Mexico’s authenticity is inspiring, unique and captivating. Here are just three ways for travelers to immerse themselves in the vibrant country – though there are countless more.
Mérida, Yucatán’s capital city, is a quiet paradise that perfectly demonstrates the historical yet lively side of Mexico. It’s an elegant destination with beautiful architecture evident in the city’s Colonial-era houses and stately, tree-lined avenues. Palacio Cantón, home to the Museum of Anthropology and History, is a shining example of the city’s historical architecture. It took seven years to build the palace, beginning in 1904 and finally completed in 1911. It’s also home to the Merida historical archive, where information about the fascinating development of the region and the city is safeguarded.
The food in Mérida is layered with exquisite gastronomic heritage. The best place to experience the vibrant cuisine of Mérida is by visiting Paseo de Montejo which is the main street near the historic downtown area, and a favorite of the locals. There are many great restaurants there that offer traditional Mexican food and beverages, including freshly made tortillas and champola, a sorbet-like drink.
There’s more to the state of Yucatán than Mérida. Visit the port city of Progreso to see the famous pier that extends four miles into the Gulf of Mexico.
Mexico is a cultural center, and the country’s dedication to the arts is alive and well in the Cervantino Festival, named in honor of Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, author of Don Quixote of La Mancha, and is known for presenting performing arts from all over the world and sharing a passion for the fine arts. The four-week-long festival is held in Guanajuato in October and visitors can enjoy theater, opera, dance, visual arts, cinema and literature, workshops, exhibitions and conferences both indoors and outdoors.
The festival is considered the most important artistic and cultural event in both Mexico and Latin America. It was first held in 1953 and in 2018, the festival is proud to have 35 nations participating with 110 artistic groups and 195 shows held in 19 engaging days.
Tacos and tequila may be the food and drink you think of first in Mexico, but the culinary experiences available there go way beyond that. Chilaquiles are a traditional Mexican dish of fried tortillas in green or red salsa, depending on the region you’re in. Cochinita pibil is a dish that originated in the Yucatan Peninsula of tender pork cooked in a banana leaf, served with fried plantain and black beans. Huaraches are a classic Mexican street food consisting of a flat oval of masa (dough made from corn) topped with smashed pinto beans and topped with almost anything you can think of: chorizo, queso fresco, onions, potatoes, and so on.
As far as libations go in Mexico, tequila is a classic but mezcal is the next step. It’s made from agave, just like tequila, but it is roasted or fermented to give it a strong, smoky flavor. It can be sipped with a slice of orange or used in place of a traditional spirit to impart a more interesting beverage experience (like in place of the tequila in a Paloma or the whiskey in an Old Fashioned). Complete the experience by visiting a mezcal distillery, which is easy to do when visiting Oaxaca or the Puebla region.