An artists’ colony in Baja California
Todos Santos is a laid-back oasis that looks a bit out of place in the middle of the Mexican desert, said Lauren Viera in the Chicago Tribune. After driving for endless hours through the dusty terrain of Baja California Sur on Highway 19, a visitor who crosses the Tropic of Cancer will suddenly be surrounded by palm trees, art and crafts galleries, restaurants, and shops. Over the past 30 years, artists from mainland Mexico and the American Southwest have transformed this sleepy historic village into a thriving artists’ colony. They “aren’t the only ones drawn by Todos Santos’ spring-fed palm grove.” Gray whales love the “sweet water” flowing from the grove’s lagoons into the Pacific, and they graze and bathe here every winter. Some whales nuzzle “right up to the sand bar.” Several haciendas in town have been converted into small, luxurious inns—including the Todos Santos Inn, which was “formerly home to a sugar cane baron in the mid-1800s.”

A crafts center in Michoacán
Michoacán state on Mexico’s southwestern coast is not only one of the country’s “premier crafts centers,” said Gisela Williams in The New York Times. Until recently it was also “home to some of Mexico’s most notorious drug kingpins.” Today the marijuana fields are gone, and the newly constructed Highway 37 is attracting more visitors than just backpackers and crafts collectors. The best place from which to tour Michoacán is the centrally located town of Pátzcuaro. “Its colonial architecture hasn’t changed much since the 16th century,” and in the past decade the area has become home to “a booming expat community.” Pátzcuaro’s town square, the Plaza Don Vasco de Quiroga, is bordered by a “stone arcade filled with craft shops and cafes.” Two popular nearby destinations are Capula and Santa Clara del Cobre. Capula is famed for its decorative ceramics, while the quaint, atelier-lined streets of Santa Clara del Cobre flash “with glittering copper pans, decorative sinks, and enormous cauldrons.”