Monterrey

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This article originally appeared in Delta Air Lines’ 2012 Caribbean, Mexico and Latin America Travel Guide. It has been extracted from its original format. To read the full travel guide, visit the digital edition.

The “Sultan of the North” and capital of the state of Nuevo Leon is a principal economic hub for Mexico, propelled by its hi-tech and industrial activity, yet provides plenty of sightseeing and adventure options for visitors, thanks to its 400-year history and prime location at the foot of the Sierra Madre Oriental mountain range.

Its huge main square or Macroplaza in its historic center, is the best place to start exploring. The square is flanked by the Heroes Esplanade and the pink Government Palace on one side, with the Municipal Palace on the other. In the latter, visitors will find a massive mural that explains the founding of the city and a terrific monument by Rufino Tamayo that honors the sun. Along the Macroplaza, assorted monuments and landmarks abound. Several excellent museums—plus its reputation as a major educational center—have pushed Monterrey forward in its cultural offerings. Among these is the Museum of Mexican History, located where the city was founded in 1596, and the Museum of Contemporary Arts, or MARCO. The city provides a comfortable trolley through which one can better reach most of these attractions. Also worth a visit is Barrio Antiguo, full of cafes and art galleries. But for the coolest of stays here, head to the area of San Pedro and the Hotel Habita MTY.

One of the most popular stops here is pretty Paseo Santa Lucia, a canal with pedestrian bridges and 22 fountains which stretches from the Macroplaza to the Parque Fundidora and which offers boat rides as well. Parque Fundidora, meanwhile, does much more than honor Monterrey’s industrial backbone, offering everything from skating rinks to the Steel Museum.

Nature lovers will want to stop by Chipinque Ecological Park, a reserve loved by hikers and bikers, and La Estanzuela Natural Park, home to beautiful waterfalls.

Facts

  • Best time to go: 
    Year-round; it might get chillier during the winter months, especially in Mexico City and Monterrey, but it’s nothing a jacket won’t fix
  • Fun fact:
    Mariachi music and traditional Mexican cuisine now form part of UNESCO’s list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
  • Getting there:
    Delta flies from Atlanta to Monterrey
  • Entry documents:
    Valid passport
  • Currency:
    Mexican peso
  • Must-try local food:
    A few of the hundreds of varieties of thick moles; on the Pacific side, pescado zarandeado (grilled fish in a tangy tomato sauce); in Monterrey, try the cabrito a las brasas, barbecued kid goat
  • Best buys:
    Silver, indigenous original artwork, tequila—some of the best brands are not sold in the U.S.
  • Information please:
    Mexico Tourism Board’s website—visitmexico.com