Monterrey in a bustling industrial city located in the state of Nuevo León in the northeastern part of Mexico. The city is surrounded by mountains and is the perfect place to visit for anyone seeking outdoor adventure while experiencing some Hispanic culture.
It had been more than 6 years years since our last family trip to Monterrey. It was a short trip, mainly to visit family, and the kids were fairly little at the time so their memories of Mexico are pretty minimal.
Our close friends have been wanting to visit Monterrey specifically for the reputation of their national parks so we all decided spring break would be the perfect time to take a vacation together.
Getting to Monterrey
When we travel by air, we almost always fly with American Airlines (due to personal reasons, driving through Mexico was not an option for us). In our experience, airfare to Mexico can be fairly inexpensive. We booked our itinerary 2 weeks before our desired departure date and were able to find roundtrip flights from Dallas to Monterrey for $200. The flight was non-stop and travel time was about 70 minutes.
Renting a Car
We rented a 14-passenger van that comfortably fit all our family and friends. My husband’s family, who reside in Mexico, found the rental vehicle for us so it definitely worked out in our favor that they were able coordinate this whole effort. They secured the reservation, picked up the van, and scooped us up from the airport when our flight arrived.
If you plan on renting a car, thoroughly do your research before making any payments, and be prepared to drive a standard! 🙂
We spent our first day in Monterrey reuniting with family, eating lots of food, and getting settled in for what would be a busy few days.
When we arrived at my husband’s uncle’s house, lunch was already prepared and waiting for us. We ate barbacoa tacos (better known as lengua/cow tongue) and then headed off for a little stroll to a nearby convenience store to pick up some drinks and snacks.
My husband’s family was preparing for a big dinner that evening to honor the 2 year anniversary of his late grandmother’s passing. We snacked on tostadas before dinner and then filled our tummies with fajitas and charro beans.
We wanted to get a head start driving into the mountains to do some site seeing so our second day started bright and early. We drove to Santiago in Nuevo Leon to see the Cola de Caballo waterfalls, which is located in the Parque Nacional Cumbres de Monterrey.
The older kids ziplined across the park and we did a little market shopping along the way.
Our friends wanted to try cabrito (roasted young goat), a delicacy that Monterrey is well known for, and received a recommendation to a popular restaurant called El Rey del Cabrito.
My husband ordered a dish of machito (large cut portions of organs, liver, heart, lung, kidney, fat, etc. wrapped in cleaned small intestine) and cabrito guiso (stew). The kids and I stayed in our comfort zones and ordered beef fajitas and papas.
I can’t personally speak about the experience of eating it myself, but many people rave about the taste and tenderness of cabrito. If you are not advantageous when it comes to food, just be aware that this restaurant offered few alternative meat options to cabrito.
After our unique eating experience, we strolled through Fundidora Park, located on the grounds of a previous steel factory, Fundidora Monterrey.
The park features lots of greenspace, playgrounds, paved trails for bikes and skaters, fountains, large scale industrial structures, and steel making machinery that was preserved to represent Monterrey’s history. Inside the park, there are many attractions like a skating rink, indoor arena, auditorium, convention center, a museum, water attractions, and many restaurants.
We grabbed coffee from a little cafe inside the park and the kids ran around and played on the playgrounds. We also found a zipline attraction that the littler kids were able to do so it was a win win day for everyone!
We spent a good portion of our third day driving to Bustamente, Nuevo Leon to see a tour of the Grutas de Bustamente (Palmito Caves). The inside of these natural caves are filled with stalactites and stalagmites, and since marine fossils can be found along the cave walls, scientists believe these caves were once submerged in sea water millions of years ago.
After the cave tour, we ate lunch at local restaurant called La Casa de Maria. The food was fresh and delicious! We had caldo (beef stew), chicken taquitos, and a variety of tacos.
Our evening ended with a large family gather, more tacos, and ice cream for the kiddos!
Monterrey is well known for its mountainous surroundings and Cerro de la Silla is a popular one in the area. The mountain is located in Guadalupe, but can be clearly seen from Monterrey and is easily recognized by it’s saddle-shaped peak.
Many visit Cerro de la Silla to hike up the 3.5 mile trail to reach the top, but there is a platform about halfway up the mountain that allows hikers to see a beautiful panoramic view of Monterrey.
All of us made the 2 mile trek halfway up together, but our friends ventured onward and continued their way to the top while my family headed back to the bottom of the mountain. The descent down the mountain was noticeably more difficult and took over an hour for us to reach the bottom.
We refueled our bodies at Tortas Bernal Mirador while we waited for our friends to finish their hike. The service was quick and the tortas were delicious! They remind me of a sub sandwich with shredded taco meat.
After our friends finished their long hike, we enjoyed dinner at a restaurant and bar called Zitla y Zicatela. The portions of food were plentiful and the service was great! Afterwards, we enjoyed a boat ride down the river located in Fundidora Park.
We spent our final day in Monterrey at Mercado Juarez where we did some market shopping before heading back to Dallas. We didn’t have much time to explore the entire place but there were many vendors selling all sorts of cute items such as sandals, shoes, blankets, ponchos, toys, kitchenware and food.
Until next time Monterrey!