Covering a great stretch of land, Michoacán state has the beautiful Pacific coastline to the west and a range of mountains and lakes to the east, making it a widely diverse state. With a strong indigenous heritage, Michoacán has kept alive many of its pre-Hispanic traditions, visible in every aspect of everyday life and culture.
From the vibrant traditional clothes and textiles to the architecture of pre-Columbian towns to archeological sites built by the Tarascan (Purépecha) Empire, the state is dripping with history. And nowhere is this more visible and tangible than in its cuisine, which mixes indigenous ingredients and practices with those brought by the Spaniards during colonial times. After studying Michoacán’s food customs and traditions, UNESCO named Mexican cuisine an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2010. And once you take one bite out of a corunda, an uchepo, or a taco de carnitas, it won’t be hard for you to understand why.
Our home base for this epicurean tour will be Morelia, the state capital city, founded in 1541, whose colonial buildings are made of gorgeous pink limestone. From there, we’ll explore several surrounding towns such as Pátzcuaro, Santa Fe de la Laguna, and Tzintzuntzan for an up-close look at traditions untainted by modernity. This will allow us to marvel at a variety of local arts and crafts, which are a testimony of the dexterity and talent of artisans who have, generation after generation, inherited and perfected the techniques to make textiles, pottery, jewelry, and hammered copper. During our 7-day, 6-night immersion trip, we will dive deep into these and more cultural traditions of Michoacán.
We will dine at upscale restaurants, street stands, and private homes of local cooks to experience street food, home cooking, and modern chef interpretations. And since we want to make sure you experience the food of the city and the ingredients as close as possible, we will explore several markets, tasting as we go, while we get to know the spices, chiles, and everything you would want to know. One of our trip’s highlights will be choosing ingredients for a cooking lesson led by James Beard Award winning chef Iliana de la Vega. During our session, which will take place at the kitchen of a beautiful local restaurant (where we’ll also get to dine), we will learn about traditional ingredients and understand how to incorporate them into your own cooking.
After arriving in Morelia, the capital and largest city of Michoacán, our driver will take you to our hotel, a luxurious colonial gem from the 18th century that's located off of the main square of the historic downtown. Take some time to settle into your room before we meet for a welcome drink at our hotel’s courtyard.
Afterwards, we’ll head out for our first dinner as a group at one of the finest restaurants in the city, where the chef uses traditional, artisanal, and local ingredients to create modern takes on classic dishes. For our introduction dinner, we’ll try the tasting menu and toast to our first of many unforgettable meals together.
Today, we'll meet after you've enjoyed breakfast at our hotel, where you can sample some traditional dishes and coffee to the sound of birds at your own leisure. Then, we’ll venture into the beating heart of the city, its historic downtown, for a walking tour with a local expert who will guide us through the city’s history, visiting landmarks such as the Cathedral, the Conservatorio de las Rosas (the first music conservatory in the Americas), and the beautiful murals of Michoacán native Alfredo Zalce at the Government Palace. As we make our way through the city’s cobblestone streets, we’ll try at least one local street snack, such as the refreshing gaspacho moreliano.
For lunch, we’ll walk over to a casual restaurant that's popular with locals for traditional dishes from Tierra Caliente (Hot Land), a region in southeast Michoacán. After lunch, we’ll make our way back to the hotel to rest or enjoy the city on your own.
We will regroup in the evening for dinner at an acclaimed chef's restaurant, where he infuses local products and traditional flavors with a creative and modern twist. There, we can also sample some mezcal from Michoacán, such as one made with the cupreata agave variety.
On this day, we’ll begin with a panoramic breakfast at a restaurant that offers traditional dishes with a view of the city’s main square. Afterwards, we’ll hop in our van and make our way to Tzintzuntzan, whose name means “the place of hummingbirds,” an indigenous Purépecha town to the north of Morelia, located on the shore of Lake Pátzcuaro and one of the few towns in Michoacán honored with the title of “Pueblo Mágico” (Magic Town) by the Mexican government. Here, we’ll visit the Ex-Convent of Santa Ana and San Francisco Temple, which dates back to the 16th century. Then, we’ll head to the Tzintzuntzan archeological site for a guided visit with a local expert who will explain the ceremonial center’s unusual rounded pyramids called yácatas.
For lunch, we’ll get back in our van and drive to the state’s second largest city, Uruapan. We’ll be dining at one of the finest restaurants in the state, where the chef, an Uruapan native, mixes local ingredients and traditions with contemporary and international flavors. After lunch, we’ll drive back to Morelia and relax before meeting again later in the evening.
Tonight will be yours to rest, perhaps take a break from eating, or enjoy the city's culinary landscape at your own pace.
Today will be all about traditional Mexican ingredients, learning about them, and understanding how to use them in your own cooking back at home. We’ll begin with breakfast at a chef-driven restaurant, where we’ll enjoy the best hot chocolate in town, homemade pan dulce (Mexican pastries), and chilaquiles or other traditional Mexican specialties. Then, we’ll get in our van. Our first stop will be the town’s local market to pick up ingredients for today’s cooking session. Led by James Beard Award winning chef Iliana de la Vega, our workshop will take place in the kitchen of a beautiful local restaurant. As a group, we’ll work together to create an exquisite meal using regional ingredients. After enjoying our feast, we’ll make our way back to our hotel.
Back at the hotel, take some time to rest before we meet again this evening for an assortment of appetizers at the terrace of a hotel with panoramic views of the city and its main square at night.
After breakfast at a beautiful boutique hotel that offers beautiful décor, great coffee, and an assortment of pastries and traditional Mexican dishes, we’ll be driving to the lovely town of Santa Clara del Cobre to get a demonstration of how the local art of hammered coppered is done and marvel at (and perhaps shop for) their beautiful pieces. Then it's back in the van to drive to Santa Fe de la Laguna, located on the shore of Lake Pátzcuaro. This indigenous Purépecha town, founded in 1533, still keeps many of its old traditions intact, including the trading practice known as trueque, or barter, gorgeous handmade crafts such as carved and painted pottery, and regional culinary treasures such as corundas (a triangular shaped tamal.) In fact, the town where the Disney movie Coco is set, Santa Cecilia, was inspired by Santa Fe de la Laguna.
We’ll walk around town for a bit and then we’ll visit the home and workshop of a local potter and his wife, a traditional cook. He’ll talk to us about his craft and show us some of his beautiful pieces, and we’ll also get to see their home’s incredible traditional kitchen and eat a lovely spread prepared by a Purépecha tradional cook.
After lunch, we'll return to the hotel where you can enjoy some time to rest or explore the city on your own before we meet again for a mezcal tasting before dinner. We'll close our day with dinner at casual eatery (or cenaduría) where we can try comfort dishes like enchiladas morelianas, pozole, or gorditas.
On our last day together, you may enjoy some coffee at the hotel before we get together for an early drive to explore gorgeous Pátzcuaro, one of the Pueblos Mágicos (Magic Towns) of Michoacán. But before we get there, we’ll stop by an Hacienda turned hotel for breakfast with breathtaking views of Lake Pátzcuaro. We'll then arrive at Pátzcuaro, founded in the 1320s, a truly beautiful town dripping with charm. We’ll walk through the town’s cobblestone streets lined with adobe buildings painted in white and rust, visit the town’s main plaza (the second largest in Mexico) and a couple of temples, try the creamy local ice cream “nieve de pasta,” and shop for arts and crafts.
Now hungry, we’ll start making our way back to Morelia, stopping at the town of Quiroga for one of the most emblematic and delicious dishes of Michoacán: carnitas, pork that is slowly cooked in its own fat until tender. We’ll get our carnitas from a street stand and enjoy it at the communal tables available alongside corn tortillas and a variety of salsas. Back at the hotel, take some time to rest and get ready before our final dinner.
The setting for our farewell meal is a restored colonial mansion in Morelia’s main plaza. Here, the wonderful chef cooks exquisite traditional dishes, serving them in beautiful and delicate presentations. We’ll enjoy our last dinner together and toast for the many wonderful memories we shared.
After a week of exploring and eating your way through Michoacán, it's time to head back home with a head full of memories and perhaps a couple of bottles of mezcal. Our driver will pick you up from the hotel and take you to the airport. You may depart early in the morning or enjoy breakfast at the hotel beforehand.
About two hours east of Morelia is the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, a World Heritage Site. Every year from October to March the forests here turn fluttering orange and black as millions of butterflies—after having traveled about 2,800 miles south from Canada and the United States—make this warmer area their winter home.
On particularly cold mornings, the butterflies cluster tightly together, with their wings closed, on pine, oak, and oyamel trees, for warmth. But as the sun rises and its light reflects on their rust wings, they take to the sky. The insects are sacred to the indigenous communities like Mazahuas and Purépechas, who believe the butterflies are souls rising back from the dead. A belief strengthened by the migration's overlap with Day of the Dead.
This is a one-of-a-kind experience that every nature lover should witness. Note that a couple of hours of easy to moderate hiking is required.
*Please keep in mind that this is a sample itinerary and it is subject to change. We expect to do everything listed, but the order may change depending on local conditions and availability.
$3,800 per person
All meals with group (breakfast, lunch & dinner each day)
Accommodation for 7 days/6 nights at boutique & historic hotel in downtown Morelia
All ground transportation, including airport-hotel pick-up and drop-off
Mezcal class & tasting
Cooking session with James Beard Award winning chef Iliana de la Vega
Admission to all proposed activities & museums
Alcoholic beverages (apart from those described in the itinerary)
Airfare or transportation to and from Morelia, Michoacán
Travel insurance (recommended)
Limited to 14 guests as we believe a smaller group allows for a more personalized experience
THE MONARCH BUTTERFLY RESERVE
Price: $500 per person Includes: extra night at the hotel, transportation, meals, guides and all activity fees
(minimum of 6 participants needed)