Where to Go From Here

Three-Day Weekends from Mexico City

by Helena Madrid

The beach and jungle in Sayulita. Photo by Abbeyroad- / Flickr.

¡Qué bonito es México! Mexico is one of the richest countries on the planet — resources, biodiversity, scenery, culture, food — you can find it all in Mexico City and beyond.

MEXICO CITY – Cosmopolitan, crowded, and chaotic are a few adjectives that come to mind when I think about Mexico City. Don't get me wrong, it's a city I love — especially for the tiny, world-of-its-own vibe where there is always something going on. But sometimes a visit to the city is best paired with a more chill getaway. Like these three easy-to-reach destinations outside the D.F.

"El Parían" Handicraft Market
Mercado de Artesanías El Parían. Photo by Gonzalo Muro / Flickr.
Mole Poblano
Mole poblano. Photo by Adam Goldberg / Flickr.

PUEBLA

If you're in the mood for: Art, food, and a lot of color.

Route to take: Rent a car or take a bus from either TAPO (Terminal de Autobuses de Pasajeros de Oriente), the biggest bus terminal in Mexico City, or from the airport to Terminal 4 Poniente. Buses usually leave every 30 minutes.

Your agenda: Check into old-fashioned B&B& Mesón La Sacristía de la Compañía, a block from the famous Los Sapos square. Then shop the markets. Mercado de Antigüedades has cool vintage items and Mercado de Artesanías El Parián, the city’s first craft market (circa 1961), sells colorful folkloric art. For a drink, head to La Pasita, a famous local bar founded in 1916 that only serves their house-made liquor. Try the original pasita and the Sangre de Bruja, Sangre de Artista, and China Poblana flavors. The 20+ varieties can only be found here, and a bottle makes for a great souvenir. Avoid getting too buzzed with snacks — maybe a cemita from one of the many joints surrounding the Zócalo, like La Casa de Pepe, or the delicious mole poblano at Puebla de Antaño. If you’re traveling between August and September, don’t leave the city without trying chiles en nogada, a sweet and spicy traditional dish that you’ll find just about anywhere. Work off your meal by admiring the magical architecture around the Zócalo and La Catedral de Puebla or marvel at the works inside Museo De La Revolución Mexicana Casa de los Hermanos Serdán and Museo Regional Casa de Alfeñique. Cap off the day with something sweet: a cremita (sweet custard) at Cremitas La California.

Avoid the Sunday blues: Pick up a traditional ceramic souvenir from Talavera Armando. The compound, which includes a factory, gallery, and store, also offers educational tours highlighting how their designs are made.


Hotel La Plaza.
Colorful and chill. Photo courtesy of Hotel La Plaza.

TEQUISQUIAPAN, QUERÉTARO

If you're in the mood for: Stuffing your face with a lot of cheese and wine.

Route to take: Rent a car and drive for two-and-a-half hours through the Carrereta Federal No. 57 México-Querétaro, or take a bus from Terminal Central de Autobuses del Norte to Terminal de Autobuses Tequisquiapan (a three-hour journey).

Your agenda: Drop your bags at the colorful Hotel La Plaza before visiting the famous pink church Santa María de la Asunción. Strike your best pose by the TEQUIS sign (short for Tequisquiapan) out front. One of the best parts about the city is walking around, relaxing at cafes, and enjoying the nice weather. But if you feel adventurous, you can book an excursion via Viajes y Enoturismo Tours. Ruta de Queso y Vino is a five- to seven-hour wine-and-cheese trip through neighboring towns; Minas de Ópalo takes you inside the city’s mines where you can see how opals are collected, then to an artisan workshop to watch jewelry being made.

Avoid the Sunday blues: See one of the capillas de indios (indigenous chapels) that the Spanish built to teach religion. Though privately owned, some are open to the public. The majority of the chapels are in the neighborhoods of Magdalena and San Juan. Ask a local to show you the way.


Street Art in Sayulita.
Psychedelic street art. Photo by Marco Alonso Araujo Gutierrez / Flickr.
A Secluded Beach Close to Cerro del Mono
A secluded beach found in the Cerro del Mono hike. Photo courtesy of Mexitreks.
Surfing tables
Surfing tables. Photo by Abbeyroad / Flickr.

SAYULITA

If you're in the mood for: Surfing, hiking, exploring nature.

Route to take: Fly 90 minutes from Mexico City Airport (MEX) to Puerto Vallarta (PVR). Then take a one-hour drive or bus ride to the little surfing town.

Your agenda: Check into Casablanca Sayulita Hotel, where you can have your own private beach and it's just a ten-minute walk to the main plaza. Stroll the colorful and vibrant streets and get swept up in the magical hippie happenings, from psychedelic street art to surfboards for rent. Pick up a longboard (and maybe a lesson) at Wildmex. Book a tour with Mexitreks, an environmentally responsible company that donates a portion of profits to sustainable initiatives and community non-profits in the area. Go whale watching with La Orca de Sayulita, a non-invasive, environmentally conscious whale-watching and research organization.

Avoid the Sunday blues: Remember all those far-out vibes with a unique souvenir: a decorated animal skull from Evoke The Spirit.