Everyone who knows me —(@brandonberksonx) — knows I love Mexico. It’s one of my favorite countries in the world — the people, food, culture, history, architecture, and beaches.
When Americans go to Mexico, they are often persuaded by all-inclusive mega-resorts in Cancun that forgot to incorporate anything about the surrounding locale into their property. I then ask myself, what’s the point of going to Mexico? If tequila shots and buffets are your vibe, I completely respect that — but for me, I’m looking for something else.
Our south-of-the-border neighbor has several overlooked destinations — the pervasive Spanish Colonial-esque towns that were constructed when conquistadores took over the country centuries ago. San Miguel de Allende and Ciudad de Querétaro my favorite thus far — Mérida is next on my list.
Mexico’s colonial towns pulsate with authenticity and culture, there are no corny tourist traps (yet). When I went to San Miguel de Allende and Ciudad de Querétaro, I was mesmerized by the yellow, orange, and red edifices, accessible by interweaving cobblestones streets that represent the olden days. These colonial towns have mercados with vendors selling colorful skulls, chromatic textiles, Mexican candy, and threaded jewelry. The food is insatiable — San Miguel de Allende and Ciudad Querétaro’s dining options range from bougie Mexican eateries (many with patios in the courtyards of old aristocratic mansions) to taco stands. They have plazas with baroque cathedrals, where friends and family talk to one another with the background music of local mariachi bands. The history is fascinating — learning about the Spanish colonization the country faced and how that marked the end of one chapter, and the beginning of another. The art, wow; San Miguel de Allende is famous for its local and expat artists that sought refuge in the Mexican Highlands for inspiration; clearly exhibited in Fabrica La Aurora, a down-a-dirt-road complex with art galleries that are feast for the eyes.
With that, I ask you, for your next trip to our southern neighbor, consider sacrificing your mega-resort beach vacation for these towns which breathe Mexico’s cultural abundance.