Located on the northeast bank of Lake Atitlán, Panajachel is the perfect place to immerse your family in Guatemala’s colorful country life. From there, you’ll be abe to explore several local villages and markets, contemplate volcanoes and take a boat ride.
A place of relief during your trip. At Panajachel center, you will find a kid’s corner where they will be able to play (playground ages 2 to 8), watch movies and/or make art. There’s also a café in the center (How about you get a little rest when bébé plays?) and a bunch of classes that you can try with bébé such as Yoga or capoeira.
Parque Municipal Solola
This little park is very popular among local families and is a good place to let bébé run free. In the middle of the park, there’s a little round building where you can rent little wooden carts for kids. They’ll love it. A good way to end a morning spent in Solola Market.
Who doesn’t like a little boat ride? Bébé, whatever his age, will enjoy the a boat trip around Lake Atitlan, the wind gently blowing on his face and the peaceful surroundings. He’ll be amazed for sure, and if not, the gentle bouncing and white noise of the boat will help him sleep! You can plan a boat trip to go explore other villages around the lake or just to tour the lake itself, which is surrounded by gorgeous volcanoes.
San Antonio Palopo
A nice half day excursion, twenty minutes by car from Panajachel. Start at the covered market, under the main church of the village – you won’t miss it- and make your way down to the lake. Locals will point you to the best street to take. On your way, you’ll find a couple of restaurants, a ceramic shop -not so good for bébé, but fun for you – and also a weaving workshop where a couple of textile workers make traditional clothing. At the end of the street, you’ll find a little playground overlooking the lake.
The most famous market of Guatemala. Every Thursday and Sunday, the streets of this little town fill up with vendors of all sorts. A perfect place to immerse yourself in the local culture, as most of the people wear traditional clothing and come here for their weekly shopping. Don’t forget your baby carrier, as it is the only way to carry bébé around since the stroller will not be able to move through the packed alleyways of the bustling market. You will easily find less busy areas in the textile aisles for bébé to run around and get some exercise.
Less known than Chichicastenango, Solola market remains my favorite. A bit less touristy, it offers more room for bargaining on prices (start at half the quoted price) and does not feel as overwhelming. At Solola Market, bebe will easily be able to wander around. The traditional textile aisle is best for that, and you will also find there plenty of locals willing to dress up bébé in a local costume, or teach you how to carry her like a Guatemalan Mom.
Eat & Drink
My number one place to eat for a ton of reasons. First, when you enter the “dining room garden” of Deli Jasmin, you feel transported into a miniature tropical forest. Hummingbirds are flying around, hanging out above your head..and then the menu comes to you. Fresh juices, two-grain pancakes, all kinds of eggs, delicious and fresh fruit and granola; basically any breakfast fantasy will be satisfied here. If you come for lunch or dinner, sandwiches and a few mains are also available. Very cute high chairs are also provided for bébé to savor her food in style.
A vegetarian restaurant serving lots of different Asian dishes. The Pad Thai was great, and you can easily do take out; pretty convenient if you need to eat after bébé’s bed time.
Location: At the corner of Calle Santander and Calle 14 de febrero, Antigua, +502 7762 0611.
This sushi restaurant delivers on many levels. The food is very fresh and a great change if you are tired of tortillas and fried chicken. They have high chairs and are very accommodating with bébé’s needs. I asked for plain rice and some tofu pieces, and they brought a little plate for Céleste. The set up of the restaurant it also pretty perfect. It has a huge courtyard with grass and a little fountain where bébé will be able to crawl or run around.
Restaurante El Bistro
A simple, yet good dining option known for its pasta menu. At night there is some live music, a good distraction for bébé, and lots of room for him to walk around.
Location: At the bottom of Calle Santander, Panajachel, +502 7762 0508.
Owned and run by Micheal, an American coffee lover, Crossroads Cafe is a super friendly coffee shop serving the best drip coffee in town and AMAZING homemade pastries. Michael himself visits the coffee farms, selects the varieties he loves most, and provides them to his customers. The cheesecake is to die for.
Location: Calle de Los Arboles, Panajachel.
Air bnb $
A very kid friendly hotel with a little play area including swings, two natural hot springs and a waterfall; so clearly plenty to entertain bébé. You will love the onsite spa, restaurant and bar.
Location: Calle Santander, Panajachel, +502 7762 1152.
The best option in town for families if you can afford it. Not only does the hotel offer incredible views of Atitlan Lake, it also features a kids club, outdoor pool, spa with jacuzzi and sauna (and this time you won’t just have to look at it andwish you could go as a couple, just use the Kid’s club to watch bébé while you enjoy!)
Location: 2a. Avenida 6-17 zona 2 Panajachel, Sololá Guatemala, 1-877-765-0919.
The main shopping strip of Santander. You’ll find market stands, informal street vendors as well as established brick and mortar shops. They sell everything you can possibly be looking for from leather sandals and belts to traditional textiles. Bargaining encouraged (again, start at half price, and you’ll have the most luck first thing in the morning or late afternoon). There are some pedestrian alleyways off the main street where bébé will easily be able to walk around.