The 8 Best Places In Mexico For An Unforgettable Vacation

Mexico has been a top international vacation destination for Americans for many years and offers an extensive array of vacation spots. With so many different experiences on offer, from mountainscapes to beachside lounging, Mexico has grown several tourist-friendly cities around the country. If you only have one vacation opportunity in this beautiful country, you will want to know: what is the number one vacation spot in Mexico?

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What’s the best place in Mexico for a vacation?

The title for number one vacation spot in Mexico has to go to Cancun in Quintana Roo, but if you’re looking for something a bit more unique, some other fantastic vacation destinations in Mexico are:

  • Mexico City
  • Tulum, Quintana Roo
  • Acapulco, Guererro
  • San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato
  • Cabo San Lucas. Baja California Sur
  • Zihuatanejo, Guerrero
  • Cozumel, Quintana Roo

Let’s face it, the world’s travel industry has been nothing short of erratic over the past several years. Borders have opened and closed, and entry requirements have changed, forever changing how we view international travel. 

This year, as in the past, many tourists flock to Mexico. We have broken our list into the top destinations, why each spot makes a spectacular vacation spot, and where to stay when you get there. 

To make it easy to choose the right vacation spot for your next travel destination to the land of sun and tacos, we have done the research for you. We have surveyed recent travel reports, checked in with people who have recently been to the places on our list, and also researched reviews to give you the best of the best vacation spots in Mexico. 

What Is The Number One Vacation Spot in Mexico

Mexico has long held an alluring reputation for casual international travel for Americans. According to an American Express Global Travel Report for 2022, 70% of parents said they will take their family on their first international trip this summer. 

Mexico is a great choice for a vacation spot in that it offers everything from an all-inclusive, don’t think too much option to a historical and cultural journey through the city to an adventure-filled thrillist experience. There is truly something for everybody. 

1. Cancun 

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  • Cancun has always ranked high on the list for domestic and international travel due largely to its location just north of the “Mayan Riviera”. Second to only Mexico City, Cancun sees almost 9 million visitors a year.

Cancun is a large city with a booming tourism sector dedicated to worshiping its powdery white sands, infinitely blue waters, and tropical nightlife to match. However, it is best known for its all-inclusive resorts that allow you to have a completely fulfilling vacation without leaving the property.

Why It’s A Top Vacation Destination

  • Family-Friendly Resorts
  • Beautiful Beaches
  • Plenty of water sports
  • Offshore cruising
  • Nightlife

What To See 

The best of Cancun is not just on the tourist strip. Venture downtown to Avenida Tulum 

To get a real taste of the city, including; local art galleries, food trucks, and local crafts. 

Where to Stay

With 90% of Cancun’s tourist experiences happening in one zone, it will suit your vacation needs best to stay in one of the all-inclusive resorts in this area. This makes for a convenient experience where not much travel is needed so that you can maximize your vacation days in the sun. 

One of the best all-inclusive resorts in Cancun is the Moon Palace Cancun. This all-inclusive resort is a perfect combination of luxury and fun, with spacious rooms featuring indoor splash tubs and many great options for activities on the property. If the beach gets too relaxing Moon Palace offers waterslides, a Gameroom, and even a plate to “ice skate”. 

2. Mexico City 

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Mexico City attracts over 12 million tourists a year, making it the number one travel destination in all of Mexico. In addition, it has long maintained a reputation rich in art, culture, and cuisine, making it a dynamic vacation spot in Mexico. 

Mexico City is not only the heart of the country; it is an extremely important cultural and financial hub of the world. Built on the Aztec Ruins of Tenochtitlan, it is also one of the oldest and largest cities in the Americas. 

This capital city boasts a wide swath of experiences, including boat rides along its ancient canals, Lucha Libre wrestling matches, and a world-class assortment of museums,  historical tours, and churches. 

Why It’s A Top Vacation Destination

  • Tons of cultural experiences
  • World-class gastronomic scene
  • Canals to boat through
  • Incredible markets

What To See

There are over 180 museums in Mexico City, second only to London in number. One may say you have not truly seen Mexico CIty until you have been to one of them, and Museo Frida Kahlo is considered one of the best. The blue house is one of the residences that the great artist and activist Frida Kahlo lived in the longest in her life. Revered for being a feminist before her time, she is one of Mexico’s greatest treasures, and the museum is a wonderful homage to her. 

Where to Stay

Mexico City creates an impossible decision for accommodation only because there are too many great choices to choose from. One of such great choices is Ignacia Guesthouse which blends local history with Mexican artisan tradition. It is a perfect stay for architectural buffs with its turn-of-the-century design set in a leafy garden.  Located in the hipster neighborhood of the Roma District, it is also close to local eateries and markets and is just west of the historical center of Mexico City. 

3. Tulum, Quintana Roo

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Tulum is essentially the hipper smaller sibling to Cancun- it has all the powder-soft beaches without the tourist kitsch. Over the past decade, it has grown from a secret gem on the backpacker trail to a luxury, boutique wellness-themed, modern beach town. 

Small in size but big in instagram-able opportunities, Tulum is good looking and she knows it. Visitors primarily stay on the beachfront, where a sandy road runs behind luxury bamboo suites and five-star restaurants. 

The jungle behind the beach hides secluded cenote swimming holes, Mayan ruins, and the more than occasional gong bath at the many wellness retreats hidden in the palms. 

Why It’s A Top Vacation Destination

  • Beaches, beaches, beaches
  • Trendy eateries
  • Luxury wellness experiences
  • Cenotes
  • Mayan Ruins

What To See

If we had just one day in Tulum, we would eat at one of the Farm To Table breakfast cafes and head to one of the cenotes, a natural wonder found in a few parts of the world. A cenote is essentially a natural sinkhole fed from the underground freshwater river systems. 

There are an astonishing over 6,000 cenotes on the Yucatan peninsula, with many of the best accessible ones located in Tulum. Grab a snorkel and check out the 61km long caves of Cenotes Dos Ojos for one of the best cenote experiences in the area. 

Where to Stay

Tulum has no shortage of great boutique accommodations in a seemingly endless competition to build the most natural, chic, luxurious stay on the beach. The Papaya Playa Project offers intimate cabanas and out of this earth views while being sustainably operated to boot. 

4. Acapulco, Guererro

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Acapulco has long been known as the “Riviera of Mexico” having been a top vacation destination for many decades. It was the first tourist destination in Mexico to gain international fame as a perfect spot for a beach getaway as far back as the 1940s. 

Acapulco has beaches in spades with literally dozens to choose from, each with a distinct personality, from yellow sands and full of food vendors to small and secluded. 

Acapulco is also a great launching point for outdoors adventuring with many half-day excursion hikes with views of the beautiful Acapulco Bay and mountains. 

Why It’s A Top Vacation Destination

  • Deep sea fishing
  • A beach for everybody
  • Nightlife
  • Proximity to mountains for hiking

What To See

One of the best ways to get a feel for authentic Acapulco life is to visit the el Zocalo, the city’s main square. Here you’ll hear the local sounds of mariachi, be able to taste the best ceviche and see the historical buildings that surround the square. It is a great place for people watching and to see local performers entertaining all week long. 

Where to Stay

The Quinta Real gives its all with tremendous clifftop views, luxurious suites, and authentic Mexican Dining. It is well placed in the Diamante District just above Diamante Beach. It is also close to La Quebrada, a famous cliff diving site where brave people launch themselves from 80 feet into the ocean. 

5. San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato

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San Miguel de Allende tops many best-of lists in Mexico, if not the world. Amongst them are the best cultural city, best foodie destination, most beautiful city, and certainly, one of the vacation destinations in Mexico. 

San Miguel de Allende is best known for its colorful colonial architecture and well-preserved historical sites. Its cobblestone streets, enchanting water features built into walls, and two-story high arched doorways give it a distinct ambiance. 

Besides being arguably one of the most beautiful cities in Mexico, it also hosts a vibrant wine scene, an abundance of museums and art galleries, and churches that are widely thought to be some of the most extraordinary. 

Why It’s A Top Vacation Destination

  • Rich in history
  • Great walking city
  • Beautiful churches
  • Museums

What To See

Parroquia de San Miguel Arcangel is the beaming gem of a church at this city’s historical center. This baby pink parish church has an intriguing history whose builders came up with its stunning design sketching with sticks in the sand. 

El Charco del Ingenio Botanical Garden is also worth a visit when in San Miguel de Allende. This 170-acre botanical reserve is an ode to the local cacti, succulents, and wildlife native to the area. This ecological reserve is also a great place to picnic with stunning views of San Miguel de Allende’s city center below. 

Where to Stay

The Casa 1810 Hotel Boutique is just steps away from the historic center of San Miguel de Allende. The suites are located in a centuries-old “Casona” which is decorated with the Baroque architecture and neo-gothic art of the time period. A much sought after rooftop view can be found on their rooftop bar and restaurant, which gives 360-degree panoramic vista of the city and surrounding mountains. 

6. Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur

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Cabo San Lucas, now known more commonly as just “Cabo” has always been a top travel destination for international travelers and a particularly easy one for Americans with a short flight time from LAX airport. However, it has seen a 13% surge in tourism growth in the past year alone with many international travelers eager to get back to the beaches. 

Cabo San Lucas is probably best known for its dramatic beaches featuring wide swaths of white sand and rocky outcrops at what feels like the world’s end of the Baja peninsula. Its location brings both breezes and the migrating whales making it a much sought after getaway. 

The beaches here are top-notch, with 18 of them being rated as “Blue Flag” beaches.  This  means they comply with a high set of sustainability measures keeping them clean, safe, and in pristine condition. 

Why It’s A Top Vacation Destination

  • Surfing 
  • Beaches
  • Shopping
  • Luxury accommodations

What To See

The Arch of Cabo San Lucas (El Arco) is arguably one of Cabo San Lucas’ most famous features. This distinctive rock structure means “Land’s End” and extends almost three stories high. It is a popular spot for sea lions and tourists alike. 

Where to Stay

While you will find a massive array of luxury stays in Cabo San Lucas, to really get the feel of this breezy paradise. Not only is it vibrantly appointed with hanging hammocks and local touches, but the service is also intimate and friendly. It also has a great location just three blocks from the city center. 

7. Zihuatanejo, Guerrero

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Zihuatanejo is hard to say, easy to stay. Pronounced,  “zee-wah-tuh-nay-how”, this beachy paradise is a laid back town on the Pacific Coast full of charm, and short on stress. “Zihua” as it is locally known, has four beaches, warm waters, and plenty of watersports activities. 

Not long ago Zihuatanejo was a fishing village, but adjacent tourist development from Ixtapa brought a visitor boom almost overnight in the 1970s. This village’s cobblestone streets help to retain the small village charm, although they are now lined with fine dining, local artist galleries, and boutique shopping. 

Why It’s A Top Vacation Destination

  • Historic charm
  • Catamaran tours
  • Beaches
  • Less crowded

What To See

There is a romantic feeling waterfront stroll that lets you relive what this once fishing village was once about. To dive deeper into that spirit, you can check out Paseo del Pescador where the fisherman still sells their daily catch. 

Where to Stay

The Lonely Planet has proclaimed the Thompson Zihuatanejo the best place to stay in Zihua. There are actually very few beachfront hotels here and this is one of them, which is located on Playa La Ropa. The resort boasts stylish suites and multiple restaurants, and for extra measure, a sea turtle hatchling release happens directly in front of this property during the hatching season. 

8. Cozumel, Quintana Roo

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Cozumel is not your typical Mexico beach getaway vacation. It has the predictable perfectly soft white sand beaches, paradisiacal luxury accommodations, and mouth-watering ceviche, but it also weaves in its “only in Cozumel” twist. 

This largely undeveloped island on the Caribbean side of Mexico, just off the coast of Cancun, is really a rarity in that it has yet been developed into oblivion. Even after seeing almost five million visitors annually, the island has retained much of the tropical rawness and laid-back vibe you would expect of a Caribbean Island. 

It boasts both 30 miles of relatively untouched expanses of shoreline and jungle while still managing to oblige visitors with high-class accommodations, fine dining, and world-class beach lounging. A 45-minute fast ferry from Playa del Carmen is worth the effort to experience this unparalleled vacation spot in Mexico. 

Why It’s A Top Vacation Destination

  • Amazing snorkeling and diving 
  • Uncrowded beaches
  • Natural beauty

What To See

Cozumel is home to the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the second-largest coral system in the world. A trip to Cozumel isn’t really complete unless you’ve stuck your face beneath the surface to witness its 65 species of stony coral or 300 species of reef fish that call it home. 

For a guided tour with a little help from a naturalist, check in with This Is Cozumel, an outfit that arranges guided snorkeling, boat, and helmet diving excursions to the reef.  

Where to Stay

Hotel B is the place to be in Cozumel if you are looking for a modern, trendy, and perfectly located spot to vacation. If not for its infinity pool that runs right up to the shallows on the sea, then for its vibrant pink and turquoise accommodations, that will surely get you in the island mood. This property also has a private floating bar offshore as well as a pontoon hang out in the ocean fully equipped with loungers. If you are the active type, Hotel B can certainly satisfy your urges with paddleboarding, sailing, and even sunrise yoga.