As an enclave of moneyed ex-Mexico City residents and a large international community you can count on Cuernavaca for some ritzy, exclusive neighborhoods, a handful of high-end restaurants and a second-home community vibe. The city’s downtown plaza is a nice afternoon stroll and you will find beautiful colonial architecture throughout the streets. While staying at friend’s place with a pool may be first choice, the Antica Villa Hotel and Spa is a nice option in one of the quieter neighborhoods and they have a delicious Italian restuarant – a real gem in this city.
If you want mayhem and fun, a weekend in Tepoztlan is a great choice as the city’s downtown streets flood with tourists sipping micheladas and hiking to the top of the local pyramid, dedicated to the god of pulque. There are several good international restaurants here, a delicious coffeeshop and a decent selection of bars and pubs. You can escape it all if you’d prefer, but Tepoz (as it is lovingly called) is famous for its health and wellness options, with many nice boutique hotels, spas, yoga centers and retreats taking place year-round.
The Spanish needed a place away from the capital city to stretch their legs and get a break from the business of the colony, the end result being the city of Puebla just a few hours south of the teeming metropolis. Puebla, despite being the country’s fourth-largest city, is endlessly quaint, covered in talavera blue and an abundance of religious edifices. Make sure you see the Biblioteca Palafoxiana, one of the oldest libraries in the Americas, and take a stroll through the Sapos antique market held each Sunday.
Biblioteca Palafoxiana, Av 7 Ote 3, Centro, Puebla, Mexico +52 01 222 232 1227
San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato
Big city amentities with a small feel, San Miguel has a magical allure and golden afternoon light. You will most likely be drawn to pick up and move there – there are about 30,000 other foreigners that had the same idea and did just that. San Miguel has about a dozen excellent restaurants, a handful of bars and a tiny crafts market that’s fun to take a walk through. While you’re there see the Charco Del Ingenio, the town’s breathtaking nature reserve perched on a miniature canyon and have a drink at sunset on a rooftop bar.
A former silver mining town, Guanajuato was built into a mountain side and atop a series of tunnels that have now been transformed into a labyrinth of streets. Its beauty, color and food make it an amazing weekend trip even though at 4.5 hours by car, it’s a fair distance from Mexico City. The streets are filled with university students, troubadours and street vendors. They have a market whose building was designed by Eiffel, a museum of real mummies and street called “kissing alley,” what more could you want in a place to visit?
Another slightly longer drive (but a very short flight) from Mexico City is Guadalajara, the Los Angeles to Mexico City’s New York. Guadalajara has incredible food and drink and a suburban relaxation that is perfect for a weekend away. While you’re there take the hour’s drive to Tequila, home of the famous liquor and sample some straight from the barrel a the Jose Cuervo factory. The countryside around Guadalajara is resplendent with blue agave cactus and ancient Mayan ruins, so make sure you go exploring.
Hildago’s capital is only a few hours from Mexico City and known as the “windy city” because of its blustery climate. Pastes, an English-inspired meat empanada are all the rage here, and you can see the architectural remnants left behind by those same English miners way back when. Make sure you get a photo of the town’s infamous clock tower and if you can, take a trip out to the El Chico nature reserve just out of the town for wildlife and taste of the outdoors.
Zacatlan de las Manzanas
If a small town break is what you want Zacatlan de las Manzanas is a tiny town with quiet streets and weekend getaway peace. Be sure you sample some of their famous local cider and sweets, see the watch musuem and take a trip out to El Valle de Piedras Encimadas, a national park with crazy natural rock formations where you can hike and camp. There are several places just out of town where you can camp or stay in a cabin and watch the fog roll into the valley.
Queretaro is a growing business center in central Mexico and we’ve been hearing for years about a speed train that will soon take us between the two cities. Until then, the drive is only about three hours and it’s a pretty straight shot. Once there you could take in a bullfight at one of the city’s iconic rings, pop into a local eatery in their colonial downtown or go shopping – the city has some excellent shopping malls to choose from. There are lots of city museums to explore, the local park Cerro de las Campanas to wander and city’s aqueduct to admire.