Known as the queen of the Caribbean coast, Cartagena is oozing with old-town Colombian charm thanks to its preserved 19th-century architecture and monuments, cobblestone streets and romantic ambiance. The city’s Old Town area is a UNESCO World Heritage site and contrasted with modern restaurants, vibrant nightlife and scenic beaches, makes a visit to this centuries-old city a magical experience.
Take a drive through the residential area of Manga’s Republican-styled mansions or visit Cartagena’s iconic (and most popular) San Felipe de Barajas Castle. Dating back some 480 years, it is considered one of the greatest Spanish fortresses ever to be built and boasts some of the best hilltop views of the city and sea. History buffs and tourists will also enjoy the charming green-and-white wooden Rafael Nuñez Museum which is the home of the former president, poet, lawyer and co-author of the country’s constitution. And be sure to pause for a photo at the legendary landmark Clock Tower located at the former entrance to the city.
If it’s glamour you are after, Acapulco is the place. Known as the “Pearl of the Pacific” during its “playground of the rich and famous” days in the 50s and 60s (Elvis, Sinatra, Gregory Peck, John Wayne and Richard Burton and Liz Taylor were regulars), visitors still flock to the former port city for its wide variety of sights and activities.
Relaxation and exhilaration arrives in the form of sunbathing at one of the secluded beaches such as Pie de la Cuesta or the Fairmount Pierre Royal and for the more seriously adventurous, try cliff diving at La Quebrada (think diving at a heart-stopping 140 feet). Soak in the majestic Sierra Madre Mountains that form a picturesque backdrop of the city and dine at the Fairmount Pierre Marques Hotel. Located on Revolcadero Beach, the hotel is former hideaway of financier J. Paul Getty. Or take in a walking tour to Zocalo, the oldest portion of the city where cathedrals, shops and charm awaits. And since Acapulco is the birthplace of the first discotheque The Tequila a Go-Go, it’s no surprise that club hopping is still a popular nighttime pursuit.
Another popular Mexican destination, Cabo San Lucas, provides everything from exquisite natural beauty to sea-worthy adventures (snorkeling, kitesurfing and horseback-riding on the beach for starters). Once a tiny fishing village on the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja Peninsula, today “Cabo” is filled with pink and coral adobe buildings, golf courses and pristine beaches. Be sure to check out the flourishing Art District in San Jose del Cabo, catch a humpback whale or two, go diving in Jacques Cousteau’s favorite spot on the Sea of Cortez or view 1500 species of cacti at the Wirikuta Cactus Gardens. And when nighttime rolls around, tickle your taste buds with a sampling of Tequila or take a class in salsa dancing.
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