What comes to mind when you think of Mexico? Drinking a margarita on a white-sand beach? Lying by the pool at an all-inclusive resort? Those are some of the common images of tourism in Mexico. But, Guanajuato isn’t your typical all-inclusive holiday destination in Mexico. Located in the center of the country, Guanajuato state has an average altitude of 2,015 m (6,611 ft) above sea level. The Mexican Plateau extends through the center of the state. Thanks to its elevation, Guanajuato has a pleasantly moderate mountain climate which makes it perfect for the outdoor adventures. It is the center of adventure travel, a dream destination for art-lovers, and of course, the ideal place for history enthusiasts. From Guanajuato City to San Miguel de Allende and everything in between, here are the reasons why you should explore another side of Mexico.
Guanajuato is the capital city of the state bearing the same name. This beautiful colonial town is a UNESCO Heritage Site. Many visitors consider this city to be the most beautiful in Mexico. If you enjoy learning history, this is the place to be.
Guanajuato was the result of silver mine camp sites after silver veins were discovered between 1540 and 1588. For next 250 years, Guanajuato produced almost a third of all silver in the world.
There are many landmarks in the city, and the best way to see them is by foot. Hardin de la Union is a good place to start. Find amazing landmarks such as Teatro Juarez, Basilica of our Lady of Guanajuato, and Universidad de Guanajuato. El Pipila, a 28-meter statue of an independent hero is located on the top of the San Miguel hill.
Photo: Dave Renfroe
Where do I begin to explain this charming city? Lonely Planet describes,
“Many people say that San Miguel is a bit like a Mexican Disneyland for foreign (mainly American) retirees and visiting chilangos (those from Mexico City).”
It is the perfect explanation. The historic center is filled with well-preserved buildings from the colonial era, which makes the whole city look like it’s popping out of a history book. Its photogenic cobblestone streets are often captured by photographers from around the world.
Walking is the best way to explore and feel the unique atmosphere of this UNESCO World Heritage city. It’s especially a great place for art lovers. Whether you’re an aspiring artist or just prefer to enjoy the creativity of others, this is the place to be. There is no shortage of art galleries, boutique shops, and street stalls with great art pieces. This is also a place where you have to be careful buying souvenirs; otherwise, your bag will be full of charming trinkets and art pieces from San Miguel before you know it.
I fulfilled my secret dream to be a cowboy (or should I say a cowgirl?) for a day. Coyote Canyon, near San Miguel, is where the magic happens! I hopped on Orgullo, my horse named ‘pride’ in Spanish, and set off for a 3-hour journey to the canyon. We crossed a river, galloped in the canyon, and enjoyed the incredible vista of the Coyote Canyon at the end of the cliff. We rappelled down the 120ft cliff to add more adventure to the day.
Coyote Canyon Adventures is a family-owned adventure company that offers horseback riding adventures, archaeological tours, and other adventures in Mexico, especially in Guanajuato. From half-day to full-day horseback rides, camping trips, and journies in a hot air balloon, there’s something for everyone no matter your experience level.
These are the three highlights, but there are more than enough places to visit for every kind of traveler. Find Cañada de la Virgen Pyramid Archaeological Zone for archaeological experiences, Dolores Hidalgo to learn more about Mexico’s independent movement, take an ATV ride in Sierra de Santa Rosa, taste as many tacos as you can, and find charming coffee shops and local galleries by foot.