Get culture and a good dose of regional cuisine in Merida, once an important Mayan city and now the Yucatan Peninsula's urban center. With easy access to the soft sandy shores frosting the Caribbean Sea, Merida straddles the northwest portion of the peninsula.
Mayan ruins Uxmal and Chichen Itza are a quick drive away but museums, gentile ambiance and the art of Merida can keep visitors strolling the streets for hours before day excursions even enter the picture.
Check out old cathedrals and churches, stop for modern art at the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo Ateneo de Yucatan and get some local history at the Museo de la Ciudad. Amateur anthropologists can prepare for a tour of the Yucatan's best ruins at the Museo Regional de Antropologia before sampling some of the region's cuisine and heading out of town for ruins in situ.
Less than 40 miles out from the city center, the Mayapan ruins are small but serve well as an introduction to better-known sites like Uxmal to the southwest. Wander time-forgotten Mayan temples, pyramids and palaces, lingering in cool shadows before meandering on to other archaeological attractions.
Spend a few days exploring this cultured city before making the escape to Caribbean beaches.
Merida is just over 1000 miles east of Acapulco.