The Vallarta Botanical Gardens were created in 2004, on 20 acres of what was previously half overgrazed cattle pasture and half deciduous forest. The ongoing mission of this non-profit organization is to create Mexico´s foremost Botanical Gardens for the propagation, study, discovery, conservation, and display of native mexican plants that both local residents and visitors will be able to enjoy.
As of now, the Vallarta Gardens main attractions are the orchid conservatory, mexican plant collections, butterfly gardens, tree fern grotto, jungle trails, mountain river swimming, tropical fruit trees and atv tours. In addition,the Hacienda de Oro inside the Visitors Center is one of Vallarta´s most famous destination restaurants famous for brick-oven pizza and fine mexican cuisine.
Featured in the John Steinbeck novel ¨La Pearl¨, La Paz is the capital of Baja California Sur and has a population of around 250,000 people. It also has one of the highest standards of living and quality of life in Mexico. As a result, La Paz has become a popular destination for many Canadians and Americans seeking alternative retirement havens. It is also favored by water enthusiasts for its marina´s, boatyards, marine supply stores and cruiser clubs.
La Paz is also Baja´s Eco-tourism center offering a variety of tours guided by professionals dedicated to preserving the environment. Thus, eco-tourism is by far the leading source of tourist income in this area; as most people come to enjoy snorkeling, diving or kayaking in the pristine waters or to explore the 244 islands in the sea of cortez which are under UNESCO protection as bio-reserves such as the Espiritu Santo group of islands only a few miles off the shores of La Paz.
San Miguel de Allende may be a tourist town but what attracts visitors to this area is the atmosphere created by the art institute and all its related activities. Although the art institute was created around 1950 by Enrique Martinez, a former governor of Guanajuato, his wife Nell Harris, a retired Naval Officer named Sterling Dickinson and Peruvian artist and diplomat Cossio del Pomar, everyone seems to agree, that Sterling Dickinson is most responsible for San Miguel becoming an international art center.
Initially, the art institute offered a master´s in fine art accredited by the University of Guanajuato but over the years the institute has grown in size and scope and now offers BA and AA degrees in the visual arts along with workshops in painting, drawing, jewelry, weaving, photography and more. Additionally, there are many spanish language learning
programs and an art school for children.
A Canadian Olympic Bronze medalist in figure skating, Toller Cranston has also lived in Russia, Mongolia, and Paris but eventually settled in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico where he has lived for the past 20 years. In addition to figure skating Cranston is a renowned artist who paints, designs tapestries, lamps, and carpets. He also owns several homes in San Miguel and personally designs each of the interiors in his own unique and eclectic style as seen in these photos.