It's called Tequis (TEH-kees) by locals and visitors who can pronounce those two syllables easier than teh-kees-key-AH-pahn, which in the Nahuatl language refers to its thermal waters and the limestone found throughout the area. Although over the years this famous weekend retreat's water table has been somewhat depleted, there is still more than enough bubbly water (not to mention bubbly wine from Barcelona-based Freixenet Winery) to draw people from surrounding cities looking to relax and rejuvenate.
The colonial town radiates from its large, pretty main square, Plaza Miguel Hidalgo, which everyone simply calls la plaza principal. It is fronted on all sides by alluring porticos housing cafes, shops, and restaurants. On the north side, la Parroquia Santa María de la Asunción, (Our Lady of the Assumption) was built in stages over many years, and finished in the 19th century in neoclassic style. On or near the square are several major banks (HSBC, Bancomer) with ATM, so visitors needn't worry about lack of funds. And since quaint little Tequis has more than its share of shops and spas, you might be visiting the ATM more than once.
Spend an Afternoon or Spend the Night
Like vacation-oriented villages and towns throughout the world, Tequis is provincial yet service-oriented. During an overnight stay in August, a friend and I had several forgettable meals at restaurants facing the plaza. More entertaining (and economical) was our dinner on adjacent Avenida Juárez Oriente, where informal restaurants called cenadurías set up in the evenings. Young people in dreadlocks and piercings drew a crowd with an infectious African rhythm produced on drum and percussion instruments, playing with fire as they pranced on stilts. The crowd was impressed; the hat that was passed among diners and spectators filled up nicely with coins.
Boutiques like Christies and Natasha sell women's clothes and lingerie, and other little holes-in-the-wall offer some surprisingly sophisticated finds. La Almacen de la Hormiga has quality ceramics at good prices; look for items on sale at the back of the store. Wander a few streets farther away from the plaza and you'll find antiques and housewares and stores selling leather shoes and plastic flip flops in day-glo colors. Tequis is a good town for timid or reluctant shoppers, as its boutiques are small and manageable, and they are interspersed with cafes where you can rest between buying sprees.
Just a block from the plaza, two markets face each other across Calle Carrizal. The street name refers to a place of reeds, and perhaps is not coincidental, since the handicrafts produced in greatest quantity in the region are made of wicker and cane. You'll find baskets and other woven goods in these markets, where there are also good deals to be had in gems such as garnet and fire opals.
Excursions In and Around Tequisquiapan
In Tequis, even some of the budget hotels have swimming pools, as the destination is all about taking time off to relax. But what lures overworked executives and frazzled housewives from Querétaro and Mexico City are the three- and four-star hotels with big swimming pools, some filled with sparkling water piped from nearby springs. Just outside town, water parks such as Fantasia Acuática and La Vega offer day use, with slides and playgrounds for the kids, as well as restaurants and places to picnic, but no overnight accommodations.
Both El Oasis and Termas del Rey offer these services as well as trailer parks. Kids love the water and toys; parents like Tequis' proximity to the city: it is 2.5 hours from Mexico City, less than an hour from Queretaro. Everyone loves the balmy weather. Located in a semi-desert environment of a minor Sierra mountain range, Tequis sits at an altitude of 1,870 meters (6,135 feet) above sea level and enjoys balmy daytime temps yearround.
If you've more time to explore (a car is helpful, but local mini-buses and taxis provide transportation to area attractions), there are some worthwhile things to do and see in the surrounding countryside. Tequis is billed as being part of the Wine and Cheese Route (La Ruta del Vino y del Queso). Several different kinds of fresh and aged cheeses (from the milk of cows, sheep, and goats) are sold from shops in Tequis and from factories not far outside town. Quesos VAI or La Hondonada can be visited without an appointment between 9 and 4 (however it's still always best to call ahead; see our Travel Guide for more info). The former charges a small fee and includes cheese tastings; the latter is free but has cheeses for purchase only. Smaller Rancho Santa Marina charges about 100 pesos per person for the visit and offers a wider-ranging tasting of fresh and aged cheeses; an appointment is required here. To sample regional wines, visit Cavas Freixenet and Viñedos La Redonda, which offer tours of their facilities, and tastings. The tourism office offers group guided tours on weekends, otherwise take a car or taxi. Grapes are being planted in the area surrounding Rancho Los Aztecas, which for the moment offers a show of music and suertes: things like rope tricks, a women's equestrian exhibition, and other charro events.
For more activities, there's hot-air ballooning over the mountains and semi-arid plains; ATV tours, and horseback riding. Check out the opal mines at La Carbonera, at around 12 km (7 miles) from Tequis. But most of all Tequis is a place to rest and recuperate, preferably by the pool.
For details about things to do, as well as hotels and restaurants, check out our Tequis Travel Guide.