With its stunning natural landscape, luxe yet laid-back bars and restaurants, and cobblestone-lined streets, Valle de Bravo should be your next destination within a destination.
When the Hamptons are too cold and Lake Como is simply too far, where exactly can you find a stylish, secluded getaway just a quick international flight away? You might be surprised to hear that your ideal waterside resort is south of the border—and no, it’s not a Cancun all-inclusive. Roughly two hours west of Mexico City, you’ll discover the village of Valle de Bravo, a chic yet sporty retreat for Mexico City’s rich and elite, situated on Lake Avándaro. The town’s main shopping street has all of the familiar signs of affluent urban life—upscale coffee shops, high-end furniture shops, art galleries, gourmet restaurants, and trendy bars—yet Valle de Bravo retains an old-world charm, through its cobblestone-lined streets and colonial buildings. The lakeside location also makes the area a natural choice for active sports like waterskiing, sailing, and paragliding. What’s more, with mild temperatures well into December, it’s a natural choice for a quick weekend getaway.
If you’re feeling adventurous, Valle de Bravo has become a favorite spot for paragliders. The landscape and atmospheric conditions are ideal for free flight, and paragliding can be done almost year-round. There are several paragliding options available around town, like Flumen Paragliding, whose experienced instructors have even won paragliding competitions. After a half hour of gliding around the valley and the lake, over the classic houses and thick forests from above, you’ll touch down at Club de Vela Santa Maria, ready for the next adventure. And have no fear: Beginners will always fly with an instructor on their first flight.
For a different kind of bird’s-eye view of the city, head to Velo de Novia, a forested park that’s home to a crystal-clear waterfall. You can bike or hike up the trail to the 115-foot falls. After reaching the falls, you can continue down to the base of the waterfall and the blue lagoon below.
Every November, Valle de Bravo receives millions of visitors of a different kind: monarch butterflies making their way to Mexico from the U.S. and Canada. These colorful creatures travel more than 3,000 miles to settle on oyamel firs in the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve on the outskirts of town.
It’s about a 30-minute walk through the forest to reach the sanctuary, where the butterflies congregate. On a cloudy day, the butterflies will group together on the tree branches, but on a sunny day, you’ll be swarmed by hundreds of them flying around the trees. If you’re really feeling adventurous, you can take the trip through the forest on a guided horseback tour (though you’ll need to do the last leg on foot).
After a full day of activity by the lake, you can go back to the comforts of city life by checking into La Casa Rodavento, a 20th-century mansion recently transformed into the town’s first boutique hotel. (The hotel also has a shuttle to and from Mexico City, making this weekend getaway as easy as it could be.)
Designed by Mariana Valero, a Mexican artist living in Guadalajara, the exclusive hotel features seven luxury suites, some with private terraces and direct access to the rooftop Jacuzzi, which has a full view of the lake and the town below. Each room is distinct, but spacious Suite 2 has a unique modern feel complete with a head-turning black steel staircase that leads to a private roof deck with expansive views of the town’s towering cathedral.
The hotel’s restaurant, Nuestro, is headed by Chef Diego Isunza Kahlo—nephew of the painter everyone knows and loves. Kahlo’s menu focuses on preserving locally sourced Mexican ingredients and recipes, like his classic pozole, made with suckling pig and cacahuacintle corn. His relationship with local suppliers and small producers is a key part of the dining experience there, and he is happy to take guests into the town’s “100 market” (where all goods are from less than 100 miles away, natch) for a farm-to-table cooking class back at the restaurant.
For a more casual meal, the lakeside embarcadero is lined with michelada bars serving pitchers of the spicy traditional beverage, and abundant taco carts, where sizzling bistec and lengua tacos are loaded up with fresh cilantro, onions, and homemade hot sauce. A trip to Valle de Bravo isn’t complete without a visit to Mercado de Artesanías, an arts and crafts market where you’ll discover stall after stall of works from Guerrero, Jalisco, Michoacan, and more. In addition to colorful Mazahua fabrics, you’ll find Otumba pottery and handcrafted wood furniture.
Afterward, as you gaze up at the 17th-century Templo de Santa María of Ahuacatlán while music from a local band spills over the lakeside city park, you’ll begin to see why Valle de Bravo is considered one of Mexico’s “pueblos mágicos,” or magic cities.
Source: architectural digest
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