Santa Elena has many neighboring pueblos, most of which are well worth a visit. You will not be visiting fancy museums or chic restaurants, but what you will be seeing are churches (every pueblo of any size has one), central plazas with statues, benches, shade trees and locals enjoying the fresh air, small mom-and-pop stores and local restaurants.
Most Yucatecos in these towns eat dinner at home, so most local restaurants serve meals for breakfast and lunch. In the nearby town of Mani, restaurant El Príncipe Tutul Xiu is famous throughout the Yucatan for its excellent authentic cuisine, so much so that it now has additional locations in Merida and Oxkutzcab.
In a slightly different direction, travel about the same distance and you will come to the city of Muna. Compared to Mani, Muna feels busier and larger. The downtown area is almost always busy with cars, taxis and tricicletas, those partially-covered tricycles for hire, usually powered by grown men transporting women to and from the marketplace. In Muna, you will find Los Ceibos – Arte Maya, the store where a well-known family of artists produce exquisite copies of ancient Maya pottery for sale.
Down the road a bit is Oxkutzcab, located in the ‘citrus belt’ of the Yucatan Peninsula, and a thriving market center. This town has a thriving population that centers around the agriculture of the area. As a visitor, you will want to see the large Mercado, the three large churches and even the train station built in 1947. Oxkutzcab is a great place to buy some local fruit, walk the streets and take in the daily life of a Maya town.