With affordable rates and miles of tropical beaches, Mexico has long been a tourist destination for Americans looking for a cheap getaway. If you're looking for a great tropical vacation just south of the border, here are some of the best places to go, stay, and visit in Mexico.

  1. Isla Mujeres – The "Isle of Women" is one of the well-known hidden (how about that for an oxymoron) gems of Mexico. Just a short ferry ride from the spring break madness of Cancun, the island is the quintessential old Mexico, with its historic charm and laid-back ambiance. Visitors will find a wide range of quaint, family-owned hotels, delicious restaurants and charming one-of-a-kind shops. Since the island is literally only a few miles in width and length, there are very few cars; the most popular modes of transportation include scooters, bikes, and golf carts.
  2. Oaxaca – In addition to beaches, Oaxaca (located in southeastern Mexico) boasts caverns, Indian ruins, and jungles – perfect for architectural and history buffs. Plus, the city has become a top spot for food lovers and offers some of the best, authentic Mexican food found anywhere.
  3. Puerto Vallarta – With more than 40 miles of coastline, Puerto Vallarta has become one of the country's most popular vacation destinations in recent years. But sandy beaches isn't the only thing this tropical town boasts; the city is a cultural mecca for art, food and music and has a plethora of both outdoor and indoor (think spas and shopping) activities to choose from.
  4. Riviera Maya – The Riviera Maya (also known as the Mayan Riviera) is a stretch of coastline along the eastern part of the Yucatan Peninsula. It's a major tourism district that boasts some of the country's most well-known destinations including Akumal, Playa del Carmen and Tulum. There are large-scale all-inclusive resorts, endless fine-dining restaurants, luxury akumal rentals, boutique hotels, and unique shops.
  5. Tulum – Speaking of Tulum, the city is perhaps most well-known for its unparalleled archeological ruins that overlook the ocean but it also boasts numerous beaches, craft markets, restaurants, and even a wildlife reserve. Tulum offers everything the major resort cities (like Cancun) do but with a small town feel and charm found nowhere else.