Why You Need To Go To Oaxaca (And Why I Need To Go Back!).

By Posted in - North America & Photo Stories & Travel Blog on May 31st, 2011

I have a problem.

I have discovered I am a slow traveler but I am more than just slow. I am snail slow.

The problem is I never get to travel as slow as I really want to. There is always something else to see, somewhere else to go, other mountains to climb and other sunlight to frolic in. I was thinking about some of our past travels and I realized that even though we had about 5 weeks in Italy alone it didn’t even come close to being enough time. I was trying to think of how long it would really take for me to get enough of it and I ended up with the idea that it would take me at least a year. That would give me enough time to see all the museums, eat all the food, meet all the people and take enough photos to make me feel that I had really seen Italy. I think.

As I was thinking about this my mind started drifting off to another one of my favorite countries – Mexico.

Mexico gets a bad rap and it’s too bad because Mexico is freaking amazing. I have long considered it my second home and Randy and I spent the early times of our dating days in the shadiest of Mexico border towns. Our second date was in Mexcio. I even worked in Mexico for quite some time and spent my weekends going back and forth. When I was in Italy I felt like I was back traveling in Mexico. It’s silly even how similar they are.

Besides my plentiful days in Baja, one place on the mainland that really captured my heart was Oaxaca.

It was almost 2 years ago now that we made the trip to Oaxaca for Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). It was a transformative trip for me, Mexico at it’s best – minus the beaches and margaritas. If you ever have the chance to go to Oaxaca I highly RECOMMEND it, especially if you can go for the Dia de los Muertos festivals. The entire city comes alive and the atmosphere with dancing in the streets is contagious. The graveyard festivities will entertain you and make you think about death on an entirely different level.

We should all be lucky enough to be buried in a Oaxacan cemetery.

I have to go back because I was only there for 5 days and I had an old camera. Like Italy, Oaxaca is a place I need to travel slowly in. I really need to go back and spend at least a few months exploring all the nooks and taking part in some of the activities in Oaxaca that I never got to experience when I was there the first time.

If you’re headed to Oaxaca soon here are a couple of activities that you shouldn’t miss.

1. Graveyards in & around Oaxaca – if you’re going around Dia de los Muertos you HAVE to go to as many graveyards as possible. This is a MUST.

2. The Food- Can you say chocolate? Can you say Michelada? Can you say Mole? Oaxaca has some of the best Mexican food I have come across in all my travels. They even make their own chocolate and as you walk around the city your nose will guide you to the chocolate district. Yum!

3. The Markets  – Mexico is by far one of my places to shop but the shopping in Oaxaca is out of this world. Not only do they have crazy, out of this world stands with everything from dried crickets to their world famous hot chocolate but you can also get anything and everything else you might – spices, wallets, flowers, batteries, etc. The 20th de Noviembre Market was my favorite by far.

4. The Zocolo – The Zocolo is the town square in Oaxaca. This is pretty much the IT place. Grab a cafe chair, some peanuts and a Michelada – this IS the place to unwind, take it all in, people watch, take photos and check emails. Balloon sellers and children roam the streets while young lovers make the most of their alone time under the trees.

5. The Churches – Oaxaca has it’s roots deep in the depths of Catholicism and it does it’s part by having numerous churches throughout the city. The churches are huge, detailed, beautiful and most of them are still in use today. Walking around the churches is a great way to see another side of the city and it’s important to visit at least a couple of them to get a rounded idea of Oaxaca.

6. Activities – There are touts selling every type of tour in Oaxaca and with good reason – there is a lot to do! From touring Mt. Alban to hiking waterfalls, playing golf, taking tours of villages and cooking classes and horseback riding there is not shortage of activities in Oaxaca to keep you busy. If you have a little extra time you could also consider heading to the coast for a few days of seaside entertainment.


These are just the six quick things that came to mind when I was writing this post. There is so much to do in Oaxaca you definitely won’t be sorry if you head there on vacation or plan to stay for several weeks. There is also a great bar/nightlight scene and a great homemade arts scene in Oaxaca. It’s truly a great Mexican city.

(If you are reading this and happen to be in southern California keep in mind you can fly from Tijuana into Oaxaca and skip the international air taxes!)

*Please remember all photos on this website, unless otherwise noted, are copyrighted and property of BeersandBeans.com, NarikosNest.com & Bethany Salvon. Please do not use them without my permission. If you want to use one of them please contact me first because I do love to share and I would be flattered. Thanks!

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(17) awesome folk have had something to say...

  • Allison -

    May 31, 2011 at 3:55 am

    Awesome post! It makes me really want to go to Mexico. I (like so many other relatively adventurous North Americans) travel all over the world, but reserve Mexico for all-inclusive vacations. This seriously needs to change!

    As usual, amazing images!

    • Bethany -

      May 31, 2011 at 8:45 pm

      I have never been on an all-inclusive trip to Mexico but I can tell you that traveling around on your own is really fun. 🙂

  • Español Interactivo Language School -

    May 31, 2011 at 6:54 am

    Where is the photo of the dessert from? Looks fantastic

    • Bethany -

      May 31, 2011 at 8:51 pm

      the restaurant was located right on the zocolo and i believe the name was Para Aqua Chocolat” I could be wrong. It was a bit gringo and more pricey than the markets but the food was incredible and the desserts of amazing! We ate the desserts there more than just a couple times. I highly recommend it. 🙂@Español Interactivo Language School,

  • Scott – Quirky Travel Guy -

    May 31, 2011 at 9:37 am

    I’m a big fan of graveyards and churches so I would definitely take in the sights there.

    • Bethany -

      May 31, 2011 at 8:52 pm

      You would love it! PUt it on your bucket list for day of the dead. I tell all my friends to go. It won’t disappoint. 🙂@Scott – Quirky Travel Guy,

  • Christine -

    May 31, 2011 at 5:39 pm

    It’s funny because I grew up in California and never traveled to Mexico because of its reputation–crime, all-inclusives, etc. It just never seemed like the right destination, even though I have loads of Mexican friends (with families still in Mexico), love the food and love the idea of the gorgeous beaches. It’s through reading different travel blogs–like yours and Bacon is Magic–that I’ve really started to see some of Mexico’s culture and really considered spending some time there. So gracias for sharing!

    • Bethany -

      May 31, 2011 at 8:54 pm

      You’re not alone – I know a few people who live in San Diego and have never gone. Definitely go if you get the chance – it’s such a warm and inviting place. 🙂 @Christine,

  • Vago Damitio -

    June 1, 2011 at 7:43 am

    Better to be too slow than too fast. My trip around the world might take a lifetime but along the way I keep finding great reasons to slow down (a new wife, a new daughter, a new friend) but never to stop. Great post. Mexico sounds great, maybe I do need to go there.

    • bethany -

      June 1, 2011 at 12:32 pm

      Thanks for commenting. Those sound like really awesome reasons to keep it slow. 🙂@Vago Damitio,

  • Erica -

    June 2, 2011 at 4:22 pm


    Seriously though, so much to eat in Oaxaca. I could have stayed there waaaay too long.

    • Bethany -

      June 2, 2011 at 6:31 pm

      I know. it’s an easy place to fall into. I need to go back and get one of those little Mexican tortilla pizzas with the black beans and avocado! yum!@Erica,

  • Tiffany -

    June 15, 2011 at 8:22 pm

    My husband and I got to spend 5 months in Mexico at the beginning of our around the world trip, and it was great! My favorite place so far has been Morelia. The people were fantastic, there was lots to see, and we weren’t in “gringo” Mexico. Highly recommend it!

    • Bethany -

      June 16, 2011 at 6:35 pm

      Oh lucky you! I have heard of Morelia but I have never been. Thanks for the recommendation! BTW, love your pic of you on the sail boat! @Tiffany,

  • Julie Sykes -

    September 3, 2014 at 12:51 pm

    Your post brought back such wonderful memories of Oaxaca and the people there. Eating a wonderful avocado/tomato tostada at a local restaurant in Tetotitlan de Valle (weaving village nearby), was just one of the many experiences that will stay with me.