Last Updated on May 12, 2023

Mexico is typically boiled down to the famous resort spots such as Playa Del Carmen, Cozumel, and Cancun, but it is so much more than that. This nation is often overlooked and given a negative reputation by the media because of relations with its neighbors to the north. 

I’m here to tell you that Mexico isn’t this country filled with drugs and crime. It’s a beautiful place with a mix of indigenous roots and a colonial past. I was lucky enough to experience this on the local level rather than through the tourist traps and resorts. In this article, I will highlight the wonders of two states in particular, Guerrero and Morelos.

Guerrero

Taxco

This town is most famous for its silver production and its intact Spanish colonial buildings. If you are on a time crunch like I was, don’t worry, this town is small, and most points of interest are located in the el centro (the center).

There are a ton of restaurants, and there are shops if you want custom-made jewelry, ceramics, or traditional Mexican crafts. 

Plaza Borda

This plaza is part of Taxco’s city center; the main view is of the town church. It’s a very busy area where locals will try to sell you souvenirs while cars speed by.

It’s crowded, but that doesn’t take away from the overall beauty of the European-style, cream-colored buildings and mountain backdrop.

Parque Nacional Grutas de Cacahuamilpa

Mexico is known for its picturesque beaches and natural wonders. This park is located in the same area as Taxco. You can also find other famous beach cities such as Alcapulco here. 

The word grutas translates to “caves” in English. This cave park happens to be one of the largest cave systems in the entire world. It’s a breathtaking place with such stunning views that you can’t believe nature could even create something this magical.

A guide will take you into the cave. The tours are offered in both English and Spanish. 

You have the option to do river tours inside the cave for an extra fee. It’s a fantastic place to visit if you have kids in tow. Outside of the cave, you can also go ziplining for less than $10. It’s definitely worth the experience. 

There are also some souvenirs for purchase near the entrance of the cave in addition to delectable street food to sample.

Hours of operation: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Monday to Sunday

Entrance fee: about $20 

Morelos

Cuernavaca is the lush capital of the state of Morelos. It is nicknamed “the City of the Eternal Spring” because of its year-round mild climate. On your visit, you can expect blue, sunny skies and relatively mild temperatures at any time of the year.

It’s a small city, but has so much to offer from historical points of interest, shopping, and amazing family-owned restaurants.

Cuauhnáhuac Regional Museum, Palacio de Cortés

This was formerly the home of 16th-century Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortez; it has now been turned into a museum. It’s located in el centro, conveniently near the open markets and dozens of restaurants.

While the museum is small there are interesting indigenous and colonial artifacts on display. The architecture of the museum is also quite stunning.

Hours of operation: 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. from Tuesday to Sunday, closed on Mondays

Entrance fee: $10 from Tuesday to Saturday, free Sundays

Museo Jardin Borda

This is a large garden that has been around since the 18th century. While it was just a garden for a long time, it is now an event and art exhibition venue. 

This museum resembles the architecture of a traditional villa featuring brightly colored walls, arches, open-floor plans, and gorgeous gardens with a variety of vegetation. Take an evening stroll through the romantic gardens and along the pond in the center of the museum.

Hours of operation: 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. from Tuesday to Saturday, 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, closed Mondays

Entrance fee: $30, discounts available to students and the elderly.

Zócalo de Cuernavaca

The city center of Cuernavaca is made up of many restaurants, bars, and other points of interest for travelers and locals alike. This area of the city is also located in front of the palace of Hernan Cortez. So, after your museum tour, go check out the local cuisine and people watch.

There are places to sit with friends and family as you devour a variety of street food from the stalls. You can also enjoy live music by the traditional mariachi bands that perform in the gazebo. 

Parroquia de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe (El Sagrario)

Mexico is a predominantly Catholic country and there are many churches here. In Cuernavaca, the churches are truly one of a kind with unique architecture that seems to take visitors back in time. 

This is a beautiful church surrounded by a park where you can take a quiet, calm stroll. Masses were going on during my visit, but many people visit for the architecture. 

Archaeological Zone Tepozteco

This was my favorite place that I had the chance to visit in the state of Morelos. It is conveniently located only 30 minutes from Cuernavaca. If you like to include at least one day of hiking on a trip itinerary, this place is for you. 

When you arrive, you are bombarded with the smells of traditional Mexican cuisine. There are dozens of stalls selling street food, in addition to clothes and other trinkets. 

Keep walking along the path and you will find this majestic mountain that towers above the landscape. It’s a steep climb, I will admit. The first part has metal staircases to help you ascend to the top. Once you get to the actual mountain part you will climb a series of steps carved out by rocks. 

I went the day after a bad rainstorm, so this was very difficult to climb. Almost everyone was slipping and falling. However, once you get to the top, the difficult climb is worth it. Enjoy a panoramic view of the city that stretches for miles and check out the Aztecs ruins. They are the main attraction of this hike after all.

Las Estacas Natural Reserve and Spa

If you’re looking for a unique hotel stay, I recommend Las Estacas Natural Reserve and Spa. I visited the hotel because it’s set in a nature park. There are bungalow-style accommodations available to tourists for around $200 per night. 

There are also many restaurants to choose from at the resort. You can get a quick snack between swimming and tanning or have a proper sit-down meal in the evening. 

The nature park is essentially a waterpark with tropical rainforest and lush greenery surrounding it. There are multiple pools to swim in along with a lazy river. This is for sure a perfect spot to bring the family to beat the heat during the summer.

La Gringa

This is an absolute must-try place on any itinerary to Cuernavaca. It’s an open-air restaurant that offers both dine-in and takeout. These are the best tacos that I have ever had in my life.

For around $5 you get your choice of beef, chicken, shrimp, or pork in addition to toppings such as cilantro, lime, avocado, and chopped onions. 

Armando’s Pizzeria and Restaurante

Armando’s is another restaurant to try in the city of Cuernavaca. Its rooftop location offers great views along with authentic Italian food prepared by a Canadian expat.

You get your choice of antipasti, pasta, seafood, meats, and classic Italian desserts. As an Italian, I can attest to this place is as close to home-style cooking as you can get. 

The prices were rather expensive for Mexico, mirroring U.S. prices. Still, I think it’s worth it if you want to take a break from the heavy Mexican food for one meal during your trip. 

Traveling is something that opens your eyes to the world and puts all your preconceived notions and prejudices aside. Mexico sometimes has a bad reputation, but you have to experience it for yourself to realize the culture and people are warm and genuine. I was welcomed with nothing but amazing hospitality and open arms. 

Author

  • Michaela Cricchio

    Michaela, originally from Washington, D.C., is a freelance writer, lifestyle blogger, and English teacher. She has been featured in the International TEFL Academy, Shut Up and Go, and CNBC Millennial's Making It. She has always wanted to be a world traveler and started her journey as an English teacher in South Korea.