man standing on top floor of penthouse airbnb in playa del carmen mexico

Best Family-Friendly Airbnbs in Playa del Carmen

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I love the Riviera Maya. I love the sun, the historical sites, the culture, the food… but I don’t really love the massive resorts.

Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and place for staying in resorts, and if that is your style of travel, Playa del Carmen and Cancun both have many great ones.

While resorts offer unrivaled convenience and (in some cases) luxury, they lack in authenticity and culture. Yes, I have enjoyed a week at a Playa del Carmen resort where I didn’t have to plan, think, or worry about anything except ordering my next margarita. But that style of travel gets old for me fast when I’ve got the kids with me, and I would much rather be part of the life of the city itself.

That’s one reason (of many) that I now choose Airbnbs over resorts or hotels when traveling as a family. They give a lot more space (without paying for a double room), a kitchen, laundry, and – on top of it all – they’re usually much less expensive. Plus, scroll to the bottom for $55 off your first stay!

baby on cabana in front of ocean at the beach
This is my cabana. Get your own. Did you know you can still get a day pass to visit the resorts, even if you don’t stay there?

The trade off is that no one will come and freshen your sheets with a margarita in hand, but that’s a fair trade when you’re traveling with young children.

Family-friendly neighborhoods of Playa del Carmen

Playa del Carmen can be thought of as a few different neighborhoods (at least, from a tourist perspective). Remember that this was a sleepy beach town that developed quite slowly, but intentionally, into the popular destination that it is today. As a result, it is fairly well organized and centralized, as far as city planning goes.

The main area to stay would be the Centro district. This is where the hub of the tourism industry is. You’ll find the bulk of the restaurants, shops, night clubs, and activity booths here.

5th Ave (Calle Quinta Avenida) is the pedestrian walkway that runs through this area. This is the heart of the city, and a fantastic place to stroll any time of the day or night with children.

You’ll ideally want to stay close to 5th Ave, or within a few blocks of the beach. The walk around Playa del Carmen is a pleasant one, but with a baby or toddler, you want to minimize walking distance!

toddler high fiving man in front of temple at chichen itza mexico
Don’t skip Chichen Itza while you’re in the area.

Avoid staying on 12th Street (Calle 12) near Coco Bongo. This is the nightlife district, and while it may not quite rival it’s infamous party-city sister of Cancun to the north, Calle 12 is definitely a riot. You can expect much more noise, less sleep, and more chaos – not ideal when you’re traveling with a baby.

Just south of Centro is Playacar. Playacar is an upscale resort area, but it is still an option for the Airbnb crowd. There are plenty of lovely high-rise condos there available for rent.

Playacar is a good choice if you’d like it to be a bit quieter and more upscale. You’ll be surrounded by the best all-inclusive resorts and golf clubs, and you’ll be farther away from the chaos of 12th Street.

However, you’ll also be farther from the beach (the resorts have all that real estate), and farther from the restaurants and shops of 5th Ave.

You can also find some great budget hotels and Airbnbs at the north end of the Centro district, up past Calle 34. This is actually where we stayed the last time we visited, but we don’t recommend it.

man standing on top floor of penthouse airbnb in playa del carmen
This condo was our Airbnb! It was gorgeous, had a nice pool, private terrace, and it was a great price. It was too far from the beach and too far north, however. It is no longer available on Airbnb.

5th Ave angles off further and further from the beach as you go north, and there are some big beach clubs that you can’t walk through separating where we stayed from where we wanted to hang out.

I would plan to stay no more than a few blocks north of Avenida Constituyentes if you don’t want to taxi every time you want to get to the beach or to dinner.

Where to stay in Playa del Carmen with kids

I’ve picked out what I think are some really great Airbnbs in the two neighborhoods that I would recommend in Playa del Carmen.

Baby in swimsuit walking into ocean with father in mexico travel
Stay near the beach. Trust me.

How I choose Airbnbs: I only select homes owned by Superhosts, with loads of positive reviews. I only select places with at least 1 bedroom, a kitchen, and laundry. If I loved where we stayed, I always include that! These are places that I would personally strongly consider booking, in a few different price ranges. And I have stayed in dozens of Airbnbs with kids!

I don’t only list places with a crib or high chair, so be sure to double check for that if you need those items. I also don’t check on things like stairs or balconies… be sure to consider child safety before you book anything.

If you’re new to Airbnb and would like $55 off your first stay, click here and then sign up. I’ll get a small bonus, too – so thank you!

Playa del Carmen is beautiful, peaceful, and a wonderful family-friendly alternative to Cancun. I hope this has helped you on your path to finding the perfect place to stay in Playa del Carmen!

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