Despite the U.S. State Department's travel warning concerning parts of Mexico, American citizens are visiting their southern neighbor in droves, with AAA naming Cancun as the top travel choice for Americans in 2018.
But while some may choose the coasts for their sexy attractions and luxury touches, those who want a taste of a more authentic Mexico should choose the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Guanajuato.
A hilly city of 70,000 (around 170,000 in the entire municipality) with winding cobblestone streets that hide cafes and charisma around every corner, Guanajuato's Mexican charms — especially during the festive Easter season — will leave the open-hearted traveler with an understanding of Mexico that’s rarely offered by cable news.
Unlike other Mexican destinations, you will rarely be badgered to buy trinkets or Chiclets in Guanajuato. However, you will not be coddled, either. Visiting Guanajuato — usually by a flight into nearby Leon and then a $40-50 USD taxi ride — is an intentional trip fit for travelers rather than tourists. And it offers plenty of first-rate hotel and restaurant options (our picks: Book a stay at El Meson de los Poetas, which hits the Goldilocks zone of not too far but not too close to the action, and eat at El Gallo Pitagorico, offering not only top-notch Northern Italian cuisine, but gorgeous views of the city).
But the real draw here are the cultural attractions, the museums and markets often frequented by Mexican locals. Visiting these top stops provides a timely reminder that you don't have to completely understand a culture to completely appreciate a culture.