By Angelina Aragon, Tara Hitchcock, Mirelle Inglefield, Lauren Loftus, Leah LeMoine, Craig Outhier and Christianna Silva
Photography by Angelina Aragon, Carrie Evans, Tara Hitchcock, Mirelle Inglefield, Kevin Kaminski, Lauren Loftus, Leah LeMoine, Craig Outhier and Christianna Silva
Wardrobe and styling by Mitch Phillips/Rare Scarf Glam Vintage
An estimated 30 million Americans visited Mexico last year – four times the population of Arizona. Will you follow the crowd this summer, or strike out on your own under-the-radar retreat? From serene beaches to centuries-old Aztec ruins, a breathtaking bonanza of summer possibilities is only a border away.
Getting started on your south-of-the-border sojourn.
Area: 761,610 square miles… about the combined size of Arizona and Alaska
Population: 124 million… roughly one-third that of the U.S.
GDP: $1.2 trillion (16th in the world)
With its robust variety of bird, reptile and plant species, Mexico ranks fifth globally in biodiversity, according to a Princeton University study.
Is it safe? The U.S. State Department currently flags five different Mexican states – Colima, Guerrero, Michoacán, Sinaloa and Tamaulipas – as unsafe due to cartel crime. Visit travel.state.gov to find a travel advisory map of cities and regions.
Choose your destination below and Go Mexico!
Top 5 Down-Low Delights
Not one to follow the crowd? Here are five rising Mexican tourism towns that have not yet risen to “trap” status.
Wider and deeper than the Grand Canyon, the pride of Chihuahua is best experienced via the Ferrocarril Chihuahua al Pacífico railway, which travels between the cities of Los Mochis and Chihuahua.
San Miguel de Allende
A bonanza of colonial architecture and art, this UNESCO World Heritage City is starting to go mainstream with two new resorts and a restaurant by Mexico’s most famous chef, Enrique Olvera.
San Miguel de Allende too played out for your taste? Find this mile-high former mining town 60 miles north, packed with Gothic architecture and Old World alleys so snug, couples can share a kiss across balconies – one of them is even called Callejón del Beso (Alley of the Kiss).
Mexico’s premier wine region – yes, like Arizona, it has them – is also a culinary hot spot featuring restaurants by the country’s top chefs. Drive time from Phoenix: 6 hours.
Diametrically opposed both geographically and temperamentally to Cancún, this Pacific beach town slumbers in the shadows of the Sierra Madre Mountains, beckoning New Age fitness freaks and white-collar beach bums.
Brown – archaeology and archaeological sites
Pink – health and well-being (including medical tourism)
Yellow – culture
Purple – meetings (seminars and conference tourism)
Green – nature
Blue – sea, sun and sand
If you’ve spent any time in Mexico, you’ve probably wondered about the ubiquitous, multi-colored block letters that grace the waterfronts in many beach towns. El misterio solved. The whimsical signs are part of a $10 million campaign by the country’s Secretariat of Tourism to foster identity in Mexico’s top tourism spots, and each specific color reflects an aspect of Mexican travel.
3 Safety Tips
1. Blend in.
Keep the camera in its case. Don’t overdress or accessorize. Be discreet with your guidebook, or use your smartphone.
2. Avoid hailing cabs in big cities.
Ask your hotel to call a cab for you, and use official taxis (taxis autorizados) at airports and bus stations. In Mexico City, licensed cabs have a distinctive white license plate beginning with a capital letter and five numbers.
3. Be stingy with your personal information.
Answer phone calls with generic salutations, avoid posting on social networking sites and don’t divulge personal details to people who call or approach you. This will limit your exposure to “virtual kidnappings” and other schemes.