Exploring Mexico: Off the Beaten Path
So you’re a regular visitor to Mexico, and you’ve already been to most of the spots on the top of most tourists’ lists: Cancun, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico City, Mazatlán, etc.—the usual suspects. Now you’re looking for a Mexico venture that’s a little more creative… somewhere you’re not going to see on advertisements for Spring Break! What should you consider for your off-the-beaten-path travels on your next Mexican vacation? Here are a few ideas to get you thinking outside of the all-inclusive-resort box…
1) Xilitla & Las Pozas, San Luis Potosi state: if you’re looking for eccentric, nothing fits the bill like this surrealistic garden of concrete flowers & stairs leading to nowhere in the middle of the jungle seven hours northeast of Mexico City. English poet Edward James fell in love with the flora here and made it his home, and after a freak snowfall killed all the orchids, he decided to rebuild them….out of concrete! What resulted is a fascinating wonderland built in the lush jungle hillside filled with columns, castles, airplanes that you can scramble up, down, and around. It’s hard to describe in words, but check out some more pictures here!
2) Tequisquiapan, Querétaro state: This tiny town has long been known to Mexico City residents for its spas, and therefore sees a fair amount of traffic from escaping DF-eños on the weekends. But during the week, you’re likely to have the town square all to yourself. “Tequis” is about two hours north of Mexico City in the heart of Querétaro’s blossoming wine and cheese country. If you have a car, you can take a leisurely driving tour of the nearby Finca Vai dairy and Freixenet vineyards. But if you’re public transit-bound, fear not—both spots have opened up outposts in Tequis. You can sample a bottle of local bubbly for ~$200 pesos at the Freixenet Winebar, pop over for a hearty cheese platter at the Museo del Queso y del Vino, and then walk back to your hotel for a dip in the pool.
3) La Paz, Baja California Sur: While its southern neighbor, Los Cabos, gets all the glory, La Paz is content in its role as the laid-back city on the Sea of Cortez. There’s just a small touristy strip in town along the water, supplemented with some great restaurants scattered around but all within walking distance. Don’t be disappointed by the lackluster beachfront in the city—the most amazing beaches & clear blue water can be found just a few miles north of town. Balandra has a beautifully protected bay with completely still water and no development, and Tecolote has a couple restaurants and bars with water that’s only waist high for many yards out. Definitely worth visiting some of Mexico’s gorgeous beaches that still don’t have hotels anywhere in sight!
4) Tecali de Herrera, Puebla state: Mexico has many small towns that are known country-wide for the one unique product they create. For example, Santa Clara del Cobre is where you go for all your copper needs… San Martín Tilcajete for alebrijes (wood carvings of real or imaginary creatures)…and Tlalpujahua for millions of Christmas ornaments. Tecali de Herrera is the center of all things onyx (along with a strong showing of marble), but also has a beautiful ex-convent to visit when you max out on shopping. Walking across grass under the soaring arches of the convent ruins is reminiscent of visiting an old church in Scotland. But here, you can supplement your historical visit with the purchase of a three-foot-high onyx lamp or onyx bathtub, or something a bit more portable like an onyx cheese plate shaped like a triangle of cheese. More details can be found here.