13 Best Things To Do In Progreso Mexico For Families

October 7, 2023

The town of Progreso is an underrated gem in Mexico. Most travelers to Mexico have never heard of Progreso. But once they go, they’ll understand why it’s a great place to visit. And they’ll be clamoring to check off all the best things to do in Progreso Mexico from their list! 

Since first coming to Mexico in 2018, our family has been in love with the country. We’ve enjoyed exploring the bustling cities of Mexico City and Guadalajara. And we’ve also loved seeing the wonderful nature of Mexico, from sea turtles in Puerto Escondido to whale sharks in La Paz.

Man and woman posing in front of a Progreso letter sign, with the ocean in the background, exploring things to do in Progreso
Tourists posing in front of the Progeso sign (January 2021)

In 2021, we came to the Yucatan peninsula for the first time and fell in love with Mexico even more. Part of our time in the Yucatán was in Progreso, and we had a blast experiencing all the best things to do in Progreso that families can enjoy!

Now I’m excited to share it all with you so you can fall in love with Mexico too!

This post was originally published on April 29, 2021.

This post may contain affiliate links. That means I may receive a small commission if you click on the link and purchase something. But don't worry, this will not result in any extra costs to you.

Progreso activities and tours highlights

Want a quick snapshot of the best things to do in Progreso Mexico? Here are our top 5 highlights:

  1. Spend an afternoon at Progreso Beach
  2. Take a tour of Dzibilchaltun Mayan ruins
  3. Visit ancient Mayan ruins and learn about chocolate at Uxmal and ChocoStory
  4. See El Corchito Ecological Reserve and the famous pink salt ponds
  5. Book a paddleboarding tour of local mangroves

Where to stay in Progreso

When we visited Progreso, we actually stayed in Chelem (about 10 minutes from Progreso) at a vacation rental from Yucatan Vacations. And during our second visit to Progreso, we stayed in Chixculub Puerto (about 25 minutes away) at an Airbnb.

Playing in the water in Progreso (January 2021)

However, if you prefer staying at hotels, there are some wonderful hotels in Progreso that are located close to the beach. Here are some hotels near the Malecon that I recommend.

Hotel Playa Linda

Hotel Playa Linda is located on the Malecon, close to the world’s longest pier: Progreso Pier. This hotel has rooms that can accommodate families of up to 6 people. And it’s close proximity to Progreso Beach makes it convenient to get to all the things to do in Progreso.

Restaurants are located just outside the door! And one of our favorite restaurants in Progreso, Eladio’s, is just 3 minutes away. 

There’s no pool at Hotel Playa Linda. However, the rooms do offer views of the ocean. Hotel Playa Linda offers a range of rooms, from standard (with WiFi, TV, air conditioning, and a mini fridge) to suites (with all the amenities of a standard, plus a small kitchen and balcony).

Hotel and Suites Domani

Nearby to Hotel Playa Linda is Hotel and Suites Domani. This hotel on the Malecon offers several suite options for families, and has a pool on site. 

Some of the suites have views of the ocean, while others have views of the pool. This makes Hotel and Suites Domani a perfect relaxing after a day of doing all the things to do in Progreso.

Standard suites can accommodate families of 4, while family suites can accommodate 6 people. The suites have WiFi, TV, air conditioning, and a full kitchen and dining room. 

Hotel Yaxactun

A bit further from Progreso Pier is Hotel Yaxactun. This hotel has a small outdoor pool, and has suites that can accommodate up to 4 people. 

Suites at Hotel Yaxactun have WiFi, air conditioning, and a TV. Daily housekeeping is available. Hotel Yaxactun is located 3 blocks inland from the Malecon. However, it’s still a fairly central location for all the things to do in Progreso.

Ready for a change? Take the first step to living a life of full time travel.

Things to do in Progreso for families

The selection of things to do in Progreso for families is vast. Families can enjoy a beach day, explore nature, and even learn some history too! It's a great worldschooling destination for families because of its variety of activities available.

Paddleboarding among the mangroves in Progreso (January 2021)

Progreso offers activities for active families, and also has low key options for families who just want to relax. Take a look at some of the interesting things families can do during their visit to Progreso.

1. Spend a day at the beach

Progreso’s proximity to the beach is one of the many draws of this town. Since the town is located along the Gulf of California, you won’t find surfing beaches in Progreso. However, families can still spend a day playing in the waves.

Enjoying the beach in Progreso, (January 2021)

The Malecón borders the main beach in Progreso. So you can spend an afternoon at the beach, and then head over to the restaurants along the Malecón for dinner.

As with any public space in Mexico, you’ll find vendors walking along the beach selling things like snacks, fruit, or bracelets. (We love nothing better than eating fresh mangoes with chili powder and lime on the beach!)

One thing to note, the sun can get very hot in Progreso. Be sure to bring along a beach hat and sunglasses to protect your eyes. And also use reef safe sunscreen to avoid getting sun-burned.

2. Kayak through the mangroves (La Ria Progreso)

For families looking for low key water activities, renting kayaks with La Ria Progreso is a must! La Ria Progreso is located along Calle 37, east of highway 261. The dock leads into the mangrove forest, located southwest of Progreso.

A young girl and a man kayaking in a double kayak with mangroves in the background
Kayaking through the mangroves (January 2021)

Families can rent kayaks to explore the mangroves. Kayak rentals are hourly, at 100 pesos for singles and 200 pesos for doubles. Families can also rent paddleboards for 250 pesos per hour. Life jackets are available for adults and kids of all sizes.

Keep in mind, the mangroves can be full of mosquitoes, depending on the time of year. We like using Deet free insect repellent. We’ve also used Deet free bug repellent bands with our kids. They come in fun colors, so the kids can pretend they’re superheroes with powerful arm bands! 

Besides La Ria Progreso, there are other places to rent paddle boards in Progreso. Compass Sailing offers a paddleboard tour if you want a guide to lead you through the mangroves.

Start speaking Spanish with my FREE 25 Essential Spanish Words and Phrases!

3. Experience water-based things to do in Progreso with AlphaSports

Another option for paddleboarding in Progreso is through AlphaSports. Located on Calle 29, between Calle 132 and Calle 128, AlphaSports offers paddleboarding tours and rentals. They also offer kiteboarding classes at 1,000 pesos per hour per person. 

A paddleboard on the water, with oceanfront houses in the background, one of the many things to do in Progreso, Mexico.
Paddleboarding in Progreso with AlphaSports (January 2021)

For those renting paddleboards, rentals start at 300 pesos per hour. AlphaSports also offers delivery to your home for 500 pesos for the whole day. If you’re staying on a beachfront property, this is a good option, as it allows families to enjoy paddleboarding for a whole afternoon. 

4. Visit Reserva Ecológica El Corchito

To the south of Progreso is Reserva Ecológica El Corchito. The highlight of El Corchito are the cenotes that are available for swimming. Cenotes are sinkholes in limestone bedrock that are filled with fresh water. These natural pools can be found all over the Yucatán peninsula. During Mayan times, they were used for sources of drinking water.

Playing in a cenote (January 2021)

There are three main cenotes at El Corchito, ranging from less than 1 meter (around 3 feet) deep to over 2 meters deep (around 6 feet). There is also a small cenote, roughly 2 meters (6 feet) in diameter that is exclusively for dipping your feet in. The fish in this particular cenote like to nibble the dead skin off your feet! 

Reserva Ecológica El Corchito is open every day, from 9am to 4pm. The entrance to the reserve is located on Calle 27, near the roundabout on Calle 46. From the entrance, you take a boat across the estuary into the reserve. Admission to El Corchito costs 90 pesos for adults, and 35 pesos for children. 

You can visit El Corchito on your own. But if you’re limited on time you can book a tour with Sergio’s Tours, which takes you to El Corchito, plus Xcambo and Laguna Rosada (which I’ll mention further down in this post).

5. Visit Zona Arqueológica Xcambo

Another Mayan ruins complex worth visiting is Zona Arqueológica Xcambo. Located less than 30 minutes away from Progreso, Xcambo was a former commercial port city within the Mayan empire.

A stone pyramid with palm trees in front of it and next to a platform made of stone. A grassy field sits in front of the pyramid and stone platform. The pyramid is located in archaeological site, Xcambo, one of the things to do in Progreso, Mexico.
A pyramid at Xcambo (January 2021)

Within the complex, you’ll see several pyramid structures surrounding an open space. Xcambo is open every day from 8am to 5pm. The fee for Xcambo is 75 pesos per adult. Children under 13 are free.

You can visit Xcambo on your own and take in the feel of walking among these ancient ruins (which is what we did). But if you want to visit Xcambo with a guide, you can book this tour from Shore Excursions Mexico, which specializes in Progreso excursions for travelers taking a cruise line trip.

Family travel resources for a famiy

Get weekly worldschooling tips sent to your inbox with my Worldschooling Wednesday email series.

6. Laguna Rosada and Salt Ponds

Near the Xcambo site is Laguna Rosada and the Salt Ponds. Laguna Rosada gets its name from the red hue of its waters. This red coloring comes from the algae that live in the lagoon.

Exploring the salt ponds at Laguna Rosada (January 2021)

You can rent kayaks to explore the mangroves at Laguna Rosada through Reserva Ecológica Sayalchaltun. Or you can take a guided boat tour of the lake. Rates start from 100 pesos per hour. The reserve is open every day from 7am to 4pm.

Alternatively, you can take a visit to the traditional salt ponds of Laguna Rosada. Workers harvest pink salt from shallow pools fed from the lake. You can purchase a package of locally harvested Mexican pink salt for 10 pesos a package.

For a day trip option, head to the Las Coloradas pink lakes, which is about 3-4 hours drive from Progreso.

7. Hang out at the Malecón

Progreso’s beachfront boardwalk runs from corner of Calle 19 and Calle 80, and ends at Calle 60. The paved boardwalk is wide, so there’s plenty of room for families to stroll and enjoy the ocean views.

Checking out things to do in Progreso at the Malecon (January 2021)

Along the Malecón, you’ll find a large selection of restaurants, many of them selling seafood. The prices will be fairly inflated, due to the location. But if you want dining with a beach view, then this is the spot.

You’ll also find many street vendors selling a local snack called marquesitas. These are crunchy crepe-like rolls filled with a sweet or savory filling of your choice.

8. Walk through the Municipal Market

Public markets are integral to daily life in Mexican culture. Many Mexican families still use markets each day to purchase their ingredients for their daily meals. So if you want to catch a glimpse of day to day life in Progreso, then a visit to the Municipal Market is a must. The market is just three blocks away from the Malecón.

The entrance to the Municipal Market, one of the things to do in Progreso. A curved building facade, with a sign on top saying, "Mercado Municipal Francisco I.Madero". Small shops line the front of the building. Orange cones are in a line the front of the entrance to the building.
Fun things to do in Progreso at the Mercado Municipal (January 2021)

At the market, you’ll find fresh produce and general sundries. You’ll also find food stalls, known as loncherías, selling local dishes. If you’re looking for a cheap lunch place, then the Municipal Market is a good option.

Check out my blog, Mexico Family Travel, for more great tips on Mexico travel!

9. Visit Zona Arqueológica de Dzibilchaltun

Families don’t have to travel all the way to Chichen Itza to learn about Mayan history. Zona Arqueológica Dzibilchaltun, located just 25 kilometers south of Progreso, is a convenient place to learn about the history of the Mayans. 

Historical things to do in Progreso at Dzibilchaltun (January 2021)

Dating from as early as the late Precalssical period of Mayan history to the late Postclassical period, the main feature of the ruins complex is the Temple of the Seven Dolls. The Dzibilchaltun Museum, located near the ruin entrance, offers exhibits to help visitors learn more about the complex. There is also a cenote, called Cenote Xlacah, that visitors can visit during the weekdays.

Dzibilchaltun is open for visitors every day of the week from 8:30 or 9 am to 4 pm. Entrance to Dzibilchaltun is 231 pesos for foreign adults, and 75 pesos for kids. During your visit to Dzibilchaltun and other Mayan historical sites, remember to be responsible and respectful of the site, and follow the posted rules.

We visited Dzibilchaltun on our own. But if you want a guide to provide commentary and insights on the ruins, take a tour with Shore Excursions. Again, this is a great option if you’re just doing a cruise ship stop in Progreso and looking for a shore excursion activity.

10. Mayan ruins and chocolate at Uxmal and ChocoStory

Another zona arqueológica to visit for families looking for things to do in Progreso (or near Progreso) is Uxmal. Uxmal is located 72 miles (116km) from Progreso and like Dzibilchaltun, is often overlooked by the more popular Chichén Itzá. 

There are some impressive structures to see at Uxmal. The site is open every day from 8am to 5pm. The fee to enter is 418 pesos per person. 

Another plus for Uxmal is that right next to it is ChocoStory. This is an open air museum for families who want to learn about the history of chocolate and the role of cacao in Mayan culture. You can watch a cacao demonstration, see and feel the beans, and learn how it has impacted cultures all around the world.

Families can visit Uxmal and ChocoStory on their own (like we did) and have an engaging experience. However, having a guide can make the experience even better because they can add insight and commentary. Merida Elite offers private tours to Uxmal and ChocoStory, and can pick you up from Progreso.

11. Take a break from things to do in Progreso with a beach day in Chuburná

On the other side of Progreso, to the west, are the beach towns of Chelem and Chuburná. These towns each have populations of less than 2,000 people. But they are popular spots for beach excursions from Progreso. Chuburná, especially, has a nice secluded beach, with calm waters.

Enjoy relaxing things to do in Progreso at the beach (January 2021)

To get to the beach at Chuburná, just continue west until you reach the end of the road. It’s about a twenty five minute drive from Progreso. The beach is public access, and there is no fee to enter. Just remember to bring snacks, as there are no vendors at the beach.

Learn more about the amazing family travel resources we use for worldschooling!

passport, journal, and sunglasses

12. Take a day trip to Mérida

For a taste of history and culture, as you’re thinking of things to do in Progreso, head south to the city of Mérida. Just a 30 or 40 minute drive from Progreso, Mérida has no shortage of activities for families. 

Enjoying a bike ride in Merida (April 2021)

A city of over 600,000 people, Mérida has a large selection of restaurants, parks, and museums for families to visit. There are also several neighborhood markets and shopping malls to visit, so you can experience both traditional and modern Mexican culture. Getting to Mérida is easy via highway 261.

If you have a big appetite and are in the mood for a little walking, be sure to book this Mérida street food walking tour from Adventures Mexico. This tour takes visitors to some of the local markets and also great local restaurants. It’s highly recommended on TripAdvisor!

13. See flamingos at Celestún

Another exciting excursion to take from Progreso is a visit to Celestún, on the western coast of the Yucatán Peninsula. A visit to the Reserva de la Biosfera Ria Celestún will give you the chance to see wild flamingos!

Pink flamingos standing in the water up to their knees.
Flamingos near Celestun (January 2021)

Celestún is about an hour and a half drive from Progreso. Just after you cross the bridge to enter the town of Celestún on highway 281, you’ll see a tourist stop where you can rent boats to explore the estuary and see the flamingos. Boat rentals cost 1,800 peso and come with a guide. 

The boat ride takes you around the estuary, to give you an up close and personal view of the flamingos. Like Laguna Rosada near Progreso, the estuary near Celestún is filled with red algae that makes the water look pink. This is also what gives the flamingos their bright pink hue. We loved seeing these magnificent birds in person and in the wild!  

Check out my other posts about traveling to Mexico with kids.

Where is Progreso, Mexico?

Progreso is a small city in Mexico on the northern coast of the Yucatán peninsula. With a population of around 37,000 people, Progreso is primarily a port town. The main industry in Progreso is fishing, as well cargo shipping.

A scene of a Mexican street with a lighthouse in the background, one of the things to do in Progeso
Explore things to do in Progreso in Centro (January 2021)

In recent years, however, Progreso has become a stop for cruise ships. Both Carnival and Royal Caribbean cruises stop at Progreso. The city boasts a pier that is 6.5 km (4.1 mile) long. It's not quite as developed as popular cruise stops like Cancun or Playa del Carmen, but I’m sure once the pandemic goes away and cruise tourism resumes, there will be more cruise companies added to this list. 

But Progreso is more than just a cruise ship port town. And it’s more than just a gateway to the rest of the Yucatán peninsula. It’s a destination in its own right! There are plenty of things to do in Progreso for families that warrant more than just an afternoon’s stay or a drive through.    

Get prepared for any emergency with the insurance made for digital nomads!

Planning your trip to Progreso

The best time of year to visit Progreso is from mid-October to mid-March, when the weather is not sweltering hot. The coldest months are December and January. But even during those months, you can still enjoy plenty of warm beach days from time to time.

A mural of a crab holding a heart in Progreso along Callejon del Amor, one of the many things to do in Progreso
Enjoy artistic things to do in Progreso, like street art (January 2021)

To really enjoy the city, plan to stay at least a week. If you’re pressed for time, you can plan for one or two days. But be sure to reserve some time for beach play. We stayed in Progreso for a month, and it gave us plenty of time to explore the city and enjoy the beach.

Getting to Progreso

As I mentioned earlier, Progreso is a cruise ship port for Carnival and Royal Caribbean cruises. But if you’re coming to Mexico by air, the nearest international airport is located in Mérida. This airport also serves domestic destinations too. 

A blue and white colonial building in Progreso, Mexico with cars parked in front of it and palm trees next to it.
Colonial buildings with many things to do in Progreso (January 2021)

If you're planning to drive a car in Mexico, you can get to Progreso via Mérida as well. And if you’re traveling by bus from elsewhere in Mexico, you’ll need to get a bus into Mérida. From there, you can hire a taxi to take you to Progreso.

Getting around Progreso

While in Progreso, it’s fairly easy to walk around the city. The city is very safe. The streets have sidewalks, and some streets, like the Callejón del Amor (on Calle 23), is specifically for pedestrians. If you stay close to Centro (the center of the city) or the Malecón (the beachside boardwalk), you’ll have access to plenty of restaurants.

A girl looking at a large sculpture of a heart with a lighthouse, pier, and Mayan pyramid painted on it, located in Progreso on Callejon del Amor, one of the many things to do in Progreso
Looking at art on Callejón del Amor (January 2021)

There are no Ubers in Progreso, but there are taxis that are available. For families, however, I suggest renting a car. Having access to a car allows you to easily explore all the things to do in Progreso, and makes excursions outside the city easier as well. We rented our car in Mérida through Yucatán Vacations.

Other things to know before you go

As in most parts of the Yucatán peninsula, many people in Progreso have Mayan heritage. This means you’ll have a chance to experience Mayan culture through dishes like cochinita pibil (pork that has been slow cooked underground) or pavo relleno negro (turkey that’s been slow cooked underground in a pumpkin seed-based broth).

A statue with a street in the background lining a beach with palm trees and beach shades
The entrance to the Malecón in Progreso (January 2021)

Additionally, if you’re having trouble finding housing within the city, try looking outside the city in towns like Chelem or Chuburná. While it requires renting a car, you’ll be able to rent some nice beachfront places at fairly affordable prices. Progreso tends to be a popular spot for retirees and snowbirds who want to avoid the crowds of Cancun and Playa del Carmen. 

Check out other places to go in the Yucatán peninsula.

Taking time to enjoy all the things to do in Progreso

As I mentioned before, Progreso is more than just a pass-through town. It’s a bonafide tourist destination! During our visit to Progreso, we filled our time with so many things to do in Progreso! Though the city is small, it’s packed with family-friendly activities that will make your stay worthwhile. 

Flamingos standing in the water with a shallow bottom boat with a canopy filled with people.
Flamingos near Celestún (January 2021)

Our family spent a month in the Progreso area. But even if you don’t have that much time to spend on your vacations, you can still enjoy a visit to Progreso. Pick your favorites from this list of things to do in Progreso and start planning your own family trip. And don’t forget to enjoy the beach!

Want to know why we love Mexico so much? Read this post:

10 Amazing Reasons Why I Love Mexico … And Why You Will Too!

Are you hoping to visit Progreso as part of a family gap year adventure? Use my ebook, Hey Kids, Let's Go Travel!, for valuable advice and tools to help you plan your trip.

Things to do in Progreso, Mexico | The Wandering Daughter. Pinterest image showing a statue in Progreso, Mexico with palm trees and the beach in the background.

Are you struggling to keep your travel planning and preparation organized? My Overseas Family Vacation Travel Prep Checklist is just the tool you need! Click here to receive your free copy by signing up for my newsletter.

Want to connect with me on social media? Find me on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter. And for those of you who are dedicated to traveling more responsibly, sustainably, and ethically, join over 200 like-minded families on my Facebook group, Responsible Family Travel.

Need help thinking through how to budget for a family trip? My Travel Budget Worksheet is just the tool you need! Click here to receive your free copy by signing up for my newsletter.

Sharing is caring!

Related Posts

Sign up to get travel tips in your inbox!


This website participates in affiliate programs such as Amazon Associates, Stay22, Viator, Lingopie, AvantLink, and SafetyWing. As an affiliate for these programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Contact us

Copyright ©2023 Astrid Vinje TheWanderingDaughter.com