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Playa, as the locals call it, is located on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, about 40 miles south of Cancun. Discovered by those craving white beaches, gentle surf and outdoor activities, this once-sleepy fishing village has retained its small-town charm. Buildings are low-rise and the atmosphere is still authentic. When the sun goes down, the temperature goes up. Bars get into full swing around midnight, and Avenida Quinta transforms from a family-friendly pedestrian way to a sizzling hotspot.
You'll find crashing waves off Cabo's Pacific coast and sheltered, calm water on the Sea of Cortez. Given those options, Cabo has built a rare reputation for both excellent outdoor sports (big-game fishing, diving and kayaking, among others) and pure beach relaxation. Of course, there's also great nightlife. Cabo’s resorts, hotels and inns cater to everyone from honeymooners to families to Hollywood stars seeking a weekend getaway.
Dozens of nightclubs, hundreds of restaurants and some of Mexico's best beaches await you in Puerto Vallarta. The original colonial town still shines through an endless selection of shopping, art galleries, water and land activities, and hotels. Walk the malecon (boardwalk) and just try to take it all in.
Tulum lies south of Playa del Carmen, with lush, bougainvillea-filled jungle at its back. The town of 10,000 is divided into three separate sections, the Mayan ruins, the hotel zone and the pueblo. Popular with tour buses from Cancun, the ruins, some of the best preserved in the Yucatan, perch on cliffs along the coast. Those staying in Tulum can easily bike around, or explore swimming opportunities off white sand beaches and in subterranean sinkholes. The clear Caribbean waters also offer great diving.
One of the top diving destinations in the world for its bright storybook coral reefs, the island of Cozumel is also home to a variety of natural beaches. Choose a beach with soft white sand for relaxing, or snorkel off a rockier vista. A destination for both adventure and romance, Cozumel has a year-round Caribbean climate, untrammeled jungle and abundant nightlife.
It’s not just for spring-breakers. Cancun, with its golden beaches and perfect climate, is the premiere coastal destination in Mexico. And while there is certainly a 365-day party available for college students, resorts cater well to families and to those seeking solitude. This Yucatan paradise is also the gateway to the ruins of Tulum and Chichén Itzá.
Rising from the ruins of the Aztec capital, Tenochtitlan, Mexico City offers a unique collision of contemporary city life and historic preservation. World-class museums, restaurants and parks rub shoulders with the remains of several cultures. The nightlife, the shopping and the history make it a must-see regardless of your travel style.
High in the cool hills, this colonial gem of cobblestone streets and picturesque churches inspires artists with its colour, character and light. Baroque, neoclassical and neogothic mix in the city's buildings, notably at the pink stone 18th-century church on the Plaza Principal. Founded in 1542, the city is a mix of Hispanic and Mesoamerican influences.
With nine bays and 36 beaches, Huatulco is ideal for anyone who loves the sun. It's not an overdeveloped resort town, but the hotels are comfortable—even luxurious. Ecotourism is gaining in popularity, so take a break from sunbathing and try river rafting or a hike through the jungle.
The charming colonial town of Oaxaca offers rich culture, uplifting architecture and a spring-like climate. Lagoons, caverns and waterfalls are within easy reach of the city, as are pre-Columbian ruins and Tlacolula's Sunday market. Visit the hot springs at Hierve el Agua or embrace nature at the vast tree of El Tule. D'a de los Muertos, Day of the Dead, sees the city at its most colourful. Those with a sweet tooth shouldn't miss Mina Street, known as Chocolate Street because of its chocolate makers.