In Guadalajara you'll find a wonderful blend of the old and the new. The city was founded in 1542 and has many historical buildings, but it underwent a major modernization project in the late 1940s and early 1950s which changed the face of the city. In Guadalajara's historical center you can appreciate historical buildings, lovely plazas and green spaces and stores and markets. One of the most impressive historical buildings in Guadalajara is the Hospicio Cabañas (now the Cabañas Cultural Institute), which is a World Heritage Site. Besides its elegant and functional architecture, this building also contains over fifty murals by Jose Clemente Orozco.
The main attractions of Guadalajara's historical center are best visited on foot. Our Guadalajara walking tour will guide you through the most important attractions of this fascinating area: Walking Tour of Guadalajara.
Photo of Guadalajara's Plaza de Armas © Suzanne Barbezat
You may think of Los Cabos as a beach and party destination, but there are lots of things to do there beyond having fun in the sun and partying til you drop. Visitors to Los Cabos who are interested in art, culture and nature will also find activities to interest them. Here are a few that I enjoyed on a recent visit:
- Whale Watching: Seeing the whales frolic around our boat, even shooting up out of the water, is an experience that I won't soon forget! This was a highlight of my trip to Los Cabos and I recommend you add this activity to your itinerary if you visit during whale watching season. Find out more: Whale Watching in Los Cabos
- Ride a Camel: I never expected to ride a camel on this side of the Pacific, but as it turns out, the hot, dry climate of Los Cabos is ideal for these desert animals, and Cabo Adventures offers an tour that allows you to get up close and personal with them. Read more: Camel riding in Los Cabos
- Art and History in San Jose: Los Cabos is made up of two towns and the 20 mile stretch of coastline between them. Of the destination duo, San Jose del Cabo is the town with more history. It was originally a Jesuit mission, founded in the 1700s. A stroll around the town will allow you to learn a bit about its history and enjoy its many galleries, restaurants and shops. Take a walking tour of San Jose del Cabo.
Photo © Suzanne Barbezat
It's been raining in Cancun for several days now, and there has been some flooding both in Cancun and along the Riviera Maya. I visited the area a couple of weeks ago to witness the Sacred Mayan Journey and enjoyed good weather the whole time - it rained only twice during my visit, both times showers that lasted less than an hour. Visitors this past week haven't been so lucky. According to the regional report of Conagua, Mexico's National Water Commission, the amount of rain that has fallen since last Sunday in the northern part of the state of Quintana Roo is equivalent to 35% of the state's average annual rainfall. The worst flooding has been in Cancun city, with the water level rising up to a meter above the street level, but Kukulcan Avenue, the main road that runs along the hotel zone, has also been affected.
The tropical depression that caused the rain in Cancun has now developed into Tropical Storm Andrea in the Gulf of Mexico which is now heading toward Florida. Andrea is not expected to develop into a hurricane. More information from the National Hurricane Center.
Rainy season in central and southern Mexico lasts roughly from May to October. In general rainy season is not a bad time to visit; it's rare that you will get several days of rain in a row. If you do happen to get rain on your vacation, there are other things to do. In Cancun, visit the new Maya museum that's located in the hotel zone, go shopping in the many malls, enjoy a spa treatment, and take advantage of the city's legendary nightlife. Read more about rainy season in Mexico.
If you're planning a trip to Mexico in the summer months, you may want to time your trip to coincide with one of the many festivals that will be taking place in Mexico's delightful colonial cities. These destinations offer plenty to see and do throughout the year, but when you visit during a festival, you're guaranteed to see them at their most vibrant.
July is a great time to visit Oaxaca. A traditional dance festival called the Guelaguetza takes place every year in mid-summer in this beautiful and colorful city. This year's Guelaguetza will be held on July 22nd and 29th. The traditions behind the festival date back to ancient times, but this will be the 81st edition of the festival in its present form. Read more about Oaxaca's Guelaguetza festival.
If you enjoy classical music, you won't be disappointed by a visit to San Miguel de Allende during the International Chamber Music Festival, from July 26 to August 17. Now in its 35th year, the festival's line-up includes the Enso String Quartet, the Onix Ensemble and the Gryphon Trio. Concerts will take place in the Teatro Ángela Peralta, as well as in other venues.
Guadalajara's annual Mariachi Festival takes place from August 28th to September 8th. The festival kicks off with a parade of the mariachis in their finery. Other events include gala dinners, rodeo shows, concerts, music workshops and art exhibits. This is an opportunity to enjoy some of the best mariachis in the world in the city that is considered the birthplace of mariachi music.
More ideas for summer travel:
Photo © Suzanne Barbezat
Hurricane season kicked in a couple of days early this year with Hurricane Barbara, which hit Mexico's Pacific coast in the state of Oaxaca today, May 29. According to the National Hurricane Center, the hurricane has maximum sustained winds near 75 mph. Local press reports state that the storm has caused two deaths, including a surfer from the United States, and that fourteen fishermen from the area have gone missing. A hurricane warning is in effect for the Pacific coast from Puerto Angel in the state of Oaxaca to Barra de Tonala, Chiapas. Now that it has hit land, Hurricane Barbara is expected to weaken rapidly and dissipate within the next few days.
Hurricane season generally lasts from June through November. The NOAA (National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration) is predicting an active hurricane season for 2013, with anywhere from 13 to 20 named storms in the Atlantic over the next six months. Read more about hurricane season in Mexico.
Although its wide mouth may look menacing, the whale shark is a filter-feeder that subsides mainly on plankton and krill, so swimming with these gentle giants is a very safe activity. Whale shark season in the Mexican Caribbean has just begun, and if you would like to live this experience for yourself, visit Cancun or the Riviera Maya between mid-May and mid-September when these giant fish congregate where the Gulf of Mexico meets the Caribbean Sea. Here the water is particularly nutrient-rich, and the whale sharks spend the summer months feeding and breeding in the warm tropical water. Learn more about swimming with whale sharks, and other wildlife encounters in Mexico.
Club Med is having a flash sale this week, from May 17 to 22. This is a good opportunity to enjoy a trip to Mexico at a reduced rate. By booking during the sale, you'll save 40% on 7-day stays at the Cancun Yucatan Club Med during the month of June (June 1 to 29, 2013). Rates start at $1049 USD per adult for a 7 night all-inclusive stay. The Cancun Yucatan Club Med is an excellent option for a family vacation, with an excellent location, friendly atmosphere and lots of activities for both children and adults, plus, kids under 4 stay free. Read a profile of the Club Med Cancun Yucatan from About.com's Guide to Family Travel. The offer expires on May 22, so book now to take advantage. More info on the Club Med website: Club Med Flash Sale.
Find more deals for family vacations: Kids Stay Free at Mexican Resorts.
Photo courtesy Club Med
For the past few days Popocatepetl, an active volcano located 45 miles southeast of Mexico City and only 25 miles outside the city of Puebla, has been spewing smoke and ash. Seismic activity has also increased around the volcano. On Sunday the alert level was raised to Yellow Phase 3, the fifth of a seven stage warning scale. There is at present a 7.5-mile restricted zone around the base of the volcano. Authorities are preparing evacuation routes for the vicinity in case the volcano's activity increases.
At nearly 18,000 feet in height, "el Popo" as it's affectionately called, is North America's fourth highest peak, and the second highest in Mexico. It has had minor eruptions in 2000 and 2005, and has shown moderate activity since 2012.
See the latest alert from CENAPRED (Mexico's National Center for Disaster Prevention). More information from the LA Times: Mexico prepares for more intense eruptions from Popo volcano, Volcano Discovery, and read about Coping With the Volcano: Popocatépetl Safety Tips from All About Puebla.
Photo Susana Gonzalez/Stringer/Getty
Museum Night is celebrated in Mexico City on the last Wednesday of each month from 7 to 10 pm, but this Saturday, May 18 is International Museum Day, and over 50 museums in Mexico City will participate, with a variety of special activities throughout the day. Some of the museums will have free admission and others are offering a discount on entrance fees. Many of the participating museums will have extended hours. Shuttles will provide free transportation along four different routes from 11 am to 9 pm. See maps of shuttle routes, and a full list of activities: Día Internacional de Museos (in Spanish).
International Museum Day celebrations are coordinated by the International Council of Museums. The event began in 1977 as a way to raise awareness about the importance of museums in the development of society. This year over 120 countries will participate in the event. The theme for this year's International Museum day is: Museums (Memory + Creativity) = Social Change.
Don't miss some of our favorite Mexico City museums:
El Día de las Madres (Mother's Day) is celebrated in a big way in Mexico. Mexicans pamper their moms, serenade them, give them flowers and gifts, and treat them to a nice meal out in a restaurant. In Mexico this celebration always falls on May 10th, unlike in the U.S. and Canada where it's celebrated on the second Sunday in May (May 12 this year).
One of the ways Mexicans celebrate their mothers is with a serenade. The serenade is ideally sung in the early morning, to wake up your mom in the nicest way possible. (If your mom's not an early riser, she may prefer to sleep in and save the serenade for later in the day, though.) The favorite song to sing to moms on Mother's Day, and to anyone on their birthday or to congratulate them for some special occasion, is Las Mañanitas. This is a traditional Mexican song that dates back to at least the 19th century. The writer of the song is unknown.
Have you considered using music to show your mom how much you care about and appreciate her? Hire a mariachi band, or if you're musically inclined, sing for her yourself. Here are the lyrics of Las Mañanitas (with translation), and a video so you can learn how to sing Las Mañanitas.
For a really special Mother's Day gift, treat your mom to a luxurious Mexican vacation. Here are some ideas: Mother's Day Getaways.
¡Feliz Día de las Madres!