It’s easy to take a trip to Cancun or Tulum and tune into a playlist of sun, surf, tacos and tequila on loop. Who could blame you? With a 5,800 mile coastline spanning the Pacific and the Caribbean, plus a gorgeous slice of the Sea of Cortez, Mexico offers irresistibly diverse beach destinations.
While a beach vacation at a world-class resort is always a good idea, we suggest you extend your stay for some thrills and surprises away from the shoreline. Here are three curated experiences to start you off on a deep dive into the incredible history, culture and traditions of Mexico.
Mission Mole: Feast on the Flavors and History of Oaxaca
From burritos to birria, Mexican flavors are fun, spicy and addictive. But their roots run deep. Celebrated by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, Mexican food is a holistic journey of communal participation in the entire traditional food chain, from planting and harvesting to cooking and eating.
Our top choice for a standalone foodie vacation is Mexico’s extraordinary culinary capital, Oaxaca City. Known as ‘The Land of the Seven Moles’, the culinary history of Oaxaca has strong indigenous roots, led by the Zapotec and Mixtec tribes. Book a five hour personalized tour along with a home-cooking class, led by a Zapotec woman to get an authentic feel of Oaxaca’s history, culture and gastronomy.
Visit lively local markets to pick out fresh chili peppers, agave, black beans, Oaxacan cheese, huitlacoche (corn smut, your new favorite ingredient), and even chapulines (grasshoppers) if you’re feeling adventurous. Snack on memela – a thick tortilla topped with pork lard, refried beans, crumbly cheese and choripapa (potatoes and chorizo), while your hostess narrates stories of her traditions and indigenous culture, including the unique Day of the Dead celebrations when the women serve tamales and atoles (warm cornmeal drinks) to guests.
Make aromatic memories in a quaint local Oaxaca kitchen while grinding spices with a stone mortar and pestle, charring chili peppers, folding quesadillas and preparing a mole under her watchful eye. The tour concludes with a group meal on the patio, paired with smoky, fragrant mezcal poured in copitas (small clay cups). Salud!
Walk in the Footsteps of the Maya
If you’re planning a Cancun summer getaway on the Yucatán Peninsula, we suggest you extend that beach fiesta to explore the traditions, culture and history of Mexico. From Chichen Itza and Tulum to Coba and Ek…