Explore Three Mexican Gems

With countless sights to tour, wonderful people to meet and rich, flavorful foods to devour, this undeniably colorful nation can offer you the journey of a lifetime.

TEPOZTLÁN

Deep within south central Mexico lies a small pre-Colonial village known as the “mystical center." This romantic little nook surrounded by mountains offers everything from yoga retreats and holistic treatments to fresh produce and exotic ice cream flavors (with names like Moon's Lullaby). Whether you decide to hike up El Tepozteco mountain to the once-sacred temple Tepoztecatl or go salsa dancing at a local club, you’ll notice a spiritual energy present in the air.

Where to stay:
La Villa Bonita
This six-room villa is surrounded by colorful plants and a unique pool carved out of volcanic rock. Learn the history of Tepoztlan and get cooking lessons by amazing host and chef Ana Garcia, taught in an open-air kitchen surrounded on all sides by the mountains. Packages start at $850 per person and $1,350 per person for 4-day package; lavillabonita.com

Where to eat:
Las Marionas
Open for almost 16 years now, this cozy bistro is one of Tepoztlán’s best kept secrets. With vines woven throughout the restaurant and traditional Basque cuisine, like calamari in squid ink and fish dishes with Spanish and French inspired sauces, it will feel like you flew to Europe for dinner. Avenida Revolucion 131, +52 (739) 395-1655

SAN MIGUEL DE ALLENDE

Located in central Mexico, this town’s lovely Colonial architecture and cobblestone streets have attracted expats and artists to settle down. Museums and art schools mix with historical churches and the town’s El Jardín, giving this vibrant, friendly town an old-world charm with a modern flair.

Where to stay:
Casa de Liza
Stay at one of this B&B’s casitas, which give off the vibe of a museum with antique furniture, vibrant colors and beautiful paintings. Each room has its own style and mood. $100–$385 per night; casaliza.com

Where to eat:
Bugamblia
At this traditional Mexican restaurant, choose to dine in the plant-filled courtyard or the romantic indoor space, complete with a fireplace for cool nights. A highlight of the menu is the popular chiles en nogada (stuffed poblano chile with walnut cream sauce). Hidalgo 42; +52 (415) 152-0127

ISLA MUJERES

This peaceful island has pristine beaches and a Bohemian vibe perfect for unwinding. Formerly a fishing village, this haven is now populated with cozy hotels, quaint bars and bistros and rustic activities such as swimming with dolphins. It’s only a short ferry ride away from the wildly popular Cancun, so you may experience some day-trippers, but by evening this tiny oasis always shifts back to tranquility.

Where to stay:
Cabanas Maria del Mar
This economical family-owned hotel is located on the best beach in the island, Playa Cocos. You have the option of staying at its newly renovated castle quarters, a private cabana or a charming tower section. Be sure to chill out at the beachfront bar filled with swings and hammocks. About $75–$160 per night; cabanasdelmar.com

Where to eat:
Mango Café
Sinfully good breakfast, lunch and dinner is served up here, like the oven-baked French toast that’s been soaking overnight in eggnog liqueur, sprinkled with almonds and served with rosemary-orange syrup and bacon; or the BLGT (bacon, lettuce, green-apple guacamole and tomato) sandwich. Yum! eatmymango.blogspot.com; +52 (998)

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About this author

Verky Arcos, Fashion Director

A  writer and editor with expertise in fashion and lifestyle coverage, Verky Baldonado is currently Latina magazine's Fashion Director. Baldonado has written Latin-inspired travel and food related content and has contributed to celebrity Q&As, red carpet video interviews, and the annual “Reasons to Love Being Latina” feature. Verky is U.S.-born and of Ecuadorean and Puerto Rican descent who speaks and writes fluent Spanish. Prior to Latina, Verky worked as a photo shoot coordinator at Universal/Island Def Jam Music Group. Verky holds a B.A. in Communications Arts from Montclair State University and currently resides in Manhattan with her husband and daughter.

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