As the leather capital of Mexico, León is the place to go if you’re looking for a nice, economically priced pair of shoes, wallets, purses, belts and much more! León is the largest city in the state of Guanajuato, which makes it a hub for not only leather lovers, but shoppers, culture seekers and even ice skaters!
Historical Monuments and Cultural Centers
Constructed in 1893, this arc is a symbol of the city and the independence of Mexico. It was created for the 83rd anniversary of the independence and is still highly regarded as an important monument in the city.
Casa de la Cultura
As in many Mexican cities, the Casa de la Cultura is where you will find activities that promote the preservation of artistic, literary, and musical traditions. Classes are offered to the public and this is always a great place to go for a small taste of Mexican culture.
Forum Cultural Guanajuato
This is a cultural complex that hosts a variety of expositions and concerts that promote the cultural development of the city and its citizens. The Forum shares its location in the Poliforum Complex with the Museum of Art and History and the Academia Unit for Cultura and Art by the University of Guanajuato.
Centro de Ciencias
This Science Center is for science lovers and families alike because it offers a variety of activities and workshops. There are different conventions given each month and there is also a part to expore. Here you will find the famous IMAX theater with some great films! The Centro de Ciencias is open Tuesday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Museums and Churches
Museo de Arte e Historia de Guanajuato
Here you will find a detailed exposition on art and history of the state of Guanajuato. With a mix of rich colonial history and indigenous cultures in the center of the country, this region is also known as the Bajío. In addition to the traditional expositions, there are temporary exhibits of some of the most talented artists in Mexico.
The museum is open from Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. The temporary exhibits cost $20 pesos, but remember that if you can prove you are a student, teacher or someone with physical limitations, you can receive a 50% discount!
La Casa de las Monas Galeria
A portion of this unique house has been dedicated as the Cultural Institute of Leon and features a gallery of contemporary art. There are three permanent exhibits that display art from Diego Rivera, a photography contest and a collection from an art fair.
Museo Panteon Taurino
This may be outside of the traditional concept of a museum, but if you are interested in bull riding, you can’t miss this place! It is essentially a restaurant-bar with tables that depict the story of bull riders who have died in the ring and it simulates a bull ring. There is a collection of other artifacts relating to bull riding as well. Open Monday through Saturday from 1 p.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m to 7 p.m.
Museo de Arte Sacro
Located next to the Catedral Basilica, the Museum of Religious Art features a variety of paintings, highlighting different stages of history created by a wide range of artists. It costs 15 pesos to enter.
This is an impressive Neo-gothic style church that offers an intricate design in its interior. Its massive size and unique colors make it a must see on my list. Make sure you pay attention to the doors, which depict different parts of Christ’s life.
Other Must See Sights
At the zoo you can unleash the animal inside you among the 220 species and over 2,000 animals! While featuring 7 species that are unique to Mexico, you can also count on seeing polar bears, panthers, tigers, lions and much more! If this isn´t enough, you can take the safari, where you will see giraffes, antelopes, zebras, hyenas and ostriches wandering around freely. The safari costs 40 pesos for children 3 to 11 years old and 60 pesos for adults. It runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day.
The zoo itself is open Monday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and costs 22 pesos for children ages 3 to 11 and 33 pesos for adults.
Ice Skating Rink
Located inside the Plaza Mayor, this is one of my favorite places to go, because even though it may feel like its 100 degrees outside, you can go ice skating! With an economic rental service, you can rent your skates by the hour and spend as much time as you’d like trying to master your skills on the ice! Even if you don’t want to skate, it is great entertainment to watch the novices try out their ice feet! I recommend eating a gelato in the mall after skating, since it is almost impossible to find gelato anywhere in Mexico. Take advantage of the cold in the middle of the heat!
In the famous leather zone of Leon, you will find more than 4,500 commercial distributors of quality and economically priced shoes, belts, purses, etc. This is like a woman’s paradise, but can also be optimum for the whole family if everyone needs new shoes!
Equipped with an ice skating rink and plenty of brand name stores, this is a great choice if you’re looking for a shopping mall. You can find just about anything you need here, in addition to some fun entertainment! The Plaza Mayor is open from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. from Sunday to Thursday and from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
Festival Internacional del Globo Aerostatico
The Hot Air Balloon Festival is definitely something you cannot miss when in Leon! Usually taking place in November, this event highlights more than 100 hot air balloons of all shapes and sizes! The day starts at 6:30 a.m. where balloons start the inflation process and the event features other activities such as a rodeo, music, dance, clowns, wrestling, and expositions of many kinds.
It takes place in the Parque Metropolitano and at 7 p.m. the Noche Magica or Magical Night starts. This is a beautiful show of light and sound, where the hot air balloons use their burners to shine in the night sky.
There is a place to camp if you want to stay over night, or there is a train that will take you back and forth. They also sell food, but it’s always wide to bring what you think you will need! Also, make sure you wear layered and comfortable clothing because it gets a little chilling in the early morning and evening!
Feria de Leon
The carnival takes place in January of every year and features a variety of gastronomical, commercial, industrial and handicraft products. Don’t miss the dolphin show and Imax movies in the theater!
Festival Internacional de Arte Contemporaneo (FIAC)
This is a perfect festival for art lovers and a great opportunity to enjoy dance, music, theater, and much more! The FIAC takes place every August and has been celebrating the artistic talents of our times since 1994.
Photo Credits: 1, 2, 3 By Sherry Dickerson, 4 by Ignatious244 on Flickr