Mexico has long been a destination for those who long to soak up the sun with a cocktail in hand. In recent years, however, history lovers and people who long for vibrant culture and extraordinary opportunities for adventure have been flocking to Mexico in droves. Whether you’re wanting to envelope yourself in the joyous parades and carnivals or drink tequila on a silver-white beach until sunrise, there are so many things to do in Mexico. As a visitor to this glorious, Central American land you can do everything from experiencing the traditional culture to opportunities of a lifetime.
In the Western world, most of us tend to shy away from the topic of death. Mexico, on the other hand, has an entire holiday made to honor death by celebrating life. Día de los Muertos - or the "Day of the Dead" - occurs between October 31 and November 2. In Mexican culture, the Day of the Dead is there for people to honor and remember their deceased loved ones. You might've seen sugar skulls permeating American Halloweens over the last few years, but this has nothing to do with Día de los Muertos. On the contrary, the festival is a huge part of the Mexican heritage and dates back thousands of years. If you're interested, head to Mexico City or Oaxaca as, thanks to James Bond, there's now even a parade!
Mayan and Incan ruins are seemingly everywhere across the Central and South American landscapes. One of these very ruins is those of Chichén Itzá. This former Mayan city that dates back to around 550 CE and although its biggest attraction is its pyramid, the site has much more than that to offer. There are hidden alcoves with cenotes; small natural waterways; a Mayan ballcourt where they would compete; even an observatory where they would view the stars. That being said, if you time it right, a visit to the pyramid can be life-affirming. When the sun hits the temple at the winter solstice, the sun casts a shadow making Kukulkan, the feathered Mayan snake god appear on the side of the steps.
Mexico is filled with immense pyramids and temples dedicated to gods, goddesses, and the earth itself. As well as Chichen Itza, there are the pyramids of Teotihuacán. These ancient, mysterious ruins lie just 30 miles from Mexico City, making it the ideal day trip for anyone visiting the nation's capital. Teotihuacán is mostly known for its two biggest temples, Pirámide del Sol (Pyramid of the Sun) and Pirámide de la Luna (Pyramid of the Moon). However, the site is gigantic and contains 2000 years of history including a third pyramid and a great avenue that leads from the sun temple to the moon. Well worth the trip, but don't forget to wear comfortable walking shoes.
You might very well be a fan of Mexican food, but have you ever had real Mexican street food? Dining in Mexico is filling, unique, and depending on where you do it, super affordable. From tacos to tamales and gorditas to camotes and crickets bathing in tequila, Mexico is a haven for foodies and anyone whose favorite part of a vacation is trying something new. The food scene is one of the best in the world and there's no way you'll ever leave Mexico feeling hungry. What are you waiting for? Tuck in!
We've all seen the adorable videos of baby turtles releasing themselves into the ocean. But have you ever thought about seeing it for real? This is very much possible in Mexico, where you can take a camping tour to stay up late and watch this magnificent part of nature. The usual turtle season is between May and November, with the mother turtles only laying their eggs once the beach is dark and safe. Hatching season, on the other hand, is from late August to early October. And yes, they are as cute as they look on TV.
Nature is yet another thing that Mexico can boast over having in its arsenal. Another of the country's highlights is the monarch butterfly reserve in Michoacán. Every year, monarch butterflies migrate from Canada and the US to their winter home of Mexico. They then congregate by the thousands in the sun, carpeting the forest floors and its trees with a flurry of red and black. Mexico is full of monarch butterfly reserves and those in Michoacán are open daily from November through March. Try staying in the nearby picturesque town of Angangueo during January or February for the best experience.
Cenotes are natural, inland swimming holes that are found all over Mexico. They're as important to locals and travelers as the country's sandy beaches. They are sinkholes and caves that are formed when limestone bedrock collapses to make way for the underground rivers below to rise to the surface. Luckily, there are thousands of cenotes that are safe for you to swim in, so if you'd rather avoid the crowds of the more popular ones, you can always ask a local for their recommendations.
Two of Mexicans most famous residents were the artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. Kahlo was born, raised, and died in a house in Mexico City; that house is now home to the most extensive Frida Kahlo exhibit in the world. The home is known as La Casa Azul, which is Spanish for "the blue house", named such because of its bright, aquamarine paint. As well as growing up in Casa Azul, Frida's eventual husband Diego Rivera then moved in with her for several years. After Kahlo's and Rivera's deaths, the home was donated to the city. Inside, you'll find a huge collection of both artists' pieces and some of their personal memorabilia.
You might, at some point, have heard of the health benefits of Mayan steam baths. But what, exactly, are they? Well, the Mayans were onto a lot more than we give them credit for. One of their most practiced activities was taking steam baths. Recently, there's been a huge revival of them and tourists have flocked to Mexico to reap their benefits. Temazcal rituals cleanse our bodies of the unwanted toxins and fatigue of the modern world. And with no side effects, you might as well give it a go, right? Carpe diem - or, as you'd say in Spanish, "Aprovecha el momento, no lo malgastes."
There's a long list of things to do in Cancun, but one that tops them all is the MUSA. It stands for "Museo Subacuático de Arte", which in English, is the underwater museum of art. Hidden beneath the waters around Cancún and Isla Mujeres there are 500 life-size sculptures. These sculptures were designed to promote coral growth and, as a result, marine life. The museum has only been open for ten years, meaning it hasn't been there long enough to attract too much of it. As for whether or not it's worth it, it absolutely is. Picture yourself diving underwater and finding submerged statues everywhere. Not bad for $80, if you ask us.