Calle de Motolinia 20, Centro Histórico, Centro, 06010 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico
Mexico City’s Centro Histórico has some fine bars, clubs, restaurants, and hotels where you can enjoy a copa or a cocktail, but if you’re looking for a side of good jazz to go along with your drink, then, the place is Zinco. Housed inside the vault of a former bank, Zinco feels old-school atmospheric and its small size keeps things intimate. Shows feature both Mexican (yes, there’s a thriving jazz scene in Mexico) and international artists. Arrive early to ensure you snag one of the few tables and a waiter who will dedicate himself to refreshing your cocktails throughout the night.
Eje Central Lázaro Cárdenas 43, Centro, Cuauhtémoc, 06000 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico
They’ve been popularized and commercialized in movies and may even seem to be a cultural stereotype of sorts, but visit Mexico City‘s Plaza Garibaldi on any given evening and you’ll soon see that the tradition of mariachis is alive and well and very much a part of modern culture. Mariachis gather at Plaza Garibaldi nightly, waiting to be hired for an off-site event or an impromptu in-the-plaza serenade. You can even negotiate for a few songs yourself, or, if you prefer, sit in the plaza and watch the action as mariachis in a variety of outfits wait for work. Although Plaza Garibaldi has spiffed up a bit in recent years (particularly with the opening of the Museum of Tequila and Mezcal a few years ago), it does have a seedy underbelly. It’s best not to bring your valuables, and if you enter one of the bars on the plaza’s periphery, stay sober enough to keep your wits about you. A popular Garibaldi scam is to invite unsuspecting tourists to several rounds of drinks and then stick them with an astronomical bill.
Miguel Hidalgo, Mexico City, CDMX, Mexico
Mexico City is often depicted—and not incorrectly—as a capital city teeming with buildings, people, and cars. It also, though, has a surprising number of green spaces and parks, the most expansive of which is Bosque de Chapultepec, right on the edge of Polanco. It’s easy to while away a good bit of time in Chapultepec; the park has a zoo, a lake where you can rent pedal boats, street performers making music and magic, and the Castillo de Chapultepec—Chapultepec Castle—which houses the National History Museum. If you’re hungry, you’ll find plenty of vendors peddling everything from roasted corn on the cob to cotton candy.
Bosque de Chapultepec I Secc, 11100 Mexico City, CDMX, Mexico
Initially constructed as a host venue for the 1954 Central American and Caribbean Games, the Auditorio Nacional has seen the top names in sports and the performing arts fill its halls in sixty years since it was inaugurated. The auditorium is an obligatory stop on the concert circuit for musicians and groups of all genres. In recent years, its stage has hosted a who’s who of pop musicians: everyone from Marc Anthony and home-turf favorites Alejandro Fernández and La Oreja de Van Gogh to Metallica and Michael Buble.
Av. Viaducto Rio de la Piedad S/N, Granjas México, 08400 Iztacalco, CDMX, Mexico
Foro Sol, like Auditorio Nacional, is a massive venue for big concerts, and if your favorite group hasn’t played Auditorio Nacional, it’s probably taken the stage at Foro Sol. Newer than Auditorio Nacional (it was built in 1993), Foro Sol is also an entirely different kind of venue; the Auditorio is entirely indoors, while Foro Sol is a stadium. Familiar names who have played here in recent years include Bon Jovi, Joan Baez, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and Tool, among dozens of others.