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Things to Do in Mexico - page 2

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Xochimilco
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48 Tours and Activities

Perfumed with flowers and plied by trajineras, a sort of gondola cheerfully painted to reflect the canals' lush beauty, the Floating Gardens of Xochimilco were once the agricultural breadbasket of Mexico City. Today, these last lovely remnants of ancient Lake Texcoco are more a destination for young lovers and enchanted tourists in search of a romantic afternoon.

Though most of the Aztecs' massive system of canals have long since been drained, the suburb of Xochimilco ("Place of Flowers") offers a glimpse into the ancient beauty of of Tenochtitlán. The "floating gardens" that once fed the great nation are smaller, but still here; the trajineras may now come equipped with engines, but they are still festively decorated, and many carry troupes of mariachis and offer relaxed "restaurant" service.

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Medano Beach (Playa Médano)
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The water may be wild elsewhere, but at Medano Beach - or Playa el Medano - there’s miles of safe, calm swimming and beach fun for all the family. Los Cabo’s most popular beach is a long, long stretch of beach towels, sun umbrellas, beach volleyball, pleasure boats and beach bars. Resorts and high-rise apartment buildings line the sands, offering beachfront restaurants and bars. Beach vendors stroll the sands selling everything from sombreros to jewelry, and when the sun goes down the beach turns into Los Cabo’s nightlife hub.

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National Museum of Anthropology (Museo Nacional de Antropologia)
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It’s easy to spend an entire day exploring the nearly 20 acres that make up Mexico City’s most-visited museum. Opened in 1964, the National Museum of Anthropology houses the largest collection of traditional Mexican art in the world—including the famous Aztec Stone of the Sun (Although the giant carved heads from the Olmec people, uncovered deep in the jungles of Tabasco and Veracruz, are equally impressive).

Each of the museum’s 23 permanent exhibit halls is dedicated to a different cultural region or indigenous group, making it an ideal place to learn about the country’s rich history and the traditions of its diverse capital city.

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Zona Romantica
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Puerto Vallarta's Romantic Zone (Zona Romantica)—also called the Old Town, South Side, or Old Vallarta—sits away from the hotel zone and just steps from Los Muertos Beach. With artisan shops, streetside taco stands, and lively cantinas, this area of winding cobblestone streets maintains a more traditional, laid-back feel than the rest of the city.
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Chileno Beach (Playa Chileno)
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One of the premier beaches in the Cabo San Lucas area, Chileno Beach offers sun-seekers unrivaled beauty, deep seclusion, and some excellent snorkeling opportunities. Protected by the Chileno Bay, the waters here are calm, warm, and clear, and the reefs that lie just offshore act as home to an abundance of sea-life. It’s no wonder that Chileno beach is one of Cabo’s most celebrated treasures, as a visit to the beach here is close to what you get in the rich Caribbean.

Chileno beach is a popular stop for those looking to do a bit of underwater exploration or to laze on the sunny shores of this secluded escape. Still, there are few accommodations to be found here (bathrooms aside), so if you’re planning on making the trek to Chileno Beach yourself, it’s best to bring your food and snorkel gear yourself, unless you’ve planned to take a tour of the area.

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Chankanaab Adventure Beach Park
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Relaxed Chankanaab Park - or Parque Chankanaab - is a lovely and laid-back "eco archaeological park," just south of the town of Cozumel. There are several attractions on dry land, including faux Mayan ruins, pleasant gardens, dolphin and sea lion shows, and good seafood.

The main attraction, however, is the wildlife rich undersea park, which you can explore with rented snorkel equipment. They also offer regular diving (you must have PADI certification) and the Sea Trek Adventure, like a resort dive with a breathing helmet but no certification necessary. You could also swim in a tank with dolphins, manatees and sea lions for an extra fee.

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Frida Kahlo Museum (Museo Frida Kahlo)
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La Casa Azul, or the Blue House, was the birthplace of iconic artist Frida Kahlo (1907 - 1954), whose beautifully tortured self portraits and passionate, tumultuous life with muralist Diego Rivera have elevated her to the status of legend.

Her home, today one of Mexico City's most popular museums, doesn't have an outstanding collection of her own work, though there are several sketches and less famous pieces to see. Instead, the rooms and gardens - still in much the same state as she left them - offer insight into her life as a wife, lover, artist, and hub of the city's (and Latin America's) socialist intellectual scene during the 1920s and 1930s. The tender details, from her brushes and canvasses, the pre-Columbian art collected by her husband, and even the prosthetic leg she wore in the months before her untimely death, will touch even casual visitors to the Museo Frida Kahlo.

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Arena Mexico
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Came to Mexico City in search of some adventure? Look no further than Arena Mexico. This hard-hitting lucha libre (Mexican Wrestler) playground is known to wage epic battles of good versus evil in full luchador splendor.

Built in 1968 to hold 16,500 spectators, this was once the largest stadium ever built for professional wrestling – proving what a following the sport has in Mexico City, which is a little different from its American counterpart. In Mexico, the lucha libre match is a fight not just of contestants, but of good vs. evil, and the crowd (of all ages) gets behind the event to cheer for their favorite wrestler in whatever his particular plight might be. Beer is served, the rules are announced (though loosely adhered to), and then all bets are off, so to speak. Truly an event unique to Mexico, if you’re the type of traveler who wants to do how the Romans do, you must attend an event at Arena Mexico and see the tight-masked wrestlers do their thing.

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El Cedral
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El Cedral is a small village on the southwestern side of Cozumel and also the site of the oldest Mayan ruins on the island. Spanish explorers first discovered the site in 1518, when it was a center of Mayan life and commerce. It later became the island’s first official city in 1847, andtoday it is home to a small community of quaint houses and farms. Visitors can view the ruins alongside a small church and the village of El Cedral as it stands today.

Most of the Mayan temple was torn down, but a small archway remains. Though it is just a fraction of the structure’s former glory, it is enough to visualize what daily life may have been like at the time of Mayan civilization. In late April, you can catch the annual Festival de El Cedral, celebrating local artists, music and traditions. Year-round there are vendors selling embroidered handicrafts and refreshments.

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More Things to Do in Mexico

Paradise Reef (Paraíso Reef)

Paradise Reef (Paraíso Reef)

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One of the most popular dives in all of Cozumel, Paradise Reef proudly lives up to its name by offering numerous coral heads, teeming schools of colorful fish, and some of the best visibility anywhere in the world. Divers that look closely will spot numerous species of larger sea life such as eels, rays and nurse shark in addition to smaller creatures such as seahorses, boxfish and the delicate pipefish. A great dive for those who are just entering into the world of scuba as well as advanced divers who want to add a little color to their dives, Paradise Reef is one of the best dive spots in Cozumel.

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Mandala Nightclub

Mandala Nightclub

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Cancun is full of places to party, but the young and energetic late-night set knows the exclusive Mandala Night Club is the best place to sip strong drinks, dance to loud beats and mingle with a truly cosmopolitan crowd. Guests love the wide-open dance floor, glittery lights and impressive entryway. Fifty dollars gets partygoers through the door and keeps drinks in their hands, too, with access to an all-night open bar.

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Sea of Cortez (Gulf of California)

Sea of Cortez (Gulf of California)

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Coyoacán

Coyoacán

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Villa Coyoacan is 29 blocks of one of Mexico City’s most charming districts. Also one of the area’s oldest districts, the area is filled with cobblestone streets, counterculture museums, and small park plazas that date back to Spanish colonial times and have an absolutely charming feel. Independently ranked as one of the best urban places to live, Coyoacan is where Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, and Leon Trotsky all chose to reside, and museums dedicated to them now fill their old houses. Tranquil on the weekdays, filled with culture and music come the weekend, Coyoacan is more than simply a nice neighborhood – it’s a hotbed of culture and a must-see if in Mexico City.

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Malecón

Malecón

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Jolly Roger Pirate Ship

Jolly Roger Pirate Ship

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Offering family entertainment that both adults and children can enjoy, the Jolly Roger Pirate Ship sets sail from the Riviera Maya and sails the Caribbean seas while dazzling passengers with swashbuckling pirate shows and hearty food. The ship is a modern replica of the Santa Maria, which Columbus is said to have journeyed on when he discovered the Americas.

The Jolly Roger features four decks and can accommodate up to 240 passengers, with plenty of space for entertainment and dining. Filet mignon, lobster, a vegetarian option, plus a special pirate kids menu are on offer, not to mention the open bar with free domestic drinks. The pirate show is a blend of comedy and adventure, interspersed by dinner, fireworks, and dancing. Expect dramatic sword fighting, exploding cannons, and amazing acrobatics, all designed to entertain, delight, and draw you in to this unique pirate adventure.

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Punta Sur Eco Beach Park (Faro Celerain Ecological Reserve)

Punta Sur Eco Beach Park (Faro Celerain Ecological Reserve)

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Part of the Cozumel Reefs National Park (or Parque Nacional Arrecifes de Cozumel) Faro de Punta Celerain, also known as Punta Sur, Ecological Park offers some of the best diving and snorkeling around Cozumel. If you want to dive, go through one of the island's many dive operators. If you'd just like to snorkel, however, you can rent equipment and guides right here.

In addition to the undersea attractions, Punta Sur has broad, beautiful beaches (the reef is well offshore, so you can splash around safely), great seafood, and shady hammocks. If you're up for a some terrestrial exploration, you could climb the Faro de Punta Celerain (Celerain Point Lighthouse), with great views, or visit the tiny Mayan shrine to Ixcel, the fertility goddess, known as Tumba de Caracol. Punta Sur also has interesting wetlands, a magnet for migratory birds in April and May, and home to lots of crocodiles year-round.

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Palancar Reef

Palancar Reef

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The star attraction of the Cozumel Reefs National Park - or Parque Nacional Arrecifes de Cozumel - not to mention Jacques Cousteau's television show, which quite literally put Cozumel on the map - is Palancar Reef. Actually composed of 4 separate coral reefs, it is home to sea turtles, rays, nurse sharks, barracudas, moray eels, lobsters, crabs, and a keleidescope of colorful fish.

Boats leaving from Playa Palancar take snorkelers out to the shallowest parts of the reef, about 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) from shore. Scuba divers, however, have several world-famous spots to explore. The Palancar Caves are probably the most famous attraction, with huge brain corals and swim-through tunnels. Palancar Horseshoe is another massive formation of huge corals, some partially damaged in 2005 by Hurricane Wilma. Less experienced divers can visit Palancar Gardens, a shallower spot with mellow currents.

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Columbia Reef

Columbia Reef

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Columbia Reef is famous for its complex architecture of caves, arches, and coral spires. Here you can find schools of snapper, barracudas, sea turtles, scorpion fish, and even the rare passing nurse shark. With both shallow coral gardens and deep ocean-floor caverns, the reef is accessible to snorkelers and scuba divers alike.
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Fifth Avenue (Quinta Avenida)

Fifth Avenue (Quinta Avenida)

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It’s hard to miss Fifth Avenue (Quinta Avenida) in Playa del Carmen as it is the city’s main street running through the downtown area. Fifth Avenue stretches parallel to the ocean and serves as both a street for cars and a pedestrian walkway for visitors exploring the city. Fifth Avenue is a popular place to rest your head while in Playa del Carmen as the hotels on the street boast an ideal location that provides easy access to the beach as well as being easy walking distance to shops, clubs and restaurants. The shops that line Fifth Avenue are aplenty and visitors can find local artisan crafts, clothing and other fashion accessories, fine jewelry and cigar shops (you can find Cubans here). It’s also not uncommon to see street performers entertaining the masses on Fifth Avenue.

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Yaxchilán

Yaxchilán

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Anahuacalli Museum (Museo Anahuacalli)

Anahuacalli Museum (Museo Anahuacalli)

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The Diego Rivera Anahuacalli Museum, commonly just referred to as the Anahuacalli Museum, can be tricky to find in Mexico City, but it is worth the extra effort to visit. Diego Rivera was a famous painter who was known for his cubist style and murals. He lived in Mexico City for most of his life and was married to the artist Frida Kahlo. The Anahuacalli Museum is designed by him and houses ancient artifacts he amassed during his lifetime as well as some of his own works of art. The museum was opened in 1964, after Rivera’s death, though the layout and design of Anahuacalli was planned out by the artist prior to his passing. The pyramid-shaped building made of volcanic stone is impressive in and of itself to see, but the real allure of the museum is inside where 2,000 artifacts from his massive Pre-Columbian art collection is housed. A tour through the museum will teach you about the history of Mexico’s ancient civilizations, a subject Rivera was especially passionate about.

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Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe)

Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe)

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Puerto Vallarta’s Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe was built over the course of several decades in the first half of the 20th century.

Built in rustic pink stone, to a neo-baroque design, one of the prettiest details is the crown that tops the church bell tower.

The liveliest time to visit the church is December 1 to 12, when crowds celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe with street processions, festive food and mariachi music.

The festival coincides with the anniversary of the founding of Puerto Vallarta, so locals have even more reason to celebrate.

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