Things to Do in Monterrey
One of the largest squares in the world, Monterrey’s city center Macroplaza is populated by towering monuments, ornate fountains, and numerous historic buildings. Highlights are the Faro del Comercio, a soaring orange sculpture designed by Luis Barragán, as well as a tranquil sunken garden which offers a welcome respite from the surrounding hustle and bustle.
In the García Caves (Grutas de García), a 50-million-year-old cave complex hidden with the Cumbres de Monterrey National Park, multicolored lighting enhances the drama of several striking rock formations. Explore 16 distinct chambers—including one bathed in natural light—admire the stalagmite shaped like a human hand, and more.
Replete with museums, concert venues, and even an amusement park, Fundidora Park (Parque Fundidora) is one of the most multifunctional urban green spaces in a predominantly industrial city. Take advantage of the designated bike paths, attend lively music festivals, and more at a park which combines culture, nature, and history with ease.
Looming over the southern end of Monterrey’s sprawling Macroplaza, the Metropolitan Cathedral (Catedral Metropolitana) is one of the city’s most prominent landmarks. Known for its blend of architectural styles, including the ornate baroque facade and neoclassical bell tower, the cathedral is just as beautiful inside as out—the colorful murals and vaulted ceilings are particular highlights of the eclectic interior.
Next to the Sierra Madre mountains and part of the Cumbres de Monterrey National Park, Parque La Huasteca is one of Monterrey’s premier destinations for outdoor adventure, just a short drive from the city proper. Nearly 500 acres (200 hectares) of jagged limestone peaks, desert, and pockets of lush forest comprise the Huasteca Park, making it a must-visit for joggers, bikers, and climbers alike.
Similar to San Antonio’s popular riverwalk across the border in Texas, the Mexican city of Monterrey boasts its own popular esplanade, known as the St. Lucia Riverwalk (Paseo Santa Lucía). The pedestrian walkway, which runs along an artificial river and connects the Macroplaza to Fundidora Park (Parque Fundidora), attracts tourists and locals with its relaxing setting, restaurants, boat rides, murals, and museums.
At the foothills of the Sierra Madre Mountains, the verdant Chipinque Ecological Park is one of the Cumbres de Monterrey National Park’s most easily accessible areas. Hike or bike through pine and oak forests, visit the butterfly house, and enjoy flora and fauna filled respite from the hustle and bustle of Monterrey.
The 82-foot (25-meter) Horsetail Waterfall (Cascada Cola de Caballo) is the star attraction in a park of the same name, situated just outside the pueblo mágico (magic town) of Santiago. Popular among local families, picnic alongside the tumbling falls for a back-to-nature escape from hectic Monterrey.
Just outside Monterrey, La Boca Dam (Presa La Boca) is an artificial lake best known for watersports, mountain views, and lively social gatherings. Go fishing, rent a 4WD, or ride horses around the reservoir by day or visit in the evening for barbecue- and beer-fueled parties, catamaran rides, and lots of loud music.
Encompassing the northern reaches of the Sierra Madre Oriental, Cumbres de Monterrey National Park is home to some of the country’s largest cave complexes, most impressive waterfalls, and highest summits, including the noteworthy Cerro de la Silla and its saddle shaped peak.
More Things to Do in Monterrey
Founded in 1890, the historic Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma Brewery (Cervecería Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma) produced its very first beer in 1893. Its initial frosty brew was delicious enough to win first prize at the Chicago and Paris world fairs. Today, the once independent purveyor of barley and hops operates as a subsidiary of big-name beer company Heineken, but visitors can still experience the old world charm on a visit to the brewery, where a popular beer garden plays host to travelers and offers a free glass of Bohemia, Dos Equis or Carta Blanca to patrons.
With over 300 outlets—including high-end retailers, jewelers, and homeware stores—the 2-story Plaza Fiesta San Agustín is the largest shopping mall in metropolitan Monterrey. Pick up souvenirs, catch a movie at the on-site cinema, or simply enjoy a glimpse into local life as you browse department stores and brands.
Housed within a converted turn-of-the-century building, Monterrey’s 3-story Glass Museum (Museo del Vidrio) offers an insight into the history of Mexican glass manufacture and the European glass industry. Highlights include the working factory, glassblowing demonstrations, and the century-old traditional stained-glass workshop.
Spanning two major neighborhoods in downtown Monterrey—the Zona Rosa and Barrio Antiguo (Old Town)—Calle Morelos is a pedestrianized shopping, dining, and sightseeing street in the Nuevo León city. West of the Macroplaza, expect local shops with leather goods, clothing, and more; east of the Macroplaza, look out for cool restaurants, cute cafés, and the Mercado Barrio Antiguo.
Cobblestone streets, craft markets, and baroque buildings dominate Villa de Santiago, a colonial "magic town" that also serves as the gateway to some of Nuevo León’s top ecotourism destinations. Dine on typical cuisine at the local restaurants before venturing to the nearby Horsetail Falls, La Boca Dam, and the Matacanes Canyon.
The youthful epicenter of the city, Monterrey Old Town (Barrio Antiguo) offers a lively alternative to the business-oriented city center and high-end outlying districts. Extending outwards from pedestrianized Padre Mier, this walkable neighborhood is replete with dive bars, quiet coffee shops, and weekly flea markets.
Often known simply as San Pedro, upscale San Pedro Garza García is home to shopping malls, big business, and some of Monterrey’s best nightlife. Use San Pedro as a jumping-off point for exploration of Chipinque Ecological Park, catch a concert at Auditorio San Pedro, or go stargazing at Planetario Alfa, an interactive science museum.
At the heart of Monterrey’s Fundidora Park, the expansive Mexican Baseball Hall of Fame (Salón de la Fama del Béisbol Mexicana) pays homage to Mexican baseball stars by way of personal belongings and memorabilia in an imposing terracotta building. Tour the interactive exhibits, test your talents in the batting cages, and enjoy the mezzanine garden.
In one of Monterrey’s most flourishing neighborhoods, the State Museum of Popular Cultures (Museo Estatal de Culturas Populares) offers an insight into the country’s cultural heritage by way of permanent and rotating exhibits from within the city’s oldest civil building, the 18th-century Casa del Campesino.
Situated atop one of the highest hills in Monterrey, the Mirador del Obispado (Bishop’s Lookout) offers near-unbeatable panoramic views over the city below. Highlights of the viewpoint are Mexico’s largest monumental flag and the mustard-yellow 18th-century Palacio del Obispado (Bishop’s Palace), now home to a comprehensive regional museum.
An imposing steel and concrete structure that dominates the south end of the Macroplaza, the modern Palacio Municipal (City Hall) stands in stark contrast to the ornate Metropolitan Cathedral and the classical Old Municipal Palace nearby. Home to a small, Spanish-language museum and a few colorful murals, City Hall makes a fun addition to any Monterrey sightseeing tour.
In the heart of Fundidora Park, the Sesame Street-themed Parque Plaza Sesamo is a nostalgic and family-friendly day out. Here, you can meet and greet iconic characters such as Elmo and the Cookie Monster; explore Count von Count’s Castle; and make a splash in the waterpark zones.