Things to Do in Monterrey
Macro Plaza - cutting its way down the city center, this plaza spans over 100 acres. It is lined with imposing modern buildings and monuments, interspersed with trees, gardens, and fountains. Actually its an amalgamation of several squares including Esplanada de los Héroes (containing monuments to national heroes), Bosque Hundida (a sunken" garden), Plaza Zaragoza (the citys historic center since 1616) and nearby Plaza Hidalgo.
The zone showcases many of the citys finest 18th and 19th century buildings. Capping the plazas northern end is the Palacio de Gobierno, an attractive neoclassical structure dating to 1908. To the south is the Teatro de la Ciudad, seating 1,500 for cultural performances. Near the plazas southern end is the citys fine baroque Cathedral (dating to 1603- 1753), the Museo de Historia de Nuevo León (housed in the citys former City Hall, dating to 1818), the Palacio Municipal, and the excellent Museo de Arte Contemporáneo [MARCO] (an $11 million facility designed by Ricardo Legorreta, housing contemporary Mexican and Latin American art). Near the Museum is the Santa Lucia River where you can enjoy paddleboats or riverside dining. Running under the plaza is a shopping mall and large parking lot. As if all this werent enough, a 250-foot tall tower just east of the plaza blasts a laser beam over the city each evening.
Barrio Antiguo - just east of the Cathedral and Plaza Zaragoza is the city's Old Quarter. The neighborhood houses numerous grand colonial-era homes, most of which have been restored. The area comes alive during weekends and evenings with outdoor music and theater. There are several bars, discos and cafés serving Mexican and international cuisine.
Zona Rosa - west of the Plaza Zaragoza, and firmly set in the 20th century, this upscale grid of pedestrian arcades is home to many of the city upscale restaurants, trendy shops, and fine hotels.
Bishops Palace (El Obispado) - this lovely palace is on a hill west of the city, with fine views. Built in 1786-87, the palace has a storied past. U.S. general Zachary Taylor used it as a headquarter during the Mexican-American war, as did Pancho Villa years later. It was declared national historic monument in 1932. It now houses the Museo Regional de Nuevo León, a museum with displays ranging from pre-Hispanic artifacts through the Mexican Revolution of 1910.
Basílica del al Purísima - built in the 1940s, this is one of Mexicos most striking post-modern churches. It is noted for its parabolic shell design, an enormous terracotta sculpture, and exquisite stained glass.
Cervecería Cuauhtémoc - this brewery dates to 1890, and produces many of Mexicos renowned beers (Tecate, Carta Blanca, Bohemia). Tours are available (tel. 8-328-5355), and theres a tasting garden for visitors, a baseball museum, and free beer!! Open Mon.Sat., 9:30am-3:00pm.
Parque Plaza Sesamo - a kids theme park with exciting rides, musical shows, water slides, pools and other amusement park attractions. Located near Cintermex Convention Center on the northeastern outskirts of the city. Closed Mondays. Tel. 8- 354-5400.
Grutas de Garcia - a grand series of underground caverns, the Grutas were formed over 50 million years ago and discovered in 1843 by a priest. Some 2 km of illuminated underground trails wind past 37 chambers. This major attraction is 43 km south of Monterrey and accessed via a 700-meter ascent on an aerial tramway.
Bioparque Estrella - Over 6,000 animals from 50 species roam freely at this fascinating zoo without cages." Park spreads of 600 acres. Visitors board palapa-covered buses to tour the park along a seven kilometer route. Theres also a petting zoo, waterfall, and lake with paddle boats and freshwater fishing. Located about 25 miles outside Monterrey on the highway to Rayones. Open year-round from Friday through Sunday, plus holidays. Tel: 8-190-3100