What to see, do and buy in Mexico
February 19, 2017 11:40 AM   Subscribe

I'm planning a trip to Mexico and I'm looking for suggestions of things to see and do while there.

I will be visiting San Miguel de Allende in Guanajuato. I know it's considered touristy and I'm not expecting an intensely authentic experience.

I'm interested in museums, landmarks, live music venues and experience-oriented things to do.

I also love unusual snacks and would like to bring back a few candies, crackers, teas, coffees, spices or other things that are not common in the U.S. I'm less interested in trinkets and do-dads that will only collect dust.
posted by bunderful to Travel & Transportation around Mexico (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
San Miguel is beautiful. Check out Mente Cacao for amazing chocolate.
posted by delight at 11:44 AM on February 19, 2017

Take a trip to the actual city of Guanajuato too, it's much less American-touristy (though still Mexican-touristy and somewhat Euro-touristy). If you're interested in history, visit the Alhondiga de Granaditas. There's also a street fair, good food, etc.
posted by expialidocious at 11:58 AM on February 19, 2017

The city of Guanajuato was interesting. The mummies are...odd. But if you're there, you should go visit them. If you're going to San Miguel de Allende, you might like to visit Bernal, too, while you're vaguely in that area. You can hike up to the top of the third largest monolith on the planet.

Where else are you planning to visit? Mexico's pretty big...

We visited Xochimilco in Mexico City and it was super-awesome. Pay for a 2 or 3 hour trip through the canals, it's totally worth it. We stayed in Coyoacán (at Casa Jacinta) and it was very nice---and that was a nice way to visit Mexico City, because you were essentially in a small town, with it's own nice zocalo, and restaurants etc, but then it was an easy Uber to get to the big stuff in the center of Mexico City. And Uber was definitely superior to taxis in Mexico City. Much more pleasant and more reliable. I'm also glad that we visited Teotihuacán, although a lot of it is reconstructed.

My husband visited Morélia (we were living in Querétaro for 4 months on sabbatical) and said they had a nice zocalo and a candy museum.

We had a great vacation in Manzanillo, but that's maybe not what you're looking for.
posted by leahwrenn at 1:27 PM on February 19, 2017 [3 favorites]

In terms of useful souvenirs- there's a brand of dish washing soap called Axion that comes as a solid paste in a tub- you keep it open beside the sink with a sponge resting in the tub. It's awesome- cuts grease really well and smells like lime. Fun item to bring home from Mexico or Central America. It'll last for months, too.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 10:48 PM on February 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

I don't have any SMA-specific advice, but…

Mexico is home to all sorts of culturally specific snacks, so you are in luck there! Some will not travel, such as fresh fruit with Tajín or something similar dusted on top. Or "dorilocos," which are Doritos with toppings, served in the cut-open bag.

But if you see some place with schoolkids outside and "botanas" ("snacks") written in the window, that may be your spot for all sorts of Mexican homemade crispy snacks, like fava beans (habas), puffed and baked potatoes and/or carrots, peanuts, chickpeas, etc. You can get a big bag, mix them or keep them separate, even take them back to the US if customs will let you.

More regionally specific, Guanajuato state's most famous "unusual" (specialty) sweet is cajeta (dulce de leche, but with goat's milk). You can get it in jars as a liquid, or you can find it hardened in lollipops and similar types of items. It's all over the other parts of Guanajuato, so I would imagine it won't be hard to find in SMA.

For another food-related option, the cinnamon (in Spanish, canela) sold in Mexico is true cinnamon, which has a different flavor from the cassia-derived cinnamon typically found in US supermarkets. In addition to baking and other common culinary uses, canela tea is also a folk hot-weather drink that is said to cool you down after drinking it.**

Mexico does have a gajillion kinds of herbs that are made into tisanes, and which are particular to Mexico. The biggest variety will be at a yerbería (herbalist), who will cure/"cure" pretty much anything that ails you by means of making a custom herbal blend for you to take as tea. I personally don't like the taste of most of the teas, but you might.

Coffee is generally of better quality in the US than in Mexico, owing to the discerning power of the almighty dollar.

You might also think of some unusual alcohols, if you are a drinker. In addition to rarer mezcales and tequilas, I know I've bought sotol in León and charanda elsewhere in Guanajuato state. Word to the wise, though: never buy the cheap(est) charanda.

**I find this does work for me, but YMMV.
posted by migrantology at 11:29 PM on February 19, 2017 [4 favorites]

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