While tourism may not be at the top of everyone’s list right now, many Americans are looking for a foreign getaway that is close-ish to home. Mexico has slowly (and safely) begun to re-open for tourism, luring its northern neighbors for a much-needed vacation.
Mexico is the size of about 23 European countries with 32 states. Each state has its own flavor, tradition, food, drink of choice, and cultural charm. I’ve put together this Bite-Sized Mexico list to share a few places I’ve enjoyed over the years. I’ve barely put a dent in what this country has to offer, but here are a five places to add to your future travel list.
Do (Almost) Nothing In Puertecitos, Baja California
Puertecitos is a lesser-known gem located 90 km south of the more popular neighbor, San Felipe. You can usually find a palapa camp spot right on Puertecitos Bay and spend the afternoon swimming or paddle boarding, then grill up a nice meal for sunset.
In the morning, hop over to the natural hot springs of Aguas Termales, a formation that meets the seaside on the Gulf of California. You need to hit the springs at the right tide as the cooler waters splash into the springs, making them a more tolerable temperature. Accommodations are basic at best, so if you aren’t the roughing it type, we have found you some good options
Visit Museums In Mexico City
Known as CDMX or DF, the Capital of Mexico is a melting pot of almost 9 million people, more than New York, and almost triple that of Los Angeles. If you can get over the pollution and gridlock traffic (keep that mind while Ubering), you are bound to have an incredible time.
Mexico City is home to around 150 museums, rivaling Paris for the most in the world. I’ve personally been to only about 8 of those. I enjoyed Castillo De Chapultepec, a castle nestled at the top of a hill, among the trees, a perfect reprieve from the city chaos.
Outside of its architectural glory, it features a variety of murals, rooms to roam through, and history to soak in. Pro Tip: Afterwards, snag some street tacos at one of the many food stalls surrounding the park. Culture Trip wrote a recent article on the Top 10 Museums to check out while you’re there.
Explore & Drink Tequila In Guadalajara, Jalisco
I’m a bit biased as this is my current city, but I have yet to find another place in Mexico quite like Guadalajara and surrounding towns. It has the old world charm and architecture, a vibrant arts scene, home to Mariachi music, delicious local eats like Birria or Carne en su jugo, but is progressive and growing in the tech world. It’s also the closest major city to where tequila is produced, in well, the town of Tequila.
My list here could be endless, so I’ll drop a few highlights – and feel free to hit me up on Instagram if you make it here. I love sharing the local best with new friends!
On a hot afternoon, hop into a cantina in Centro for a cold beer and botanas – Cantina La Fuente is one of the oldest, and truly a locals spot. If you’re lucky, you’ll snag a table while live music plays. For a rooftop option, and a slightly younger crowd, hang out at La Occidental.
Wander around the city! I love just strolling the streets and checking out the endless murals and art painted on buildings and corners. If you want a personalized experience of artists and studio visits, message Alex @guadalajART_mx, she has incredible connections.
Lastly: Stroll, shop and eat in the neighborhoods of Santa Tere, Zapopan, Tlaquepaque, Americana or Tonala. Go for a hike into La Barranca, a canyon carved by the Rio Grande de Santiago. Take at least one day to go learn about agave sustainability and taste tequila. Mostly, don’t forget to water up, you are in a city in the mountains at 5,100 ft.
Swim & Party In Tulum, Quintana Roo
I’ll be honest that Tulum was too touristy for my taste, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t have its charm. I suggest gathering a few friends and renting a gorgeous villa at a good price near Tulum town, and taking a taxi to the beach. The traffic and vibe at the beach area were non-stop, so if that’s more your scene, stay there. Ubers aren’t a thing in Tulum, so always negotiate your taxi before you hop in.
If there is one thing you do around Tulum, make sure you go to a cenote to swim, relax, and enjoy the magical waters. The Yucatan Peninsula is home to thousands of cenotes! You’ll appreciate the cool refreshing water during warm balmy days. Our group was able to hire an underwater photographer which captured such unique photos. We loved working with Fran of @cenote_portraits, she is truly a woman of the water and incredible at her craft!
Favorite beach hangout – La Zebra Tulum. Sit in the little boats on the sand, order a cocktail, and listen to the waves crash. Zen. If you missed The Capricious Traveler’s first visit to Tulum, read about her cultural experience.
Sip Wine In Valle de Guadalupe, Ensenada, BC
An incredible wine mecca exists only an hour and a half south of San Diego with over 100 wineries and award-winning restaurants to choose from. I suggest either staying at the coast and hiring a driver for the day or pick from one of the many boutique hotels and spend a night under the stars. At one point, I lived only 20 minutes from the entrance to Valle de Guadalupe, so I’ve had my fair share of sipping wine and slurping fresh oysters from the morning catch.
Here are my top winery recommendations: Bodegas Magoni, Corona Del Valle, Bodgeas Santo Tomas, Vena Cava, Adobe Guadalupe, Finca La Carodilla, Solar Fortun, Bruma, Monte Xanic, Torres Allegre, Las Nubes and Casa de Piedra.
It’s also rare that I’ve had a bad meal in the Valle, it has world-class food, but be prepared to spend quite a bit of money, you’re in the Napa of Mexico! Fill your belly at Fauna, Deckman’s, Laja, Raw Oyster Bar, Animalon, and Finca Altozano. For a more traditional Mexican meal, La Cocina de Doña Esthela is a must stop.
Next up for me?
I’ll be visiting Chiapas, Aguascalientes, Oaxaca City proper, and spending more time in the surrounding mountain towns. Where do you want to visit in Mexico next?