Welcome to Querétaro—a colorful city where every baby is the cutest baby, there is never a wrong time to eat ice cream, and you may lose count of sweater-wearing chihuahuas you see while you walk past a clown show. Seriously. There are clowns everywhere. Clowns have been performing on the streets of Querétaro for over 300 years, at least that what we heard from one of the red-nosed performers. Consider that 300 years is older than our country and that’s just for the clowns. Querétaro was founded in 1531 and, while we were here, celebrated its 487th birthday (feliz cumpleaños, Querétaro!)
Querétaro lies only a few hours northwest of Mexico City, and less than $20 USD will get you a comfy 2 hour bus ride between the two cities. As you disembark the coziest bus ride of your life, you set foot in an epicenter of Mexican life and culture. If you don’t know what to do in Querétaro, wait for a few minutes in any of the many charming plazas and look around. The next incredible and sometimes quirky opportunity may be right behind you. It might be a 20-piece acoustical ensemble from the university singing classical Spanish songs, a booming brass band accompanied by giant bride and groom puppets, or incredible breakdancers blasting 90s rap. Whatever it is, it will be free, people will be dancing, and you are guaranteed to smile.
Wander through the free museums, and experience art cast across a range of human emotion. Casually stroll into a traditional dance recital at the city cultural center. It will be both adorable, impressive, and oh so colorful. Enjoy your choice of theater. There will be people in costume outside beckoning you to come see the show. Whether you crave a classic drama or a two-man show unlikely anything you’ve seen (in Spanish), you’ve got options. Plays, especially over-the-top comedies serve as great Spanish practice. The actors annunciate and projects their words which are accompanied with grand gestures to help provide context.
A short Uber ride will take you to the local stadium for a futbol game. Cheer on the Gallos Blancos (White Roosters) alongside the roaring fans. It is recommended to learn a few cheers and chants in Spanish before you go, because it can be difficult to understand the crowd over the multiple, enthusiastic bass drum players leading the chants. You won’t find a scoreboard or multiple large screens for that matter, so keep an eye on the field. Despite the time left on the clock, enjoy the sights and sounds while you struggle to wrap your hands around the largest beer you have ever held. Multiple opportunities will present themselves to purchase a variety of snacks, usually fried and always paired with hot sauce and a lime (confusingly called a límon).
Bask in the glory of pastor tacos: delicious pork perfectly seasoned, roasted on a spit, and sliced into a homemade tortilla. Top it with fresh cilantro, onions, salsa, and a splash of lime juice. Follow it up with ice cream or a churro, or both—why not? Every corner boasts a quaint cafe to please your coffee or fresh fruit juice craving.
Cooking is far from the only craft practiced diligently. Prepare to walk by shops and be intrigued by other tempting aromas. The smell of leather goods alone may draw you into a shop where you can browse, feel, smell, and marvel. If you are aiming to start a Bohemian collection of travel bracelets to nonchalantly display the many places you’ve ventured, a hand-crafted leather bracelet is a great first addition. You may also be tempted by incredible displays of paintings and sculptures alike. Just make sure you know how to get your souvenir in your suitcase.
Perhaps most importantly, be ready to dance. From the moment you walk through your first plaza, you most likely will see people dancing. At least three nights a week, every week, couples are salsa-ing or waltzing their way around the city center until the late hours. Attend one of the many free concerts and a dancing section will simply emerge in the crowd. You may wonder how everyone here knows how to dance, and how to dance well. Your dancing abilities will most likely feel inadequate. Don’t worry; everyone is here for a good time and to enjoy the music. They may be looking at your because of your subpar choice in footwear rather than your dance moves.
Regardless of what your trip to this beautiful, historic, unique city brings be ready to dance, to eat, to laugh. Enjoy the views of churches on almost every corner, children blowing bubbles, and doting parents dancing with their babies in the plaza. Find a cafe, grab a Cafe Olla and stay a while.