The 3 Best Short Break Destinations in Northern Mexico

Grab your cowboy boots and a ten-gallon hat—we’re heading south of the border! A vacation in Northern Mexico offers something much different from the typical fantasy beach resort destination. This diverse region has the distinct feel of the Old West.

Close to the United States border, you’ll frequently find American music, television and entertainment. Yet much of the area is filled with charming towns, towering mountain peaks, horses and sweeping desert vistas.

If you’d like to embark on a trip to Northern Mexico during a short break, consider one of these three ideal destinations:

1. Kino Bay

Kino Bay is located in the state of Sonora, about 235 miles southwest of the border at Nogales. An easy six-hour drive from Tucson, Arizona, you can rent a jeep or drive your own and head across the Sonoran Desert. Be sure to allow for extra time at the border, especially on holidays or weekends.

Arrive in Kino Bay, where the parched desert culminates at a wide, sandy beach with an almost otherworldly landscape at the edge of the azure sea. Tiburon Island, the traditional home of the Seris and the largest island in Mexico, lies just across the bay.

Tiburon has been a nature preserve for nearly half of a century. It is rich with plant and animal life, including bottle-nosed dolphins that leap just offshore, jackrabbits, brown-footed boobies and saguaro cactus.

Popular activities here include kayaking and diving, as well as fishing for tuna, yellowtail, squid and skijack. You can also purchase handmade crafts directly from the Seri Indians, who sell their wares such as ironwood carvings and jewelry.

Explore the Seri Museum to learn about the harrowing story of the Seris and view vintage photos, tightly woven baskets, models of their ocotillo cactus–framed dwellings and their famed ironwood carvings.

Stay in one of the many vacation rentals, which are often available for a weekend or longer, and spend the day relaxing on the beach or watching the sun dip below the mountains of Tiburon Island. Many vacation rentals include full kitchens along with free kayaks.

2. Copper Canyon

Copper Canyon offers the opportunity for a unique short break. Arriving by train is the most popular way to get here, and is lauded as the most spectacular train ride on the planet.

The 400-mile train trek passes through nearly 100 tunnels and more than 37 bridges before arriving at this gulf in the Sierra Madres—which is four times bigger than the Grand Canyon.

Many travelers stop overnight at Creel, the largest town between Chihuahua and Mochis, but it’s not very close to the canyon. Head to Divisadero, where you’ll find spectacular views and several hotels. Posada on the Rim sits right at the edge of a near-vertical canyon wall.

Explore the canyon by hiking to one of its most popular destinations: Cusarare Falls, found about 15 miles south of Creel along the road to Guachochi. It plunges 100 feet, joining the Urique River in the canyon. This region is surrounded by a pine forest filled with cave dwellings and ancient ruins.

Soaking in a soothing hot spring is another popular activity here; the developed springs found near Creel have been channeled into a series of concrete pools. Undeveloped natural pools can be found off the beaten path at Owerabo hot springs, deep within the canyon.

3. Cuatro Cienegas

Cuatro Cienegas is considered a desert oasis in Northern Mexico. Set in the Cuatro Cienegas Nature Preserve just outside of the town of Cuatro Cienegas in the State of Coahuila, the area is made up of more than 843 square miles featuring 200 ponds, or pozas.

These ponds are filled with warm waters and set in the middle of the desert, with a backdrop of soaring mountains sitting under deep blue skies. The water is derived from thermal springs found in the nearby San Marcos Sierras.

Buses run here regularly from the border town of Eagle Pass, Texas, as well as Piedras Negras, Coahuila. If you have a vehicle with four-wheel drive, driving is usually the most practical option. The trip takes about four hours from the U.S. border.

A visitors’ center for the preserve can be found about four miles south of town on Highway 30. Behind the center you’ll find several ponds and a self-guided nature walk with informative signs identifying the vegetation along the way.

Camp at Poza Becerra, which is about 12 miles south of town on Highway 30, past the visitors’ center. This area has been transformed into a recreational area where you can swim—something that cannot be done in the other nearby pools. It offers picnic grounds, changing rooms, showers and toilets as well.

The water is warm and clear, with schools of tiny fish often gathering around visitors’ toes. A path leading through the dunes can also be found here, with the opportunity to see jackrabbits, coyotes, road runners and scorpions along the way.

Climbing the gypsum sand dunes at Dunas de Yesu and learning about the fragile local ecosystem at the Poza Azul are just two of the other popular activities in the area.

To book quality hotels in any of these destinations at the very best rates possible, check out


Mexico is the home of some of North America’s most amazing sights and experiences. Just be sure to practice safe traveling habits to minimize your risks so you can focus on having fun.