Posts in Mexico Travels
Our family vacation to Mexico

I’m finally recovered from our epic family vacation. Our sunburns have healed, and we’ve caught up on laundry and sleep! We saved up for two years to travel to Mexico and I’m so thankful we could give our kids some great memories. 

 I’ve been doing this trip for as long as I can remember. We go to Guadalajara to spend time with family and then we drive to the coast to spend time on the beach relaxing. Sometimes we even invite our cousins to come with us. I definitely want my kids to know their culture and to know their cousins in Mexico like I did. I want this to be a tradition they look forward to every year or so. So we make it a priority to save and travel. 

This year the trip fell on Elias’ birthday. So I’m like let’s do a party! It will be a great way to hang out with everyone at once, have fun, and celebrate Elias. And man, it was an amazing party!  A company came in and did two crafts for the kids. A piggy bank and slime. I mean you can’t go wrong with slime at a kids party. Amiright?

There was also a bounce house which is the one thing Elias wanted, and he pretty much stayed in there bouncing away for the whole 5 hours.

The food was amazing. Pozole, enchiladas, sopes, salsas, botanas, and it all ended with a churro bar. Yes two people came, made churros and gave us the option of our filling. So. Good. I’ve been thinking about those churros ever since the party. They were THAT good!

Elias had such a great time. 

See didn’t it look it epic??? I’m so thankful to family who helped plan, and those who showed up.

Puerto Vallarta 

The next day we woke up early and made the 4 hour drive through the mountains to Puerto Vallarta. My father likes to wake up at 6am to beat the traffic. Most of the way through the mountains is one way both lanes, so if traffic slows down…everything slows down…or stops. So we wake up early to get a head start. We stop for lunch in a little town called Las Varas, and make it to Puerto Vallarta by mid-day, and I’m laying out in the sun by 2pm.

The next few days are pretty much the same. Wake up, have breakfast, and head to the pool by 10am. We have no agenda…just to hang out. Elena spent as much time as she could in the pool. I spent as much time as I could in the sun.

In the evening, we shower, and get ready for dinner. We head into town for a nice walk on the malecon. The malecon is a long strip with a lot of restaurants and shops, and lots of vendors selling street food. It’s right off the ocean, so we can see the sun set and hear the waves crashing as we walk along. It’s a really nice way to end the evenings. It was 5 days of having nothing important to do, but enjoy time together as a family.

Hotel Meliá

Now there are two hotels that I rave about. Hotel Melia is one of them. This is the second time we’ve come to stay at hotel Melia It’s an all inclusive resort that is really kid-friendly. They have different daily activities for kids all day! We can either drop them off all day, or drop them off for each activity they want to do; which is what we did. They picked one or two activities they wanted to participate in, and we would drop them off for that hour. They made kites, pinatas, cookies, swords, and played games. They even had a birthday party with cake on Elias’ actual birthday!

The pool area also has games for the adults to participate in. I did water aerobics a few times, and played bingo mid-day. It’s really fun to listen to others participate or participate yourself. There’s quite a few activities for the whole family. I don’t think I would ever want to stay at another hotel with kids; it’s just so great.

Dolphins

One activity that we splurged on was a dolphin and whale watching boat ride. Elias really wanted to ride a boat, and Elena really wanted to hang out with some dolphins. Win-win. We booked the wild dolphins and snorkeling eco tour for the four of us. It started with a marine biology lesson about the sea life we would encounter. Then we took the boat out to the ocean and started looking for dolphins. When we caught up to them, we could jump in to swim near them if they were in a curious/playful mood. At the last minute, Elias decided he didn’t want to jump into the water, so I stayed on the boat with him.

After a few attempts to hang out with the dolphins, we realized they weren’t super playful that day, so we went to a little secret beach to look at shells, and other ocean life before heading back to the docks.

Both the kids LOVED it, and say it was their favorite thing to do. I’m not a boat/ocean person, but seeing their joy and learning about the ocean was worth it for me.

Guadalajara

Our time of relaxation was over, and so we headed back to Guadalajara. With only some minor traffic in the mountains, we stopped at Tequila around lunch time. We didn’t stay very long to explore…or to have tequila, because the kids were exhausted. We made it back to the hotel and just chilled out. That evening I visited my abuela who had recently injured her hip. I’m glad I was able to see her, even if she won’t remember I came to visit.

Our last day we went to el centro to buy some souvenirs, and empanadas. Success on both fronts. Walking around on a Sunday in Mexico reminds me of Chicago summers. There’s a relaxing hustle & bustle vibe, as everyone is enjoying time with friends or family. Especially during Holy Week (Semana Santa) people will travel to Guadalajara from other cities. I love it.

On the way back, we flew Aeromexico. It’s a great airline, and it was a pretty smooth ride, even with two exhausted kids.

My goal is to make family vacations to Mexico a yearly thing. I’m already starting to think about next year’s trip, and perhaps making it a 3 week trip where we can explore more cities together, and ending our time on the beach. I mean…cuz this tan isn’t going to stay come next winter, and I’ll need to get a touch up in the sun next year too. ;-)


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A recap from my trip to Mexico

Scheduling a trip to Mexico on the only free weekend I had in months was a crazy idea. Because I was only going to be there for a few days I tried to do all the things, while not really being tied to a specific schedule. Yeah…it made sense in my head…but as I write it out, it sounds a little silly.

I had the pleasure of going with my father this time. We both had never been to Puebla Mexico, and it had been such a long time since he’d been to Mexico City, so it was going to be an adventure for both of us. I was so excited because it had been a decade since we’ve traveled together. We used to go to Mexico every year when I was in college, but since graduating it had been a while since we went on a trip together. This was the highlight of my trip. We really are good friends, and share the same sarcasm that makes us laugh.

I did learn a few things from this trip that in the long run will be valuable for planning in the future especially if my purpose is to take pictures. I’ll share them with you.

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  1. If it’s a short trip, focus on one place at a time.

Since we only had 4 days, I had decided to do 2 days in Puebla, and 2 days in Mexico City. Well I realized, this is not enough time to really get to know a city. The first day I was just taking it all in. The second day, I planned a food tour with Rocio (if you don’t follow her, you’re missing out). She is a very knowledgeable food guide that also shares the rich history of Puebla. I was hanging on her every word all day, and was pretty stuffed by the end of the tour. I learned so much on this tour, but it also didn’t give me enough extra time to take pictures and spend time in each area.

The same happened in Mexico City. The first day we explored around our hotel and walked for miles and miles around the center. The second day we made a trip to the pyramids and some parks. We hoped to end at this beautiful lake during sunset. The only thing I didn’t factor in was travel time and traffic. We spend most of the time in the car and didn’t get to do everything we wanted.

So next time I’ll definitely spend more than 2 days in a city.

2. Stay in or near the center.

In Puebla, we stayed about 20 minutes outside of the main town at Fiesta Americana Grand, a really great hotel. One of my favorites. However, the extra time it took to travel in and out was too much. I felt like I was missing time shooting due to travel.

When I take pictures I like to be up and ready to shoot around sunrise. I take pictures for about an hour, and can go back to the hotel to shower and get ready for the day. This morning shoot time wasn’t easy with a hotel that was a drive out.

While I LOOOOVED this hotel, staying close to the main center is something I’ll make sure happens next time.

3. Research before we go, but plan for a free day.

I definitely did some planning for our time in Puebla. Like I mentioned above, the food tour we did was a great investment and will do it again when I go back. However, I should’ve planned for more time to explore and just wander around the city.

Likewise, I had planned for too much free time to wander in Mexico City. I didn’t prepare enough ahead of time to know what I wanted to do. It wasn’t until I was there that I planned things to do on our second day. But by that time I felt like I was trying to plan too much, and ended up not being where I wanted to be when the sun set.

At the end it’s a fine like between preparing and having time to just enjoy the city.

These 3 things are great things for me to have learned. It will make the next trips even better. The time with my father was priceless. We really did have a lot of fun, and we learned a lot about Puebla, Mexico City, and the surrounding areas. We also learned a lot about our history and culture. I’m overflowing with information and can’t wait to share with you in the coming blogs! And if you’re not following me on insta…I share a lot more info, and a lot more frequently on there.


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San Miguel de Allende Trip | Part 2: Activities

Two weeks ago I shared with you my food experiences from my last trip to San Miguel de Allende Mexico in February. Today I'm giving you a peek into everything we did there, and maybe it will inspire you to have your own adventure...perhaps even in Mexico. 

Airbnb

This was my first time ever staying at an Airbnb, and it was the best experience ever. I've seen my friends post pictures of their cute Airbnb rooms when they travel, and let me tell you, that yes, these places can really look as cute as pictures!

We stayed at a place that was about a 5 minute walk south of the main square. It was a perfect distance because we could start the day with a little walk on our way to get coffee. The hosts were wonderful, and we even got to know one of our neighbors and peek into her room. (third photo). We had a shared living room space, a kitchen, a garden, it was so inviting. I highly recommend it for a trip, and it will keep the cost lower. 

Flower Market

A few blocks from our Airbnb was a pop-up flower market. I heard it was only there for the month of February, and then the space converts back to a little park. Last year this is where I would go running in the morning, so I was pleasantly surprised on my first day there when I saw this flower market set up. It smelled so good, and they had so many plants available varying in size. There was an area dedicated to selling clay pots for the flowers you buy. 

Museums

On the first day we were there, it rained. The whole day. It was a bummer since we had hoped to spend our time in the sunshine, but this was a good day to go to some museums. My favorite one is an art museum near the center that is also an art school. It has beautiful murals, a courtyard, and a few featured artists displaying their work. When it's sunny, I like to sit in the courtyard with a book. 

Shopping

There are so many little boutique shops all around the town. So many. Everyday I went and discovered new shops selling art, ceramics, wooden creations, clothing, jewelry, home goods, pretty much everything. The level of creativity and talent in this town is so great. There's also a pretty large mercado that stretches about 8 blocks with little booths along each side, AND down the middle. At one end there's a food market where you can get fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as meats and spices. At this end there are people cooking food, so you can sit and eat a snack or a meal. Then as you make your way down you can buy pretty much anything else you need with so many options. 

Churches

The Mexican culture has strong roots in the Catholic religion. There are so many beautiful cathedrals and churches in San Miguel and they're all breathtaking inside and out. You're able to walk in and see the inside when there isn't a mass happening. I love to sit for a little bit and take in the grandness of the church building. It brings back so many memories from my childhood. 

Arts District

San Miguel de Allende is a very artistic town as a whole. From all the handmade items that you can buy in the small shops, to the north part of San Miguel where you can see a whole collection of wall murals as you walk the streets. As you turn the street corners in this area, you're greeted with inspiring paintings. It's amazing. There's also an old textile factory that has since been converted to artist studios and galleries, small shops, and restaurants. You could spend a whole day in this area enjoying all the art. 

Parks & Weddings

Los parques, or the parks in Mexico are little areas that are surrounded by trees and might have a gazebo in the middle. Seeing statues are also a common thing. These are really just spaces where families can hang out together enjoying the fresh air and street life. You'll usually see people setting up their little stands to sell things or food carts ready to serve up some treats. The main park in San Miguel is right next to a church so if you're there in the afternoon on a weekend you'll probably get to see a wedding parade. I wrote about the wedding parade a few months ago, being a popular tradition where it's like the whole town is invited to the celebration as the wedding party and guests follow mariachis and a wedding donkey around the square. It's such a fun experience. 

The parks are a great place to hang out any time of day. There's always something interesting happening.

This last trip was a bit rainier and cooler than I expected, but I had a great time. I took great pictures that I'll be revealing in the summer with a new collection. I ate way too much food, and drank an excessive amount of coffee. I know I'll be back to San Miguel, hopefully with my family, but I'd also love to plan a trip where it's kind of a retreat for people who want to come along. I'll keep mulling it over and thinking through logistics, but if you're interested leave a comment or send me an e-mail to let me know. I love this city, and I know anyone else who comes will too. 

San Miguel de Allende Trip | Part 1: Food

I visited San Miguel de Allende, Mexico for the second time last month. The first time was for a photo workshop where I ended up falling in love with the city. This time I brought along a friend to explore with me. Lovely is a wedding florist in Chicago that I've known for the past 4 years. She was so nice to come along with me this time around.

One of the best parts of visiting Mexico is the food. I want to give you a little glimpse of some of my favorite cafes and restaurants in San Miguel de Allende.

Let's start with cafes, because knowing the best coffee spots is the most important part of a trip....at least it is for me. 

Cafes

Cafe Zentano

This cafe take up a little corner point of the street. The cafe is triangle-shaped, with a fountain outside, so it's hard to pass up. This was our regular morning coffee stop. I would get a latte and a pastry to start the day. Their coffee tables were amazing. Coffee beans and dried flowers made the coffee lover and florist happy. This is also where I get my coffee beans to take home. Their roasting is so good.

Café Contento

Whenever I can, I try to have yogurt and granola for lunch. It's just so good in Mexico. I haven't been able to find better yogurt anywhere else. Café Contento definitely has great yogurt, and I know they will never disappoint. They also serve toast with jam and "nata," (the cream from the top of the milk) which is amazing. We came here twice on our trip.

Geek & Coffee

This cafe is next in the arts district, and right next to a huge art gallery called Fabrica Aurora. When we visited the gallery we came to Geek & Coffee for lunch and coffee (I'll talk about the arts district more in another blog post).

They serve really great sandwiches and quiche. Lovely got the veggie quiche and I got a veggie sandwich. After walking around in Fabrica Aurora we came back to post stories on Instagram and drink a latte. They really do make amazing lattes.   

Buen Dia Cafe

The third day we did a lot of walking around. I was taking pictures all morning and wandering around. We met a little north of the square near a mercado at Buen Dia Cafe. This is another cafe I can always count on serving great yogurt and granola. 

At this point I'm sure Lovely was understanding my obsession with yogurt and granola and my need to track it down. Their lattes are also really great and pair well with my late lunch.

Random Coffee stops

There are a few other places we stopped for coffee, because why not? 

There is this little walk up cafe that's so cute right off the main square. There's also a panaderia next to Café Contento where I got a latte and pastry to go. The first morning we were so desperate for our morning coffee that we just walked a few minutes to a cafe near our Airbnb. I forgot to take a picture of the outside, but I got a picture of our drinks, and the inside. Isn't it cute? And if you look closely, you'll see that there's a swing bench for a seat! <3

Restaurants

Hecho en Mexico

We arrived at our Airbnb pretty late our first day. After a whole day of travel all we wanted was a drink, and dinner. Hecho in Mexico was across the street from where we were staying and I remember it being good from my last trip. I ordered a paloma and fish tacos with fries. It was an amazing first meal.

Taco & Tequila Tour

Lovely had scheduled a taco and tequila tour for us the second night. Our plan was to go to 6 different places. 

Our first stop was Jaciento 1930 where we were given their mushroom tacos paired with a grapefruit margarita. I have never had vegetarian tacos as good as the ones here. Our second stop was at the Taco Lab. This is where they test out taco recipes to then sell in California at their restaurant; that is if they do well here. This was paired with guava juice. I don't like guava, but the chicken taco was really good. 

Next we when to Baja Fish Taquito. It was raining, but that didn't stop us from dining on the roof under umbrellas. We got a fish taco and a special beer from Mexico. I drank that beer so fast it was so good. 

We walked to our next stop Salon Oxacaca. Here we actually got a shot of Mezcal. Tequila is thought to cure the flu because it kills bacteria, and when you chase it with either orange or lime you get your vitamin C. At this point I didn't argue and just kept drinking. I even put the special salt on my orange which was really spicy crushed up worms. By now, I was like everything is great! Haha. They served it with a pizza-like taco that we shared. 

Our last stop was at a famous street cart called Andy's Tacos. His name is Andres, but a foodie who was visiting San Miguel stopped for a taco and ended up putting Andres on the map as a place to eat and called it Andy's Tacos. We ate as many tacos as we could here. There was no liquor but his tacos were so SO good. I had several. 

After our taco splurge we walked to the corner bar Cantina El Cucu, for our last paloma. I was too distracted to take a picture of my drink, but trust me, it was good.

I'm so glad we did this tour because it gave us a chance to try different restaurants and get some history of the town. The couple we toured with was also so nice. They were great company, and our tour guide Jean Pasccal was the best.

Jacinto 1930

You might recognize this place from our taco tour. This was our first stop, but we had to come back for those mushroom tacos. They were just so delicious. We also ordered a chip appetizer with two different salsas, pickled cabbage, and guacamole. I ordered a rib tamale along with my tacos. I also drank rosé...two glasses. I regret nothing.

Pueblo Viejo

This was our last dinner in San Miguel. I dined at Pueblo Viejo on my first trip, so I suggested coming here for a meal. By this time, I felt like i had been eating, like, the whole trip. We did queso fundido with chorizo and steak plantain chips for an appetizer. I had a garden salad for my meal. I felt like my stomach needed a break, but I'm glad I snuck the appetizers in there before the salad. Haha.

The food in Mexico is SO good. And San Miguel has over 400 places to eat. It's a very foodie kind of town. I have all the recommendations on where to eat in San Miguel. There are some places that we didn't get to visit this time that I'm saving for my next trip. But these are some of the top places to eat. 

Let me know if you have any questions! I'm always happy to talk food, coffee, or about Mexico in general.  


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