7 Places to Celebrate Hispanic Heritage

Enjoy an enlightening trip when you visit one of these destinations filled with Hispanic culture and history.

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Photo by Sydney Rae/Unsplash

National Hispanic Heritage Month kicks off on September 15, honoring the histories, cultures, and contributions of Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, Central and South America, and other locales with Hispanic influence. Celebrate the rich culture at any time by traveling to these destinations filled with local culture, culinary heritage, traditional art and architecture, and natural wonders. Here are seven places and their highlights for a Hispanic culture-filled trip.

Zihuatanejo, Mexico

Zihuatanejo (called Zihua—“zee-hwa”—by locals) is a nearly undiscovered town. With a white-sand beach, waterfront fish shacks, stylish places to stay, and a laid-back vibe, it’s the perfect destination if you’re looking for an authenic Mexican fishing village atmosphere. Zihuatanejo’s Playa la Ropa (the real-life fantasy beach from The Shawshank Redemption) could not feel further from the bustle of Mexico City, despite being just 40 minutes away by plane. The half-mile swath of Mexican beach running along a protected bay of the Pacific offers a more tranquil scene and fewer crowds than the Caribbean-coast beaches of Cancun and Tulum.

The Florida Keys, USA

For a passport-free alternative to the Caribbean, warm sunshine, fresh seafood, and stellar beaches make the Florida Keys ideal. Check out the many beachfront hotels channeling the easygoing way of life for which more far-flung destinations are known. Casa Morada, an all-suite boutique hotel on Islamorada, celebrates its place in the tropics through landscape design by Raymond Jungles, whose signature style lends a, well, jungle ambience reminiscent of such green Caribbean islands as St. Lucia and Dominica. A dreamy beachfront resort, the Reach offers a Caribbean-style sun-worshipping experience with powdery sand and crystal-clear water. The beach here conjures up islands like St. Bart’s and Grand Cayman.

Cuba

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Take a music-centric trip to Cuba, the birthplace of Latin jazz (also called Afro-Cuban jazz). Visit La Esquina Jazz, a lively social club in Havana’s Santa Amalia neighborhood, where people gather to listen and dance to vinyl. Teatro Mella, a 1,500-seat theater in the Vedado neighborhood, is a cultural landmark in Havana and the go-to place for folkloric performances, variety shows, and traditional music and dance festivals. Just about 45 minutes southeast of Havana in a tiny village called Güines, check out Tata Güines Museum, the former home of Federico Arístides Soto Alejo (aka Tata Güines), who was a Cuban percussionist widely regarded as a master of the conga drum and a pioneer of Afro-Cuban jazz.

Atacama, Chile

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One of the driest places in the world, Chile’s northern Atacama Desert is a high Andean plateau with lunar-like geology best described as otherworldly with its rock and salt formations, palette of colors, visibility for miles, and clear night skies. Located a few miles outside of San Pedro de Atacama, the Valle de la Luna (or Moon Valley) will make you feel like you’re visiting another planet. The deep red rocks, massive sand dunes, and speckling of salt across the surface are like nowhere else on Earth.

Patagonia, Chile/Argentina

Look no further than Patagonia if you want the ultimate South American road trip filled with adrenaline-spiking nature adventures, authentic culture, and fairy-tale scenery. Stretching across Argentina and Chile in the northern reaches of Patagonia, the wondrous Lake District is one of the most epic self-drive journeys on the continent. A network of scenic roads and highways winds through the region’s wild national parks, fabled lakes, icy peaks, and trout-filled rivers. Charming Andean villages recall the homelands of the area’s Bavarian settlers, and top-end lodges offer peaceful respite and lakefront vistas to unwind after an action-packed day.

Mexico City, Mexico

The nation’s capital is one of the best places to visit for vibrant culture. We recommend checking out Colonia Roma. Now considered one of the hippest neighborhoods in Mexico City, Colonia Roma is divided into two sections by Coahuila Street; Roma Norte plays host to many of the city’s buzziest locales, while Roma Sur maintains a slightly more residential feel. To experience the authentic, old-school charm of the neighborhood, visit some of the many local antique shops, galleries, restaurants, and hotels that called Colonia Roma home long before it was credited as cool.

Costa Rica

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Costa Rica offers the stuff of vacation advertisements: horses galloping on a white-sand beach, surfers crouched in a barrel wave, sea turtles nesting near the ocean. The country has more than 800 miles of coastline and 300 postcard-perfect beaches, divided between its Pacific and Caribbean sides, making it an ideal spot for beach lovers. And there’s more. Spend time in nature by heading out on hiking trails around La Fortuna, watching for animals in the Monteverde Cloud Forest, or visiting any of many wildlife refuges.

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