Indigenous culture, Baroque architecture, long stretches of untouched coastline and pretty colonial villages await in this sprawling Mexican state.
Sonora offers the best of everything the country is known for. Find stunning palm-fringed beaches, azure seas, cactus-dotted desert, Spanish colonial towns and indigenous culture.
Head for beachfront San Carlos to swim, sunbathe and sip cocktails in relaxed bars. With an idyllic setting between the mountains and the shimmering Sea of Cortez, it’s obvious why this area has become a magnet for visitors and expats. Laze on sandy beaches or scuba dive off the coast during the day and enjoy fine dining and live music in the evening. If you’re feeling competitive, enter one of many fishing tournaments or visit the 18-hole championship golf course.
Rent a car and enjoy a leisurely drive along the Rio Sonora. This route leads north from the state capital, Hermosillo, and gives a taste of old Mexico, with its rustic farms and ranches, colonial buildings and rural scenery. Stop overnight in one of many friendly villages such as Ures or Arizpe, and embark on a 2.5-mile (4-kilometer) hike along the bumpy road out of Aconchi to the hot springs, perfect for a relaxing soak.
Spanish Baroque architecture, culture and history await in pretty Alamos. Make the most of the usually mild weather and walk through narrow cobbled streets, wandering beneath majestic arches and towers, absorbing the laid-back atmosphere of the town. Visit the National Customs Museum to learn about proud local traditions.
The attractive town of Magdalena de Kino, to the north, offers opportunities to taste regional cuisine, visit historic buildings and join in colorful festivals. Inhabited by Pima Alto Indians, the town is sprinkled with churches and religious sites, and has a small corridor of shops selling local handicrafts. Don’t miss the lush garden at the house of Miguel Latz which, legend has it, conceals underground passages.
Sonora is Mexico’s second-largest state after Chihuahua and its size means you need at least a week to take everything in. Fly into Hermosillo, a modern transport hub that most visitors to the region pass through.
Whichever route you take and however long you stay, Sonora’s beauty and culture is sure to leave a lasting impression.