Saltillo, Mexico, lies in a magnificent scenic region of canyons and mountains 50 mi/80 km southwest of Monterrey, but otherwise has a lot of industrial sprawl. The downtown area, which is built around two plazas, has maintained its colonial charm, however. Plan to visit the Cathedral of Santiago and the Museo de las Aves, or bird museum, there.

The city is also famous for its handmade tiles and shawls, which are highly sought-after in the southwest U.S.

Parras de la Fuente (95 mi/155 km west of Saltillo) is where Pedro Domecq Brandy is distilled from locally grown grapes (it's said to be one of the best-selling brandies in the world). Take time to stroll the cobblestoned streets and enjoy the 16th-century atmosphere. Just north of town, you'll find the first winery established in the Americas (in the 1590s), now called Casa Madero.

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