Attractions in Xalapa, Mexico: What to do and where to go
The climate in Xalapa allows for lush and colorful flora, providing for a number of parks. It's considered primarily a cultural city where you can also find a wide variety of art galleries, cultural centers, theaters and museums, where you can enjoy all sorts of events. Walking along the steep streets, feel the cool fog as you wander around the architecture, visit the quaint alleys, discover the legends and stop in one of the many cafes for an aromatic cup of coffee.
Due to its excellent location, Xalapa can be the starting point for other interesting sites such as colonial Coatepec (also known as "The City of Coffee"), which was declared a World Heritage Site. Xico is another city to visit as you discover deeply rooted traditions and festivals or explore the wonderful landscapes of the famous cascades in Texolo. If you want extreme sports such as rafting and rappel, come to Jalcomulco. Carrizal is great for thermal hot springs and Cempoala offers archeological zones, all to be found around Xalapa.
The lovely colonial city of Coatepec (declared World Heritage Site) is located 5 miles from Xalapa. It's surrounded by lush vegetation, coffee plantations and large quaint colonial homes with central patios blooming with flowers. Coatepec is widely known for its coffee production, its orchid variety, its singular cuisine and its ice cream. The main attractions are the Church of the Virgin of Guadalupe and City Hall.
Contemporary Art Galery
This Contemporary Art Gallery exhibits photographs, sculpture and contemporary paintings from both national and international artists. There are also concerts, movie marathons, dance, theater, singing, book presentations and writers' conferences. This is the perfect place to learn more about the distinct artistic expressions.
El Agora de la Ciudad
In Benito Juarez Park, in the Historic Center of Xalapa, you can find one of the best cultural centers of the state of Veracruz. The main objective of the center is to promote art, culture and entertainment. There are art galleries, an independent movie theater, an auditorium, exhibition rooms and an open forum for artists where they can organize the Jardin del Arte (Garden of Art), a place to exhibit and sell art. The bookstore and the museum cafeteria (the latter of which offers a great view of this colonial city) are also definite musts when you come to visit.
Francisco Javier Clavijero Botanic Garden
The Francisco Javier Clavijero Botanic Garden was founded in 1975 and its mission is to preserve, protect and study the flora of Xalapa and its surrounding regions, which consist of pine forests or mountain ranges. Here you can find 7 different scientific collections distributed over nearly 20 acres, with over 70 plant species, coming to a grand total of 100 acres of beautiful gardens. The Botanic Garden is located south of the city, at Kilometer 2.5 on the old highway to Coatepec, just 10 minutes from downtown Xalapa.
Found in the downtown area on Enriquez Avenue, the Governmental Palace was built in 1855. It features a neoclassic design in pink quarry, with the most interesting being the coat of arms, done in raised relief, of the cities of Veracruz, Xalapa, Cordoba and Orizaba, the four colonial cities of the state.
Hacienda el Lencero Museum
The Hacienda el Lencero Museum has lovely gardens and a lake that complement the colonial architecture. It is a site of proud history that houses pieces as well as furniture that go back to the 16th century. This hacienda originally belonged to one of Hernan Cortez' soldiers, which he used as a guest house. It was later sold and was converted into a bull-raising ranch and a sugar cane farm and refinery. By 1842, the property belonged to General Antonio Lopez de Santa Ana and, subsequently, was repossessed. The museum is now administered by the government.
Interactive Museum of Xalapa
The Interactive Museum of Xalapa is a cultural space for the whole family, classified as one of the most important museums of the country and the only museum of this type in the state of Veracruz. Visitors learn and have fun interacting with the different exhibits which touch on themes like Veracruz, the ecology, science and art, to name a few. The museum has 7 theme rooms with 120 exhibitions that deal with topics like electricity, handicrafts and multimedia. One of the main attractions is the IMAX movie theater.
Jalcomulco is an excellent place for people who enjoy eco-touristic pursuits and extreme sports. Due to its topography, this area is excellent for rafting and rappelling since there are lots of gullies, like Tuzamapan and Chicabaxtla, as well as various hills, such as Pizaltepec, where an archeological site, called Cotlamani, is located. For those who like to feel an adrenaline rush, Pescados River is famous in this area for its rapids. Jalcomulco is located 40 minutes away from Xalapa, and is renowned for its exquisite cuisine. When you visit Jalcomulco, you must try the delicious acamayas, langostinos (shrimps) and the traditional Tamales, made of the Izote flower.
Jesus Te Ampare Alleyway
This charming alleyway owes its name to a legend that began during colonial times. The legend says that a Spanish couple lived in this alley with their beautiful daughter. She had a boyfriend whose name was Cosme Taboada. One night, the young couple was saying goodbye to each other when a drunk person stumbled by and plunged a dagger into the boyfriend. The girl was scared and began to scream "Cosme, Jesus te Ampare!" (Cosme, may Jesus help you!), so the people named the alleyway "Callejon de la muchacha de Jesus te Ampare", which has nowadays been shortened to "Callejon de Jesus te Ampare".
This park is located in the center of the city of Xalapa and is known for its colorful gardens and beautiful araucarias (a type of pine tree, indigenous to the area). Vendors sell balloons and typical Mexican food, as children run after pigeons and play. The park is located on one side of the Palacio de Gobierno (City Hall) and other governmental buildings. In Parque Juarez, you can find the Galeria del Agora de la Ciudad, a cultural center. This site was previously the Convent of San Francisco, the second convent ever built in Mexico, a structure that was started by Hernan Cortez and finished in the year 1534. After the demolition of the convent in 1889, it became a park and was inaugurated on the 16th of September of 1892, on orders from General Juan de la Luz Enriquez.
Close to the city center on Manuel Avila Camacho Avenue, one of the most beautiful parks in the city was constructed in a natural, 7.4 acre basin. Its main objective is the conservation of the flora and fauna, typical of these foggy forests. The name comes from a natural spring in this park, which was used as the first network of drinking water throughout the city. Adorned by charming sculptures, the stream was used to create ponds and canals that zigzag through the clumps of trees. There are also soccer fields, basketball courts, a skating rink, a playground, a barbecue area and an open-air theater.
Macuiltepetl Ecological Park
The Macuiltepetl Ecological Park is located in the northern area of the city, designed to foment the conservation of natural resources of coniferous forests. In 1978, it was named Reserved Green Area for Recreation and Ecological Education, where research is also conducted. There is a lookout point, a sundial, a museum and a pyramid where famous Veracruzans such as Jose Cardel, Carolino Anaya and Ursulo Galvan (all agrarian leaders in a movement for farm worker labor rights in the early 20th century) are laid to rest. The park has lush vegetation where footpaths curve through and provide an inviting site for a morning walk.
The construction of the Metropolitan Cathedral began in 1741. Because it was made of wood, the Cathedral quickly dilapidated. It was reconstructed in the gothic style in 1773. It was consecrated to the Lady of the Immaculate Conception, who is considered the patron saint of Xalapa, in 1864. Inside, there is a museum dedicated to the Bishop Rafael Guizar y Valencia, who was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1995.
Museum of Anthropology
The Museum of Anthropology is considered one of the most important museums, in terms of pre-Colombian history, in all of Latin America. The collection amassed numbers up to approximately 2,500 archeological pieces as well as one of the most complete collections produced on the ancient cultures of the state of Veracruz. There are also temporary expositions, a cafeteria and a bookstore. Learn more about our history in a building of singular beauty, surrounded by a lovely garden view.
Paseo de los Berros
The name of "El Paseo de los Berros" translates literally as "The Watercress Walk", due to the fact that in days of old, the area was full of this plant. Its original name is Park Miguel Hidalgo and it is the largest and oldest park in Xalapa. Fresh air and towering trees set the scene for a walk down memory lane for Jalapenos (as those from Xalapa are called, spelled with either a "J" or an "X"). There is a statue of Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla (Father of Mexican Independence) and an octagonal-shaped kiosk. Don't miss out on the opportunity to visit this lovely place!
Paseo de los Lagos
Walk of the Lakes is one of the most beautiful landscapes of the city, located near the university zone. Also located in this area was one of the first thread and yarn making factories, La Fama, built in 1836. The owner of this factory had a dyke built to create a personal reserve for the factory, of spring water from the Tlamecapan, forming a small lake. Some time later, the factory was demolished and the lake dried up. In 1973, the governor at the time, Rafael Murillo Vidal, set about to reconstruct this lake as well as two more. Enchanting foot paths weave around leafy trees where you can also find a stage for theater and concerts as well as an expo hall and the House of Handicrafts. A definite must-see when you come to Xalapa to visit.
Pinacoteca Diego Rivera
Located in the center of the city, the Pinacoteca was built to conserve and exhibit work by the famous Mexican muralist, Diego Rivera. It consists of 36 pieces done throughout the course of Rivera's career. The Pinacoteca also promotes contemporary artists so come and visit. Enjoy art in its maximum expression.
Located on Murillo Vidal Avenue, this garden is dedicated to the promotion of art in the city. A permanent exhibition featuring amazing sculptures, made by famous national and international artists, can be enjoyed in this beautiful place. Here you can see three-dimensional art incorporated into the environment.
Xico (pronounced "shee-co") is a quaint town just 12 miles from Xalapa. It's a coffee producing region which is also known for its wonderful cuisine, running the list from Mole Xiqueno to traditional egg bread to berry wine. With a natural backdrop that includes rivers cascades and cliffs, it is very much a traditional sort of place with frequent festivities. The most important of the festivities being the feast day of Santa Maria Magdalena, the patron saint of the town and they include traditional dances, fireworks and a Xiquenada (a Pamplona-style running of the bulls). Some of its main attractions are the Parish of Santa Maria Magdalena and its museum.
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