The road to Cuernavaca will likely heighten your anticipation—you'll catch your first glimpse of the city's lush surroundings from a mountain highway, through lacy pine branches. Cuernavaca's perfect weather has made for stunning gardens. The Jardín Borda, where José de la Borda (who made his fortune in Taxco silver) died, is perhaps the most famous. It has been a private garden for centuries, and it is where Emperor Maximilian and his empress came to rest. It is now open to the public.

Undoubtedly, many of the best gardens lie behind high walls. And truth be told, Cuernavaca's growth in the last decade—as well as a spike in narco-related crime—has weakened some of its tourist appeal. But the city still has much to recommend it. There are certainly enough museums, palaces, old churches, and other sites to see—many of them concentrated in the downtown area—to keep you busy.

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