After our two months in Guanajuato it was time to move to another nest – this time to Santiago de Querétaro – the capital of the state of Querétaro. We had visited here briefly last winter (see Hanging out in Querétaro with Maria) and decided that it would be fun to spend more time getting to know this area and all it had to offer. For our first few days my sister and brother-in-law were with us and we spent the majority of our time walking into Centro (which is just eight easy blocks from our flat), shopping, eating, site seeing, and wine tasting.

Turns out Querétaro is the second most important wine growing area of Mexico and the primary wine exporter nationwide. It is also the largest producer of sheep’s milk cheeses. To sample these delights we took off on the Art, Cheese, and Wine Route – which happily includes the “Magical Towns” of Tequisquiapan, Bernal, and Cadereyta.

FYI: There are 121 Magical Towns in Mexico. Towns have to apply for the designation and show that they offer a combination of historical, cultural, and aesthetic qualities that make it wholly unique and worthy of a visit from tourists. The upside is that visitors are pretty much guaranteed a lovely experience; the downside is that lots of people head to these towns for vacations and getaways. Guanajuato has the Magical Town distinction and we can tell you we avoided the city center on weekends due to crowds.

We put Tequisquiapan into our map app and were on our way. Being a Sunday, we knew there would be lots of people, but we could not even find a place to park within walking distance of Centro. We did a bit of driving about to check out whether or not it was worth fighting for space and decided we could come back another day for town attractions, if we were so inclined. There are a number of lovely parks and an artists’ market which features pottery and wicker goods. We’ll see…

So on to wine and cheese! First stop: La Redonda Vineyards. They have a large festival coming up in a week and we were happy to arrive ahead of the party crowd.

Beautiful bougainvillea growing alongs the entrance wall.

One of the fountains scattered around the property.

In advance of the festival they were setting up tents. If the number of covers is any indication they are anticipating quite a large gathering.

Children’s play area near the restaurant.

These fantastical fellows stand guard outside of the restrooms.

We ordered a nice (but honestly not great) rosé and a specialty pizza with a “secret” recipe. The ingredients were not unexpected except for the surprise of grapes on top. Actually quite delicious; some of the cheese was local as well.

The restaurant has a tented roof that reminded us of Shoreline Amphitheater, which Bob opened for BGP (those were the days!?!) in Mountain View, CA.

Next stop on our tour was Los Rosales. The wine tasting area felt like a beach resort. I tried a dry white – not good. Bob tried a red, but it was served cold so he felt he could not really make a decision on how good it was. We both liked the rosé and ended up getting a bottle to take home with us.

In an interesting aside, we noted that the area boasts an abundance of water parks. In fact, there are more water parks near the Magic Towns of Querétaro than there are wineries. Competition seems to be quite stiff as we noted the lengths people would go with their displays of advertising on the hillsides.

Before heading back we went by the town that is home to Peña de Bernal. Known for its picturesque hue, it is said to have a sacred and mystic environment.

A lovely Sunday outing. And the solar street lights gave us unintentional art to enjoy on our way back home.