Whether you dream of beaches, mountains, or energetic city streets, Mexico has a little something for everyone. There’s no better place to start exploring Mexico’s hidden gems than in the low key, off-the-radar towns that other travelers often miss. These destinations treasure troves of culture, nightlife, and all the delicious cuisine you never knew you needed.
San Miguel de Allende
San Miguel de Allende just might be the most beautiful city in all of Mexico - and it regularly tops lists of the best cities to visit in the world. The city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its colonial Spanish architecture and cobblestone streets. The city dates back to 1542, so if you’re into history, you’ll want to check out highlights like La Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel church and Cañada de la Virgen, a stunning archaeological site.
San Miguel de Allende is a hub for creative and quirky galleries, boutiques, and historic shops. You can also explore booming markets that feature one-of-a-kind handicrafts and local treasures. In recent years, San Miguel has become something of a foodie hotspot, with fresh and locally sourced ingredients featured in everything from high-end cuisine to food carts. When you visit, try to catch one of the city’s abundant weekend festivals for an energetic taste of all the area has to offer.
With its vibrant architecture and signature pottery style, Puebla is a feast for the eyes. The city served as the backdrop of the 1862 Battle of Puebla, also known as the battle behind Cinco de Mayo, so it’s no surprise that the metropolis is a paradise for art and history lovers. Legend has it that there are 365 churches in Puebla, one for every day of the year. The churches are stunning Baroque architectural feats that are just begging to be photographed. Art fans will also love the International Museum of the Baroque and Museo Amparo, which provides a fascinating look at Mexico’s history.
One of Puebla’s most treasured creations is Talavera pottery, which is recognized around the world for its distinctive hand-painted designs. You can have tiles or dishware custom-made on your visit, or simply wander through shops gawking at the beauty of each piece.
If all this exploring makes you work up an appetite, you’ll be happy to know that Puebla is the birthplace of mole poblano – so make sure you order heaps of it when eating out!
Oaxaca has a joyful energy all its own. The city is well loved for its gorgeous historical architecture, especially its famous green volcanic stone buildings. In Oaxaca, you’ll find a slice of just about every era of Mexico’s history, whether it’s in the form of a building design or a tasty traditional dish. You won’t want to miss Oaxaca’s bustling, aromatic food markets, where you can and enjoy anything and everything you’re craving.
Oaxaca loves to celebrate, and the city goes all out for Día de los Muertos and its annual summer festival, Guelaguetza. Oh, and did we mention that Oaxaca is the home of mezcal? Nobody knows how to have fun quite like Oaxacans do!
Most Californians know Rosarito as a nightlife hotspot, but it’s also a whole lot more than that.
This carefree beach town was once a getaway for Old Hollywood stars like Marilyn Monroe. Today, it’s a surfer’s paradise with peaceful stretches of beach and the uncanny ability to evaporate your stresses into thin air.
The city is also home to a hip art scene, with galleries featuring up-and-coming creatives whose names you’ll want to remember. Rosarito has a bumping bar scene – and yes, you can totally recreate your college days there if that’s what you’re after – but you can also imbibe in more peaceful settings. Baja California’s ever-expanding wine scene has made its way to Rosarito with Claudius Vine And Wine Cellar, and their tasting room is well worth a visit. ¡Salud!