Shopping for Opals -- The small state of Querétaro is one of two principal places in the world that mine opals commercially (the other is in southern Australia). The opal is a soft stone noted for its iridescent color. Prices vary depending on size, color, shape, and transparency. A few stores in Querétaro, usually called lapidarias, sell locally mined opals and other semiprecious stones. One is the Lapidaria de Querétaro, Corregidora Norte 149-A, a few blocks north of Jardín Zenea (tel. 442/212-0030), open Monday through Friday from 10am to 2pm and 5 to 8pm, and Saturday 10am to 3pm. Or stop by El Artesano, a shop at Corregidora Norte 42, near the Jardín Zenea. Owner Alfredo Vázquez, who carves miniatures out of opals and other semiprecious stones, speaks mostly Spanish and is a font of information on opals and the trade. He keeps late store hours: 1 to 9pm Monday through Saturday. Also try Lapidaria Ramírez, Pino Suárez 98.

All Things Querétaro -- Walking up Andador Libertad, you will pass under a pergola of bougainvillea. A door on the right leads to the state-run arts-and-crafts outlet Casa Queretana de Artesanía, Andador Libertad 52 (tel. 442/224-3456). Even though Querétaro is a small state, it has a wide variety of craft traditions. You can see a sampling of these in the three rooms in this part of the store, and in another three rooms that are farther up the walkway. Everything in this store was made in the state. Hours are Tuesday and Wednesday 11am to 1pm and 4 to 7pm, Thursday and Friday 11am to 2pm and 4 to 8pm, Saturday 11am to 8pm, and Sunday 11am to 4pm.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.