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Mexico's Hidden Mountain Town

The charming village of Tepoztlan offers clean mountain air, a rich history, beautiful vistas, andblissfullyfew tourists

Tell your friends that you've been on a trip to Mexico in midwinter, and they're likely to ask which coast you've visited. But Mexico is a big country, with plenty of charming areas that are nowhere near surf or sand. One of these is the mountain town of Tepoztlan in the state of Morelos, which is about as far as one can get from the tourist-thronged honkytonks of Cancun and Acapulco.

Approaching on Highway 115 leading southeast about an hour's drive from Mexico City, one begins to understand the appeal of Tepoz, as it's known to locals: The hilly hamlet is surrounded by the irregular Tepozteco mountains, offering warm days and cool evenings, beautiful vistas, and a rich history. In 2002 Mexico's tourism secretariat named the town one of 32 "magical villages," or pueblo magicos, around the country, due in part to the legend that holds it to be the birthplace of Quetzalcoatl, the ancient Aztec feathered serpent god. The spiritually inclined still congregate here to soak up the vibes, or perhaps to indulge in a temazcal, or sweat bath, said to cure any number of physical ills and induce a sense of well-being.