Summer Travel in Mexico? Are you sane?
Summer travel in Mexico is often overlooked by regular visitors to Mexico. This is especially true for beach destinations. Since Baja California, Sonora, and Chihuahua are mostly desert, one could find themselves in seriously challenging temperatures. Imagine traveling to Phoenix, Arizona for a summertime holiday.
Beaches are obviously at sea level making these destinations incredibly hot and humid. Because of that, most people find Mexican beaches miserable during these months. Add to that, Mexico’s rainy and hurricane seasons begin in summer. There’s a good reason cruise ships relocate their Caribbean fleet to the Mediterranian during this time.
So, does that mean summer travel to Mexico is just plain nuts? That largely depends on you.
True Mexico aficionados know that nearly all of Mexico’s beach cities are too hot and sticky to enjoy. That doesn’t mean the rest of Mexico is also uncomfortably hot.
A huge surprise to most people visiting is that a large part of Mexico is higher than 6000′ in elevation. This makes for warm but enjoyable summers in many major cities and destinations.
5 Great Summer Destinations
Enjoy these incredible destinations throughout the year. Especially in summer. These selected picks represent only some of the opportunities to enjoy Mexico without the tourist crowds or prices.
Ensenada is Mexico’s equivalent of San Diego, California. Being only 60 miles apart, it makes perfect sense. Sure, there’s no Sea World, Zoo, or Aircraft Carrier. Still, Mexicans (and visitors) regularly come to spend time in this near-perfect corner of the world.
Ensenada has a lot going for it. It’s ideally situated on the map to match San Diego’s year-round perfect weather. Ensenada is also among Mexico’s most educated cities, along with being one of Mexico’s wealthier cities. People in their 20’s and 30’s make up a significant percentage of the city’s population. Since 2012, Ensenada has transformed far beyond the weekend party destination for nearby Californians.
Ensenada is home to a vibrant Carnaval celebration and annual Beer Fest. The culture in Ensenada is quite rich, especially outside the ‘tourist zone.’ One simply can’t ignore the incredible beaches, restaurants, breweries, bars, nightlife, and the nearby wine region.
Most of the beaches are found south of the Marina. They are all excellent to enjoy sun and beach activities. Notable dining includes Sano’s Steakhouse and Mr. Pampa’s Brazilian Churrascaria. Of course, don’t forget the excellent fish tacos at the fish market behind Starbucks Coffee.
Agua Mala and Transpeninsular are two highly awarded breweries a beer lover must visit. Nightlife is incredible in Ensenada and is quite diverse. From Lucky Irish Pub and Beergarden to the classics like Hussong’s Cantina, you’re sure to find your vibe in no time.
When not sleeping in or enjoying the nightlife, take a short trip to the wine region. There are dozens of incredible wineries including Casa FRIDA, and Encuentro.
For travelers, probably the best thing is that all of this is that costs are typically one-third that of San Diego in the summer.
2. Copper Canyon
Chihuahua is Mexico’s largest state by size and home to the incredible Copper Canyon (Barrancas del Cobre).
Bigger than Grand Canyon in Arizona, Copper Canyon is quite different in a number of ways. Visitors are able to have fun at Copper Canyon. Because it’s so big, there are dozens of groups of indigenous people living within the Copper Canyon. They typically wear bright-colored clothing. Do stop and see if they have anything to sell.
Though the region is vast there are five popular places to visit within the canyon. The Parque Aventura del Barrancas del Cobre is equivalent to the South Rim Visitors Center of Grand Canyon. Unlike Grand Canyon, you can take one of two amazing zipline adventures. the Ziprider over 1.5 miles into the canyon. The Circuito de Siete Tirolesas is a series of 7 zip lines crisscrossing the canyon. There’s even a glass-bottom cafe that allows you to dine while looking below.
Creel is a Pueblo Magico that is the biggest town and gateway to Copper Canyon. Think of it like Flagstaff, AZ to Grand Canyon. There are several hotels, nightlife, and interesting sights to see. Notable must-sees include Lago de Arareco and la Cueva de Doña Petra.
On the northern tip of Copper Canyon is la Cascada de Basaseachic. It’s a spectacular view and easy to visit. A favorite off-grid lodging destination is Rancho San Lorenzo Basaseachi. It’s a phenomenal and memorable way to experience the natural beauty of Mexico.
Finally, a trip to Batopilas should be on any adventurer’s shortlist. A high-clearance vehicle is advised as the roadway is often subject to rockslides and detours. The roadway down is one of the most beautiful in the world and worth the extra effort.
In Batopilas, there are several hotels and including Hotel Juanitas, Hotel Mary, and Hotel Casa Real de Minas de Acanasaina. A popular dining establishment is Restaurant Carolina. Take the time to visit this incredible land.
Zacatecas is a jewel of a city that shines brightly. There are so many reasons to spend several days or a week in this historic colonial city.
Zacatecas dates back to the days of New Spain. Spain heavily relied on natural resources, namely silver, to keep its kingdom and government afloat. Zacatecas was one of those cities with its rich silver mines.
Today, Zacatecas features Mexico’s oldest bullfighting ring. Don’t worry, it’s now used only for events such as weddings and corporate events. Nearby runs Zacatecas’ Roman-style aqueducts with their beautiful arches. The historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Crowning the city is the Cerro de la Bufa. It looks like a giant wave bursting out from the hilltop.
At night, it’s lit up and makes for a very romantic evening.
There are cable cars that go from the city center to the top of the mountain. There’s also a roadway that’s easily reachable.
While there make sure to join a Callejoneadas. These are spontaneous alleyway traveling parties that feature large groups of revelers dancing and partying through town to ad-hoc bands and drums. Part of the tradition is to be served cheap mezcal punch from jugs known as heribertas. Partygoers carry jarritos or ‘little jars’ to be served the hooch.
Zacatecas has so much to offer including great restaurants like Garufa, an exquisite Argentinian Steakhouse. The MILK Brewpub also serves up great food and beer in a patio setting.
For hotels, they range from quaint, to historic, and modern. Featuring the previously mentioned bullring is the Hotel Quinta Real. It’s the hotel to stay at in Zacatecas if you have the chance.
Are you still thinking summer travel in Mexico is silly?
Just four hours west of Mexico City is another Unesco World Heritage Site. Morelia, Michoacan is a capital city known for its pink stone buildings and Baroque architecture. It’s commonly known and Mexico’s best-kept secret.
Here, you’ll find history, culture, incredible architecture, and remarkably warm people. Morelia is a very walkable city. Centered around the Cathedral de Morelia, one could spend days admiring the architecture and details of the city.
Michoacan is a large state that has endured its share of violence and bad press. the mountain region bordering Guerrero remains a hot zone most travelers should avoid. Morelia, however, has escaped such violence and remains tranquil and enjoyable for Mexicans and visitors.
There are a number of hotels in the Morelia Centro. Consider staying at Hotel Casa Grande or the Hotel de la Soledad. Both are about 100m from the cathedral and in the heart of the city.
For dining, La Conspiracion de 1809 features fine international dining with a full bar. Restaurant Los Mirasoles is set in a romantic hacienda serving up delicious colonial and Mexican food. Both are within a block of the cathedral.
Morelia also features a great zoo and in the late fall monarch butterflies. Morelia is an ideal city to visit for summer travel in Mexico.
5. CDMX (Mexico City)
Mexico City (CDMX) is a world city like Paris, Tokyo, Madrid, NYC, Shanghai, and London. The population of CDMX is nearly 22m people but it doesn’t feel as crowded as other cities this size.
At 7300ft elevation, summers rarely top 90℉ with an average summertime temperature of 75℉.
No matter what you’re looking for, you’ll find it in CDMX (except maybe a beach).
The James Bond film, Spectre, and the 2018 Academy Award Winning film ‘Roma’ directed by Alfonso Cuaron both feature CDMX. The 2004 Denzel Washington film, ‘Man on Fire’ and ‘Romeo + Juliet’ featuring Leonardo DiCaprio made CDMX their backdrop.
Like other film capitals, CDMX features modern conveniences, historic locations, and high-quality talent.
Beyond films, CDMX is also home to everything from pre-hispanic Aztec ruins to modern skyscrapers.
When one visits CDMX it’s easy to forget one is in Mexico.
With a city as big as CDMX, it’s impossible to list all the great hotels, dining, and activities. Needless to say, no matter what you’re looking for, you’ll find it with incredible vibrancy in Mexico City.
CDMX serves as proof that summer travel to Mexico is awesome, so long as you know where to visit.
Story by Jim Foreman