Located about an hour from Cancun in Mexico’s Riviera Maya is Playa del Carmen’s bustling Fifth Avenue, known as “La quinta” to locals. On and just off this pedestrian-friendly drag, you’ll find boutique shops, flea-market stalls, great food and buzzing nightlife.
Browse the Flea Market and check out the free art walk
Barter for souvenirs like pottery, blankets and silver jewelry at the Flea Market. On Thursdays, starting at 6 p.m., check out the free Caminarte (art walk) to see the works of local painters and photographers while performing artists bring the entertainment.
Stop for a photo-op at the Portal Maya sculpture
Stop at Parque Fundadores, between Fifth Avenue and the main beach, for a photo under the 52-foot-tall Portal Maya sculpture. Nab a bench and watch the Voladores de Papantla dancers perform an ancient rain dance in the park, with shows every 30 minutes.
Shop at Quinta Alegria
Check out Quinta Alegria, Fifth Avenue’s newest open-air mall with three storeys of shops including Sanborns (one of Mexico’s oldest department stores) and Hurley. Fuel up at Sanborns Restaurant with the weekend breakfast buffet and savour the ocean view.
Eat tacos at Taquería El Fogon
Step off the main drag for a true Mexican meal at Taquería El Fogon just a few blocks away from the strip. Order traditional tacos al pastor, or go for El Taco Loco, a massive tortilla with four kinds of meat and cheese, topped with a slice of bacon and a pork chop.
Drink by the pool at Canibal Royal Restaurant and Beach Club
Spend a sun-soaked afternoon at Canibal Royal Restaurant and Beach Club on the northern end of Coco Beach for Mexican-Asian fusion meals and cocktails as well as rooftop pool lounging. Try the Chi Chi Be with gin, basil, lychee, lime and soda.
Drink at Coco Bongo
You can’t go to Playa del Carmen without checking out Coco Bongo nightclub, just a block from Fifth Avenue. Tickets to the club include drinks and wild entertainment like light shows, conga dancers and acrobats you can watch from one of two balconies.
This story was originally published in the September 2015 issue of WestJet Magazine and has since been updated.
Mexico’s Magic Towns
There are 111 pueblos mágicos in Mexico, each one designated as such for its enchanting beauty, architecture and centuries-old culture. Here are five magic towns—Sayulita, Todos Santos, Tulum, Isla Mujeres and San Sebastián del Oeste—that are easily accessible from major cities and resorts.