Also referred to as el Bajío, this area (parts of the states of Guanajuato, Querétaro, and Michoacán) really is the heartland of Mexico—geographically and historically. This is where men and women first fought and died for national independence, and where a 60-foot-high statue of Christ the King (Cristo Rey) keeps watch from atop the highest mountain in Guanajuato. The main attraction of the region is a collection of colonial cities, many former silver-and-gold-mining centers. Beyond city life, the mountains beckon intrepid bike riders, and natural hot springs invite all to relax.
- Experiencing modern life amid colonial grandeur The Heartland's cities preserve the best of colonial Mexico, but they're not stuck in the past. All of the cities except Pátzcuaro appear on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites. Each has its own personality, restaurant scene, nightlife, and classic main plaza, usually anchored by a grand colonial church.
- Enjoying the outdoors The region's near-perfect weather, along with its farmland, hills, river valleys, and archaeological sites afford many opportunities for walking, horseback riding, mountain biking, or just sitting and soaking up the sun in one of the region’s many hot springs.
- A calendar full of festivals From the Los Locos parade and impressive patron-saint’s-day festivities in San Miguel de Allende to Pátzcuaro's elaborate Day of the Dead rituals and an extended uproar over Independence Day holidays, they're always celebrating something somewhere.
- Staying in a hacienda Colonial mansions with gracious courtyards and historic haciendas are ubiquitous in the Heartland, and many have been restored into gorgeous hotels where you can fall asleep to the strumming of guitars in a nearby plaza.
- The chance to see millions of butterflies Monarchs migrate to the Santuario de Mariposas el Rosario, 115 km (71 miles) east of Morelia, between late November and March. The pine forest, layered with orange-and-black butterflies, looks as if it's on fire.