The city of Socorro is only 130 kilometers (80 miles) from São Paulo and offers lots of interesting activities for those seeking adventure. In addition to kayaking, canoeing and mountain climbing, one of the most interesting attractions is the Gruta do Anjo, a former mining cave. You can rent pedal boats to enter the cave and explore the surroundings.
Just an hour-and-a-half from São Paulo, Pedra Bela is breathtaking even if you skip the zip line altogether. It is not for everyone, however – you need to be physically fit to scale the mountain and view the small church, perched atop one of the largest stones in the region. The zip line at Pedra Bela is said to be the longest in Latin America at 1,900 metres (6,233 feet).
For those who want to spend a more reflective day, the Zu Lai Temple, located less than 30 minutes from São Paulo, is the place to go. It is the biggest Buddhist temple in South America, with beautiful gardens and temples, and worth a visit even for those uninterested in meditation classes, which seem to spring up on Sunday out of nowhere, with visitors invited to join in. Visitation hours for non-Buddhists are Tuesday–Friday from 12PM–5PM and Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays from 9AM-5PM.
Templo Zu Lai, Fernando Nobre 1461, Cotia, São Paulo, Brazil, +55 11 3500 3600
Although not as famous as the wine produced in the Southern region of Brazil, the varietals processed here in São Roque are so popular with São Paulo residents that the city created a wine route with 31 establishments open for visitation and wine tasting. Between January and February these wineries allow visitors to go out to the grape vines, pick their own grapes and “produce” their own wine the old-fashioned way: by squishing the grapes with their bare feet. In October the wineries offer a wine tasting festival along with the region’s production of artichokes.
A haven for painters, sculptors, writers and musicians who have fled the noisy, crowded city of São Paulo, Embu das Artes is today a mega arts and crafts complex, where you can find everything from pottery to hand-woven textiles, poetry readings and writers selling their books on street corners, and musicians playing jazz and blues in doorways. There is a vast selection of artisans from all over Brazil, with their studios open to visitors.
Known as the skydive capital of Brazil, Boituva has received a lot of press exposure for its balloon trips over the region. For those scared of heights, Boituva is still a beautiful place to visit, with its rolling hills and beautiful landscape. The balloon rides last anywhere from 30 to 50 minutes and you usually have to confirm the trip the night before, due to changing weather conditions. If you prefer to skydive, there is a center specialized in the sport with certified instructors. The city has the only “airport” totally devoted to skydiving and paragliding in Brazil. The balloon tours also depart from nearby.
Of the many beaches along the state of São Paulo’s coastline, Guarujá is the one often chosen by tourists from São Paulo city who want to spend a day at the beach. Approximately two hours from the capital, the beachfront offers a wide selection of restaurants and bars which quickly fill up in the afternoon. The white sand and relatively calm waters attract both beachgoers and those looking to practice water sports.