I’ve had Mexico on the mind lately. I’ve only ever been to the markets in Tijuana as a child, crossing the border with my mom from San Diego, California where I was born. My mom has traveled extensively in Mexico, ever since she was a Midwestern teenager in the 70s. She always jokes she was the only person from Kansas who used to go to Mexico back then. Her favorite spots in Mexico are high on my bucket list, especially the island of Cozumel. Beyond Mexican food and mariachi bands, I cannot wait to experience the perse landscape that Mexico has to offer. These are some of the towns, beaches, and historical sites I hope to visit while backpacking Mexico.
Mexico City gets a bad reputation and certainly has had its fair share of controversies and crimes but reading this massive guide to Mexico City has me seriously eager to explore. As always I’ll keep my wits about me, just as I would in any other city in the world. When gauging whether or not CDMX make sure you’re reading reputable news sites and not getting caught up in the dramatized stigma promoted in Hollywood films. Forget the misinformed rants you’ve heard because CDMX is the oldest city in the Americas and promises to be one of the most fascinating places in the world. Being the capital, it is the largest city in Mexico–it’s also the 8th richest city in the world and the 2nd largest in the Western Hemisphere, behind my beloved NYC of course. After the massive earthquake in September, the city is in need of our tourism dollars and support of local businesses now more than ever.
In Mexico City, I look forward to experiencing the local arts and culture scene. There’s a whole district which was given a UNESCO Heritage title because of it but the art doesn’t end there–Mexico City is the most densely populated place in the world, with museums that is! You already know my Instagram feed will be filled with snapshots of restored colonial buildings. I love when old-world glamour marries a modern city. I plan to stroll endlessly, eat every vegetarian taco I come across, explore nearby Xochimilco, and of course visit Frida Kahlo’s house. There will be so much to experience in Mexico City. Just researching all of the incredible ruins from Aztecs and beyond has me so eager to get there! A day trip to the Teotihuacan pyramids is a must!
Book a room in Mexico City
The Sumidero Canyon is definitely a sight to see. It was formed due to a geological fault and the erosion by the Grijalva River around the same era that the Grand Canyon in Arizona was formed. The walls are about 3,300 feet high, replete with lush green trees, and the spectacular river that can turn up to 90 degrees in the 8-mile narrow passage. Sumidero Canyon is now part of a protected area that covers over 21,000 acres in the Chiapas state.
PLAYA DEL CARMEN
I want to head to the Tulum and see the ancient Mayan ruins and afterward make my way to Playa del Carmen, located at Quintana Roo state along the Yucatán Peninsula. This coastal resort town is known for its white sand beach and crystal blue waters. It said to have a similar aesthetic to a Mediterranean beach town, many travelers have told me it reminds them of the Greek islands.
As the sun sets and lazy days at the beach come to an end I want to stroll through the public square, La Quinta, and find memorable hole-in-the-wall restaurants and eccentric boutiques. I cannot wait to go ping into cenotes sinkholes and for swims through the depths of the Caribbean Sea. I’ll have to manage to pull myself away from the beach for at least a day to explore the lush green and natural landscapes of Quintana.
Splurge on a beach-front resort in Playa del Carmen
As I’ll likely be in Mexico for the fall and winter I want to visit the hill town of Guanajuato in October during the Festival Cervantino. The free festivities include a variety of cultural celebration, may it be through a ballet or orchestra shows, modern art exhibition, and more.
While I’m in the Guanajuato State, I want to drop by San Miguel de Allende. You might recognize the town because it was the setting for Robert Rodriguez’s Once Upon A Time in Mexico. It is easily one of my favorite action films, mainly due to the kick-ass Latin cast. But as aforementioned, it is one of those Hollywood movies that play up the stereotype of drug lords, corruption, and chaos in Mexico which are meant to entertain, not to be historically accurate. Film location or not San Miguel de Allende boasts a line of buildings brandishing vibrant colors, 500-year old walkways and architecture, and a breathtaking view of the Sierra Madre mountains.
Mérida is near the top of my list of places to visit in Mexico due to its complex history. The capital of the Yucatán state is home to a rich Mayan history and 17th-century colonial heritage. The Mayan ruin Chichén Itzá is just a short day trip away and one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. At the core of Mérida is the Plaza de la Independencia, also known as Plaza Grande. It is flanked by Iglesia de la Tercera Orden and Mérida Cathedral, both colonial-era cathedrals made from what remained of ancient Mayan temples. Colonization and forced assimilation disturb me deeply yet I fear I’d be amiss not to learn more about the history of missionaries in Mexico. Casa de Montejo located at the south of Plaza de la Independencia is a colonial-era mansion that was built in 1549 and was originally where soldiers used to live until Francisco de Montejo and his family turned it into a mansion. On the facade there are symbols depicting the conquistadors brandishing a pike with what appears to be the heads of Mayan people. That’s something I certainly must see for myself. Check out accommodation options in Mérida.
Have you been to Mexico? What other places do I need to add to my bucket list? Please let me know in the comments!
All images are courtesy of Pixaby and opinions expressed are my own. This post contains affiliate links. Please read the Miss Filatelista disclosure policy for more information.