We’re addicted to Mexico City and all it has to offer including Mexico City’s museums, the varied Mexico City neighborhoods, the tacos of Mexico City, and so much more. But if you can tear yourself away from the city’s urban charms these day trips from Mexico City take you to a very different world of high peaks (Pico de Orizaba), small towns (Tlaxcala), and odd archaeological sites (Cacaxtla and Xochitecatl).
Pico de Orizaba
Between Mexico City and the coast lies the tallest mountain in Mexico, an 18,490 foot (5,635 meter) volcanic giant called Pico de Orizaba. You can climb Orizaba. Or you can just admire it from the small town of Coscomatepec which is famous for bread baking and saddlery. We saw one saddle shop and found only mediocre bread, but maybe we were too busy admiring Pico de Orizaba from the roof of the Hotel San Antonio where 210 pesos (about US$18) got us a super clean room right off the square with parking for our truck.
Tlaxcala seems far too laid back, traffic-free, and spic and span to be a state capital, but it is. Okay, so it’s the capital of Mexico’s smallest state which is also called Tlaxcala, or Estado Libre y Soberano de Tlaxcala if you want to get technical, but the town’s official name almost has more letters than this state has citizens. Tlaxcala has plenty of tranquility and charm with two picture-perfect plazas and freshly painted everything, including the sidewalks thanks to talented artists.
Tlaxcala’s Basilica de la Virgin de Ocotlan is a major pilgrimage site because the Virgin of Guadalupe is believed to have appeared here in 1541. An image of her even dominates the main altar. Even if you don’t believe in miracles, the over-the-top architecture is a miracle of its own sort.
The Cacaxtla archaeological site
We’ve visited more than our share of Mayan archaeological sites (nearly 60 and counting), so it was refreshing to visit what remains of cities built by other cultures. First, we visited the Cacaxtla archaeological site. Built by the Olmec-Zicalanca people, the site’s highlights are its large collection of vibrant and strikingly-intact murals with bright colors and imagery.
Xochitecatl archaeological site
At the Xochitecatl archaeological site, we were surprised by the unusual round shapes of the structures.
Here’s more about travel in Mexico
Here’s more about Archaeological Sites