The Best of Mexico by Day and Night (Bridal Guide)
These steamy itineraries let you enjoy the heat of Mexico.
From frolicking under the sun to painting the town red, activities and attractions are endless and around-the-clock in Mexico. During the days, various beach towns, including Cancun, Puerto Vallarta and Los Cabos are renowned for near-perfect balmy weather, exciting water sports à go-go and endless resort options. Then when the sun goes down south of the border, these hot spots transform into thriving night destinations with celebrated restaurants and glitzy nightclubs.
From the Yucatan to Baja, here’s where to chillax, party on and enjoy Mexico any time day or night...
Located on the tip of the Baja Peninsula, this tony beach area beckons visitors in search of the good life with top chef-helmed restaurants, highbrow happenings and some of the country’s poshest resorts. Day activities range from yachting and surfing to snorkeling and shopping, while the nightlife buzzes at intimate tequila bars and champagne toasts on colorful patios.
Hover above. Flyboarding — the adventurous hybrid of skiing, jet skiing and snowboarding — has invaded Los Cabos. Snap on wakeboard boots that are attached to a watercraft board equipped with water pressure jets. Then you’ll skim above the azure Pacific waters.
Surf's up. A 30-minute drive north takes surfers to one of the best spots for waves — Cerritos Beach. Here, the waves are beginner friendly and the beach is sublime, but can be crowded since it’s also one of the only swimmable beaches around.
Sunny cocktails. Nightclub chain Nikki Beach is known for its fashion-forward crowd that parties until the wee hours of morning. The sunkissed twist at Nikki Beach in Cabo is that in lieu of a large, dark club, the party takes place outdoors. From afternoon to dusk, enjoy a sundowner in Nikki Beach’s loungey atmosphere under swaying palms right on Medano Beach.
Dig in. The 10-acre farm-slash-beer-garden-slash-restaurant, Flora Farms, serves highbrow organic fare in multi-course dinners. Fans range from George Clooney to superstar chef Thomas Keller, and reservations should be secured at least a month in advance. The beer garden buzzes with local expats and visiting foodies who partake in late-night bites and drinks.
Drink in the view. The rooftop bar at the new boutique Hotel Ganzo flaunts a sexy, all-glass hot tub, a recording studio that lures indie rockers and music aficionados and a terrific drink menu comprised of local beers and craft cocktails. There’s also a rooftop lounge featuring sushi straight from the sea served alongside live bands or a DJ set under the stars.
In the club. There’s no shortage of nightlife options in San Jose Del Cabo though Privé Club reigns supreme with its swank interiors, bottle service, famous DJs and a robust party atmosphere. Arrive early or be victim to the velvet rope line-up.
Where to stay: All 96 rooms and suites at Capella Pedregal come equipped with a private plunge pool, and it’s the only luxury crash pad that’s near all the nightlife action. Enjoy personalized service, a terrific infinity pool and fresh fish at El Farallon restaurant tucked into the cliffs (room rates start at $990 a night and include personal assistant services, a bottle of specially designed Jose Cuervo Platino and more; capellahotels.com).
Cancun has become iconic for its terrific beaches, myriad water activities and luxury shopping. The diversity of visitors ranges wildly from multigenerational families to jetsetting couples that thrive on Cancun’s wealth of amenities. A.M. activities include partying, day-tripping and beach-hopping, while the nightlife offers traditional public fiestas and a dynamic bar scene.
Island adventure. The tiny, picturesque island of Isla Mujeres just eight miles from Cancun offers the perfect sanctuary for a day trip. Not only is snorkeling here a popular attraction thanks to the underwater sculpture museum, but the famed El Garrafon beach is considerably less crowded than those on the mainland.
Swim with sharks. Get up-close and personal with the gentle whale sharks that migrate to the regions from May to September. The vegetarian mammals can grow as large as 60 feet — or about the size of a school bus. Never fear: Those who don’t want to get in the water have the option of staying in the boat and Instagramming from deck.
Afternoon delight. The hip ME Cancun, known for stylish digs and a social atmosphere, is home to the oceanfront Beach Club, which is equipped with several palapas and oversized chairs to accommodate margarita lovers for an afternoon party with a DJ at the decks.
Mix it up. Not necessarily a club, the Xoximilco Cancun is more of a nightlife happening that merges dance with local culture. Guests board a mariachi band-equipped trajinera (canoe) that weaves through an intricate canal system, then arrive at a festive dance party that serves up fresh margaritas.
Haute eats. Unarguably the hottest table in town is at Tempo at the Paradisus Resort. Opened last year by Martin Berasategui — the Spanish chef who’s racked up seven Michelin stars in his home country — the eatery delivers memorable and inventive dishes (like a Basque-style tomato stuffed with baby squid and pork tenderloin).
Where to stay: The 274-room Nizuc Resort & Spa is intimately positioned on a private peninsula that straddles sea and jungle. Nizuc is visually commanding, with tons of glass and sliding walls, minimalist linear design and breezy corridors. There’s a sublime infinity pool overlooking a private beach, six gourmet restaurants, an adults-only infinity pool tucked away in the mangroves and a decadent, Mayan-inspired Espa (room rates start at $475 a night and include butler service; nizuc.com).
On the Pacific coast, the resort town of Puerto Vallarta merges modern-day beach vibes with old-world charm, catering to all types of travelers with miles of oceanfront resorts, authentic eats, charming boutique hotels and cobblestone streets. Spas, beaches and water sports activities are enjoyed during the day while the night rages with parties and taco crawls.
Find your balance. At the Spa at Terra Noble, a hilltop spa tucked into the rainforest of Puerto Vallarta, the treatments are spiritual journeys for those wanting to tap into and balance their chakras. A mainstay of pampering for more than 20 years, it also boasts sprawling, commanding views of picturesque Banderas Bay.
Tour the town. The Zona Romantica in the Old Town district is chockfull of authentic restaurants, local vendors and sidewalk cafés on cobblestone streets. Well preserved, Zona Romantica feels like a centuries-old village that highlights the original flavors of the city. Bring your swimsuit, as ZR is also the location of Puerto Vallarta’s best beach, Playa Los Muertos.
Hit the beach. While the sands of Puerto Vallarta are brimming with visitors year-round, all the cool kids head to Sayulita in Riviera Nayarit. The beach-town hideaway, just 40 minutes north of downtown, has an old-school Mexican vibe with a small church, little central plaza and family-owned shops. Endless taco and margarita shacks line the sand.
Taco night. Visitors in search of authentic eats hop on an evening excursion with Vallarta Food Tours Taco Adventure. The three-hour culinary tour of street food stops at multiple outposts that are safe for travelers and feature some of the city’s best off-the-beaten-path dining options.
Party on. Among the young and hip Vallartans and ex-pats, De Santos is considered the best nightlife option for chill nights. The restaurant transforms into a swank and crowded lounge after hours, and the rooftop bar offers oversized beds for some serious stargazing and kicked-back imbibing.
Where to stay: The 10-room Hacienda San Angel in the heart of downtown Puerto Vallarta is the city’s best-kept secret. Housed within an 18th-century building on a residential, cobblestone street, the hotel encompasses a rustic courtyard embellished with stone fountains and lush gardens. Rooms are stylish and romantic, with centuries-old paintings and antiques. Many offer prime city views (room rates start at $225 a night; haciendasanangel.com).