The landlocked state of Minas Gerais boasts a culinary pedigree that counts itself among Brazil's heartiest and richest. The capital, Belo Horizonte, is packed with neighborhood bars serving amazing food.
The colonial village of Tiradentes is a foodie haven with six starred restaurants -- the highest per capita in Brazil -- according to Guia4Rodas, Brazil's most respected culinary bible.
A rainbow of colorful trim enlivens the streets of the UNESCO World Heritage-designated old town of Ouro Preto ("Black Gold"). The town, founded at the end of the 17th century, was at the center of the gold rush.
The rococo church of Sao Francisco de Assis in Ouro Preto features carving by celebrated Brazilian architect and sculptor Antônio Francisco Lisboa, known as Aleijadinho. Construction began in 1766.
Aleijadinho's most famous work is "12 Apostles," a series of soapstone figures outside the Santuario de Bom Jesus do Matosinhos, a UNESCO World Heritage site in Congonhas.
Among Minas Gerais' natural attractions is the lobo guará, or "maned wolf," the largest canid in South America. In the Parque Natural do Caraça, there's a priest who regularly feeds the animals as visitors look on.