Founded in 1605, San Sebastian del Oeste is a historic Mexican mining town with buildings dating back nearly 500 years. At its peak, it had a population of 20,000; today, it’s an agricultural village home to about 600 people.
The federal tourism office has named a “pueblo mágico” to recognize its historical integrity.
At 1,483 meters (4,865 ft) above sea level, it sits in a cloud forest, making it a popular respite when the heat and humidity of the Pacific coast become too much.
Visitors typically spend a day or possibly a couple of nights here. Physically, there are only about 80 km (50 miles) between Puerto Vallarta and San Sebastian, but metaphorically they are as far apart as the Earth and the moon.
Sleepy San Sebastian del Oeste is the Mayberry of Mexico but a little less lively. It’s the kind of place where strangers greet one another in passing. The miners who built the town have long gone, and more recently, younger folks are drifting away in search of opportunity. Most of the 800 or so people who stayed seem perfectly content with life as it is, although rat-race dropouts and entrepreneurs are making their way here doing improved roads.
The most interesting thing to see in San Sebastian del Oeste is the town itself. Walk the cobblestone streets and handsome brick sidewalks, admiring the white-faced adobe structures surrounding the plaza. San Sebastian has a few attractions, although none of them are the main reason to visit.
The hospitality industry of San Sebastian, albeit small, is dedicated to supporting local producers. You’ll find fresh cheeses, produce, meats, coffee, and distilled spirits as Raicilla, the main spirit of this town.
Approximately 15 hotels are in San Sebastian del Oeste, many without websites or even Facebook pages. Another dozen or so bed-and-breakfasts and cabins for rent are available.