Puerto Vallarta, Mexico – With temperatures in Puerto Vallarta rising, a weekend getaway to a cooler climate can be very appealing. And, if you want to find some authentic Mexican history and culture that is a little more off the beaten path, look no further than San Sebastian del Oeste.
This lovely colonial town in the mountains, a mere 90 minute trip from Puerto Vallarta, is rich in history and culture for those seeking more than a getaway from the high temperatures and humidity. Though San Sebastian wasn’t formally granted township until 1812, it was settled long before, in the very early 17th Century and at one time had a population of more than 30,000.
San Sebastian was a very prosperous settlement and in the early days, wagonloads of families vacationed in Puerto Vallarta, bearing fine crystal, china and linens to camp on the beach. Agriculture has always been a mainstay in this mountain vicinity, but mining, over the centuries, is what sustained the populace. Many families were made wealthy with their diligence in the pursuit of gold, silver and lead, with more than twenty-five mines and many more foundries developed before the 19th Century. Currently, the main crops are heavenly coffee and the ubiquitous agave that is grown so well in this region.
The colonial Baroque Church of Saint Sebastian is not to be missed for its architecture, Corinthian columns and gorgeous frescoes. Built in 1608, this structure has been well cared for and is the pride of San Sebastian.
The general population has dwindled down to less than a thousand people at this time but remains a desired tourist destination, with enough hotels and inns to accommodate the overnight traveler. A day trip from Puerto Vallarta is also an easy choice, starting early in the day and returning before sundown.
Tours from Puerto Vallarta are available through local agencies, transportation ranging from buses to quick airplane flights. Using one’s own car or renting is also highly recommended and the roads that have been rebuilt make the drive pleasurable with incredible countryside scenery.