Mexico offers a wealth of cultural, historical, and natural attractions. Whatever your interests may be, there are activities in Mexico you should add to your bucket list.
#1. Celebrate death in Oaxaca
What’s more appropriate for a bucket list than a celebration of death? Arguably the most famous festival in Mexico is Día de Muertos. Oaxaca is the spiritual home of the Day of the Dead, but the festival is now celebrated in many cities across the nation, including Mexico City since 2016.
The festival is held annually on November 2 nd and is a combination of pre-Hispanic cultural traditions and the Catholic feast of All Souls Day. The activities leading up to the day begin a week early around Oaxaca City. Some activities are sad involving remembrance of the dearly departed. However, the day itself is a celebration of life held inside Oaxaca’s cemetery. There are processions of people wearing skeleton clothes and face-paint accompanied by music and dancing.
#2. Go surfing in “California”
The west coast beaches of Baja California offer azure waters, sandy shores, and fantastic swells that are perfect for surfing. Just over the border from San Diego, Ensenada near Tijuana attracts surfers from around the world.
Experienced surfers should grab their surfboard travel bag and head to San Miguel Beach in Ensenada, known for its reliable swells and consistent breaks, especially during the winter months.
Novice surfers will feel more comfortable with the calmer waves in Playa Hermosa.
While in Ensenada, you might also want to check out La Bufadora, which is the world’s 2nd largest marine geyser. Seawater is forced through a deep underwater canyon before shooting jets of water up to 90 feet high.
#3. Enjoy mountain biking adventures in Oaxaca
Mexico is a wonderful destination for MTB enthusiasts. There are many scenic mountain trails that boast year-round perfect riding conditions. For example, the millennial single track through the high Oaxacan Sierra features mystical vistas and beautiful sunsets.
The mountain bike trails around Oaxaca follow the route of pre-Columbian tracks that once connected ancient towns. The trails typically start high in the Sierra’s forest and wind down into arid valleys. Transport your bike to the trailhead in your bike travel bag and enjoy a scenic descent.
#4. Climb a volcano near Mexico City
Mexico offers many fantastic hiking trails. One of the most interesting is the trail ascending Iztaccihuati, a dormant volcano in Itza-Popo Zoquiapan National Park just southeast of Mexico City. Iztaccihuati means “white woman”, which refers to the shape of the 4 snow-topped peaks that somewhat resemble a woman lying on her back.
At 17,160 feet high, Iztaccihuati is Mexico’s 3 rd highest peak. Hikers start from a trailhead at 12,000 feet. Day hikers cannot make it all the way to the top of the highest peak. However, a more adventurous 3-day hike will take you past the feet, over the knees, across the stomach, and then allow you to ascend her chest.
From the heights reached on a day-hike, you can see Popocatepetl, an active volcano that is Mexico’s 2nd highest peak. You’ll also benefit from breathtaking views across Mexico Valley.
#5. Drink tequila in Tequila
All tequila is manufactured in the geographically specific region of Jalisco where the blue agave it is made from grows. Tequila was first produced in Amatitan but shipped out to the rest of the world from the railway station in the neighboring town of Tequila.
Tequila is found in the heart of Jalisco in the red hills of the Sierra Madre. Within the town are stalls and shops selling a variety of tequila brands in souvenir novelty bottles. If you enjoy tequila, this is your opportunity to wander around from stall to stall sampling different qualities and attempting to remain standing while deciding which brand is best.
#6. Visit Pre-Columbian ruins
Everybody should visit the pre-Hispanic ruins of Mexico at some point in their lives. The sprawling ancient cities are a reminder of how precarious our own civilizations are. An outbreak of smallpox imported by the first Spanish explorers ravaged indigenous populations and caused the collapse of pre-existing urban societies.
The most famous Mayan ruins are found at Chichén Itzá in the Yucatan Peninsula, a 2-hour drive from Cancun. The city’s pyramids still loom over visitors. Between 750 and 1200 CE, Chichén Itzá was the economic and political center of the Maya. The many impressive structures include the Great Ball Court, which is still the biggest ball court in Mesoamerica.
Teotihuacán is the best-known pre-Hispanic archaeological site. At its peak around 500 CE, it was the biggest city in Mesoamerica and at least the 6th -biggest in the world. The city was founded around 200 BCE and fell into decline around 750 CE. At the heart of the ruins is a broad central road called the Avenue of the Dead. Giant monuments flank this avenue, such as the Pyramid of the Sun and the Temple of the Feathered Serpent Quetzalcoatl.
#7. Enjoy a horseback riding adventure
The cattle ranches in the arid northern regions of Mexico are perfect locations for an authentic cowboy experience. Whether you are an experienced horseback rider seeking new challenges or a complete beginner who wants to learn in interesting surroundings, you can find what you need in a Mexican guest ranch.
If you want to experience a genuine working cattle ranch, Rancho Los Baños in the foothills of the Sierra Madres is close to the border with Arizona. This guest ranch not only offers horseback riding adventures but also a wide range of other outdoor activities, such as hiking, fishing, kayaking, canyoneering, and jeep ecotours.
You may prefer to stay in a luxury guest ranch like Rancho Las Cascadas where you can swim in an infinity pool, lounge in a hot tub, or enjoy horseback riding on 30 open range riding trails. Rancho Las Cascadas is located between Mexico City and Teotihuacan and offers guided rides for guests of all experience levels. Enjoy half or full-day rides across open fields and beside peaceful lakes with mountains on the horizon.
This guest post by Neil Kleis contains affiliate links.