The capital of the Mexican state of Sonora
Capital of Sonora state, Hermosillo (founded in 1700) is a thriving, hot, modern city with only few mementos of its illustrious colonial past. These can be found around the central Plaza de Armas Ignacio Zaragoza (invaded by noisy birds at sunset) and the nearby late 17th-century Capilla de San Antonio, the city’s oldest building. The colonial-era Casa Arias and the next door La Hoeffer house (now the Casa de Cultura) reflect the French influence of the Porfiriato era. The imposing neoclassical Catedral de la Asunción (1777, rebuilt 1877), Calle Ocampo on the plaza, has a baroque dome and three naves, while the 19th-century Palacio de Gobierno, at the intersection of calles Dr Paliza and Comonfort, has intricately carved pillars and pediment, historical murals and grandiose statues amid landscaped gardens. The Regional History Museum of Sonora (Jesús García Final, inside the old prison, Tue-Sun, 0900-1800, US$2.25) charts the historical development of the state. It has exhibits on the Yaqui, antique arms, a mummy believed to be more than 10,000 years old and is worth a look. It’s at the base of the Cerro de la Campana, a distinctive, surreally illuminated hill with great views, rising from the city centre; locals call it El Caracol (The Snail). Also in the centre are two picturesque chapels, Del Carmen and Espíritu Santo, worth seeing.
Just north of downtown is University City (Rosales y Transversal) with modern buildings of Mexican architecture blended tastefully with Moorish and Mission influences. There is an active fine arts and cultural life in Hermosillo, with many events throughout the year (ask at the tourist office). The excellent La Sauceda (Periférico Oeste y Blv Francisco Serna) the most popular amusement park in northwestern Mexico, has over 90 games and exhibitions spread over two levels as well as a splendid children’s museum, La Burbuja (Tue-Thu 0900-1300 and 1400-1600, Fri 0900-1300 and 1400-1800, and Sat-Sun 1000-1900, T662-212 0581, http://www.laburbuja.org.mx) .
Two kilometres south of Plaza Zaragoza, near the Periférico Sur, is the wonderful Centro Ecológico de Sonora (http://www.centroecologico.gob.mx, 0800-1700, US$2.25) a botanical garden and zoo displaying Sonoran and other desert flora and fauna in well-cared-for surroundings. It boasts 300 different plant categories and more than 200 different animal species and should not be missed.
Hermosillo has a helpful tourist office (Paseo del Canal y Comonfort Edificio Sonora, 3rd floor, T662-217 0060, http://www.visitasonora.com and http://www.gotosonora.com) .
Cheap hotels and casas de huéspedes can be found around Plaza Zaragoza and along Sonora near Matamoros (red-light activity, choose carefully).
$$$ Best Western Hermosillo Señorial, Blv Kino y Guillermo Carpena 203, T662-215 5155. Comfortable, top-end hotel with a/c, pool, parking, restaurant, bar.
$$ San Sebastian, Pereférico Sur 96, corner with Blv Vildósola, T662-259 9550, http://www.hotelsansebastian.com.mx. Well on its way to becoming best hotel in town in this price range. All amenities and services.
$$ Colonial Hermosillo, Vado del Río 9, T662-259 0000, http://www.hotelescolonial.com/ hermosillo.htm. Business-oriented but with all amenities/services, relaxing atmosphere. Good location and price.
$$ Gándara, Blv Kino 1000, T662-214 4414. A/c, internet, TV, room service, restaurant, pool.
$$ Monte Carlo, Juárez y Sonora, T662-212 3354, http://www.discovermx.com/monte carlo.htm. Popular, inexpensive old hotel with a/c and clean rooms. Adjoining restaurant is equally popular.
$$ San Alberto, Serdán y Rosales, T662-213 1840. Good-value hotel with a/c, cable TV and pool. Breakfast served.
$$ Santiago Plaza, Blv Luis Encinas 545, T662-289 8990, www.hotelsantiago plaza.com. Downtown location, pool, restaurant, gym, all rooms have a/c and TV.
$ Washington, Dr Noriega Pte 68, T662-213 1183. The best budget hotel in town. Clean, basic rooms lie off narrow courts, some have a/c. Parking for motorbikes.
$ Casa de los Amigos, contact Asociación Sonorense de los Amigos, Felipe Salido 32, T/F662-217 0142. Various dorms, living room, library, garden, laundry and kitchen.
$$$ Jardín Xochimilco, Obregón 51, T662-250 4052. A Hermosillo favourite. Good beef and top range Mexican fare.
$$$ San César, Plutarco Elías Calles 71 Pte. Excellent chop sueys, seafood and expensive gringo food.
$$$-$$ Mariscos Los Arcos de Hermosillo, Michel 43 y Ocampo, 4 blocks south of the plaza, T662-213 2220. Fresh seafood, attractive and expensive.
$$ Mariachisimo, Pereférico Pte 325, T662/218 3555. Traditional Mexican and Guadalajara-inspired dishes. Crowded at weekends. Recommended.
$$ Sonora Steak, Blv Kino 914 (in front of Hotel Gándara), T662-210 0313. Exactly what the name implies.
$$-$ Fook Lammoon, Rosales 91 y Morelia, T662-212 7717. Chinese.
$ El Marcos, Av Rodríguez, T662-215 4710. International, children’s menus, very popular and crowded.
$ Jaas, Blv Gómez Farias esq. Mariscal. Tacos, heavy and light. Recommended....