When in Regiolandia, Do as the Regios Do: 32 Must See Hipster and Not-so-hipster Sites in Monterrey, Nuevo León, Mexico

So, I know this is probably my hoakiest, corniest post ever but...I have been asked by several friends in Texas to give them tips on things to see in Monterrey. Or I have been asked, Is there anything to see in MTY? And after being asked these questions several times, I decided just to post these places on the blog so everyone would have access to the list.  

(First, I should mention a little about the beauty of Monterrey. I love it. Especially for Texans it is a breath of fresh air. Nine hours by bus or car, less by plane. Taxis, bars, cantinas, clubs, food, museums, clowns, bloqueos, history, culture, cerros, nature. And the city feels urban, not like most of Texas which simmers somewhere between rural and suburban everywhere including the cities. You don’t need a car to get around and people are, well, people. Yes, there is crime, a major drug war, trouble, but let’s not let centuries of stereotypes about Mexico get in the way of the fact that the city has beauty and much to offer. And after living in Monterrey a year and many, many visits, I have no bad stories to report. Knock on wood. Take that FoxNews. So yeah, if you live in Texas, you don’t need a lot of money to go: just hop on a bus or hop in your car or hop on VivaAerobus and get to Monterrey. And no, it is not exotic. Yes, it is a huge city, very industrial. So if you aren’t ready for this raucous, gritty city, then skip it and head to San Miguel de Allende or Cancún or Oaxaca. But if you are willing to deal with some obvious flaws, the joys are real.)

So here goes the list (in no particular order):

1.La Macroplaza – The most obvious destination with multiple statues, protests, old folks dancing, clowns performing, cheap massages y más y más.

2. La Huasteca - Sheer cliff faces, rockclimbing. The wind rushing through the canyons. Huge mountains of lightcolored rock. Like half an hour from the Centro.

3. Paseo Santa Lucia - The new riverwalk. Worth a long walk from the Macroplaza to the Parque Fundidora.  Monterrey trying to copy San Antonio, ah, crossborder imitation.  The best.

4. Pulga del Puente del Papa - Sprawling market under a looping bridge over the Río Santa Catarina just outside of the Centro. The bridge was built as a stage for the Pope when he came to Monterrey in 1979. And now this is one of the biggest flea markets in town, stocked with pirata everything, a varied assortment of junk, metal, shoes, antiques, gorditas, tacos, fresh fruit. Packed with viejos, colombianos, vatos, rucas, niños, un poco de todo.

5. Optician Row - Also just outside the Centro on Washington there is a huge number of optical stores with modern and vintage frames and decent prices.

6. Parque de Chipinque - Supposed to be beautiful nature and hiking and one of the best views of the city.  Never made it, cuz the supposedly free buses never came.

7. El Obispado - Old building from colonial period on hill.  Typical tourist site.

8. MARCO - Main contemporary arts museum in MTY on Macroplaza and near the Barrio Antiguo.  Rotating exhibits are usually mentally stimulating.

9. El Barrio Antiguo - Rustic cafes, funny stores, pumping club scene every weekend night.  Human waves of hipsters and clubbers and kids.

10. Garage - A laidback hipster club in the Barrio Antiguo with huge murals, an outdoor stage, an empty concrete vibe, falling apart but coming back.  Rocks.

11. Reforma - Old time drinking spot with woodpaneled walls and a rad waitress.  Writers and artists gather on Friday night specially.

12. El Jardín - Mala muerte gay bar in the wrong part of town.  Don't go and ruin it for the rest of us.

13. Queen or Parking - Cosmopolitan gay bars in the right part of the town.  Go to these.  That's fine.

14. Cafe Nuevo Brasil - Washington and Zaragoza. Decent breakfasts and soulful singing and poetry and medio mundillo literario.

15. Mercado Juárez - A huge old time market, dirty and packed, selling everything. The streets around the Mercado have fruit, meat, cheap food, used books, a unending parade of cheese, mandarins, junk, peppers and soap.

16. Metrorrey - The Metro. Ride it to Exposición Ganadera when there is a fair. Or just ride around and look at the cute young people with mullets, rattails, neon colors and more. Urban urban.

17. La Presa - Driving out the Carretera Nacional, the Presa is just outside the city. Worth checking out, getting elotes and checking out the tons of stores selling wood furniture and Mexican curios at the turnoff from the Carretera Nacional to go to the Presa. Oh, Presa means resevoir and it is like a big lake.

18. Villa de Santiago - Cute, quaint colonial town near the Presa and on the way to the Cola de Caballo waterfall.  Looks like straight out of a Mexican Golden Age flick.  The town fathers were probably going for that look.

19. Vegetarian food places - Superbom and Mei Wei Chinese Vegetarian (both near the Plaza Morelos, pedestrian zone).   Find the truth now.

20. Cola de Caballo - Horsetail Falls. Never been but it is supposed to be worth a trip. Everytime I try to go I end up getting sidetracked by other sites like La Presa, Santiago, caves, rivers and whatnot.

21. Pulga Río – Worth a trip for pirata movies and clothes and also the strangest sight: stalls selling gringo goods. Like in Texas, there are stalls selling Mexican products, here there are stalls selling gringo crap like Mac and Cheese, cleaning products and Pringles.

22. San Pedro – A smaller city connected to Monterrey (part of the metro area), San Pedro is the wealthiest city in Latin American. They say. Check out the central square, narco mansions, grass, trees and general upper classness.

23. Palacio de Hierro – Big mall on the way to San Pedro with some cool stores like British clothes store Pull And Bear. Good deals for Eurotrash clothes.

24. Plaza Morelos – The pedestrian area for walking and shopping and people watching.  Must see Timo's animals at least from the windows if you can't stomach the confined animals.

25. Café Iguana –  Rock/metal/caguamas in the Barrio Antiguo.

26. La Internacional –  Salsa and cumbia spot on Madero near Feliz U. Gomez.

27. El Alameda – Plaza. Lots of immigrants from other parts of Mexico strolling on Sundays.

28. Parque Fundidora - Big museums about steel and photography. A park built on land that used to be the main steel foundry in the city. Huge bike and walking paths, rent a bike, explore with your own killer bike club.

29. Cintermex - Hulking eighties convention center right next to the Parque Fundidora. International Book Fair in October.  Check it out.

30. Any street corner - Soak it in. You're in the third largest city in Mexico.

31. Farmacias Similares - Get your health care.  Doctor visit is 30 pesos.

32. Pirata markets near Juárez and Colón (Cuauhtemoc metro stop) - Buy your fútbol t-shirts, your pirata videos, locally produced porn, everything you could want or need.

Any questions or additions, feel free to comment.