Take one of these incredible road trips to Mexico and you might have a hard time turning back. The mouth watering food, wild places and unique cultural and geological experiences make Mexico one of the most attractive destinations on the planet.
You can fly to the country and rent a car for travels or head south from the United States border in your own set of wheels. However you arrive, driving through Mexico is a special experience. Remote beaches, high mountain peaks, giant vineyards and fields of agave are just a few of the highlights.
1. Loreto, Baja
Located on the Baja Penisula, Loreto is a charming town with a wonderful mix of local culture and wild nature. It’s a unique place with a national park that protects the staggering mountains and marine environment where a number of beautiful islands are located.
Driving to Loreto
Getting there by road is a matter of crossing the border somewhere convenient to the peninsula.Los Algodones or Calexico-Mexicali are ideal because they connect to Highway 5. Drive south until you reach the junction with Highway 1 and continue south all the way to town.
The drive from Mexicali is nearly 13-hours and while you might make the trip in a single day, taking two is much better. You shouldn’t drive at night in this area because livestock roam freely on the roads. There are soooo many beautiful beaches and stops to hit on the way as well, it’s a good idea to set aside a few days to get there.
Alternatively, Loreto does have an airport where you can fly to and rent a car to get around the area. Many flights have a long layover from the regional connection but it’s not a long flight overall.
Things to Do in Loreto, BCS
It goes without saying, fresh seafood tacos and margaritas are hard to beat in Baja. In our opinion, they are best after a long day of adventure. Luckily, there are so many options for outdoor activities.
Loreto Bay National Marine Park – As mentioned, the national park here is special. The biodiversity is impressive with fish species, whales and mammals in abundance. Turquoise waters in the Sea of Cortez feel almost Caribbean but they are surrounded by mountains, rugged islands and long, sandy beaches.
Walk the Malecon – Take a stroll through town and walk the waterfront. Sandy beaches are present on both ends of the water and a paved pathway guides you past restaurants, shops, docks and a boat landing. It’s a pretty place to cruise around during the day and night.
Take a Fishing Tour – Fishing in the area is fantastic throughout the entire year. Winnter brings yellowtail and sierra mackeral while the warmer months have roosterfish, dorado, sailfish and plenty more. Book a tour and hit the water to have some fun and take a few fish home to cook for dinner.
Go to Coronado Island – Did we mention the national park? This island is perfect for a day trip on a boat tour. It was once a mighty volcano and now it offers great views of the marine environment where you can see the old lava flows and cliff-sides.
Horseback Riding – It’s hard to leave the beaches and water behind but everything inland is also wonderful in Loreto. Horseback rides across remote ranches and public park areas afford unforgettable views where you are surrounded by cactus and steep mountains.
2. Tulum, Yucatan
Cancun is the big destination on the Yucatan Peninsula but it’s far from the only place worth visiting. Just to the south of Cancun is charming Tulum, a Caribbean Paradise surrounded by white beaches and Mayan ruins.
Driving to Tulum from the Untied States
The Yucatan Peninsula is on the far eastern side of Mexico, bordered by the Gulf of Mexico to the North and the Caribbean Sea to the South. Driving distances from the border are significant and this is a serious but very manageable and fun road-trip.
The major requirement is time for the 1600+ miles and 30+ hours of road time. Keep in mind when planning, driving in Mexico is best done during daytime and avoided after dark. That makes for a good three to four days of driving to reach Tulum by vehicle from the border if you drive full days.
The direct route follows the Gulf Highway entirely but it’s not necessarily the safest. Conditions are always changing but consider a more central route by crossing at Eagle Pass and skirting just north of Mexico City before cutting back east. Check the State Department Advisories before leaving too.
Remember to grab Mexican Insurance in Eagle Pass before crossing the border.
Highlights for Your Mexico Road Trip to Tulum
Water based activities dominate the scene here but archaeological ruins and many other natural attractions will keep you busy. Like everywhere in Mexico, the food is next level and the locals are friendly and outgoing.
Sian Ka’an Bioshpere Reserve – One of the world’s great nature reserves is adjacent to Tulum. Limited traffic, networks of freshwater channels and mangroves, manatees, birds and fish all combine to make an incredible ecosystem.
Take a tour through the reserve by boat to really immerse yourself in nature. Walking tours and wildlife viewing areas are also available. If you visit Tulum, this is the best nature experience a person can experience.
Cenote Tours – One of the most unique geological features you will ever find are cenotes. The underground caves hold blue waters that are intertwined with local culture and folklore. They are said to have healing properties and you will find numerous options for cenote tours with options to swim and snorkel.
Mayan Ruins – You’ll want a group or private tour of the Mayan Ruins in Tulum to really grasp the scale and gravity of the place. These ruins are magnificent and a highlight of the trip for many visitors.
Fishing Tours – The biosphere reserve protects critical fish habitat and the area surrounding the reserve is prime for bonefish, permit, tarpon, barracuda and many other species. It’s a biologically rich and diverse place that attracts anglers from across the globe.
Be a Beach Bum – Spend a day or two lounging on the beach, working on your tan. Long, white sand beaches are hard to skip after driving to Tulum. It’s a great way to really wind down after being on the road.
3. San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato
Mexico is famous for beaches and plush resorts but the mainland is not something to skip. Many of the best destinations are in the central mountains and this is one of those very special places. Picturesque streets with beautiful colors and mind blowing architecture make San Miguel de Allende a must visit place while driving through Mexico.
Driving to San Miguel de Allende
Depending on where you cross the Texas border, it’s only a 10-12 hour drive to San Miguel de Allende. It can be a very long day of driving but two days is ideal to reach this place. Eagle Pass or Columbia near Nuevo Laredo are great border crossing options here.
Keep in mind, a good chunk of this drive will happen on toll roads. They are typically in excellent shape and are very similar to the highways in the United States and Canada. Get a toll pass in advance or carry ample cash to pay as they do not all accept credit cards.
Highlights and Things to See
Spend some time walking around and take in the many architectural and archaeological sights around town. It’s a beautiful and unique place with a laid back vibe.
Canada de la Virgen – Archaeological sites are prominent in many parts of Mexico and this is a major highlight among them. Ceremonial Mayan structures and ruins are fixed based on the stars and ancient cultural practices.
Parroquia de San Miguel Arcangel – The architectural wonder has a unique pink hue and is simply stunning to visit regardless of your religious positions. Built in the Neo Gothic style, put this high on your list of priorities.
Fabrica la Aurora – Once a large mill, this is now a hot spot for art displays and cafe visitors. Spending a casual morning eating pastries and sipping coffee before shopping art, jewelry and crafts is just perfect.
Mercado de Artesanias – Crafts and hand made goods from this region bring out stunning artistry. The color palette is unique and vibrant as well. Spend a few hours perusing the market and take home something special to remember this place.
4. San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas
Our southernmost destination on the mexico road trip is a quaint colonial city with narrow cobble streets and wonderful buildings. It’s in the wild and beautiful Chiapas region near the Guatemala border.
Driving to San Cristobal de Las Casas
You have a long way to reach this destination and it’s often done as part of a bigger road trip around all of Mexico or more. My first visit was on a long drive down the Pan American Highway. The juice is worth the squeeze as they say and this is an incredible stop on a big road trip across Mexico.
You can also fly into the area and rent a car for a more convenient approach. If time isn’t of the essence, drive on down and enjoy the greater region where waterfalls and great river canyons run wild on the edge of a charming city.
Things to Do on Your Chiapas Road Trip
There’s an overwhelming number of options for visitors in the area. In town, ornate churches, structures and markets are a big draw. The local food is also wonderful. I made many stops at a small restaurant that only made quesadillas and I’ve yet to find better.
Outside of town, you will find impressive canyons and wild spaces to explore. Chiapas is a mountainous and water rich place that is seriously jaw dropping at times.
Mercado Municipal – Fresh produce, spices and a vast array of peppers and local flavor make this a special place in the city. It’s a not a tourist trap and is heaven for culinary aficionados. If you have an AirBnB or rental with a kitchen, definitely head for the market.
El Arcotete – Close to town is a nature park with hiking trails and wonderful views. If you want to jump into nature without spending the entire day traveling, hit these trails and soak in the local landscape.
Sumidero Canyon – This massive canyon is a little ways outside the city but the hour or two drive is well worth the time. Boat tours run through the heart of the canyon where wild birds, crocodiles and native flora and fauna live freely. The deep canyon walls and lush foliage make this one of the best nature trips around.
El Chiflon – Tall waterfalls spilling green and blue water bring visitors from around the region and globe. Hop on a tour from town and spend the day exploring the river and falls.
Iglesia de Santo Domingo – Conveniently located next to a market of handcrafted goods, the church is a wonderful structure that combines it’s 16th century origins with the opportunity to view and shop traditional Mayan crafts. It’s a wonderful location to visit.
5. Todos Santos, Baja Sur
I know we already have a Baja destination but we could honestly fill the entire page with places on the peninsula. Cabo San Lucas, La Paz, La Ventana, Los Barriles and so many more dot the shroelines and inland areas.
Todos Santos is located on the Pacific Side, making it completely different from Loreto despite being somewhat close to each other. Big waves and cold water make this a place to put on your Baja bucket list.
Driving to Todos Santos
After Highway 5 intersects with Highway 1, it’s the only highway running across the Baja until La Paz. After the junction, you can make a full loop around the southern end, catching the East Cape, Cabo San Lucas and Todos Santos which is located on Highway 19.
It’s a few days of driving after crossing any of the border points for Baja. Most folks take a little longer to get south however as there are so many stops on the way.
Head Out Surfing – There are some famous breaks that bring skilled surfers south. Los Cerritos beach is perfect for surfing or even just watching the pros tackle big waves. Beginner friendly breaks are available in the area as well.
Whale Watching Tours – You might see whales directly off the beaches which is something that makes Baja in general very special. Tours often go to the north where calm bays attract calving and wintering whale groups.
Walk around town – Todos Santos is a small and safe community where visitors are free to stroll around. Hit the cafes and shops or try some of the delicious food. Restaurants and street carts all have something special to offer.
6. Rocky Point, Sonora
Many of the latter destinations have long drive times to reach them. There are a few attractive weekend trips just over the border however. Rocky Point is also called Puerto Penasco and it’s a big draw for Arizona and New Mexico residents looking for a quick ocean escape.
Driving to Rocky Point
This one is super easy. Cross the border at Lukeville and drive one hour to the sweet Sea of Cortez. We offer Mexican car insurance for Rocky Point right here as well. It’s a hopping town, especially during spring break and other holidays like Memorial day and the 4th of July.
Highlights for Rocky Point Road Trips
Nightlife – From beach-side bars to all night clubs, Puerto Penasco has the right vibe for everyone.
ATV Touring – You drive ATV’s directly from town on trails into the surrounding desert mountains. Take a sunset trip and get off the beaten path.
Jet Skis – You can rent them right off the beach and go wild in the ocean. The waters are generally tranquil and you can have a ton of fun ripping around with friends for a few hours.
These are just a few destinations for an epic Mexico road trip. Get in touch anytime and we can help you plan and secure the best insurance to protect you and your vehicle on the road.