Ihuatzio:A mystical archaeological site with a huge lawn leading to the pyramids (“yácatas”).
Tzintzuntzan:Another excellent archaeological site with their circular “yácatas” (a form of pyramid) just up the hill from the Franciscan Convent (Sixteenth Century, recently restored). The 500-year-old olive trees in the park area in front of the Convent are in-cre-di-ble. The artisan market is outside the entry to the Templo and Convent.
Quiroga:Located at the northern tip of Lake Pátzcuaro, you’ll find many artisan shops. Quiroga is known for its fine leatherwork; the very aroma of leather from the shops acts as a strong lure to enter the establishments. Gastronomically speaking, people come from far and wide to enjoy the delectable carnitas of Quiroga.
Santa Fe de la Laguna:Vasco de Quiroga founded this village with its “State Hospital” (more “shelter”), which was the center of his evangelical work. In this village of cobblestone streets and simple adobe homes, the inhabitants keep alive the native tongue (Purépecha), costume, artisanwork, and other traditions from half a millennium ago.
Oponguio:Known as the principal distillery of the potent “mezcal,” one can also enjoy the traditional Michoacan cuisine and the panoramic view of Lake Pátzcuaro.
Erongaricuaro:This lake-side community produces painted wooden furniture with vivid colors and designs that are immediately identifiable as those of Erongarícuaro. The sixteenth-century religious structures are favorite destinations.
Tócuaro:This is the village world-renowned for its masks; those produced by maestro Juan Orta, in particular, are very much sought after.
Tupátaro:The Capilla (chapel) of Santiago Apóstol is an absolute gem, with its high ceiling that painted by the indigenous artisans of the seventeenth century.
Cuanajo:Makers of detailed wooden furniture. The obliging craftsmen cheerfully make excellent furniture to your specifications.
Santa Clara del Cobre:Santa Clara is another “Pueblo Mágico”– and, as everyone in the area knows, is the place to go if you’re looking for anything made of copper or want to have something made to your specifications. Visit the Copper Museum and La Iglesia de Santa Clara with its huge copper (what else?) chandeliers. The main square features the traditional six-sided kiosk (raised gazebo or bandstand), but with a copper roof. Many of the copper shops have their own copper foundries behind the store. Some shops encourage interested customers to proceed thence to observe their handiwork.
Zirahuén:The deep-blue Lake Zirahuén is the principal attraction of this village, spawning recreational activities such as boating and mountain biking, as well as hotel accommodations and restaurants. The cobblestone Roman-style road between Zirahuén and Santa Clara del Cobre is a nature lover’s dream.
Uruapan:Uruapan, a sizable city located less than an hour to the west of Pátzcuaro, is in the “transition” zone – that between the colder and the warmer climates – making an ideal condition for vigorous flora; the region is known as the Avocado Capital of the World. On the highway between Pátzcuaro and Uruapan, visit Tingambato – another archaeological site. The principal structure is of the more pyramidal shape, as opposed to those of Tzintzuntzan and Ihuatzio, where the tops of the “pyramids” are flat.
The main attractions of Uruapan are:
Parque Nacional, where you will find the mouth of the River Cupatitzio – “the river that sings” – at the highest point of the park. The parque features a footpath that runs from one end of the park to the other, with numerous, surprising water features along the way, and luscious flora to complement them.
The Huatápera, the shelter for the indigenous founded in 1533 by Friar Juan de San Miguel, in historical downtown. Vasco de Quiroga died at this very Huatápera in 1565. It is now home to the Artisan Museum of the Four Indian Peoples of Michoacán (Museo Artesanal de los Cuatro Pueblos Indios de Michoacán). Those indigenous groups are the Purépecha, Nahuas, Otomíes, and Mazahuas.
Twelve kilometers downstream of the mouth of the river is the famous waterfall Tzararacua, an inspiration for many great painters.
A few blocks down the street from the main entrance of the Parque is the Sixteenth-Century Textile Factory of San Pedro (Fábrica Textil de San Pedro), where you will find a huge variety of textile products made using ancient methods on the premises.
Volcán Paricutín:One of the twelve natural wonders of the modern world, Volcán Paricutín is one of the “youngest” volcanoes in the Americas and is the only one witnessed by human eyes (1943). Visit the ruins of San Juan Parangaricutiro, the village devastated by the eruption. Morelia:This majestic, elegant city, full of tradition, was declared by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1991. In the lovely old murals around the historical center, you will see huge images of the viceroy era, and the early murmurings of the first conspirators of the Independence of Mexico