Get to know history-making Oaxacan model Karen Vega and her hometown

Karen Vega on Vogue México as the magazine's first indigenous Oaxacan model to be on the cover.
Image Source: Vogue México/Dorian Ulises López Macías
Oaxacan model Karen Vega in Vogue México.
Image Source: Vogue México

With the July cover of Vogue México, model Karen Vega is bringing Oaxacan visibility to newsstands (and of course, online!). The 18-year-old is the first indigenous Oaxacan model to appear on the cover of the magazine. She took to social media to express her gratitude for the opportunity.

Me siento muy agradecida por esta invitación y por confiar en mi, he aprendido lo importante que es estar orgullosa de quien y como soy,” she said on an Instagram post about the cover. 

In the interview, Vega outlines how working in a seamstress shop ultimately led to her career as a model. She also emphasizes the importance of diversity in media, pointing out how she was inspired by actress Yalitza Aparicio’s January 2019 cover

“Cuando vi a Yalitza en la portada de Vogue, también fue una señal y ahora sé que yo podría ser esa señal para más chicas si sigo trabajando duro y siendo agradecida,” she told Vogue México

Learning about Vega and her roots is a great opportunity to learn more about her hometown and expand your travel bucket list. 

Your next must-see destination: Oaxaca City 

Oaxaca at night.
Image Source: © N. Saum

Much of international travel to Mexico is concentrated in the Yucatán Peninsula or Mexico City. However, travelers should not miss the chance to visit Oaxaca City in southern Mexico. Experiencing the energy and atmosphere of Vega’s home is an unforgettable experience and offers visitors plenty of activities, culture, history, and wonderful accommodations.

Indigenous Culture 

Historic Centre of Oaxaca de Juárez
Image Source: LBM1948

A short flight from Mexico City, Oaxaca is home to charming plazas, narrow streets lined with shops, and some great restaurants. Visitors to Oaxaca will find that indigenous culture lives on in the city. Sixteen distinct indigenous groups live in the state of Oaxaca and maintain cultural practices and their distinct languages, from Zapotec to Mixtec.


Temple de Santo Domingo de Guzman
Image Source: Zory Marystel Guzmán Ziga

The city, like many places in the region that were colonized by the Spanish, has beautiful churches to explore. One outstanding example is the Templo de Santo Domingo de Guzmán, which features a chancel covered in stunning gold detailing.


Mercado de Benito Juarez
Image Source: Abdeel Yañez Quintanar

Mercado de Benito Juarez is a large market in the city center. Whatever your needs, the mercado is sure to provide. Visitors can taste Oaxacan street food (the tacos are delicious) or purchase fresh fruit and vegetables. Browsing the stalls of handicrafts and artworks can easily occupy several hours of your day. 

Museums in Oaxaca

Museo de las Culturas de Oaxaca
Image Source: Anagoria

Museums are a great place to visit with your family, especially on a hot day. There are several great art galleries and museums in the city. We recommend a visit to the Museo de las Culturas de Oaxaca. Located adjacent to the Templo de Santo Domingo de Guzmán, the museum has numerous displays spanning hundreds of years from pre-Spanish times to today. Tickets prices are nominal at approximately $6 USD, and there is an option to take a cooking class on the premises.

Ruins near Oaxaca

Monte Alban ruins
Image Source: Öskr Rck

You can visit the nearby Monte Albán pre-Colombian ruins southeast of the city. The well-preserved pyramid site was a former Zapotec capital.

Places to stay in Oaxaca

Terrace at Hotel con Corazón
Image Source: Hotel con Corazón

There are numerous hotels in the city of Oaxaca, but we have one special recommendation: Hotel con Corazón. This hotel gives back to the community by reinvesting all of its profits into local education. For a hotel with fourteen rooms, it is very spacious. Nestled amongst the trees, the two-story accommodation has modern styling and a chic cafe on site.

Places to eat in Oaxaca

Image Source: Mezcaloteca

Street stalls and markets are an easy and great place to eat. There are regional favorites like mole and chapulines. Oaxaca is one of the states that claims originator of mole. The second state vying for that title is Puebla. Mole is a thick sauce that comes in several varieties with the most popular being mole negro. 

Chapulines are another favorite from the region. These crunchy grasshoppers are a great source of protein and a popular snack that all should try.

Looking for an alcoholic beverage? Visit Mezcaloteca, a great place to taste mezcal in the city. Mezcal is a distilled alcoholic drink made from agave.

If you are in the Los Angeles area and want to try local Oaxacan food and cocktails, head to Guelaguetza.

You can read Vega’s full story here.