Nuevo León is a state in Northern Mexico. The state is home to the Monterrey Metropolitan Area, which is the second largest metropolitan area in Mexico with an estimated population of 5.3 million people in 2020.
- 1 Monterrey — Mexico's third-biggest city and capital of Nuevo León.
- 2 Agualeguas — founded in the 17th century, the main plaza is one of the best places to hang around.
- 3 Bustamante - small frontier town in a remote part of the state with an impressive show cave
- 4 Linares — city between two rivers, with some interesting colonial buildings. Good place to buy carne seca (dried meat) and glorias.
- 5 Montemorelos — small city in the heart of Nuevo León's orange-growing belt.
- 6 Santiago - quiet small town with abundant outdoor recreation activities, a designated Pueblo Magico.
- 1 Cumbres de Monterrey National Park — One of the largest Mexico national parks, Cumbres de Monterrey is a playground for extreme sports, offering canyons, sheer cliffs, caves, and gorges in the Sierra Madre Orientals. The national park includes several popular destinations such as La Huasteca and Matacanes.
- 2 Boca de Potrerillos — Little visited archaeological site that is home to numerous stone carvings dating back some 13,000 years. Estimated to have been settled around 8900 BC, excavations show the site was in use for as much as 8000 years. Thousands of petroglyphs can be seen. Excavations discovered about 20 ovens dating from 6960 BC. Marked hiking trails are available. The site is isolated from any populated area, being deep within a desert area. It is 40 km northwest of Monterrey on MEX 53 to Mina, then 14 km to site entrance.
- 3 El Sabinal National Park — The smallest park in the Mexico national parks system, El Sabinal preserves a stand of Moctezuma bald cypress (Taxodium Huegelii). It was established as a national park in 1938 and is a popular park for picnics and family outings. The park is in the town of Cerralvo in the northern part of Nuevo Leon, near the Tamaulipas border. The park features sheltered picnic pavilions with grills, a public swimming pool, and a miniature train ride.
Highly industrialized and very commercial, the Monterrey metro area drives the state economy and gives Nuevo León a high standard of living overall. Outside of Monterrey, Nuevo León is not at all urban. Most of the state is open rangeland with ranches and very small rural communities (sometimes little more than an Oxxo and Pemex station watched over by a herd of goats). The state also boasts a rich agricultural core, called the "orange belt", which comprises the municipalities of Allende, Montemorelos, Hualahuises, General Terán, and Linares.
Nuevo León has many different climates. Some areas in the mountains are very cold in winter and temperate in summer. In the northern part of the state the climate is arid as a result of the proximity to the Chihuahuan desert. Extreme high temperatures of 47 °C or more occur on the desert areas while winters are short and mild. In Monterrey the climate is hot semi-arid with extreme hot summers and mild winters. There is very little rainfall throughout the year, usually about 500 mm or less.
Spanish is the official language. English is widely taught as a second language. People will speak it in various levels, but within the Metropolitan area of Monterrey is where most likely fluent speakers will be found.
Car, bus, plane, and 18-wheeler are the most common ways to get to Nuevo Leon.
Fly into Monterrey International Airport (MTY IATA) in Monterrey. It has extensive domestic flights to every major destination in Mexico, and dozens of daily international flights, mainly to and from the United States. Monterrey has almost 300 daily flights from more than 35 destinations.
Highway 85 south of Nuevo Laredo enters the state of Nuevo Leon about 32 km (20 miles) south of the border. The Laredo-Colombia Solidarity International Bridge just west of Laredo is the only vehicular bridge that connects the United States with the state of Nuevo León, crossing over the Rio Grande (Rio Bravo) river.
Most people in the region use buses heavily. Monterrey is the major hub. Very frequent buses go between Monterrey and Nuevo Laredo to the north, or south toward San Luis Potosi and Mexico City. Some northbound buses will cross the U.S. border. The southbound buses can be used to reach Linares or Montemorelos. Less frequent (usually second class) buses serve more remote parts of Nuevo Leon.
People usually get around by car or by bus. Buses go to almost every place in the whole state. Within the city of Monterrey, you can also use the subway, a taxi, or if you prefer, you can walk to your destination
In the metropolitan area of Monterrey, the urban complex made up of the Macroplaza, the Paseo Santa Lucía and the Fundidora Park houses the largest concentration of historical sites, museums, cultural expressions and recreational walks in the city. The Paseo Santa Lucía is a canal or artificial river and pedestrian path. The Macroplaza is a large downtown plaza that offers monuments and pleasant walkways. In it the green areas are combined with the old monuments and colonial buildings that contrast with the new constructions. The most notable monument is the Faro del Comercio, a 70-meter-high monument that has a laser beam at the top that illuminates the city's sky at night.
There are more than 30 museums in the state. MARCO (Museum of contemporary art of Monterrey) has a changing exhibition of contemporary Latin American images. The Museo de Historia Mexicana (Museum of Mexican History) explains the history of the state and the country starting with prehistory.
Outside the Monterrey Metropolitan Area, Santiago is a picturesque town with good restaurants, a lively shopping zone on the highway, a pleasant temperate climate, surrounded by forests and groves, ideal for camping and spending a weekend away from large urban centers. Santiago is one of Mexico's "Pueblos Magicos" --- a designation for particularly scenic and tourist-friendly small towns. Other scenic small towns include Linares and Montemorelos to the south of Monterrey, Garcia to the west, and Abasolo and El Carmen to the north. The town of Bustamante is also one of Mexico's designated Pueblos Magicos.
The Cola de Caballo waterfall is popular with hikers who also visit the Pozos del Chipitín and the Potrero Redondo waterfall. In the same area are Matacanes and Hidrofobia, which are outings for extreme canyoneering. All of these recreation areas are part of the Cumbres de Monterrey National Park.
La Boca de Potrerillos is an archaeological site about 14 km from Mina, about 60 km northwest of the city of Monterrey in the interserran valleys of the Sierra Madre Oriental. The “mouth” or entrance to the Potrerillos Canyon appears between the hills of La Zorra and El Antrisco. The area covers about 6 km². This site hosts one of the largest concentrations of rock art in Mexico. Although there are some paintings, the vast majority of the works are petroglyphs -- about 3,000 in the area.
The Grutas de Garcia are 30 minutes out of Monterrey is a delightful underground world. The caverns are reached by riding a cable car to the cave entrance where guides lead visitors on a mile-long trek through the cave system. From Monterrey, take Mexico route 40 toward Saltillo, then follow N.L. highway 65 north to Garcia.
Cumbres de Monterrey National Park is in the Sierra Madre Oriental between the municipalities of San Pedro Garza García, Monterrey, Montemorelos, Rayones, Santiago, Allende and Santa Catarina. The mountainous formations of the area include the Cerro de la Silla and the Huasteca Canyon. It is a good place for those who practice extreme sports such as rappelling, canyoning, caving, mountaineering, hiking and excursions. The Chipinque Ecological Park is part of this same park in the municipality of San Pedro Garza García and is easily reached by taxi.
Some Nuevoleonense specialties include:
- Arracheras — Flank steak served with tortillas and carmelized onions , similar to what is called fajitas north of the border.
- Cabrito — Young goat prepared a number of different ways-- wood roasted (a la lena), cooked in beer (en cerveza), or in ancho chili sauce (en chile ancho).
- Chicharrones de Móntemorelos — Pork cracklings prepared in the unique style of the city of Montemorelos.
- Lengua de res en pipián — Beef tongue cooked in a sauce made of pumpkin seeds.
- Leche quemada — A carmelized milk candy for which the region is famous. Look for glorias de Linares, a pecan-flavored version from Linares.
- Machacado con huevos — Dried, shredded beef with eggs.
- Sopa de col y queso — Cheese cabbage soup.
- Local craft beers from an ever-growing list of small, artesanal local breweries. Look for beers from Cerveceria Rrey, Cerveceria Duarte, and many others.
- National beer brands from the local Cuauhtemoc Brewery, makers of Sol, Dos Equis, and Bohemia.
- Sierra Madre Brewing Co. brewpub chain offers a variety of locally brewed beers, certain varieties are available only on certain seasons.
- Topo Chico mineral water has been enjoyed in Monterrey and beyond since 1895.
The state police and the federales often set up checkpoints on highways. They are looking for drug traffickers, but they will occasionally ask to see your tourist permits or vehicle import permits. They are usually efficient and quick, and chances are good that if you look like tourists, you'll simply be waved on.