Whenever someone suggests “Let’s go shopping”, I cringe.
As a woman, this may seem strange, but I was not born with the shopping gene. My mother would always have to bribe me with ice cream and cookies at the mall to keep me from whining. I really don’t enjoy shopping. Things don’t fit me right, salespeople are either stalking you in the store or nonexistent or there’s just a lot of useless stuff out there. And when I’m traveling, the last thing I want to do is spend my adventure time in a souvenir shop.
But Playa del Carmen is different. My friend, Amy, needed to shop for souvenirs for her family, so we went to the main shopping street aptly named La Quinta Avenida or 5th Avenue. Whoever designed this street was a genius. Besides the usual souvenir shops cluttered with shot glasses, postcards, and beach wear, there were specialty and high end stores, open- air restaurants, cafes and boutique hotels overlooking the European-like pedestrian promenade.
While she shopped for mementos, I cruised around the ice cream shops, marveled at the craftsmanship of textiles and light displays, and feasted on Mexican chocolate. Small food carts offered gelato and fried goodness, while upscale restaurants were setting tables for sunset dinners. Beautiful sun dresses swayed in the breeze, and clusters of tourists fumbled with bags or started happy hour early with local beers and margaritas.
5th Avenue is a short walk from the beach, ferry terminal to Cozumel, and excursion offices. Other hidden gems are waiting along the intersections and side streets. Playa del Carmen has everything you need to feel at home in a foreign country; McDonald’s, Subway, Starbucks, Ben & Jerry’s and a Wal-Mart a few blocks back. I recommend spending the day or three here enjoying the laidback life with a bonus of retail and cuisine at your fingertips. Next time someone says, “Let’s go shopping!” it will probably be me in Playa del Carmen.