Mexico isn’t just for popular Spring Break getaways - it’s a country rich in culture, cuisine, history and immense natural beauty. Marvel at a 1,300-year-old Mayan pyramid within the ruin-strewn ancient city of Chichen Itza. Visit the Casa Azul museum and surround yourself with the vivid paintings of famed Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. Kayak past a colony of sea lions in the Sea of Cortez on the Western coast. For a country covered with rugged mountains and desert plains, tropical rainforests and packed metropolitan cities, there is hardly a lack of variety when it comes to adventures.
Each of Mexico’s six regions has unique physical and cultural characteristics that distinguish it from the rest. On the western coast, the Baja California region is a peninsula that extends into the Pacific Ocean and borders the U.S. state of California. Possessing some of Mexico’s most dramatic land and seascapes, this area covers everything from dormant volcanoes and vast deserts to old mission towns and marine ecosystems. Northern Mexico, though the largest region bordering the United States, is largely ignored by tourists. The most visited areas in the north are Mazatlan, a beach resort town on the western coast, and Monterrey, a vibrant and dynamic city that is the industrial hub of Mexico.
Central Mexico is home to the state of Veracruz as well as the nation’s capital, Mexico City. As Mexico’s largest city, it is the economic and cultural center of the country. Divided into 16 boroughs, Mexico City is home to a plethora of historic landmarks, parks, museums, restaurants, bars and shops. The Pacific Coast is where the majority of travelers stay on the west coast. Popular beach towns in this region include Acapulco and Puerto Vallarta. Guadalajara, though considerably smaller than Mexico City, remains the area’s hub for art, architecture and higher education. The Yucatan Peninsula is the southeastern region of Mexico that lies of the beautiful Caribbean Sea. With a large number of resorts, beach communities and ancient ruins (Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Riviera Maya, Cozumel and Chichen Itza), it has become one of the most popular tourist hotspots in the country.
Whether splashing around in the cerulean waves of Puerto Vallarta, hiking through dense cloud forests in Oaxaca or taking a local cooking class in Veracruz, Mexico offers travelers plenty of ecological and activity-based tourism. In recent years, there has been a resurgence of a bohemian, student-based arts and music scene that’s creeping up in cities like Guadalajara, Mexico City and Monterrey. Mexico has garnered international acclaim for this revelry of the arts, and has inspired an interest in art, film, music and design.
Complex and flavorful, Mexican cuisine is the centerpiece of the country’s culture. As the capital and largest city, Mexico City is the culinary heart of Mexico. For a legendary first-class meal, La Hacienda de Los Morales is housed in a 16th century mansion and serves traditional dishes like aguacate con camarones (avocado with shrimp) and las carnitas de pato (duck tamales).With some of the cheapest and tastiest food in Mexico, street food vendors are parked in virtually every city and village serving some of the freshest Mexican staples from sugary churros and roasted corn, to the popular favorite, tacos al pastor. Throughout the coastal resort areas, the cuisine tends to be based around seafood dishes (Try Coyuca 22 in Acapulco), yet there are some excellent international restaurants offering unexpected delights. Casa Rolandi on Isla Mujeres specializes in Italian cuisine and serves up wood-fired pizzas with a view of the Caribbean Sea.
Mexico has over 1,800 airports, with major airline carriers reaching to cities such as Mexico City, Cancun, Monterrey, Guadalajara and Acapulco. The only rail-based metro system is in Mexico City and is a highly efficient way to navigate around the city. For the rest of the country, the most popular forms of transportation are buses and taxis. Buses exist in every town and state within Mexico and are a very inexpensive way to travel, yet they have no regulations when it comes to capacity (you might have to stand for the duration of your ride). If you are staying at a hotel or resort, ask the concierge to arrange your travel ahead of time.
Mexico’s climate varies according to altitude. Low-lying coastal regions have a tropical climate, and are typically hot and humid most of the year. Mexico City, however, at 2,300 meters above sea level, has a more temperate climate with pleasant summers and mild winters. Mexico’s rainy season usually strikes in late summer. Winter is traditionally the high tourist season when many choose to visit, but other great times to go are early spring and autumn.