When it comes to Mexico, I am deeply, over the heels, unapologetically in love. From the turquoise waters of the Yucatan to the charming colonial pueblos to vast and scattered remnants of ancient, mysterious civilizations; Mexico has it all. I could be wrong, by my gut feeling, ever since I was a young pup, was that Americans really underestimated its Southern neighbor. When most Americans think of Mexico their thoughts jump to tacky cruises or similarly ports of call that the aforementioned booze/food fest cruises stop off at. Growing up in the 90s in particular, Mexico really brought to mind tequila shots and souvenir towns, however, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Mexico today has so much to offer it is impossible to even skim the surface from an article or two. While violence and the drug cartels steal the headlines, Mexico really has a lot more going on with it than meets the media sound bite.
For me, Mexico continues to be a place I go to every chance I get and always find something new. So quit waiting, find some frequent flyer miles, and check out some incredible places to visit in Mexico in 2017.
Once thought by many as a giant, prowling squalor of a city in decline, Mexico City has really turned a new page and become a mega-metropolis for cities around the world to envy. From fine dining and hipsterish cafés in Condesa and Polanco that rival clique spots in New York City, to revitalization of colonial architecture that had long been obscured by pollution, Mexico City is going through a new renaissance. It even has some ancient archeological sites at your fingertips, from gems right in the current city center (Templo Mayor) to huge sites such as Teotihuacan a short drive away, these sites are revealing new mysteries as they are being excavated. While many people forgo Mexico City when visiting Mexico for the beach or colonial pueblos, Mexico City is definitely a place worth a trip by itself.
Probably my favorite state in Mexico, the state of Oaxaca has it all. From the colonial city of Oaxaca City that has some of the best cuisine and moles of Mexico to the long list of surfer beach towns that have been left widely untouched by mass tourism, Oaxaca would be my first choice of places to visit in Mexico. It isn’t as easy to get to as some other major ports of call (Cancun, Cabo San Lucas, etc), but is well worth it.
In the state of Oaxaca, Puerto Escondido has become home to a community of expats who wish to keep things a bit more chill than the other large beach towns. It offers great surfing but with a more medium sized city in Mexico to call home.
Puerto Vallarta is a great beach town that also has more of small town atmosphere. But don’t let that fool you, it still has some amazing cuisine and restaurants and Havana-style nightclubs. Known as a gay vacation spot in Mexico, it has a pretty relaxed open fun, atmosphere. It also has many direct flights from the USA and is only a couple of hours to the city of Tequila (Yes, that is right).
Sayulita is a coastal village on Mexico’s Pacific coast and is only an hour bus ride from Puerto Vallarta. The picturesque village is surrounded by an exquisite landscape, being backed by the Sierra Madre Occidental Mountains, and doesn’t give out a resort-y vibe at all, as it only has Airbnbs, and boutique hotels. If you are into surfing Sayulita would be a nice little fit as the you can walk to the beach in a couple of minutes from the surf. It is a paradise for those in their 30s/40s if you want to ball out and rent a hacienda with a pool and in-house chef to cook up some homemade Mexican cuisine. You can also rent a golf cart to get around. Ha.
Morelia, Patzcuaro, & Uruapan
This three towns are basically the mainstay of the Michoacan state; and they are breathtaking. From the colonial charm of Morelia and Patzcuaro to the lush jungles and avocado plantations of Uruapan (the Avocado capital), these cities are some of my favorite spots of visit in Mexico. You won’t find many tour buses here, as such; they retain a ton of local feel to them. Patzcuaro was even named Pueblo Magico – Magic City – and for good reason, as it is cited as one of the top 100 Historical World Treasure cities by the United Nations.
Nowadays the secret is out about Tulum. It has one of the most picturesque Mayan ruins posited on a seaside bluff as well as being home to Mexico’s famous cenotes – beautiful, limestone sinkholes you can scuba dive and snorkel in. Tulum really is an idyllic little town, with an increasing draw of cafes, galleries, and other spots that attract the hip crowd.
Playa del Carmen
Playa del Carmen has been the go to spot for years for many, especially Europeans, who want to bypass the Mega-resorts of Cancun. Playa del Carmen still has its fair share of resorts and definitely an appreciative amount of tacky tourist shops, however, it is has a vibrant nightlife scene and hotels are spread throughout the area. If you are looking to stay in something less sleepy but still misses on the major tackiness of some of Cancun, Playa is your jam. It also have some great diving spots and you can reach the amazing diving of Cozumel from here and the turtle filled beach/waters of Akumal.
San Miguel de Allende
Walking through the streets of San Miguel de Allende you may think you traveled back in time. It is an irresistibly charming colonial town with vibrant colors and art galleries galore. You can feel the historical Mexican spirit in this place. One of my favorite things to do is to explore the markets, which offer a range of everyday items to fresh ingredients.