1. Getting a bird’s-eye view of the massive pyramids at Teotihuacan
The Pyramid of the Sun and the Moon as you’ve never seen them before. This trip through the skies above Teotihuacan at sunrise is worth dragging yourself out of bed for. Most tourists to Mexico City make the 30-minute drive to this 1,800-year-old archaeological site, but how many can say they’ve flown above it in a hot air balloon?
2. Diving into an ethereal underwater world off Isla Mujeres
Not only does Mexico’s Caribbean have the second-largest reef in the world (after Australia’s Great Barrier Reef), it’s also home to an underwater museum: MUSA. The crystal-clear waters make this the perfect place for scuba diving around the eerie figures that stand at the seafloor, gazing up to the surface. There’s even a VW Bug occupied by colorful fish and other sea life.
3. Exploring the home of the Northern Lacandon
The tropical state of Chiapas is home to the Northern Lacandon, a Maya people who still hold strong to many of their pre-Columbian traditions. Go on a guided trek through the Lacandon Jungle and take a boat ride to explore the beautiful Metzabok Lake — listen for howler monkeys and watch for crocodiles as you make the crossing.
4. Touring Copper Canyon by train
Possibly one of the most impressive train rides you’ll ever take, this trip through Chihuahua’s Copper Canyon — one of the world’s largest canyon systems — introduces you to the high mountains and deep gorges of this region of northern Mexico. Jump off at different stops to explore the small indigenous villages dotted along the tracks.
5. Swimming with the gentle giants of the sea on a day trip out of Cancun.
During the summer months, when the sea is rich in plankton, whale sharks gather just north of Isla Mujeres (off the coast of Cancun). You don’t need to know how to dive to swim with these huge mammals as they glide effortlessly through the water…just jump right in.
6. Seeing more of Los Cabos by ATV
Jump on an ATV and explore the beautiful, lesser-known landscapes of Los Cabos. Challenge yourself on rough terrain to reach the area’s most secluded beaches.
7. Hitting the rapids in Veracruz
Head to the wild waters of Veracruz for a whitewater rafting trip that’s up there with the world’s most epic river runs. The steep drops and narrow canyons make this a challenging and decidedly badass Mexico experience.
8. Feeling like the early explorers in Chiapas
Only accessible by boat, Yaxchilan makes you feel like a real Indiana Jones. Start your adventure with a trip down the Usumacinta River before disembarking to explore this Maya city in the middle of the jungle, complete with ceiba trees so big you can climb inside the roots. Howler monkeys roar all around, giving the ruins a haunting atmosphere.
9. Hiking a stratovolcano just outside Mexico City
Just 50 miles west of Mexico City, the 15,350-foot summit of Nevado de Toluca is often covered in snow, and the hike up can be…intense. However, your effort is rewarded at every step with views of the surrounding mountain peaks (some of Mexico’s tallest) and the valley lakes far below.
10. Exploring the caverns and hot springs of Tolantongo
Decorated caverns, powerful waterfalls, natural thermal springs, and a bright blue river system make the box canyon resort of Tolantongo, in the state of Hidalgo, a beautiful place to visit. You can bathe in the waters that reach up to 100°F, or explore the grottoes covered in stalactites and stalagmites. For extra adventure, zipline over the water or rent a tent and camp overnight.
11. Jetting over the ocean on a flyboard in Puerto Vallarta
Those who’ve always dreamed of playing out that scene in Back to the Future II should head to Puerto Vallarta. Zipping through the air above the sea, powered by jets of pressurized water…it feels like you’re flying.
12. Rappelling down waterfalls in Cuetzalan
About three miles outside of the Pueblo Mágico town of Cuetzalan in Puebla, hike out to the El Salto waterfall before strapping in and rappelling 75 feet down the face of the falls.