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Monterrey Attractions | Things to do in Monterrey
Monterrey is a city that combines contrasting natural and urban settings. History and traditions converge in this metropolis, which features impressive buildings, innovative cultural and entertainment centers, and modern financial and industrial developments. Here you'll find magnificent parks, fabulous waterfalls and canyons, as well as history and art museums, a planetarium, and fun theme parks. These attractions are just some of the reasons to come and discover a modern city, full of Mexican charm, and enjoy the warm hospitality of its inhabitants.
The land where the cathedral is located dates back to the foundation of Monterrey more than 400 years ago and is the seat of the local archdiocese. The construction of the cathedral took more than 100 years. In 1791 the vaults and facade as we see them today were finally finished, but the towers that have come to symbolize it weren't completed until a century later. Due to the length of its construction, it features a combination of architectural styles, with the most predominant being churrigueresque.
The interior has sober decor and features numerous 19th century paintings from New Spain. In the interior and on the facade you can see the directives of the Franciscans, a religious order who left their mark by founding almost all the north of Mexico. While at the cathedral you can also visit the Bishops' Mausoleum
The Macro Plaza
The Macro Plaza or Gran Plaza is, without a doubt, the focal point of downtown Monterrey. Here you'll find about 100 acres filled with a series of small plazas that contain fountains, benches, trees, and green areas, as well as historic buildings and monuments. The main monument is "Faro de Comercio" (Lighthouse of Commerce), which dominates its surroundings and is the tallest of its kind in Mexico. The Macro Plaza area is also where you'll find Monterrey Cathedral, "Teatro de la Ciudad" (City Theater), "Explanada de los Heroes" (Heroes Esplanade), the Palacio de Gobierno Museum, and Neptune's Fountain.
Barrio Antiguo (Old Town)
This area stands out for its brick and adobe buildings, which display the colonial architecture that was ever-present in Monterrey at the end of the 19th century. Many have been restored in keeping with the style of yesteryear and now house art galleries, cafes, restaurants, bars, and nightclubs, making the region the cultural and social heart of Monterrey. It is highly recommended to take a tour of this beautiful place on foot or in a carriage during the day so you can feel what it was like to live in the city years ago, with its cobbled streets, lampposts, and old buildings that set the scene.
Contemporary Art Museum
This museum, which is known locally as MARCO, displays works by some of the top artists in the areas of painting, sculpture, and graphic arts. Located in downtown, the main entrance is flanked by a stylized 4-ton, 18-foot high sculpture of a pigeon, which was made by Juan Soriano who specializes in plastic art. MARCO offers audio guides and points of reflection throughout to help visitors to understand its content.
Mexican History Museum
This museum is housed in an impressive modern building that is accessed through a large plaza. It is divided into four rooms, each one displaying a different period of Mexican history from Pre-Colombian Mexico and Colonial Mexico to 19th Century Mexico and Modern Mexico.
The main objective of the Monterrey Museum is to display the best of the city's art. Here you can see more than 1500 modern pieces of Latin American art, with the main emphasis being Mexican. Over time the museum has put together one of the largest collections in Mexico, which shows works from different artistic styles, such as sculpture, painting, drawings, and photography.
Built in 1908 from pink quarry stone, this site features neo-classical architecture and is classified as a National Monument by the National Anthropology and History Institute (INAH). The main facade is crowned by a statue of Victory.
Considered to be the first urban park in the north of Mexico, Fundidora Park owes its name to what in 1900 was known as "Compania Fundidora de Fierro y Acero de Monterrey" (Monterrey Iron and Steel Foundry Company), which was declared bankrupt in 1986 and had to close its doors. The state decided to make the most of the immense plot of land and the machinery, and to transform the old facilities of this company into what is now "Parque Fundidora". Complete with over 300 acres of land that combine history, culture, and entertainment, the park features plazas, walkways, gardens and lakes that offer natural, safe places to have fun without having to pay for it!
The complex is home to two of the main places to host events in Monterrey: CINTERMEX, with 59,000 square feet for conventions and 200,000 square feet for exhibitions; and Arena Monterrey, an auditorium that can hold up to 17,600 people and is unique in Latin America for its "smart" facilities. The park is also where you'll find La Casa de los Loros (the Macaw House), Museo del Acero (Steel Museum), the Mabe Fundidora Ice Rink, the theme park Plaza Sesamo, and La Cineteca (Film Archive), among other attractions.
Plaza Sesamo Park
This fantastic amusement park is located at Fundidora Park and features incredible rides like the Grand Prix, where you can feel like a race driver in a Go Kart, or Space Shot, the park's main attraction, offering 180 feet of adrenaline. The park also features 17 water slides on which you can reach speeds of up to 40 mph, while you'll find sports nets, waterfalls, and slides in the interactive pools. Admire the fantastic shows that are held in the theaters and prepare to be transported to a world of fantasy. Come and discover Plaza Sesamo Park, where the fun never ends!
KidZania is a place of fun, entertainment and education for kids between the ages of 1 and 12, where they can play at being adults in 75 different trades and professions. This is a scaled down city that features replicas of the most representative establishments, and where kids work and earn a salary in its official currency, "Kidzos", which can be used to buy different assets and services. Here you'll find an acting academy, a racetrack, a disco lounge, a painting faculty, an esoteric corner, an entertainment room for parents, and a whole lot more.
Mundo de Adeveras
Set against the natural landscapes of Monterrey, Mundo de Adeveras is a theme park for children that combines knowledge and entertainment through different outdoor activities like Go Karts, paintballing, and zip-lines. One of the main attractions of the park is that it offers a scaled-recreation of the real world, with areas dedicated to the city, to industry, to the countryside, to sports, and extreme games in which your little ones can choose between 50 different professions and trades.
Paseo Santa Lucia
Ever since its creation in 2007, Paseo Santa Lucia has caught the eye for its uniqueness and charm. It is a 1.5 mile-long stretch of navigable river that joins the Macro Plaza with the Fundidora Park, transporting visitors in attractive boats. There are pathways that follow the river, which are surrounded by beautiful gardens and fountains that are well worth exploring.
Created in 1978, and one of the pioneers in the concept of interactive museums, this museum features a cylindrical body that faces north. Its numerous recreational areas and sections for experimenting create fun for people of all ages. One of them is called Illusion and Reason, where you can play with physics and astronomy to prove different scientific phenomena. The site also has an aviary that is home to exotic birds and an extensive collection of pre-Colombian archeological artifacts from the different cultures of Mexico's past.
One of the top attractions of the planetarium is its observatory, which is considered to be the best in the northeast of Mexico, allowing visitors to see the wonders of space and the sky through a large telescope. Equally impressive is the multi-theater with its 80-foot hemispheric screen, which wows guests with its 180-degree images and high quality sound.
This is a nature reserve with more than 700 species of animals from all the continents. At this park you can have fun on bumper boats or paddle boats, explore the trail that'll take you to the Pilon River, where you can cross a waterfall using hanging bridges or go fishing at a sustainable lake. You can also visit a mini zoo that features different species of cubs, the Mammoth Museum, and the Kangaroo Forest.
The largest part of the reserve is taken up by the Serengeti Safari, where you'll find a wide variety of wild animals in their natural habitat, including antelope, ostrich, deer, dromedaries, zebra, elephants, hippopotamuses, crocodiles, and buffalo. It also has educational areas like "Mysteries of the Night", a projection that will show you the life of bats, while "The Arctic" recreates life in the immense territory of the North Pole.
Ecotourism in Monterrey
Monterrey is not just a business city, it also offers lots of different activities for people who like to get close to nature and enjoy an adrenaline rush. Rafting, spelunking, climbing, rappelling, and hiking along narrow mountain trails, are just some of the many things to do, while there are also rural and eco tours available.
Cascada Cola de Caballo (Horsetail Falls)
This is a 75-foot waterfall that owes its name to its unique shape, which is reminiscent of a horse's tail. You can take a tour to the waterfall on foot, on horseback, or in a carriage. It is ideal for hiking and mountain biking, while also being an outstanding place to take photographs. The peaceful atmosphere makes it perfect for a picnic beside the river or falls.
One of the main tourist attractions in the region, Chipinque is a natural paradise just 20 minutes from Monterrey. It is popular among people who love hiking, climbing, mountain biking, or bird watching, offering visitors somewhere quiet and peaceful, far from the chaos of the city. Its well-marked walkways, meandering paths and picnic areas attract lots of people every weekend, especially in summer, when the climate is not as hot as in the city. In autumn you can marvel at the different colors on show, especially in October, when thousands of beautiful migratory monarch butterflies pass through the park on their way south.
Rodrígo Gómez "La Boca" Dam
This is one of the most popular places for the Monterrey locals to spend the weekend and to escape the extreme temperatures of the metropolitan area. People come to this dam to have fun, either by renting horses or trying some of the wide variety of water-based activities available, which include boat tours, speed boat rentals, jet skis, and water skiing. Other activities include ATV tours, or simply relaxing and taking in the natural beauty of the mountains as you savor a traditional dish at one of the restaurants.
Villa de Santiago
Villa de Santiago has become an important tourist destination thanks to its multiple attractions and its classification as a "Pueblo Magico" (Magic Town) by the Mexican government, in 2006. It has a romantic colonial atmosphere, while also offering lots of fun and recreation due to its location in the Sierra Madre Oriental mountains.
This town invites visitors to step back in time while walking around or relaxing on a bench in the main plaza, where they can admire mansions and the church of Saint James the Apostle, which was built in 1745 and stands out for the stairway that leads to the entrance. Located just 30 minutes from Monterrey, the town offers visitors a peaceful atmosphere that contrasts with the fast pace of the city.
Admire the incredible stalagmites and stalactites that you'll find inside the Garcia Caves, which are located just 30 miles from Monterrey, in the municipality of Villa Garcia. Here you can see a stunning landscape from the start of the 1.5 mile long journey to the caves as you take the funicular train up to a height of 2,500 feet. In addition to the wonderful mineral formations you can also see conch and shell fossils, which allows us to assume that the caves, which were discovered in 1843, are between 50 and 60 million years old.
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