If Friday is the day you arrive make a reservation for dinner as the good places fill up fast during the winter season. Orient yourself to the historic center by taking a ride or walk from Ermita Park in the South to Santa Ana Park in the North. That´s about 20 blocks. In those 20 blocks you can see 10 colonial era churches. If you add a dozen blocks to your walk and venture over to Santiago in the West and Mejorada you will have seen just about all of the historic center of Merida. But if you have more than a day in Merida you might want to divide the neighborhoods up and enjoy them in a more leisurely fashion. The main thing is to see the Main Square or Zocalo or Plaza Grande. Here is the heart of Merida. The City Hall, the Governors Palace, the conquistador Montejo´s house, a couple of art galleries and the oldest Cathedral built on the American continent in from 1651. You could spend hours in the square sitting on a bench and locals will come along for a chat to practice their english or to sell you something you definitely don´t want.
On the weekends calle 60 is closed to traffic from 9pm so you can have a nice stroll up one of the main streets in the historic center without fear of being trampled or flattened by a bus. Stroll from the Zocalo to Santa Lucia. There are nice places to have a drink but you shouldn´t eat on this street or in the Parque Hidalgo. Walk up past the Peon Contrares Opera House and the Church of the Third Order and take a peak inside both. There are often Yucatan Symphony concerts on Friday nights and weddings in the church with the most beautiful painted walls in Merida. There are often nice crafts and jewelry for sale on the plazas and side walks in this area. Santa Lucia park has nice restaurants. Now you´ll have to decide whether to wall across 55 which has nice shops or continue up 60 to Santa Ana Park and Paseo Montejo beyond.
Alternately if you would rather shop than stick your head in an old church walk up calle 62 from the Plaza Grande and stop in all the little shops selling crafts from the state of Chiapas. In the next block are Cafe Habana where I used to have breakfast 16 years ago and nothing seems to have changed their including the coffee that taste like diesel. There´s German Bierhaus across the street and my favorite seafood dive El Marlin Azul in the middle of the block. Then there´s La Chaya Maya where I have never had a good meal but it tops the Trip Advisor list of places to eat in Merida. If you can make it calle 55 you can go have a coffee and shop at the Coqui Coqui. If you turn right instead you´ll end up at Santa Lucia again and there are a few nice shops in that block too.
So it´s Friday night. Santa Lucia Square had nice restaurants and there is a speak easy you can visit if you´ve reserved late or go early. Otherwise you can head up to Mercado 60 for live music and drinks and the sort of food one finds from food trucks or shopping malls. If it´s not 10pm yet you can have drinks and dance at El Negrita Cantina or the new Casa Dominga (not recommended by me). If it´s after 8 you can go to Fundacion Mescaleria for drinks and dancing there you can end your night at 3am on Saturday morning.