Discover the Top 5 Mexico Destinations: A Curated Guide

Advisor - Anne Travous
Curated By

Anne Travous

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  • Mexico

  • Cancun

  • Mexico City

  • Puerto Vallarta

  • Arts & Culture

  • Food & Wine

  • Local Culture

  • Local Food

  • Bucket List

Discover the Top 5 Mexico Destinations: A Curated Guide
Curator’s statement

As a Scottsdale native, one of the things that I took for granted growing up was our close proximity and easy access to Mexico. But while it’s true that you can head south across the border and be at the beaches of Puerto Penasco in a little over four hours (closer even than San Diego!), I didn’t truly realize the rest of what Mexico had to offer until I was much older. My first trip outside of my beloved Rocky Point was a trip to Puerto Vallarta with my sister and some friends when I was in my early 20s. I was AMAZED at the beauty of the lush green jungles and rocky coves, delighted by the friendliness of the locals and in absolute heaven when it came to the delicious food. I was hooked and I promised myself that I’d make an effort to explore as many unique destinations within Mexico that I could. After much exploration (I take my research VERY seriously), I’m excited to share my curated list of the country’s top five destinations. From tropical allure to cultural richness, each locale offers a unique blend of experiences. While many of these destinations may seem obvious, there are perhaps one (or maybe two?) hidden gems that might surprise you! Let’s explore these must-visit Mexico destinations together!

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Where to stay

NIZUC Resort & Spa

Wedged in the Yucatan Peninsula, Nizuc is embraced by the azure waters of the sea and backed by the lush jungle.

Fora Perks
  • $100 hotel / resort credit.

  • Breakfast daily.

  • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

Hyatt Ziva Cancun

Breezy beachfront all-inclusive property with modern rooms and suites.

Fora Perks
  • Hotel / resort credit.

  • Welcome amenity.

  • Breakfast daily.

  • Upgrade & extended check-in/out, whenever possible.

Banyan Tree Mayakoba

Immerse yourself in the beauty of the lush mangrove forests and pristine beaches and indulge in world-class amenities and exceptional service that will leave you feeling rejuvenated and inspired.

Fora Perks
  • $100 food / beverage credit.

  • Breakfast daily.

  • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

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#1: Cancun and Riviera Maya: A Tropical Paradise and Beyond

Known for its pristine white-sand beaches and vibrant nightlife, Cancun is a tropical paradise perfect for those that want to bask in the sun with a cocktail in hand. The Riviera Maya stretches approximately 75 miles from Cancun through Playa del Carmen, Cozumel and Tulum.

Things to do:

  • Check out Chichen Itza, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World

  • Relax on the beaches in Playa del Carmen

  • Snorkel through the stunning coral reefs in Cozumel

  • Explore the Mayan ruins found in Tulum, perched high on the cliffs overlooking the Caribbean

  • Take your family to XCaret Park and enjoy all of the activities the adventure parks have to offer

  • Experience a swim through a cenote (a natural sinkhole filled with water, unique to the Yucatan Peninsula)

Where to stay:

  • Nizuc Resort & Spa

  • Hyatt Ziva

  • Banyan Tree Mayakoba (Playa del Carmen)

Where to dine:

The Travelers Table - For people who enjoy good food and making new friends! A 5-course meal served in a communal dining style that is not only an experience, but an epicurean delight that foodie’s will relish over. Cuisine: Mayan, Spanish and International.

Who loves it most: People who are looking for a unique blend of relaxation and cultural exploration.

#2: Mexico City: Cultural Marvels and Gastronomic Delights:

The bustling capital city, Mexico City is a cultural and historical hub. Known for its stunning architecture, vibrant neighborhoods, world-class museums and a gastronomist’s mecca, this city is a thriving metropolis that is not to be missed.

Things to do:

  • Visit the Zocalo, the historic heart of the city that’s surrounded by national landmarks

  • Immerse yourself in the life and art of Frida Kahlo, (arguably) one of the most famous artists to hail from Mexico City.

  • Experience the brightly colored floating gardens and lively atmosphere aboard a traditional trajinera boat via a Xochimilco Boat Tour

  • Indulge in diverse and delicious street food found around nearly every corner, from tacos to tamales

Where to stay:

  • Four Seasons Hotel Mexico City

  • Andaz Condesa Mexico City

Where to dine:

Amaya: a natural wine-focused farm-to-table restaurant. Casual chic. Funky wines and delicious meals with a creative flair.

Who loves it most: Lovers of art, history and culinary masterpieces

#3: Guadalupe Valley and the Baja Wine Region: A Wine Enthusiast’s Haven

For wine lovers, the Guadalupe Valley in Baja California is a must-visit. Celebrated for its vast and distinctive vineyards and wineries, a visit here offers wine aficionados (self-proclaimed or not) the chance to taste fantastic wines, enjoy gourmet dining, and relish in the stunning landscapes of the baja wine country in Valle de Guadalupe.

Things to do:

  • Take a guided wine tour, stroll through the vineyards and sample some of the region’s signature varietals.

  • Enjoy mouth-watering culinary delights, with gourmet meals paired with local wines at the many on-site winery restaurants.

  • Enjoy even more wine, but make it artsy with wineries that integrate local art into their spaces, or with the many art galleries pair wine with their installations!

  • Some people SWEAR by a hot air balloon ride, where you can take in the panoramic views and picturesque landscapes from high above the valley floor.

Where to stay:

  • El Cielo Resort

  • Encuentro Guadalupe

  • Brisa Del Valle Hotel Boutique

Where to dine:

Salvia Blanca Cocina Campestre: Cuisine: Mexican / International. Try the Taco Zarandeado (Octopus taco) and end with the basque cake.They also have a fantastic brunch, which is the best way to chase away the hangover you may experience after indulging in an all day wine tasting at vineyards throughout the valley the day before.

Who loves it most: Obviously, people who love wine.

#4: Puerto Vallarta and Nayarit: Pacific Coast Charms

Nestled along the Pacific Coast, Puerto Vallarta is known for its charming Old Town, bustling Malecón boardwalk, and beautiful beaches. Nayarit, adjacent to Puerto Vallarta, offers diverse experiences, from the surf culture of Sayulita to the serenity of the beaches of San Pancho.

Things to do:

  • Stroll along the oceanfront Malecón boardwalk and enjoy the quaint shops and lively street performers

  • Take a day trip to the bohemian town of Sayulita and try to catch some waves

  • Take a boat or snorkeling tour out to Los Arcos Marine Park, known for its instagrammable rock formations and teeming wildlife.

  • Wander through the Romantic Zone in Old Town, complete with cobblestone streets, local markets, and adorable tucked-away bistros.

  • Zipline through the same jungle where Predator was filmed and snap a picture next to the “Choppah” (said in one unnamed famous Austrian’s accent) from the movie!

Where to stay:

  • The Westin Resort & Spa, Puerto Vallarta

  • Conrad Punta De Mita (Niyarit)

Where to dine:

The Blue Shrimp: This restaurant claims to have the “best food off the coast”, which includes seafood such as fresh ceviche, shrimp tacos, etc. Cuisine: Seafood, Mexican

Who loves it most: People who love a vacation with equal parts relaxation and exploration in a swoon-worthy landscape.

#5: Cabo San Lucas: Dramatic Coastlines and Vibrant Nightlife

Located at the southern tip of the Baja peninsula, Cabo San Lucas is renowned for its dramatic coastline, the iconic El Arco rock formation, and lively (sometimes to an extreme) nightlife. Outdoor adventures are also abundant here, with activities such as snorkeling, ATV tours, and sunset booze cruises easy to come by.

Things to do:

  • Explore Lover’s Beach and Divorce Beach (perhaps depending on your mood), one of which is known for relaxation while the other is famous for its mighty waves.

  • Take a romantic sunset sail and experience the gorgeous Cabo sunset from the water.

  • Charter a catamaran to take you to El Arco at Land’s End, and bring your camera to capture this iconic arch.

  • Get dolled up and hit the Cabo Wabo Cantina, enjoying live music while you dance the night away to the rhythmic beats at this famous hotspot.

Where to stay:

  • Le Blanc Spa Resort Los Cabos

  • Viceroy Los Cabos

  • Las Ventanas Al Paraiso, A Rosewood Resort

Where to dine:

La Casona (located on the property of the Villa La Estancia Beach Resort & Spa). Open-air patio vibes welcome you in. Beloved by visitors and locals alike, this restaurant just oozes romance. Cuisine: Steakhouse

Who loves it most: Those looking for nightlife, adventure, and those magical, instagrammable moments.

Need to Know

Mexico’s beauty is vast, and these top five destinations offer a glimpse into its rich tapestry. I’m certain there are other hidden gems I have yet to discover, but half the fun is the journey of that exploration. Ultimately, where YOU may choose to go comes down to personal preference and travel style, but whatever that is, there is a Mexico destination for you! Let this curated guide inspire your journey into the heart of Mexico’s diverse landscape. The exploration begins now!

This trip report is part of our ongoing series on travel to Mexico. In need of further inspiration? Check out Megan Steely’s trip report, 3 Best Trips for Mexico Tourists.

Advisor - Anne Travous

Travel Advisor

Anne Travous

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