sunsetcreativecommons.org/Matthew Rutledge

Who needs the white sand beaches of Baja or the historic pyramids on the Yucatan, when you have what is considered by many to be the most dynamic city in North America?

Mexico City is what is best described as a 'sleeper city’; it is popular among the sophisticated crowd but they want to make sure it is a well-kept secret lest it end up crowded with tourists like Paris or Rome.

This city has everything to love about a major urban hub – five-star restaurants, centuries of history, and the artsy neighborhoods — but without the hordes of tourists. But that’s not to say the city is empty with its 20 million citizens – there is definitely no shortage of interesting people.

Splash Out On Handmade Goods

tequilacreativecommons.org/Luigi Guarino

Mexico City is considered the textile capital of the world, but the industry is not so much about modern fashion; it’s more about vibrant handcrafted fabrics elegantly woven into shawls, rugs and blankets. Check out the pottery too, which blends ancient techniques with modern skills. One of the prized pottery jewels is a traditional Talavera serving dish.

Handmade textiles and pottery can be found in all the little markets and bazaars around Mexico City; however the most popular haven for shoppers is the artisanal La Ciudadela market. La Ciudadela is a shopper's heaven with glassware, art and clothes around every corner — all made by hand.

For those on a quest for authentic Mexican tequila, stop by one of the many San Matias shops that are littered throughout the city. The Rey Sol Anejo tequila on stock is easily as good as it gets.

Take To The Sky

ballooncreativecommons.org/Brent Myers

Hot air balloon rides are popular all over Mexico, but cruising over the desert and smaller villages is nothing compared to taking in the sprawling cityscape of Mexico City from the air. These balloon rides can be done in groups, but there is nothing more romantic than a private tour over the city at sunset.

Private tours can also be arranged for a two-hour tour that takes guests out over the marvellous Teotihuacan Valley, just about an hour outside the city.

Indulge In Sweet Mexican Wine

winecreativecommons.org/Chris Staley

Though much of Mexico's wine is produced in the Baja region, the city does neighbour Querétaro, which is considered to be one of Mexico's most prosperous wine regions.

The Cavas Freixenet Wine Tour takes private parties from Mexico City to the nearby Querétaro to tour the prestigious Freixent, Mexico's most famous producers of sparkling wine. Visitors learn about the unique wine making process of the region, visit the underground cellar and sample some of Freixent's best vintages. The tour then continues to the colonial style town of Tepozotian for a tour of the fascinating San Francisco Javier Temple.

Enjoy Trendy Luxury Hotels

st regiscreativecommons.org/Matthew Rutledge

In Mexico City there are plenty of luxurious accommodations with the trendiest nightclubs nearby. The elegance of the classic luxury hotel is still there – it’s just more fun!

The Condesa DF sits in the middle of the very hip urban neighborhood of Condesa. This beautiful early 20th century French building combines Art Nouveau with contemporary designs. Indulge in a complimentary tequila shot in the lobby before visiting the basement bar that is the star of the local nightlife scene, or hitting up the rooftop restaurant to soak up the stunning views.

Alternatively, the St Regis combines a scenic location with timeless luxury. Something of a landmark, visitors can spot the large glass structure of the St Regis from miles around. This modern piece of architecture only serves to complement the surrounding old 20th century buildings.

Inside, the St Regis combines classic elegance with contemporary style. The star of every room is a floor to ceiling windows overlooking the city. There is no better place to watch the desert sun set over Mexico City.

Dine On Traditional Mexican Food

mex foodcreativecommons.org/Rex Pe

You know what they say: Mexico is the only place to get real Mexican food. None of those Tex Mex, Americanized knock-offs – just traditional fare done the right way!

When it comes to getting a table at Izote, it’s best to book in advance. Cookbook author and head chef Patricia Quintana took the city by storm with her innovative take on pre-Hispanic flavours. Celebrities and local government officials alike flock to Izote for tender lamb steamed in maguey and banana leaves or the consistently popular tacos or tamales.

Rivalling Izote in both popularity and quality, Pujol has consistently remained Mexico City's favourite place for traditional Mexican fare with a modern twist.

The interior of Pujol is an experience in itself. The staff are hushed and during the meal they seem to fade away from existence, so all there is left to experience is the food. Pujol takes traditional Mexican food and does the culinary equivalent of putting a dress on it. At first glance, due to the elegant presentation, diners may not notice the dish is a taco or a flauta, but its essence is still there.

For those with a more daring palate, there is some traditional Mexican cuisine that won't be found in many of the restaurants, but rather out in the small markets around town — bugs. The prospect of eating a creepy-crawly may make some squeamish, but they have been quite the delicacy in Mexico for a long time. Chocolate-covered grasshoppers, honey-glazed ants and fried white worms from the Maguey are all popular choices. It will, at least, make for a good story to tell when you get back home!

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