Mexico City was one of our favorite destinations. The food, the people, the culture: everything blew us away. Here are eight reasons why we can’t wait to return.

1. It’s safer than you think.

Located smackdab in the middle of the country, Mexico City isn’t prone to the drug violence plaguing the U.S.-Mexico border. Sure, you want to stay vigilant and stick to the beaten path, but you’ll find Mexico City isn’t the dangerous, crime-ridden place some would have you believe. Read more: Is Mexico City safe?

2. It’s cheap.

One U.S. dollar currently nabs you 15 Mexican pesos. Street tacos can be had for pennies. A high-end meal for two with wine and multiple courses will set you back $75. Entry into most museums is just a few dollars, and silver jewelry sells for $10 to $20.

3. You can eat grasshoppers!

On the menu, look for chapulines, or toasted grasshoppers. They’re squishy, sour and, surprisingly, not disgusting. After the waiter brings your order, you may need to down a few shots of mescal to summon the courage to try one. Just a slight breeze and those suckers look alive.

Grasshoppers from Al Andar in Mexico City

Grasshoppers from Al Andar in Mexico City. Watch me eat one!

4. The food is amazing.

In addition to bugs, you’ll also find delicious and cheap homemade soups, grilled cactus, fresh seafood and some of the best guacamole you’ve ever tasted in Mexico City. Each restaurant serves a house salsa, and fresh lime slices adorn every table. Where to eat in Mexico City.

5. The museum scene is world class.

Tourist officials claim Mexico City has more museums than any other city. We didn’t have time to count, but trust us, there are a lot. The most famous is Museo Nacional de Antropologia, home to relics from the Mayan, Aztec and Olmec civilizations. The best part of this museum is the grounds. The gardens are filled with life-size replicas of ancient villages, pyramids and temples.

A boy rests on a temple in the gardens of the Museo Nacional de Antropologia. This was our favorite Mexico City museum. Here’s why »

6. It’s like Venice. Sort of.

When the conquistadors arrived, Mexico City was called Tenochtitlan, capital of the Aztec empire. The Aztecs lived on a series of manmade islands connected by footbridges. When the Spanish conquered Tenochtitlan, they drained the lake but spared an area called Xochimilco. Today, Xochimilco’s canals are traveled by colorful flat-bottom boats full of partiers, mariachi bands and food vendors. Sundays are an especially lively day to cruise the canals.

A trajinera cruises the canals of Xochimilco. Watch a video from our day at Xochimilco.

7. It’s not Cancun.

Most visitors to Mexico don’t venture past the jewelry hawkers and blanket vendors hustling at the cruise ports of Cancun and Cozumel. There are no spring breakers in Mexico City. Which makes it a more authentic, and also a little more difficult, place to visit. Learn a little Spanish and carry a good map.

8. Beer cocktails!

Why settle for a plain old Corona and lime? Mexico City serves up some mean beer cocktails. A michelada is a mix of beer, lime, hot sauce and spices. Word on the street: this is a delicious hangover cure.

Michelada

Had too many tequila shots last night? Cure what ails you with a michelada, Mexico’s answer to the Bloody Mary. Photo by T.Tseng/Flickr.

A version of this article originally appeared in the Austin American-Statesman

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