. I would describe it as wild, irreverent fun and you may even have to dodge a wrestler flying into the crowd. ticketmaster.ca

8. Restaurant Hopping
Rosetta and its bar upstairs, Salón Rosetta, are the perfect combo for dinner and drinks. The food is outstanding and the ceramic dishes it’s served on are so beautiful I tried to buy them on the spot. Huset has an amazing outdoor courtyard and Molino el Pujol (the sister restaurant of the esteemed Pujol) is my casual-fare crush (the two share the same star chef). The dish to get here looks like a big basil leaf and has a tortilla inside of it. Don’t let the glossy white tiles and red branding scare you away from Taquería Orinoco—quite possibly the most delicious taco you’ll ever eat. rosetta.com.mx; facebook.com/husetroma; @molinopujol; @taqueriaorinoco


9. Diego Rivera’s Murals
Husband of Frida Kahlo and a notable artist in his own right, Diego Rivera painted several murals across Mexico and our favourite is in Palacio Nacional. This series depicts the history of Mexico, from ancient times to his vision of the future, and was completed in 1935—and it is not to be missed. Right beside it is the absolutely amazing Metropolitan Cathedral. You’ll feel like you’re in the heart of Europe.

10. Museums in the Park
Two of my favourite museums in Mexico City are in the same park (Chapultepec). The Museo Nacional de Antropología is an architectural marvel, featuring a massive floating roof with a spoke-like waterfall—it’s unbelievable. Museo Tamayo (brutalist architecture on point) has an ever-changing selection of Mexican painters and collections from Oaxaca. mna.inah.gob.mx; museotamayo.org