Zacatecas Mexico: A Weekend Trip

The city of Zacatecas is full of history, culture, beautiful architecture and great food! All of this makes it the perfect city for weekend in Mexico. While this city does get tourists from other areas in Mexico is seems to be mostly undiscovered by the rest of the world. We absolutely loved our time in this city and would definitely love to go back!
The city is very walkable and we feel this is the best way to soak it all in. Finding parking on the street can be tricky but we managed to find a spot where we could stay all weekend for free. There are several public parking lots around the city but you will have to pay to park in one of these.
After you park the best thing to do is to start walking! We headed straight to the the center of the city where the Catedral Basilica and the Plaza de Armas are located.
Catedral Basilica and the Plaza de Armas: All of the churches in this city are beautiful and worth walking to see! Even if you aren’t religous at all, the architecture is stunning! Just across from this cathedral is the Acropolis Café Galería where you can sit outside and enjoy a coffee and some lunch while taking in views of the catedral and the surrounding part of the city.
Just behind the catedral is the Plaza de Armas. You can find a small tourist office here where you can get maps of the city and more information. The plaza also has some great street art painted on the inside and is well worth walking around.
In the evenings the Plaza comes to life with locals and tourists alike hanging out, playing music, eating, drinking and just enjoying the city. If you chose to attend the Callejoneada Zacatecana event (which we highly recommend and will talk about in greater detail later on in this post) then you will meet here to get started at 7:30 or 8:30PM depending on what your ticket specifies.

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Next up on the walking tour…
Rafael Coronel Mask Museum and Ruins of Templo de San Francisco: We stumbled upon these ruins and didn’t really realize that there was also a full museum here. The entrance fee for the museum is 30 pesos per person. You cannot walk around the ruins without paying the entrance fee but it is worth it. The museum is laid out really well within the ruins and is known for having Mexico’s largest collection of masks from the pre and post hispanic eras.

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Hotel Quinta Real/ Plaza de Toros San Pedro: We did not stay in this hotel but did walk over to see it and have cocktails at the bar. This hotel encircles and old 17th century bull fighting ring. The bar is on the ground level, underneath where the guests watching the bull fight would sit. It has a cave like atmosphere with stone walls and ceiling. There are tables near large windows which open out to the bull fighting ring. While we were there the ring was under some construction/setting up for a wedding the following day but it was still very cool! We ordered a mezcal flight and then a cocktail while we were here. The Mezcal flight was really good – Mezcal can be very smoky and bitter but good mezcal tastes very similar to a really good tequila. This area of Mexico is know for Mezcal so you have to taste some while you’re here! If you do want a cocktail while your here we highly recommend their palomas!

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Acueducto el Cubo: Just outside the hotel Quinta Real you will see a huge aquaduct. It was in use until 1910 to bring water to the city from El Cubo mine.

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Templo de Santo Domingo: This is another large church next to universal art museum. We did not go into this museum or church just admired the outside as we walked by.
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Templo de Jesús: This church is a bit further from the main part of the city but worth the walk.
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Templo de Fatima: This was our favorite church by far. There was a wedding about to start when we walked by so we were not able to look inside unfortunately.

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Plazuela Miguel Auza/ Templo de San Agustín: For a break from all the churches and site seeing we recommend you head over to this plaza and sit down at one of the restaurants/cafes. We did this twice on our trip, its a great location to people watch, enjoy the warm weather and just relax with a beer or glass of wine or a coffee.
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Mina el Edén: Zacatecas is an old mining town. The mina el Eden offers tours of the mine during the day and offers a night club you can go to starting at 9pm. The night club does get busy so we would recommend arriving a little before 9pm so you can get in quickly. We arrived just after 9 and there was already a pretty long line. You do have to take a train into the mine to reach the club so only so many people can enter at a time. The train is pretty quick but this does slow down the entrance process.  The mine dates back to the 16th centry. The tours are only offered in Spanish so that is something to be aware of. We only know a little Spanish so we didn’t understand alot of the information on the tour but the mine its self is definitely worth seeing. After you go through the mine you can walk through the mineral and rock museum before taking the train back out of the mine. The museum is not an additional fee; if you pay for the tour you can see the museum. In total the tour and museum took us about an hour and a half.

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Bufa Hill/El Cerro de la Bufa: This hill offers excellent views of the city and is a must do! There is a teleferico (or cable car) that will take you up to the top. Erika is terrified of heights so needless to say, we didn’t do that. You can also drive up to the top which is what we opted to do. We did this on our last morning before driving out of town (that way we didn’t risk leaving our parking spot and having to find another one). Once you are at the top of the hill you can take in the views of the city. There is also a short hiking path along the side of the hill giving even better views of the city as you walk. There are also several large statues to visit, a chapel built in 1728, the Plaza de la Revolución Mexicana and the Observatory de la bufa. After exploring all of these things there are several small food stands on the hill if you want to stop for a snack.

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Callejoneada Zacatecana Event: You can buy tickets for this event at any tourism office or stand that you pass by in the city. The event started at 7:30 PM in the Plaza de Armas the night we went. We believe this event is put on every Saturday and sometimes Friday nights as well. You will follow a group of local musicians as they play through the streets. When you show your ticket you will be given a small cup to wear around your neck for your mezcal. They will pour you as many re-fills as you want during this event. You will enjoy locals and other tourists dancing and just having a good time. While the mezcal was not of the highest quality we would still highly recommend this event!  You could follow the musicians through the streets without buying a ticket however then you won’t be given any mezcal and really that is part of the whole experience!

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This is a foodie destination! Mexico in general is a fantastic place to eat but this city has some really, really good food! None of these places are fancy or high end restaurants, instead what they offer is really good, local food at a very affordable price.
Where to Eat:
El Sultan: Small tacos but really good, great place to stop for a snack as you walk around
La Toska: Maybe our favorite place, it smells amazing as you walk by! We actually ate here twice because it was so good! They had a taco deal going the weekend we were there- 10 tacos for 59 pesos. The tacos are small but if there are only two of you it is the perfect amount of food to share. We also ate one of the best things ever at this place- a pile of tortillas, cheese and whatever meats you chose (we had a carne asada one and a pastor one) all topped with a thin layer of fried cheese! So, so good!
Rincon Tipico: We stopped in here for lunch when we first arrived. They have no menu, just a few options each day. There were three options to chose from when we were there. We both had chicken and rice served of course with tortillas and salsa.
Gorditas doña Julia: There are a couple of these around the city. Its a simple place serving up some great gorditas! We really enjoyed the peppers and potatoes  (pimientos y papas) and the pork (cerdo) but there were plenty of options to chose from here.
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El Callejon: This is located near a small market area in town (Plaza Bicentenario). You will find multiple vendors selling food, drinks and other items around this area. We stopped in for a second breakfast/mid morning snack here and were very happy we did. Try the chorizo and potatoes (chorizo y papas)  and the bean and cheese (frijoles y queso) gorditas!
Plaza Bicentenario: While you are wandering around this market area be sure to try a donut (donas) They are very good! We aren’t really even donut people but trust us these are delicious!
Cervecería Shannons: We stopped in here late afternoon for a drink. It definitely has a younger vibe. We were probably the oldest people in this bar and we are 30 and 31. None the less the place is very cool. It’s got loud music and cool modern art on the walls. They are up on the second story with small balconies overlooking the street below. We attempted to just order a beer here but our waitress wasn’t about to let that happen. Our Spanish isn’t that great so we were not exactly sure what she was saying. We are pretty sure she was trying to upsell us which she did. We ended up with giant beer cocktails. We are pretty sure they were Mitcheladas- beer with clamato, hot sauce, lime and a chili salt rim around the glass. This doesn’t sound good in our option but it was suprisingly really good!
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Birrieria Alvarado: We stopped here our last morning for breakfast honestly because they were the first place we passed actually open at 9AM on a Sunday and we were ready to start our day. We aren’t 100% sure what the type of meat we ended up eating was- either sheep or goat is our best guess. We had a traditional soup with shredded meat, onion and cilantro in a spicy red broth, of course served with tortillas. And we had a few tacos with either goat or sheep (again not 100% sure what we ended up getting). The soup and the tacos were both really good. Honestly it seems you can’t really go wrong for food in this city. Everywhere we stopped was great.
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La Bartola: We stopped here for a small dinner/late lunch and a drink after more walking around the city. They have outdoor seating and are located on the corner of the Plazuela Miguel Auza. We ordered a gringa and two volcanes (these are similar to a tostada). Again really good food and great spot to sit and people watch as you eat and drink.
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Churro Place: Every time we walked down the Juan de Toloso road we smelled churros frying. We weren’t able to find it on the map now that we are back, but trust us, you will smell them! These were probably some of the best churros we have had!
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This just might be our favorite city we have visited in Mexico! We highly recommend this as a weekend trip or part of any larger trip through Mexico!
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-TFWYs

Maui Adventure: Hike, Snorkel, Beach and Eats on Maui

Maui is a great destination with tons to see and do! Of course everyone reads about the road to Hana which is absolutely amazing and you definitely need to do that as part of your trip! We have a full post on driving the road to Hana which we have a link to at the end of this post! Here we will tell you where else on Maui to explore during your trip! We explored the island via camper van. We spent our nights at camp grounds and used the van as transportation to make sure we could see as much of the island as possible on this pretty short trip. We had about four and a half days to explore. Here’s our list of what to see and do on Maui outside the road to Hana.
Lava fields at Perouse Bay/Hoapili Trail: Our first full day it was a little rainy in the morning so we decided to drive out to the lava fields and hike. We were one of the only people on the trail that morning. It was really nice to have the place pretty much to ourselves. You are walking on a pretty rocky/uneven path but it is an overall easy hike. You will get great views of the ocean as you walk. As you walk farther you will see large rock cliffs that drop straight into the ocean. We also came across a few small tidal pools among the rocks. We even found one large and deep enough to swim in. We would recommend wearing you swim suit under whatever you are hiking in so that you can easily go for a swim if you would like. Do watch out for sea urchins if you are swimming over here, they are very sharp so you don’t want to step on one!

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Lava Fields Kings Trail: On your way to hike the lava fields you will pass this beach. We stopped here after our morning hike to do some snorkeling. It doesn’t look like much when you walk down to the beach but just offshore you will see amazing coral and lots of fish! Literally as soon as we put our faces in the water we were surrounded by fish here! We also saw a sea turtle and an octopus while we were here.

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Big beach and little beach at Makena Park: These are both white sand beaches and both are beautiful. Little beach is a clothing optional beach so do be aware of that if you are walking over there. It is just a short walk in-between the beaches. There is also a small path that follows the coast past little beach. The path is along lava stone on the coast, it is a pretty walk but we would recommend the lava fields to get your lava experience over this path.

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Hookipa beach: This beach is another white sand beach. It’s a good surfing spot and is right before the start of the road to Hana. There are bathrooms here, showers to rinse off at and picnic tables. We spend a little while here our last afternoon on the island. This beach has a great mix of locals and tourists.

Papalaua State Wayside Park and Ukumehame Beach Park: We stayed at camp Olowalu our first two nights. As you drive along the Honoapiilani highway from Kihei towards Lahaina (or towards camp Olowalu) there are these narrow beaches running just off the road. It is easy to pull off, park your car along the beach and relax during the daytime hours. We also heard this is a great spot for long boarding. These beaches are also great spots to watch the sunset! Camping at Papalaua State Wayside Park is also an option, if you’d like. Check our our Maui by Camper Van post for more information on camping throughout Maui- Maui by Camper Van

 

Papawai Point: This look out is a really great spot for sunset and for whale watching in the winter. Again this is along the Honoapiilani highway as you drive from Kihei towards Lahaina. We watched the sunset here our last night on the island. It is a popular spot (for good reason) so do be aware that the parking lot will likely be full.

 

 

Snorkel tour with Pacific Whale Foundation on Ocean Explorer: We chose to do a smaller tour group that offered more snorkeling spots than some of their other, larger tours. Our group was only about 15 people total which was really nice. It made getting on/off the boat much better than having to wait for everyone in a larger group. The tour starts at 6:30 am. You meet up at the Pacific Whale Foundation where you sign in and they provide you with breakfast as you watch the sunrise over the marina. At 7:30 am you will head down to the boat. You are on the boat a total of about 6 hours. We stopped at five different snorkeling spots on our tour. You get a small snack provided about half way through the tour. You also get lunch on the boat once you are done with your final snorkel. The tour ends back at the marina at 1:30pm. They have water and other beverages available at any time during the tour. You are welcome to get off the boat at each stop or sit on the boat and relax if you want to skip one or more of the snorkels. We had a captain driving the boat and two lifeguards/marine life specialists with us on our tour. Each snorkel one of the life guards would come into the water with us to make sure everyone was okay. They would also help point things out for us in the water. We snorkeled in the “turtle town” area where we saw tons of turtles! We then did another reef off the coast where we saw more turtles and a small eel. From there we did a drift  snorkel (the boat stopped, let us off the circled nearby while we snorkeled since it was too deep to anchor) to see a small place crash and all the fish that are living in the wreckage.  Then we headed to the back side of Molokini Crater (another drift snorkel) where we saw a seal and then snorkeled along the wall there before finishing our tour inside Molokini Crater snorkeling the reef. We would highly recommend this tour! We had a great time on this tour. The Pacific Whale Foundation does a lot of great research and advocacy for the environment/ocean. Part of the money you spend on your tour is going directly to the foundation to allow them to keep doing the good work that they do. The link below will take you to the snorkel tour that we did on their website. From there you can check out the other tours and activities that The Pacific Whale Foundation offers.

https://www.pacificwhale.org/cruises/maui-snorkel/molokini-wild-side-eco-adventure/

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Food:

We are foodies and typically food is a huge part of travel for us. But this trip was shorter and we were camping and moving around the island quite a bit. Food was not our top priority here. We ate a lot of snacks in the camper van and stopped along the way for more full meals as needed. Here are a few of our recommendations for where to eat on Maui:

Paia Fish Market: This place has great fish burgers! Also make sure to try some Maui Brewing Company beer while your here! This was our first stop after we picked up our Camper Van! The portions are huge and the prices were fairly standard, definitely not an expensive meal but very good!

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Da Kitchen in Kahului or Kihei: This restaurant is BYOB. It has great kalua pork! The portions are huge! We both ordered an entrée for dinner and could have easily just split one meal.

 

Star Noodle in Lahaina: This place was one of our favorite restaurants we stopped at. They have really good food! We planned to eat in for dinner however when we arrived at 6-6:30ish there was an hour wait for a table. We ended up ordering take out which  only took about 15-20 minutes to prepare. We took our food back to our campground and enjoyed it there instead. Moral of the story, make reservations if you plan to eat dinner here and avoid the long wait time.

Jawz Taco Truck at Makena Park: This is a great option for a quick lunch on the go as you explore the island. We headed to Makena park after hiking the lava fields our first day. The trunk arrived to the park about 12:30 pm. We had pork and fish tacos here and both were really good but we preferred the pork.

For Food recommendations and recommended stops along the road to Hana check out our full Road to Hana post here: Road to Hana Camper Van Adventure

There is definitely more to Maui then we listed here. Another big thing to do is head to the top of Haleakala for the sunrise. We heard very mixed reviews on this so we decided to skip it on this trip. We have read that sunset on the top of Haleakala can also be really great and can be less crowded. If we had one more full day we would have added one of these two options to our itinerary. But now we saved something for the next time we are in Maui!

 

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-TFWYs