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Mexico’s second-largest state (neighboring Chihuahua is first) has remarkable cultural and ecological diversity within its 180,000 sq km. It boasts miles and miles of gorgeous beaches, desert moonscapes in El Pinacate Reserve, near Puerto Peñasco, and everything in between. It's still undiscovered by mass tourism, but the word is definitely getting out for Mexican travelers – beach towns like San Carlos and Bahía de Kino get packed with weekend warriors from Hermosillo and beyond – and those near the US border get a steady stream of American 'snowbirds' (retired North American citizens who head south for winter). Even so, Sonora sees far fewer travelers, especially foreigners, than its myriad attractions and drop-dead beauty would suggest. But hey, who’s complaining?

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Sonora.