Let’s start with what is a Pueblo Magico?
A Pueblo Magico is a town with cultural significance in Mexico. The program began in 2001 to help preserve the ways of the people and economically help communities by providing jobs through tourism.
The town could have historical significance, an environmental impact, unique festivals or even just the birthplace of a signature food or drink like tequila. It’s a lengthy process to apply for Pueblo Magico status, but once approved, the town receives funds for infrastructure and job opportunities. This program is internationally recognized as a community role model to help smaller towns preserve their culture and benefit the economy.
With over 100 Pueblos Magicos in Mexico, visiting them all may take some time! Queretaro is surrounded by numerous pueblo magico towns and UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Within 90 minutes (or closer) are 6 Pueblo Magico towns (though 2 are now UNESCO World Heritage Sites) that could easily be visited on a day trip but as you may discover, deserve an overnight stay.
Tequisquipan is where we really fell in love with the state of Queretaro. This charming small town in the middle of wine and cheese country is the perfect place for a weekend getaway to disconnect and enjoy the simple pleasures of life. There seems to be at least one wine festival a month, so grab a glass and enjoy!
Home of the third largest monolith in the world, this little town is all about enjoying nature. Most people hike to the midpoint of Peña de Bernal, but if you are up for a challenge continue to the halway point for a view over the valley. After spending the morning hiking, celebrate with some ice cream or cajeta, a caramel made from goat’s milk made in Bernal. For more info on Bernal, check out our Travel Guide to Hiking Peña de Bernal.
3. Mineral de Pozos
If you want a true Mexican town that hasn’t been spoiled by tourism yet, Mineral de Pozos is the perfect place. Mineral de Pozos profited from mining silver, gold and other precious minerals, but was abandoned twice, once after the revolution and again in 1920s when they accidentally drilled into an underwater sea that flooded the mines. Today it’s an easy town to walk around with many historic ruins, cobbled streets and colonial structures. The town comes alive on Sundays and many of their festivals celebrate their indigenous roots. Check out our post Mineral de Pozos: Ghost Town Revival Among Lavendar Farms.
4. Dolores Hidalgo
Dolores Hidalgo is a beautiful historic town where Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla uttered the cry for Mexican Independence against the Spanish in the 18th century beginning the War of Independence. Located in the heart of the state of Guanajuato’s wine region, it’s also famous for its artisan ice cream and Talavera ceramics. Half of the population makes their living producing ceramics and colorful tiles. Here are the Top 6 Reasons to Visit Dolores Hidalgo.
5. Almealco de Bonfil
This little town is more of a drive, but still worth visiting. Almealco is 1.5 hours from Queretaro surrounded by corn fields and grazing sheep. It’s one of the oldest towns in the state of Queretaro having been established in 1538. Once an important timber supplier to the French and Spanish, it’s been through battles and an influenza epidemic that almost wiped out the population. Today it’s known as the municipality that created the Maria dolls, a program to help boost the town’s economy started by Diego Rivera’s daughter, Guadalupe. Twenty minutes away just over the state border with the State of Mexico is Cascadas de la Concepcion, a spectacular waterfall worth a detour. Check out our post on Almealco, a Pueblo Magico of Waterfalls and Maria Dolls.
Bonus: San Miguel de Allende
San Miguel de Allende is no longer a pueblo magico as it has been elevated to a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but it’s still worth mentioning because it’s only an hour from Queretaro. Best known as an artist community and expat haven, San Miguel de Allende has historical significance. An important trade post even before the Spanish arrived, it’s also the birthplace of Ignacio Allende y Unzaga, a Spanish captain who sympathized with the Mexican Independence movement and who the town is named after. San Miguel has a festival almost every weekend, so it’s worth spending a few extra days enjoying the historical sites during the day and festivities at night. Travel & Leisure readers voted San Miguel de Allende the Best City in the World for two years in a row. Check out our post on Artistic Expressions in San Miguel de Allende.
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