The town of Tequila, Mexico, may not have the biggest or the showiest or the most popular Day of the Dead displays, but it does offer a chance to double down on its cultural history — and its spirits. Travelers who stay overnight can learn about the traditional November holiday dedicated to lost loved ones as well as the history of the liquor for which the town is named.
Tequila, about 43 miles west of much bigger Guadalajara, will host events Nov. 1 to celebrate the day that’s all about remembering the dead and honoring their spirits. You can follow the late-night procession to the altar — decorated with offerings such as flowers, tamales and sometimes liquor and cigarettes — and the lighting of candles.
In the town’s plaza, stories will be told, including one about the celestial characters involved in the mythical birth of tequila. By the way, tequila is a designation of origin product, meaning it can only be made in Tequila to be authentic (just like Champagne can only be produced in the Champagne region of France).
The next day, visitors can hop aboard the Tequila Train, also known as the Jose Cuervo Express. You’ll tour the liquor company’s 250-year-old La Rojeña distillery, watch how agave is harvested (agave is the plant from which tequila is made), enjoy a classic toast and then hop the train to Guadalajara.
It’s the historic blue-green agave fields that landed the spot the designation “magic town” from Mexico’s tourism board and placed it on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. In 1758, the Spanish king awarded Jose Cuervo (a real person who’s name was Don Jose Antonio de Cuervo) the land in Tequila which he turned into an agave farm. The rest is history.
The hour-long train ride comes with more tequila drinks and a pro tasting guide to answer questions and provide tasting tips. Tickets on the Nov. 2 train start at $107 for adults and $95 for children 6 to 17 years old. (The train runs year-round, in case you come at any other time of the year.)
Info: Jose Cuervo Express