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Exquisite Mexico Holidays
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Picture a diverse landscape where lush jungles run into towering volcanoes that give way to awe-inspiring desert vistas and breathtaking stretches of rugged coastline. Impose upon this tapestry a rich cultural landscape that encompasses the remnants of 2,000-year-old civilizations, a 500-year history of European colonization and an eclectic mix of indigenous traditions. Fill in the gaps with a wholly unmistakable local cuisine, an unmatched local art scene, an affluent urban tapestry, a welcoming population and an impressively low cost of living.
If you can do all this, you've come close to capturing the beauty and grace of the world's largest Spanish-speaking country. Many first-time visitors know Mexico as a collection of beachside enclaves and cultural parks, but the country has so much more to offer. From the ruin-studded rain forests of Quintana Roo to the breathtaking cliffs of Baja California, each corner of Mexico harbors new delights and exotic adventures. Once you've explored this great land, you'll count the days until your return.
Guadalajara: Mexico's second-largest city is a hotbed of high culture and indigenous traditions. Architecture buffs can visit its historic core for an up-close view of the 16th-century Metropolitan Cathedral or the Rotonda de los Hombres Ilustres, a neoclassical memorial that sits in the heart of a bustling square. To the south, hundreds of traditional eateries populate districts like 8 de Julio and Morelos. Visitors must try birria, a local delicacy that combines stewed goat or lamb meat with ginger, cloves and other piquant spices in a lime-kissed tortilla wrap. For a nightcap, visitors can travel to the nearby town of Tequila to sample agave liquors in the birthplace of the famed drink.
Cabo San Lucas: "Cabo" has outgrown its reputation as a boring if refined beach destination. As one of the most ecologically and geologically diverse parts of Mexico, it's a must-visit for lovers of nature's finer things. After viewing the mind-boggling sea caves and tunnels from high atop the Arch of Cabo San Lucas, visitors can follow in the footsteps of indigenous clam-divers and take a dip in the warm waters off Playa del Mar.
Uxmal and Chichen Itza: Southeastern Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula is littered with the ruins of the ancient Mayan civilization. As two of the largest complexes, Uxmal and Chichen Itza offer a window into a dimly understood past. While here, you may climb to the top of the "sun pyramids" that the Mayans used to construct their eerily accurate calendar, step onto the sporting fields that hosted an early form of football or stand in a temple that may have hosted human sacrifices before Europeans ever set foot on this continent.
Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve: Tucked into the verdant mountains to the west of Mexico City, this protected area is the beginning and ending point for the world's longest insect migration. Every year, untold millions of orange-hued monarch butterflies fly thousands of miles from the United States and Canada to their winter home here. Come in November and December to watch the graceful insects mass in the reserve's trees or visit in February for their awe-inspiring departure.
Mexico is a massive country with a population of well over 100 million, and these highlights offer a mere taste of its cultural and natural diversity. As you prepare for your visit to Mexico, don't be afraid to step off the beaten path.
Best Time To Visit:
While there's never a bad time to schedule a trip to Mexico, weather patterns and crowds at your chosen destination may influence your decision. In the country's lower elevations and coastal zones, warm, humid weather prevails throughout the year. Visitors may wish to avoid the hot, rainy season that coincides with the Northern Hemisphere's summer and schedule a trip for the cooler, drier months of October or November. Those traveling to higher elevations should avoid the cold, occasionally icy winter months.
Since Mexico's coastal areas are popular with North American students on "spring break," travelers who wish to avoid crowds should refrain from visiting beach destinations in March. Likewise, Mexican families tend to take extended holidays around the Easter and Christmas bank holidays.
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