Mexico’s third-largest city, Monterrey (with two r’s), is long known as a global business destination, but it is growing in popularity with pleasure travelers as well.
With the Sierra Madre Mountains as its backdrop, Monterrey welcomes visitors with an accessible location, robust hotel stock, international cuisine, trendy bars and clubs, modern and historic art and architecture, and outdoor adventure.
During a recent media trip to Monterrey, Mexico, I toured the city and surrounding area, compliments of various hosts including Turismo Nuevo León.
Here are the 11 reasons I found for you to visit Monterrey right now:
* Easy to get to. Monterrey is located in the northeastern state of Nuevo León, about two hours south of the Texas border. Two modern international airports serve daily direct flights to major U.S. cities. Low-cost airline Volaris recently opened a route to and from O’Hare International Airport in Chicago. Of course, the weather is always warm and sunny.
* Santa Lucia Riverwalk. A 1.5-mile canal winds around restaurants and cafes, plazas, sculptures and fountains. Tourist boats connect the Macroplaza (or Grand Plaza) at one end of the Riverwalk to the Parque Fundidora at the other. Onboard, you’ll see modern high-rises contrasting with the magnificent mountain range.
* Parque Fundidora. A massive urban park with plazas, gardens, restaurants, museums, playgrounds, trails and an arena for special events.
* Horno3. One of the main attractions at Parque Fundidora, Horno3 is a science-and-technology museum built around a refurbished blast furnace—a nod to the region’s industrial past. Take the funicular to the top of the structure for far-reaching views of the city and beyond.
* MARCO, the Museum of Contemporary Art of Monterrey. The permanent collection and special exhibits represent works by Latin American, North American and European artists. The entrance is marked by an 18-foot bronze sculpture of a dove, “La Paloma,” by Juan Soriano. (PAM’S TIP: Photo op here.)
* Cola de Caballo. The namesake attraction at this eco-park is the 82-foot waterfall. It splays outward like the tail of a horse, then splashes onto rounded boulders and turns into a gentle stream. A wide viewing platform at the bottom is perfect for picture-taking. The paved trail to get there is an easy walk through lush forest. For greater thrills, try bungee-jumping or zip-lining.
* Parque Grutas de Garcia. The entrance to the caves is a hefty hike or a five-minute cable-car ride up the 2,460-foot El Fraile Mountain. (Translation: “The friar,” in honor of the priest who discovered them in the 1840s.) Look down for a dramatic views of the valley below. Inside the caves are more than a dozen chambers with stunning natural limestone formations. Tour guides lead the treks along catwalks and more than 750 winding stair-steps.
* Sleep well. Dozens of hotels have gone up in Monterrey in recent years. Two of the most recent luxury brands are the Grand Fiesta Americana and Live Aqua, Monterrey Valle. Both occupy a gleaming glass skyscraper in the bustling Trebol Park Business Park. Two more for your consideration are:
Hotel Habita MTY is a chic boutique hotel in the San Pedro neighborhood.
Las Palomas de Santiago is an intimate hotel with hacienda-style accommodations.
* Vibrant nightlife. Check out the rooftop pool bar at the Hotel Habita MTY. You can watch soccer matches on large-screen televisions and watch the sunsets while lounging in one of two infinity pools. (PAM’S TIP: Order the PBrita, a margarita made with mezcal and rimmed in sweet-and-tangy chili powder.)
* Let’s eat. The restaurant at Hotel Habita MTY fuses local flavors and an upscale dining experience in a sophisticated setting. The colorfully decorated Las Palomas de Santiago serves traditional, beautifully presented Mexican fare. La Vaca Argentina is an international steakhouse with a Latin twist and a vast bar offerings.
Locals hang out at La Feliz, Cantina De Cuidad, an urban cantina serving regional favorites with updated flair. Empanadas and ceviche get rave reviews. While you’re there, be sure to write on the bathroom walls. Chalk is provided.
* Indulge your sweet tooth. Molino Blanco, (White Mill) is a long-time family-owned candy store with a vast assortment of Latin favorites and homemade confections. Try the freshly made pumpkin delights.