From LAX, United and Aeromexico have direct service to Mérida, and United, Aeromexico and Delta have connecting service (change of planes). Restricted round-trip fares begain at $468, including taxes and fees.
To call the numbers below from the U.S., dial 011 (the international dialing code), 52 (the country code for Mexico) and the local number.
WHERE TO STAY
Hotel Casa San Angel, No. 1 Remate de Paseo Montejo at Calle 49; 999-928-1800, http://www.hotelcasasanangel.com. A boutique hotel with Frida Kahlo-like murals in the courtyard, a well-curated crafts shop and a good restaurant. No children, no pets. Rooms $137 to $176.
Hotel El Caribe, No. 500 Calle 60 at Calle 59; in U.S. (888) 822-6431, http://www.hotelcaribe.com.mx. Quiet interior garden, rooftop swimming pool. Doubles from $56.
Gran Hotel, No. 496 Calle 60; 999-924-7730, http://www.granhoteldemerida.com/eng.html. Next door to El Caribe, facing Parque Hidalgo. Grand in an old-fashioned way. Rooms from about $43.
WHERE TO EAT
Restaurante Tala, in the Hotel Casa San Angel, No. 1 Remate de Montejo; 999-924-1155. Dinner main dishes from $10-$13.
Chaya Maya, Calle 62 at Calle 57; 999-928-4780. Yucatecan specialties from about $5.
La Sorbeteria, This quaint little sherbet shop is under the arches of the Palacio de Gobierno, the green-painted state government building on the plaza grande. Order the strawberry champola; it looks like an ice-cream soda but there's no fizz, just strawberry sorbet in a glass of milk. It's soothing at the end of a long day.
WHAT TO SEE
Mérida's new star is El Gran Museo del Mundo Maya, or the Great Museum of the Mayan World, http://www.granmuseodelmundomaya.com. It's well outside the city center but worth the long taxi ride. Dedicated in December, the state-of-the-art museum covers Mayan culture from ancient art and architecture to contemporary customs and village life.
TO LEARN MORE
Government tourist offices in el centro are in the Palacio Municipal, the pink city-hall building on the plaza grande, and at the exquisitely restored Teatro José Peón Contreras on Calle 60.
Tours of renovated homes and gardens in el centro are offered Tuesday mornings in the winter by the Mérida English Library, 999-924-8401, http://www.meridaenglishlibrary.com, and on Wednesday mornings by Yucatan Today. Each costs about $16.