Located in northern Mexico, Monterrey is the country's third-largest city and a bustling center of industry and commerce. Most visitors travel to Monterrey on business, but the city does have a few attractions for leisure and cultural travelers. Monterrey is far from the calm fishing villages or colonial towns you might associate with Mexico, but a good place to understand the country's modern history, rub elbows with Mexico's business elite, or enjoy outdoor pursuits in the surrounding mountains.
Monterrey's huge Macro Plaza actually is five plazas stringed together and is the largest public space in Mexico. The Macro Plaza includes many of the city's modernist landmarks, such as the tall Faro del Comercio -- a thin decorative tower with a green light that sweeps through the city by night -- and the modern concrete city hall. The plaza also includes a number of finely landscaped green spaces and historical architecture such as the city's 18th-century cathedral. Don't miss the contemporary art museum (MARCO), the finest modern-art museum outside Mexico City.
Parque Fundidora and Museo del Obispado
Parque Fundidora is an old steel mill turned urban park. Between industrial brick and old chimneys, Parque Fundidora includes lakes, green areas, performance spaces and an old ore elevator that takes you to the top of a blast furnace for a complete panoramic view of the city and surrounding mountains. The Museo del Obispado is located in the old bishop's palace, a stunning 18th-century building with an intricate facade and a good regional history museum inside. The museum is located on the top of the city's tallest hill and is well worth the visit if only for the view from the adjacent lookout point.
Monterrey's small historical district is home to some modest colonial buildings and much of the city's nightlife. The narrow streets can be a good place to escape from modern Monterrey's bustling pace by day. By night, the area comes alive with restaurants, bars and nightclubs. The central Zocalo square is surrounded by clubs offering different musical styles and atmospheres, all of which are packed on weekends. You also can find smaller bars and restaurants offering live music and regional cuisine such as slow-roasted goat.
The jagged mountain landscape surrounding Monterrey has countless opportunities for hiking, sightseeing and rock climbing. Rock climbers head to the Potrero Chico or San Cristobal canyons located outside the city. For hiking, head to the La Estanzuela Natural Park, also a good destination to see birds and butterflies. The large Chipitin and Cola de Caballo waterfalls are located outside Monterrey and are good family weekend destinations. For underground wonders, the Garcia Caves are about 40 minutes from downtown Monterry and have huge galleries covered with stalagmites, stalactites and several peculiar rock formations.