On the road from San Miguel de Allende to Dolores Hidalgo, Atotonilco’s banner of the Virgin of Guadalup was used by the Mexican Independence army as their battle flag. The town’s mini sanctuary church has some beautiful fresco murals painted inside it and the shop and restaurant next door are run by local nuns and serves home-cooked Mexican favorites. Grab a nieve (Mexican ice cream) in the plaza in front of the church and go on weekends to see the town’s tiny outdoor tianguis.
Todos Santos, Baja California Sur
A sleepy beach town with attitude, Todos Santos has some of the high life bonuses — good coffeeshops, a farmers market, cute places to stay — without the tourist destination downfalls of crowded streets, constant traffic, cheesy bars on every corner. The town is home to lots of ex-pats so classes, tours and events in English are common and it is close to some great surf spots. Todos Santos draws bohemians, artists and the insistent tourist or two looking for Hotel California — which is often rumored to be the same hotel as sung about by the Eagles (but Don Henley has denied that it is).
Life on the beach is simple, quiet and lazy, and while the town of Troncones fits into all those categories there are also a surprising number of good little restuarants, surf lessons to take, two well-stocked grocery stores and a decent liquor store. This in addition to a yoga retreat and a great local coffeeshop. You could spend a week or spend a decade, and many people start with the first and end up doing the second. Only 40 minutes from Zihuatanejo, the area’s largest city, Troncones has great beaches and great amentities for anyone in need of a little time on the sand.
Tlacotalpan is generally considered the home of son jarocho, a lively music style that combines stomp dance with tiny guitars, and precussion instruments. The voices of son jarocho singers and their call and response pattern is the music’s most commonly recognized characteristics. The town is another colonial gem, and it particularly lights up during the February Candelaria celebration, filling with music, dancing and parades. Make sure to take in the city center as it is an official UNESO world hertiage site, have yourself a dance and enjoy the warm weather.
Coatepec’s cool climate is welcome relief for anyone traveling up from the sultry port of Veracruz. This town has a reputation for its delicious shade-grown coffee and its orchids, grown in greehouses throughout the town. Much of the town’s original colonial architecture is still intact and its tree-lined streets and plazas make for a heavenly afternoon walk. Definitely try the coffee (we love Avelino’s cafe), but also a sweet bread to go with it and if you can, head out to one of the nearby coffee plantations to see how local beans are grown.
San Pedro Atocpan, Mexico City
Less than two hours outside of central Mexico City (this town is technically within the city limits), almost every family in San Pedro is invovled in the production of mole. In fact a large percentage of the mole across the country and almost all that you find in Mexico City was made here. Besides their annual mole festival, which is a must-see, the town’s colonial architecture and tranquil streets are a balm to the soul. Sit for a spell in the town’s main plaza and make sure you see the Parroquia of San Pedro and the Templo de San Martín, two of the town’s exceptional churches.
If you are looking for stunning colonial architecture, this town should be first on your list. While no longer a sleepy little village, Taxco still retains a very small-town vibe and tourists and locals mix and mingle as they huff and puff up the winding mountainside streets. The town was long a center of silver mining and silver jewerly is a favorite souvenir from this part of Mexico. Taxco’s Holy Week celebrations outshine most in Mexico and their procession of penitents, Roman soldiers and a Christ on the cross are a sight to see.
Tulum, Quintana Roo
Once a famed city of the Mayan people who lived on the Yucatan peninsula, Tulum is now a tourist hotspot for its incredible beaches, laidback vibe and high-end boutique beach hotels. You don’t have to have money to go (there are also reasonably priced hotels and bars) but it definitely helps! Only a short distance from Cancun and Playa del Carmen, Tulum is a nice day trip for visitors to the area, who like to lay on its beaches and swim in the beautiful cenotes in the area. Make sure to spend a morning (before it gets too hot) exploring the ancient Mayan ruins before you kick back with your rum and coke and do nothing for the rest of the day.
Home to the Tepozteco pyramid (dedicated to the god of pulque), Tepoztlán is a popular weekend destination for residents of Mexico City and Cuernavaca looking for a small town break. Besides the town’s pyramid and its festival-like weekend atomosphere it’s known for its spas, yoga retreats and other wellness offerings as well as a rowdy Carnival held every year in the spring. Take time to appreciate some of the town’s international food offerings — as they have quite a few good restuarants here, hike the pyramid, throw back a michelada and get a massage to round out your day.
This town would have never gotten itself on the map without its famous liqour and the Jose Cuervo empire — this industry’s biggest name and the town’s patron saint. Cuervo has invested massive amounts into infrastucture and tourism here. Beautifully perserved buildings, narrow cobblestone streets, a handful of old-style cantinas and upscale hotel options have made the town chic and quaint all at the same time. Make sure you drink in the view in the town’s main plaza, take a tour of the country’s oldest distillery and try some of the local specialties — tortas ahogadas and regional cheeses.