20 Free Things to do in Merida
WALKING TOUR OF THE HISTORICAL CENTER – If you are in Mérida at 9:30 AM on a weekday, don’t forget to do the free walking tour of the Historical Center. Tours are in English and Spanish and leave from the Tourism Office of the Municipal Building on Calle 62 between 61 and 63. Tours start at 9:30 AM.
PALACIO DE GOBIERNO – The interior arched courtyard, upstairs gallery and the balcony are the sites for a display of paintings by Mérida’s local artist, Fernando Castro Pacheco. The huge murals display the history of Yucatán. On the northeast corner of the Main Plaza, open daily.
MÉRIDA CITY MUSEUM – A small but interesting exhibit all about the city of Mérida. Includes some maps and pictures of early Mérida, information about the Maya city of T’ho. In the old Post Office, the building is a work of art in itself. Calle Calle 65 at 56.
LAS AMÉRICAS PARK – This wonderful four block large park is a happening place on Sundays. Located in García Ginerés on Colón Ave. you will find live music on the acoustic stage, dances, clowns shows, food and craft vendors. Family atmosphere.
CENTENARIO ZOO – A well-done zoo featuring many of the animals of the Yucatan Peninsula. It has a wonderful bird exhibit in a giant aviary that you can walk through. Set in a beautiful park with play areas for kids, it’s located on Avenida Itzaes and Calle 59. There is also a mini-train you can ride around the zoo and rowboats for the small lake.
VISIT THE ART GALLERIES – Mérida has an ever-growing number of art galleries. Stroll the Santa Ana neighborhood on Calle 60 where you will find several. In Santiago there are more.
BOTANAS – Local tradition has it that when an ice-cold beer is served, it is accompanied by several dishes of snacks. Typically, four or five plates are served for every beer. These extra goodies are known as botanas and include such things as refried beans with tortilla chips, siquilpac, empanadas, ceviche, mini chaya burgers, mini quibis, hummus, and labne. Each cantina or restaurant has its own specialties and most have live bands. The music is usually pretty loud and the ambiance fun. Check out Eladio’s, Lucero del Alba and Colonos to name a few.
MUSEUM PEÓN CONTRERAS – Continually changing art exhibitions from around Mexico. Exhibits are usually of contemporary artists and can include sculpture, photography, painting, fabric, and just about anything else. Calle 60 between 59 and 57 inside the Peón Contreras Theater.
MÉRIDA ENGLISH LANGUAGE LIBRARY – Stop by the library, grab a book or magazine and enjoy the backyard patio. While this is a membership library, drop-ins are welcome to browse and enjoy the books. Calle 53 No. 524 between 66 and 68. Open Mon. to Fri. 9 am – 1 pm; Mon. 6:30 – 9 pm; Thurs. 4 – 7 pm; Sat. 10 am – 1 pm. Tel. 924 8401. www.meridaenglishlibrary.com
MONDAY EVENING LA VAQUERÍA – Free outdoor concert with traditional Yucatecan dancing and dress. This is a colorful, popular, happy event with great photo opportunities! The street is closed at the Palacio Municipal on the Calle 62 side of the Main Plaza. 9 PM.
TUESDAY EVENING BIG BAND – Dance to and enjoy big band music of the 40’s. This is a popular event for the locals who love to come out and dance. Santiago Park on the corner of Calle 59 and 72, 8:30 PM.
WEDNESDAY EVENING CULTURAL EVENTS – Each week there are different presentations at the Olimpo Cultural Center on Calle 62 at the corner of 61 of the Main Plaza at 9 PM.
THURSDAY EVENING YUCATECAN SERENADE This traditional and popular serenade at Sta. Lucía Park has been running for the past 40 years. This open-air concert in the lovely park features Yucatecan dress, dance, music and folklore. Calle 60 at 55 at 9 PM.
FRIDAY EVENING UNIVERSITY SERENADE – This Friday night music and dance event is held in the main University building on the corner of Calle 60 and 57, 9 PM.
SATURDAY NOCHE MEXICANA – Noche Mexicana in the park at the base of the Paseo de Montejo and Calle 47 is where you will find free live music, food booths, crafts, and dance. 8 PM.
THURSDAY, FRIDAY, SATURDAY AND SUNDAY – CORAZÓN DE MÉRIDA – Heart of Mérida is a great festival around the Main Plaza and Calle 60 up to Calle 53 from 9 PM to 1 AM. During this festival, the streets are closed off to traffic, there are three strategically placed bands, and the restaurants put chairs and tables in the streets café style. There are also stilt-walkers, Mariachis, street vendors with crafts and food. This is a must!
MÉRIDA EN DOMINGO – Mérida on Sunday is an outdoor handcraft market and food festival on the Main Plaza, and up Calle 60 to Hidalgo Park and Santa Lucía Park – streets are closed, live music 9 AM- 9 PM. It could be said that this is a continuation of the Saturday night event as it is in the same area.
SUNDAY BICYCLE ROUTE – Free, if you have a bicycle. Every Sunday from 8 AM to 12:30 PM, 5 km of roads in Mérida are closed off to traffic allowing cyclists to enjoy a morning of bicycling in a family-oriented ambiance that is healthy and safe. La Bici-Ruta runs from La Ermita de Santa Isabel (Calle 77 at 64) to the Main Plaza, then north along Paseo de Montejo to the fountain by Burger King. If you don’t have a bike you can rent one for $6 US.
MESTIZA WEDDING – The essence of a tradition in the legendary Land of the Mayab. This is a recreation of the beautiful Maya wedding ceremony. Every Sunday at 5 pm, the space outside the Palacio Municipal is transformed for an hour into a happy Maya