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Visit a pretty colonial church and then relax in hot springs at this town located adjacent to the Tropic of Cancer. 

Nestled amid flourishing countryside away from the beach resorts of Baja California Sur, is the hill town of Santiago. Avocado, mango and orange orchards surround the town and the granite peaks of the Sierra de la Laguna rise up in the distance.

Santiago grew up around a mission founded in the 1700s and today is an important supplier of fresh produce to the East Cape beach resorts. Wander the sleepy streets, be part of a religious celebration and swim in freshwater pools. 

Arriving from the south you’ll pass the Tropic of Cancer Monument. Stop to take a photo next to the monument and then continue across an often dried-up river to the town center. Sit on a tree-shaded bench at Plaza Santiago, where local children play games and friends meet to chat.

From the main square a street leads to the Santiago Mission Church. Built in the 20th century, it stands on the site of the earlier mission. Admire the colorful colonial-style exterior, the twin bell towers and a façade decorated with pilasters and a painting that portrays a biblical scene. Locals congregate here in July to celebrate the feast of St. James, who is the town’s patron saint. 

Just a short drive from Santiago and in the foothills of the Sierra de la Laguna mountain range are a collection of hot springs. El Chorro Hot Springs and Santa Rita Hot Springs are perfect for relaxing while enjoying the encompassing natural beauty. For more adventure, hike to Cañon De La Zorra, where a waterfall spills down a rock face into a sheltered swimming hole.

Santiago is easy to reach on a daytrip from the coastal towns of Buenavista and Los Barriles. It’s also less than a 2-hour drive from Cabo San Lucas, one of the busiest resorts in the Baja California peninsula.

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