Although splashy Rio de Janeiro may overshadow the Brazilian heartland, the English translation of the city’s name (“beautiful horizon”) suggests visiting the Minas Gerais state capital will expand a visitor’s notion of what Brazil can offer the culturally curious beyond the beach. The many museums within Belo Horizonte’s Praça da Liberdade present history, science, environmental concerns and art, with equal parts purpose and playfulness. Other museums outside city center integrate nature, architecture and culture in magical ways. Here are a few places to venture to in the region:
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As soon as I slip into the cool water and don my mask and snorkel, a penguin darts by. Then another. And another. As soon as I catch a glimpse, they’re gone in a flash, replaced by sea turtles and marine iguanas effortlessly floating above the submerged rocks, nibbling algae as the current sweeps them to and fro. A few yards away a trio of sea lions performs a playful underwater ballet, casting quick, curious glances my way before continuing on with their fun.