With its endless selection of coastal towns and the favorable exchange rate between the peso and the U.S. dollar, Mexico is usually a safe bet for those in search of a sunny budget getaway. To help with that search, the folks at the online travel site Hipmunk crunched the numbers, analyzing historical flight and booking data to come up with numerous destinations in Mexico where it's possible to enjoy a quick escape for under $1,000 per person -- a price that includes three nights in a hotel and airfare. These are 11 destinations you need to know about. (Note: This article was first published on Aug. 1, and the prices cited here reflect the summer rates. Hipmunk, however, has also calculated average prices for numerous destinations for each month of the year, noting some prices can be even lower in the fall.)
11 Mexico Vacations That'll Cost Less Than $1,000
Average hotel cost: $375
Average airfare: $537
A wildly popular beach resort town on Mexico's Pacific Coast, Acapulco sits on a large bay and is surrounded by the Sierra Madre del Sur mountains. If you're looking for nightlife with your beach getaway, Acapulco is the place. It's also a destination loaded with golf courses. And don't miss witnessing professional divers jumping 100 feet from the jagged La Quebrada cliff into a tiny ocean cove. The divers perform for the public every day.
Average hotel cost: $376
Average airfare: $530
Cozumel is ideal for those in search of a quieter getaway. Much less developed than destinations such as Cancun or Acapulco, this island is popular with scuba divers. At the Arrecifes de Cozumel National Park, divers can explore parts of the Mesoamerican Reef, the second-largest reef system in the world. Chankanaab, an eco park created around a lagoon that's home to dolphins, manatees, and sea turtles, is another popular attraction.
Average hotel cost: $260
Average airfare: $320
The third-largest coastal community on Mexico's Baja California peninsula, Ensenada is affectionately called "The Cinderella of the Pacific." It is a lovely seaport town just south of San Diego, where top activities include surfing, sea kayaking and horseback riding. There's also plenty of nightlife and nearby vineyards that offer wine tasting. If you time your visit right, it's also possible to spot gray whales passing by offshore here between December and April.
Average hotel cost: $234
Average airfare: $382
If tequila and mariachi music are on your to-do list, look no further than the western Mexican city of Guadalajara. Beyond the popular music scene, Guadalajara offers charming and historic colonial plazas and cultural and architectural attractions such as the Teatro Degollado, known both for its neoclassical design and the unique shows it stages. Another top cultural attraction is the Palacio del Gobierno, a baroque-style palace that housed the Mexican parliament in the 19th century and now showcases murals by painter José Clemente Orozco.
Average hotel cost: $464
Average airfare: $419
A very modern beach town dominated by high-rises, resorts, bars, and restaurants, Ixtapa is located on Mexico's Pacific Coast. Don't miss Playa La Ropa, which means clothing beach. Not only is this uniquely named beach one of the city's largest, it is also lauded by many travel experts as its most stunning, lined by open-air restaurants and offering calm waters that are safe for kids.
Average hotel cost: $435
Average airfare: $555
In addition to long stretches of sandy beach, Mazatlán is known the world over for its big-game fishing. There are also historic sites, monuments, and statues throughout the city, including the Immaculate Conception basilica, a baroque-style structure built in 1856. And beer fans may want to take note -- Mazatlán is home to the Pacifico brewery, which makes one of Mexico's most popular beers.
Average hotel cost: $276
Average airfare: $354
Yet another destination that doesn't involve beaches, Monterrey is popular among those looking to explore mountains and canyons. One of the top tourist choices here is Parque Ecologico Chipinque, a mountainside reserve that offers 22 miles of trails for hiking and biking. Additional highlights include the Museo del Vidrio, which showcases Mexican glassmaking and antique glassware or the Museo Metropolitano, a more than 150-year old museum that houses art and artifacts tied to the history of the city and region.
Average hotel cost: $200
Average airfare: $652
A fascinating destination in Southern Mexico, visitors to Oaxaca can explore indigenous cultures; a capital city where colonial buildings are made from green volcanic stone; and pre-Columbian archaeological sites that date to about 500 B.C. Among the top sights here is the UNESCO World Heritage site Monte Albán, a preserved Zapotec city where there are pyramids, temples and plazas perched on a mountain 1,300 feet above Oaxaca Valley.
Average hotel cost: $549
Average airfare: $402
One of Mexico's most iconic beach destinations, Puerto Vallarta includes all the classic attractions you'd expect -- watersports, nightlife and quaint cobblestone streets where you can find shops, churches, and more. The city's beachside promenade, which runs parallel to Banderas Bay, is lined by contemporary sculptures, bars, lounges, and nightclubs. If you can pry yourself away from the beach (or you're looking for a quiet break), check out the Botanical Gardens of Vallarta, which feature a variety of wild flowers and insects.
Average hotel cost: $492
Average airfare: $320
Another town on Mexico's Baja Peninsula, just south of San Diego, Rosarito is nightlife central, with beach activities mixed in for good measure. The offshore Rosarito Underwater Park, an artificial reef that includes the remains of a former Navy ship, is also popular. Spa lovers may also want to take note -- Rosarito is known as the spa capital of Baja California, Mexico. Massage, anyone?
Average hotel cost: $274
Average airfare: $320
If bullfighting is something you enjoy watching, put Tijuana on your list. International exhibitions take place throughout the year here. But not to worry, if this sport isn't for you, Tijuana, a border city just south of San Diego, also offers abundant shopping (particularly along Revolution Avenue) and nightclubs. This sprawling city is also home to a growing arts community, and at Tijuana Cultural Center there are sculpture, painting and photography exhibits.
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