Something for Everyone
Monterrey offers a lot for families. Besides numerous and varied museums, there are also several outstanding theaters and venues for the performing arts, as well as special places to take your kids. And because it's home to several institutions of higher learning, including the Monterrey Institute of Technology, you'll find the modern parts of the city unlike any other place in Mexico. Futuristic architecture and imaginative museums along with a good infrastructure make Monterrey a great family destination.
Things to Do
Though the oldest part of the city began along the Rio de Santa Catarina, today Monterrey's heart is the 100-acre, six-block-long Gran Plaza. Also known as the Macro Plaza, this ambitious multilevel urban renewal complex of many monuments and fountains mixes colonial with ultramodern. On its north end stands the Palacio de Gobierno (Government Palace), a turn-of-the-twentieth-century building with fresco-lined patios.
At its south end stands the baroque Catedral de Monterrey on Plaza Zaragoza. Here, you'll also find the historic state capitol, the tiny Dulces Nombres (Sweet Names) Chapel, and the Casino Monterrey. In stark contrast are the ultramodern Teatro de la Ciudad (City Theater), the Centro Biblioteca (Central Library), and the Palacio Municipal (City Hall), with its impressive sculpture,
Streets west of the plaza comprise the Zona Rosa, the downtown shopping area with many pedestrian walkways, restaurants, and hotels. Pancho Villa once rode his horse into the elegant lobby of the Radisson Gran Hotel Ancira.
Taking a horse-drawn carriage ride is a leisurely way of seeing the sights around the Gran Plaza and Barrio Antiguo.
Monterrey's contemporary architecture is a symbol of its success. One of the most notable examples is the concrete Basilica de la Purísima, located at Calle Serafín Peña and Avenida Hidalgo Poniente. Designed by Mexican architect Enrique de la Mora, its steel and glass were all made in the city.
The El Obispado (Bishops' Palace), built in 1789, is the only landmark completed during colonial times. Today, it houses the Museo Regional de Nuevo León, the state's regional museum, containing exhibits on Mexican haciendas and the Revolution. Admission is about $3 but free on Sundays. (Open Tuesday through Saturday 10 A.M. to 1 P.M. and 3 to 6 P.M., Sunday 10 A.M. to 1 P.M. 81-8333-9588.)
You can also take a guided tour of the Cervecería Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma (Cuauhtemoc Brewery), at Avenida Alfonso Reyes 220 Norte, Tuesday through Saturday at 11 A.M. and 3 P.M. (81-8328-5355). After touring the plant, you get to taste the freshly brewed beers under the shade of century-old trees in the company's beer garden.
The Cuauhtemoc brewery spawned a glass factory for bottles, a steel mill for caps, a carton factory, and eventually several industrial conglomerates, including Alfa, which gave the city the Centro Cultural Alfa (Alfa Cultural Center), the best museum of science and technology in the country.
Monterrey is also a big college town with seven universities, including the Instituto Tecnológico de Monterrey. Patterned after MIT, it's one of the largest and best colleges of technology in Latin America. There's also the Universidad de Nuevo León and the private Universidad de Monterrey, with its fine medical school.
For general information about McCarran International Airport, call 702-261-5211. For parking information, call 702-261-5121. For flight information (all airlines), call 702-261-INFO.
Be sure to see some of Monterrey's large collection of modern sculpture, much of it on the Gran Plaza. Did you know Monterrey has a lead crystal factory? The main producer, Kristaluxus (81-8351-6396) offers factory tours at 10:30 A.M., Monday through Saturday. Afterwards, you can buy their wares at discounted prices.
For the Kids
For a business city, Monterrey has a surprising number of activities for kids. At Plaza Sésamo (Sesame Place) (81-8333-3700), an amusement and water park, you can take your little ones on a variety of rides and to meet
Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Monterrey (MARCO), the Museum of Contemporary Art, stands on the Gran Plaza next to the cathedral. Once inside, you'll be surprised by its dramatic architectural features, as well as its fine collection of paintings and sculptures by renowned international artists. You can also attend performances here. Admission is about $3.50. (Open 11 A.M. to 7 P.M., Tuesday through Sunday, and to 9 P.M. Wednesday and Sunday, 81-8342-4820.)
Learn about the region's history in the Museo del Obispado (Bishop's Palace Museum). This jewel of colonial architecture, built more than 200 years ago, stands on a peak overlooking the city. And be sure not to miss the Museo de Histórica de Mexico (Mexican History Museum), the best of its kind in Mexico and situated in an ultramodern building on the site of the city's origin.
To find out about current museum exhibits and other happenings around town, pick up a copy of
The Museo de Monterrey (Monterrey Museum), within the confines of the original Cuauhtémoc Brewery, showcases over 1,000 works by local and national artists. And right next door is the famous El Salón de Fama del Beisbol (Mexican Baseball Hall of Fame), filled with memorabilia of the sport's legends.
To get to the Centro Cultural Alfa at Avenida Roberto Garza Sada 1000, you'll have to travel to the Monterrey suburb of San Pedro Garza Garcia, Monterrey's wealthiest neighborhood. This excellent museum houses historical, scientific, and technological exhibits. Admission is $4. (Open 3 to 9 P.M. Tuesday through Friday, 2 to 9 P.M. Saturdays, and 12 to 9:30 P.M. Sundays; 81-8303-0002.)
One of Monterrey's most famous industries is glass. The Glass Museum presents fascinating exhibits on the history of glass, its manufacture, and the current products available (81-8329-1000).
Another cultural highlight is the Pinacotheca Nuevo León (State Art Museum), with its collection of original paintings by artists from the state of Nuevo León. It's located in the Parque Niños Héroes (Child Heroes Park), along with the automobile and wildlife museums (81-8331-3890). The latter has a collection of 100 species in their natural habitat. Admission is about $8 for adults and free for children under twelve. (Open Monday through Sunday 9 A.M. to 7 P.M., Av. Alfonso Reyes 1000, Norte Colonia Regina, 81-8351-2817.)
The wide range of natural attractions in and around Monterrey will amaze you. Although the city isn't primarily known as a tourist destination, visiting the unique caverns, hot springs, waterfalls, and nearby mountains will provide memorable experiences for your family.
You can't help seeing the summits of the Sierra Madre Oriental mountains anywhere you look in Monterrey. To really appreciate them, you need to take an excursion to Chipinque Ecological Park, part of the National Summits Park of Monterrey, twenty minutes from the city. Here, you can walk, jog, mountain bike, climb, and camp. If you're a bird watcher, there are 120 different local and migrating species. And if you're into photography, you'll discover amazing vistas in all directions. Admission is about $3 (81-8335-6979).
Some of the best hiking, climbing, biking, and spelunking in Mexico exists within reach of Monterrey.
Also close to the city is Potrero Redondo, where you can walk along forest paths, swim at any of several turquoise-colored wells, and enjoy rappelling off the cliffs. You can also hike through the canyon.
If you enjoy exploring underground, then you shouldn't miss the Grutas De Garcia (Garcia Caves), a magnificent series of underground caverns formed over 60 million years ago. To reach it, you must ascend 2,275 feet by cable car, followed by a 1.3-mile journey into the Earth. Once inside, you'll marvel at the whimsical stalactites and stalagmites on your ninety-minute tour (in Spanish only). Admission, including cable car ride and tour, is about $4 for adults and less for children. Other area caves include Gruta de la Terrosa, Gruta de Tabasco, and Gruta de la Cebolla.
For the best rock climbing, head to Cañon Potrero Chico (Potrero Chico Canyon), about twenty-five miles from Monterrey, with enormous cliffs nearly 2,937 feet high. These are considered to be Mexico's highest and attract climbers from around the world. Cañon de Huasteca (Huesteca Canyon), with its impressive 1,000-foot rock walls, is nearby.
If you like to hike, you'll find a trail leading to Cascada Cola De Caballo (Horsetail Falls), a spectacular eighty-two-foot-high waterfall surrounded by picnic areas and panoramic views. If you'd rather take the easier way up, you can hire a horse or horse-pulled cart to reach the waterfall. Admission is about $3.50. (Open daily 9 A.M. to 5:30 P.M., 81-8347-1599.)
Bullfights are held intermittently in Monterrey at the Plaza de Toros Monumental (81-8374-0450), which has a retractable roof so that events can take place in all kinds of weather. Normally, bullfighting season runs from May to December. You can purchase tickets for $15 to $30 for the Sunday afternoon
If you're into soccer, be sure to see an exciting professional match at one of Monterrey's stadiums.
Every Sunday morning, you can see