Art Muse Los Angeles Mexico City Oaxaca Travel Excursion

Mexico City, Puebla & Oaxaca  

May 30th - June 6th, 2018

From pre-Columbian times to the present day, the art of Mexico enthralls and enchants.  During this custom-designed journey to Mexico City, Puebla and Oaxaca, we’ll focus on the ancient past and its influence throughout history, especially upon the vibrant folk art traditions still thriving today.  Also featured will be visits to the home/studios of two prominent contemporary photographers.

In Mexico City, we’ll emphasize both the ancient and popular, visiting Teotihuacan along with the Museo de Arte Popular, among many other highlights. Also featured is special access to the outstanding Ruth Lechuga Folk Art collection, now housed at the Franz Mayer Museum.

The Wall Street Journal recently named Puebla one of the “10 buzziest destinations to visit in 2018.” The city is bursting with colonial treasures, café-lined squares and a vibrant arts-and-crafts culture, all of which we’ll explore, in addition to the splashy International Museum of the Baroque, designed by Pritzker prizewinning architect Toyo Ito and opened in 2016.

Many charms await in the colorful and captivating city of Oaxaca, where centuries-old folk art traditions continue to flourish. We'll meet master potters, woodcarvers and weavers in their homes and studios, visit Mitla and Monte Alban, two extraordinary archeological sites, and sample the world-famous regional cuisine that features seven different mole sauces!

Daily Itinerary

Wednesday, May 30th:
Arrive in Mexico City in the afternoon. Transfer to the Hilton Reforma Alameda, our luxurious and centrally located hotel. Enjoy a late lunch at El Cardenal, an elegant restaurant in the hotel serving traditional Mexican fare. Continue to the Museo de Arte Popular (Folk Art Museum) for a private tour. Conclude the day with a Folkloric Ballet performance at the Palacio de Bellas Artes. 

Thursday, May 31st: 
Breakfast at hotel, and an early departure by deluxe coach to Teotihuacan, the vast archeological complex north of the city. Our in-depth tour led by an expert will focus on the daily life of the Pre-Columbian people who lived here while viewing the monumental structures and fascinating murals at the site. Lunch at the nearby Villas Arqueologicas.

Afternoon transfer to the Franz Mayer Museum where we will have special access to the private collection of Ruth Lechuga, one of the most celebrated folk art collections in Mexico. During a private reception at the hotel, a renowned local clothing designer will show her fashion forward designs that use traditional handcrafting techniques. Welcome Dinner at Azul Histórico, a beautiful restaurant that occupies the patio of a 17th-century palace.

Friday, June 1st:
Visit the Zocalo, the enormous main square and heart of the city since the Aztecs first staked claim to it in the 14th century, before entering the Palacio National. Inside this grand colonial palace we’ll see Diego Rivera’s famous murals (painted between 1929 and 1951) that depict Mexican civilization from the arrival of Quetzalcóatl (the Aztec plumed serpent god) to the post-revolutionary period. The nine murals covering the north and east walls of the first level above the patio chronicle indigenous life and show traditional craft production before the Spanish conquest.

A walking tour of the city’s foundations and Colonial past includes seeing exteriors of Templo Mayor, an ancient Aztec site originally discovered in the 1970s and where excavations continue today, and the Catedral Metropolitana, the first and largest cathedral in the Americas. No visit to Mexico City is complete without a visit to Casa Azul, Frida Kahlo’s charmed Blue House that is now a museum. Evidence of Kahlo’s love for Mexican popular culture and folk art abounds. 

Travel by coach to Tepoztlán to visit the home and studio of celebrated Mexican photographer Flor Garduño, whose black-and-white images often depict indigenous cultures. Lunch will be served.  Continue by coach to Puebla and check in to Casa Reyna, a boutique hotel in a converted historic mansion.

Saturday, June 2nd:
Begin the day with a walking tour of the historic center of the city to see Capilla del Rosario, a sumptuous 17th-century church; Palafox Library, the first public library in colonial Mexico; and the monumental Cathedral. Next enjoy a visit to the studio of photographer Dulce Pinzon, who provocatively blends pop culture with photographic installations. Puebla is called the “City of Tile” owing to the profusion of houses and buildings with walls covered in colorful tiles (azulejos). During our visit to Cholula Talavera de la Reyna, we’ll see Talavera tiles and pottery being made using a process unchanged since the 16th century. 

In the afternoon, have lunch and take a guided tour at the International Museum of the Baroque, where everything from the works of art to the food pays tribute to the Baroque. The new museum for art, literature, music, and fashion celebrates the grandeur and drama of the 17th and 18th century in a decidedly 21st century building designed by Japanese architect Toyo Ito. Dinner at Casa del Mendrugo.

Sunday, June 3rd: 
Travel by coach to Oaxaca and check into Hotel Quinta Real, a former convent converted into a luxury property with enchanting gardens and brilliant courtyards.  Lunch at Casa Oaxaca. Visit the gorgeous Baroque era Santo Domingo Church and take a guided tour of the nearby Ethnobotanic Garden and Museum. Created in 1994, the garden is a microcosm of Oaxaca’s rich biodiversity. Its goal is to preserve Oaxaca’s endemic flora, and to allow visitors to gain understanding about human interaction with plants throughout history. End the day in the Zocalo, the historic and always festive main square.

Monday, June 4th: 
Travel by coach to Mitla, an archaeological site well known for its stylized and sophisticated stone mosaic designs.  The ruins date from the final two or three centuries before the Spanish conquest in 1520.  Continue to the village of Teotitlan del Valle, the most famous weaving town in Oaxaca.  We’ll stroll the local market before visiting the workshop of Josefina Mendez, who is a fifth generation weaver in her family. Transfer to the quaint village of Santa María del Tule before taking a lunch break at Caldo de Piedra, a restaurant specializing in pre-Hispanic cuisine.

Return to the hotel to refresh before attending a private reception at Galeria Arte de Oaxaca, a gallery that showcases renowned Oaxacan and Latin American painters. 

Tuesday, June 5th: 
Begin the day at Monte Alban, the most important archaeological site of the Valley of Oaxaca. Inhabited over a period of 1,500 years by a succession of peoples—Olmec, Zapotecs and Mixtecs—the terraces, dams, canals, pyramids and artificial mounds of Monte Alban were literally carved out of the mountain and are symbols of a sacred topography. 
Continue to the woodcarving village of San Martin Tilcajete and the workshop of Jacobo and Maria Angeles. 
Lunch at Restaurant Azucena Zapoteca in San Martin Tilcajete.

Continue on to Ocotlán, the hometown of artist Rodolfo Morales (1925–2001), who turned his international success to the area’s benefit by setting up the Fundación Cultural Rodolfo Morales. One major restoration was the handsome 16th-century Templo de Santo Domingo just off Ocotlán’s main plaza, which now sports beautiful paintwork inside and out. The foundation also turned the adjoining Ex-Convento de Santo Domingo, previously a dilapidated jail, into a first-class art museum, which includes several of Morales’ own canvases. 

We'll conclude with a farewell Dinner at Restaurant Catedral, a longstanding favorite considered by many the best restaurant in the city. 

Wednesday, June 6th:
Spend the morning at the Graphic Arts Institute of Oaxaca, an art school founded by artist Francisco Toledo, which hosts a large collection of artwork from Latin America. Enjoy a light, casual lunch before transferring to the airport for return flights to Los Angeles via Mexico City.

Pricing & Details

Trip Cost
$4,500 per person, based on double occupancy.  Single supplement, add $800. 

Cost Includes:

  • First-class hotel accommodations for seven nights 
  • Breakfast daily at hotels
  • Eight lunches with non-alcoholic beverages
  • Three dinners with wine included
  • Transportation throughout by luxury mini-coach with bilingual escort/guide
  • All sightseeing entrance fees and guided visits 

Not Included:

  • Round trip airfare to Mexico City and from Oaxaca
  • Personal expenses
  • Gratuities for guides and drivers
  • Trip cancellation insurance