The charms of Tequisquiapan (Tequis), which attract so many weekenders from such places as Mexico City and Queretaro City are not yet as well-known by international tourists. Located in central Mexico in the southern region of the state of Querétaro, the quaint town and municipality is one of Mexico’s best kept secrets.
From the Miguel Hidalgo Plaza, the traditional Main Square, with its cobblestone streets, colorful bougainvillea gardens, market stalls lined up to sell handcrafted jewelry adorned with locally mined gem-stones and hand-woven baskets, and local music permeating the air, to its 18-hole golf course, Tequis is a 300 year-old colonial town in which you can relax in quaint cafés, sip delicious local wines, soak in natural spring spas, and enjoy hospitable people.
Tequis caters to its weekend visitors, who step out of their bustling cities to enter the peaceful, relaxed, pretty environment that is Tequis. Some of the weekenders have constructed weekend homes here, keeping the designs consistent with the one- to two-story houses with wrought iron fixtures, window boxes, and balconies that are found throughout the town.
People come here to enjoy the town’s thermal water spas, known here as “balenarios”. Along with regular spa businesses, several local hotels, some of which are converted haciendas, boast thermal water spas, as well.
Another big attraction and the municipality’s claim to fame is the locally produced wine. Wine production is fairly new here, having begun as recent as the 1960’s, but it has become so important to this municipality that the grapes are featured on the municipality’s seal. To celebrate its virtues and that of cheese producers of southern Queretaro, the town hosts the annual National Cheese and Wine Fair.
The fair’s main activities take place in La Pila Park, but cultural events, conferences, contests, handcraft exhibits, food kiosks, and concerts are found at other locations throughout town. Local, national and international wine and cheese producers participate in this exciting event, and so can you!
Incidentally, Tequis is featured on the state of Querétaro’s Wine Route (Ruta de Vino).
Tequis' other highlights include:
Miguel Hidalgo Plaza – this is the town center and Main Square, flanked by the 19th century Temple of Santa Maria de la Asuncion and a clock tower on one side and stone arches on the other, it is encircled by shops, galleries, and restaurants. Here is where both locals and tourists gather to relax in the colonial atmosphere of Old Mexico, take in local music, or participate in the current celebration or festival.
Shop the Handcraft’s Market – for items, such as furniture made from wicker, rattan, or wood, embroidered linens, ceramics, baskets, and of course jewelry. There are also numerous street vendors, particularly around the Main Square, selling sweet breads, dried fruit, and crystallized nopal cactus, a sweet unique to Tequis.
Tour by Trolley – take a guided tour to view the town’s most important sites, monuments, and legends.
Legend Walking Tour – take a guided tour conducted by professional actors who reenact various historical and legendary scenes throughout town.
La Pila Park – the most popular park in the municipality is located just north of the Main Square. It contains fresh water springs and lawns for picnicking and other activities.
Water Parks – the town has several water parks featuring spring-fed swimming pools.
The Vineyards – the vineyards of Cavas Freixenet and La Redonda are located a short distance to the north of Tequis and offer daily tours, free of charge. Here you’ll learn about the winemaking process and sample their wonderful wines. An interesting note about the Cavas Freixenet winery is its wine cellar which was constructed 82 feet beneath the ground.
La Carbonera Opal Mine – located about 7 miles from Tequis, it is one of Mexico’s top opal producers. Tour the mine for some exciting mining stories!
Cactus Nurseries – nearby Tequis are the Quinta Fernando Schmoll and the Manuel Gonzalez de Cosio Regional Botanic Garden, centers for growing, conserving, and exhibiting various cacti species from around the world.
Bullfights – see a traditional bullfight, or take in Tequis’ annual Bullfight Fair. The fair takes place in March and features bullfights, flamenco dancers, and cultural art exhibits.
Visit Nearby Towns – the very small picturesque village of San Sebastian, a designated Pueblo Mágico (Magic Town), and the city of San Juan Del Rio with its ancient churches, both offer several exciting attractions that merit seeing.
The Basket Museum (Museo de La Canasta) – take a guided tour to meet basket craftsmen and watch them at work. The woven baskets make great souvenirs and are available, among other items, in the museum’s gift shop.
Ancient Chapels – in the town’s two oldest neighborhoods of Barrio de la Magdalena and San Juan, are several chapels built during the colonial era. An interesting note about Barrio de la Magdalena’s main chapel is that it has a huge mesquite tree growing in its atrium.
With so many great attractions, this quaint, charming town will not be a mere hidden gem for long!