Pachuca de Soto
Pachuca de Soto, commonly known as Pachuca, is the capital of Hidalgo, a state in central Mexico. With a sprawling population of roughly 250,000, Pachuca has both a big-city feel and tiny-town hospitality. Locals are friendly, street food abounds, and the soft 5’o’clock sun turns the city gold. While not as famous as Mexico City or Cancun, Pachuca holds its own when it comes to sights to see, things to do, and experiences to live. I lived in Pachuca for one year and am very excited to share a little with you about the city that became my home. Get ready…to live Pachuca like a local!
The Centro Interactivo Mundo Fútbol, or Soccer Museum, is an attraction in Pachuca you would be sorry to miss. “Why is the national soccer museum in Pachuca, and not Mexico City?” you may ask, and here is your answer: in the early 1900s, soccer was played by miners in and around Pachuca to not only relax and have fun but also to develop necessary skills such as teamwork. From there, soccer spread to the rest of Mexico and it became the beloved sport it is today. Walking or driving past the Soccer Museum you are likely to do a double-take; the National and International Hall of Fame is literally a giant soccer ball! A whopping 125 feet high and 100 feet wide, this part of the museum is both impressive and unique.
Notice that the word interactivo is part of the museum’s name. After passing through the hall of fame, you come to the gaming half of the museum. Test your soccer skills with a variety of interactive games, including life-sized foosball! Don’t be afraid to let out your inner-star as you run, jump, kick, and play your way to the top. Do you have what it takes? I definitely didn’t, but I still had fun!
Macromural Pachuca Se Pinta
It all started in 2014. Through a peace and social justice program called Nos Mueve la Paz (Peace Moves Us), the neighborhood Las Palmitas was selected to host a mural-painting project. The aim was not only to make Pachuca more beautiful and bright but to bring neighbors together in an effort to confront violence and delinquency in the notorious altos barrios (high neighborhoods) of Pachuca. The mural was finished in 2015 and titled Macromural Pachuca Se Pinta- Macromural Pachuca is Painted. Even from afar, it made my day brighter every time I passed it.
Mexico is famous for its tacos, and somehow burritos (which actually aren’t Mexican) but that’s hardly scraping the tip of the Teotihuacan Temple of the Sun when it comes to street food in Mexico. A common snack is elote, or Mexican corn on the cob. This savory treat is a grilled corn on the cob smeared with mayonnaise, covered in queso fresco (fresh cheese) and finished off with a large pinch of chili powder and several squeezes of lime juice. The only way to properly eat elote is to get it all over your face, and you won’t even care, it tastes so good! Those of you trying to impress your new Mexican squeeze may opt instead for esquites, the elote equivalent served in a cup and eaten with a spoon.
After that salty snack, you may be craving something sweet. Good news for you- Pachuca is home to the mouth-watering churros, sweet-fried plantains drowned in sweetened condensed milk, and Mexican hot chocolate, all served in one special place: Churrería López. At this cozy mom-and-pop shop, you can quench all of your sweet thirsts, again and again.
Another option you have for either breakfast or dinner on the street (and my personal favorite) are steaming-hot tamales; chicken or pork and different salsas awaiting inside corn dough, wrapped in a plantain leaf and steamed. If you are really hungry, you can put carbs inside of carbs and eat your tamale inside of a bolillo, a giant 1-peso bread roll. One thing is for sure, you will not walk away hungry!
The Dino Parque of the Museo Rehilete should definitely be mentioned on the must-do list of Pachuca. Get ready to let your inner child roar at this fun part-outdoor museum on the edge of Pachuca. Life-sized dinosaurs reaching their necks and tails out over the passing cars along both sides of the highway let you know that you are getting close- this is how I actually discovered the museum. Once inside the fence, you are greeted with staggering long-necks and t-rexes, strong stegosauruses and triceratops, and all manner of sea life. You can even uncover your own fossils inside a sandbox, read about all of the different dinosaurs, and get up-close and personal with the dinosaurs to take prehistoric photos! After getting your fill on dinosaurs head over to the Museo Rehilete, Pachuca’s museum for science, art, and technology, where the learning and the fun continues.
Mirador El Cristo Rey
In order to take in all of Pachuca you should head up to the Mirador El Cristo Rey- a lookout point over the city. While taking a taxi or car is the easiest way to get there, you can also take a combi (big vans that make up the majority of inner-city public transportation) headed for Real del Monte and ask the driver to let you off at the mirador. From there you will have to walk for about a half an hour, but the stunning view of the valleys behind Pachuca make the tiny trek worth it; made the trek worth it for me. The statue of Cristo Rey is hollow and if the owners are around you can climb some more stairs to get an even more spectacular view of Pachuca and Cristo Rey himself. On holy days and special occasions, masses and other religious services are held on the steps leading up to the mirador, and food vendors come to make the extra trip up the mountain even more worth it.
Do Pachuca Like a Local
There are many more great things to do, see, and eat in and around Pachuca de Soto, Mexico. This is just a list of places to start- the real adventure comes from going beyond everything recommended to you and finding your own adventure on your own two feet. Wander. Explore. Talk to and befriend locals. Dance! Enjoy Pachuca’s wind, sun, and rain. Eat more street food. Ask questions. I loved living in Pachuca! So do Pachuca like a local, do Pachuca like you.