The 9 Best Vacation Spots in Mexico
We often hear of Cabo, Cancún, and, of course, much-buzzed-about town Tulum, but there are also a host of other Mexican cities that deserve a visit. From the architecture of Mexico City to the vineyards of Ensenada, Mexico has so much to offer. We searched high and low for the best Mexican vacation spots on the map and found nine gems that are simply irresistible. We recommend booking a flight (or hopping in the car) and traveling to one of these incredible North American getaways ASAP. Scroll through and prepare to ignite your wanderlust.
Tulum rose to Instagram fame as the ultimate warm-weather hotspot last year, and the pristine Mexican beach town’s popularity is continuing to grow. The Tulum vacation is geared more toward relaxation, yoga practice, and chilling out than partying, and we couldn’t be more in favor of that. Make sure to visit Coqui Coqui Tulum Residence & Spa for a life-changing massage experience with artisanal perfumes and body oils. And you can’t go to Tulum without dining at Hartwood. The menu changes daily based on what the sea and sand have to offer this organic food shelter.
We recommend booking a room at Jashita Tulum, an eco-friendly boutique hotel located right on the white sands of Tulum. With comfortable rooms, gorgeous seaside cabanas, and delicious food, this independently owned gem of a hotel is at the top of our must-visit list. We also love Papaya Playa Project (it's the most creative gathering of individuals on the beach) and Casa Malco (a glamorous art-filled destination that brings culture to the seaside).
Mérida, the capital of the Mexican state of Yucatán, is a city with Mayan roots and a colonial foundation. Make sure to visit the Mayapan Mayan ruins and take a walk on the Paseo de Montejo. On Sundays, the picturesque street is blocked off so tourists can meander through the streets and check out the gorgeous architecture and small vendors. (We hear the leather handbags are especially good finds.)
We recommend staying at Rosas & Xocolate, a boutique hotel restored by architect Salvador Reyes Rios and his partner, Josefina Larrain. The structure melds its historical colonial foundation with contemporary embellishments and vibrant colors to create a relaxing atmosphere of rustic elegance. It is as romantic as they come. Open-sky bathtubs encourage late-night stargazing, and the private terraces are an ideal place to cuddle up for the sunset. Architectural Digest awarded the Rosas & Xocolate with its Iconos del Diseño 2011 for the best architectural renovation in Mexico.
Playa del Carmen is known for its epic beaches. Get your diving certification before you go so you can enjoy the vibrant reefs the area has to offer. We suggest chartering a fishing boat and catching your own dinner. It doesn’t get fresher than that!
When in Playa del Carmen, stay at Hotel La Semilla. Owned by globetrotters Alexis Schärer and Angie Rodriguez, the hotel manages to meld a sense of Mexican heritage with international eclecticism in the most inviting of ways. We love how Schärer and Rodriguez stick to a timeless white palette and laid-back design sensibility. When you’re at Hotel La Semilla, it feels more like you’re staying at an elegant friend’s house than a stuffy hotel.
To quote Condé Nast Traveller, Mexico City is having a “magic moment.” It’s all about the architecture. While visiting the city, you have to stop by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Luis Barragán’s home and studio on the southern edge of Chapultepec Park. The property is now a UNESCO world heritage site, and seeing the architect’s signature angular color-blocked work will inspire your color decisions for years to come.
What better place to stay during a design-inspiration trip than a hotel that bills itself as a hotel-museum? The Camino Real Hotel was designed for the 1968 Summer Olympics by architect Ricardo Legorreta. Vibrant colors embellish the grand scale of this classic modernist property. We love the colossal size of the communal areas and the fact that they’re painted in bright, saturated hues of pink, yellow, blue, and orange. For another statement-making experience, visit Downtown Mexico. Colonial grandeur meets industrial edge in this 17-room hotel. And Condesa DF, the chic hotel designed by India Mahdavi, offers a relaxed version of French neoclassical style with high-tech accoutrements.
Guadalajara, Mexico’s second largest city, is the capital of Jalisco. In the last couple of months, it has been gaining global attention for its food scene. Given that Guadalajara is the birthplace of tequila, we’d expect the nightlife to be quite robust as well. We recommend getting onboard the Tequila Express train—an all-day adventure that takes you along a tequila-tasting trail as you enjoy live music, stunning views, and lots and lots of tequila.
When in Guadalajara, you should stay at Casa Fayette. Dimorestudio designed the 37-room property as a hub of eclectic design, borrowing stylistic elements from Mexico, Italy, and various European cities. The boutique hotel is truly a one-of-a-kind experience. Mexican entrepreneurs Carlos Couturier and Moises Micha are passionate about creating hotel experiences that reflect their surroundings—their boutique hotel company is called Grupo Habita. But that doesn’t mean that each of their 12 hotel endeavors is the same. “Even if we’re successful at something, we don’t repeat it,” Courturier tells Design Hotels. For Casa Fayette, the dynamic duo hired Mexican architect Vanessa Lopez to create a contemporary space with natural wood, marble, and cement textures. Make sure to check out the rooftop pool and spa when you’re here.
Located on the north end of Bandera Bay in the Mexican state of Nayarit, Punta Mita is a Hollywood-adored Mexican destination. Surprisingly, it continues to stay laid-back, despite its A-list fans. When looking for a splurge hotel, head over to Imanta Resort. The Imanta describes itself as embodying a singular concept: “the harmonious interaction of natural beauty in magnificent places with environmentally sensitive architectural design.” We couldn’t agree more.
While in Punta Mita, also make sure to visit Sayulita. The beachside town is a world-renowned surfing favorite. Nestled in between the jungle and the waves, we can see why.
The Viceroy Zihuatanejo is one of the most charming hidden gems on this planet. You can fly into Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo International Airport and spend your entire time indulging in delicious piña coladas as you drift in and out of peaceful dreams on one of the hotel's enormous beach cabanas.
The deceptively large hotel offers a variety of rooms, most of which have an indoor-outdoor living room and private plunge pool. As soon as you arrive on the property, you’ll notice your shoulders drop, and life will start to look even more beautiful than it already is.
The coastal city of Ensenada is located in Baja California, just 78 miles south of San Diego. Locally, it’s referred to as La Cenicienta del Pacifico, which translates to “The Cinderella of the Pacific.” And this seaside destination definitely lives up to its majestic reputation. The region is known as much for its hillside vineyards as it is for its beachfront escape.
If you want to elevate your visit to Ensenada, stay at Endémico. The hilltop property is comprised of gorgeous wooden structures that look like wooden rooms floating on a hillside. While the eco-friendly cabins offer minimal design, they don’t eliminate luxury. Enjoy an outdoor terrace as you watch the stars next to a heated clay kiva.
Puerto Escondido is a tiny coastal town in the Mexican state of Oaxaca. Known as one of the top surfing and fishing destinations in the world, Puerto Escondido exudes a laid-back atmosphere and beachside vibe.
We recommend staying at another Grupo Habita property called Hotel Escondido. This private paradise serves as an oasis for thrill-seekers and beach bums alike. Hotel Escondido is comprised of a cluster of bungalows, each designed by architecture Federico Rivera Rio. Minimal yet comfortable, the bungalows offer a modern take on the traditional Oaxacan beach hut. While we recommend unplugging on your Mexican vacation, we feel like having a camera at the ready is a must for this photogenic property. Pops of tomato red offer incredible contrast to the clay-colored bungalows, and the chrome accents in the indoor-outdoor rooms are too divine not to document.