Zacatecas Panoramic View

My Pueblos Mágicos Road Trip: Stops and Stays

posted in: Plans, Zacatecas Road Trip 2021 | 3

I’m looking forward to my upcoming road trip, and I’m trying to learn a little about the places I’m going, my stops and stays, before I leave.

I’m happy to share some of my research with my friends and family and whoever else reads my blog. If you don’t want all the details, here’s a TL;DR version.

Lagos de Moreno

Qué visitar en Lagos de Moreno, Jalisco? | El Souvenir
Parroquia de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción; the Jardín Principal lies just in front of the church

My first stop, about a three-hour drive from home, is Lagos de Moreno. This Pueblo Mágico is located in Los Altos de Jalisco (the Jaliscan Highlands). At an altitude of 1,942 meters (6,371 feet), it’s more than 400 meters higher than Ajijic.

With a population of about 165,000, Lagos de Moreno is the sixth-largest city in Jalisco. With a lot of colonial-era architecture, it was named a Pueblo Mágico in 2012. Its historic center includes sites such as the Parroquia de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción. This parish church is considered to be one of the finest examples of Baroque architecture in Mexico. The Jardín Principal, the main plaza, lies directly in front of the church. And just outside the center, the Puente Lagos is a photogenic bridge dating from the 18th century. Also of interest is Mesa Redonda (Round Table); it’s about 16 kilometers outside the city.

Puente Lagos (Edgar eaoe, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)
Mesa Redonda (Luis Alvaz, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Because I think there’s a lot to see in and around Lagos de Moreno, I’ve decided to stay there two nights at this Airbnb.

Pinos

The Sun of Zacatecas

Pinos, Zacatecas, has been in the Pueblos Mágicos program since 2012. A former silver mining town, Pinos was an important stop along the 2,600-kilometer Camino Real de Tierra Adentro (Royal Inland Road) that ran from Mexico City to Santa Fe, in what is now the US state of New Mexico. Also called Camino de la Plata (Silver Road), the road was used between the 16th and 19th centuries, and for a time it was the largest land trade route in the world.

I’m planning just a short stop here. It shouldn’t take more than two hours to get here from Lagos de Moreno, so maybe a lunch stop and time to wander around the town. As in most of these towns, the main sites are churches and plazas/gardens.

La Pendencia

May be an image of text that says 'MEZCAL'

About 20 kilometers north of Pinos is a small town, La Pendencia, and there is the oldest mezcal producer in the state of Zacatecas. Mezcal, like tequila, is a spirit distilled from agave. Tequila can be made only from blue agave, whereas mezcal can use any types of agave. Their distillation methods also differ somewhat, giving mezcal a more smoky flavor.

Depending on time, I may make a stop to have a tour of Mezcal Pendencia.

Zacatecas

If I stop in La Pendencia, it should be another 90 minutes to Zacatecas City, where I am staying five nights. The colonial center of Zacatecas is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Founded in 1546 after the discovery of a silver lode, over the next 150 years, the colonial city grew, and many buildings from that era remain. The cathedral dates from the 18th century and is considered a masterpiece of churrigueresco architecture.

Catedral Basílica de la Asunción de María de Zacatecas (Elias Zamora, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

My Airbnb is right in the historic center. With its rich history, I’m looking forward to having plenty of time to explore Zacatecas. The city has too many points of interest to describe here; I’ll write about them as I see them.

Sombrerete

Tomás Esparza, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If time allows, I hope to take a day trip to Sombrerete, about a two-hour drive from Zacatecas. Sombrerete joined the Pueblos Mágicos program in 2012. Another silver mining town, Sombrerete dates from the 16th century. The town’s name means “bonnet” and reflects the resemblance of the nearby hill to the hats worn by Spanish conquistador Juan de Tolosa’s men.

This is one more town whose sites I look forward to enjoying while wandering the streets and visiting the parks and plazas. I hope I will have the time to get there.

Jerez de García Salinas

César Landeros Soriano, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

About 45 minutes from Zacatecas, Jerez de García Salinas is another day-tripping destination. A Pueblo Mágico since 2007, this town is the home of tamborazo, a style of drumming music. A well-known Corredor Artesanal (Artisan’s Corridor) features jewelry woven with silver thread, as well as saddlery, pottery, and stonework.

La Quemada

File:La Quemada, Villanueva.JPG
Tianiser, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The ruins of La Quemada are fairly close to Jerez de García Salinas, so I will try to visit them both the same day. Archaelologists are unsure about the history of the site, but they believe it was developed over the centuries from 300 — 1200 AD. In addition to the Salón de las Columnas (above), many other structures, in various states of decay, have survived. 

Real de Asientos

Maccadaniel, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The day I leave Zacatecas, my first stop is Real de Asientos, a Pueblo Mágico since 2006, in the state of Aguascalientes. Another former mining town founded in the 16th century, Asientos, like so many other Pueblos Mágicos, features lots of colonial architecture. I hope to explore the Acueducto Escondido de Asientos (hidden aqueducts) built under the local parish church to prevent flooding and water damage and not discovered until 2001. 

San José de Gracia

I spend the eighth night of my trip in San José de Gracia, about 90 minutes from Asientos. While this town has many of the same characteristics of the other Pueblos Mágicos I’m visiting on this trip, its surroundings offer some encounters with nature. El Parque Adventure Boca de Túnel is an adventure park about 14 kilometers north of town. The tour consists of hanging bridges, zip lines, rock climbing, and a boat ride, but because I’ll have Taco with me, I don’t think I’ll be able to do that. (Unless they provide dog sitting services…) (I hope they don’t…)

Or I might skip this place and instead head to “Los Alamitos” Camp, where there are hiking trails. Or hang around in town, or take a boat ride on the lake, or visit the dam. And did I mention El Cristo roto (The Broken Christ)? It’s a big sculpture of Jesus with his arm and leg broken off, located on a small island in the lake.

Free Mexico Travel Guide and Travel Information

I’m staying at a hotel in San José de Gracia, the Hotel Villas Casi el Cielo (Almost the Sky).

Calvillo

Free Mexico Travel Guide and Travel Information

Night number 9 of my trip takes me to Calvillo, the third Pueblo Mágico I’m visiting in Aguascalientes. And there are only three in this very small state. With about 20,000 residents, Calvillo is the second largest city in the state. It’s been in the Pueblo Mágico program since 2012.

It’s not a long drive from San José de Gracia, about 114 kilometers, but the road is scenic, cutting through some mountainous terrain, so I plan to take my time.

Calvillo is the world guava capital, which doesn’t thrill me, since I’m not fond of guava. But the city is also supposed to be colorful and photogenic. Guided pedestrian walks lead to alleys with artwork that illustrates the history and legends of Calvillo. El mercado Manuel Gómez Morín offers work by local artists and artisans, including a style of embroidery called deshilado (fraying or unraveling), made by removing threads from fabric to create patterns, textures, or drawings.

In Calvillo I am staying at another Airbnb.

Nochistlán de Mejía

Shortly after leaving Calvillo, I cross back into the state of Zacatecas. It’s about an hour and half to my next stop, Nochistlán de Mejía, which joined the Pueblos Mágicos program in 2012. 

Another town that combines a charming historic center and a beautiful natural setting, Nochistlán is surround by hills covered with nopales, with their prickly pears and brilliant scarlet-colored flowers. Among the attractions in town are an aqueduct and numerous churches.

I’ll stop here for a few hours before moving onto my final overnight visit of the trip.

Teúl de González Ortega

Free Mexico Travel Guide and Travel Information

About 3 1/2 hours from Nochistlán, on what appear to be winding roads and therefore, I hope, very scenic, I’ll arrive at Teúl de González Ortega. Located in the valleys of the western Sierra Madres, Teúl has been a Pueblo Mágico since 2011.

Teúl de González Ortega is considered the most delicious of the Pueblos Mágicos (Magical Towns) in Zacatecas for its rich orange scent and mescal flavor. It is a destination where time passes slowly as you walk along its cobblestone streets, framed by the architectural beauty of its mansions, quarry walls, and surrounded by beautiful fruit trees that reflect its history.

https://www.visitmexico.com/en/zacatecas/teul-de-gonzalez-ortega

I’m looking forward to sampling some of the local foods from the Mercado Municipal. Pipian is a type of mole made from pumpkin or squash seeds. Gorditas de horno are some sort of bread. And ranch cheese and cottage cheese are also local specialties. 

Of course, colonial architecture and local crafts, such as pottery and wooden masks, are always a draw for me.

El Templo de San Juan Bautista (Temple of Saint John the Baptist)

And just outside town is Cerro del Teúl, an archaeological site from pre-Hispanic times.

I’m staying in a cabin in Teúl, booked through Airbnb.

Home

Day 11 of my trip gets me back home. It’s about 3 1/2 hours from Teúl to Ajijic.

I have to confess I’m more than a little nervous about taking this trip on my own. I’m trying to stay confident in my ability to drive and navigate through unfamiliar places. While I have been studying Spanish, it’s still really difficult for me to understand or make myself understood. If I have car trouble or get lost or get in any kind of trouble, I’ll have to make the best of it.

But I’m also excited about seeing new places and getting to know my adopted homeland a little better.

TL;DR

(TL;DR stands for “Too Long; Didn’t Read.” This is for those who just want the basics. Or you can click the links to read about each stop.)

I’m going on an 11-day road trip with my dog, Taco.

Here are the places I’ll be visiting:

3 Responses

  1. Joy Sherman

    What a wonderful, interesting trip, Lane! I wish I were going with you. I read all of your beautifully written commentary + some of the links. It was fun looking up your airbnbs. What rich history and lovely sites! Have a great time and know that I’m thinking of you with best wishes for safety, excellent car function and lots of fun! Joy

    • Lane

      Thank you so much, Joy. I’ll be thinking of you and taking lots of pictures to share with you and everyone!

  2. MAUREEN F ELLSWORTH

    Safe journey to you. Looks amazing and can’t wait to hear/see more!!

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