San Miguel de Allende
Mexico
By Jessie Leon

Just a four hour drive from Mexico City, the picturesque colonial town of San Miguel de Allende is something out of a storybook.  With narrow cobblestone streets, baroque architecture, and a 19th century Gothic parish church in the middle of the central plaza known as El Jardín, San Miguel de Allende will transport you to another time.  Artists, writers, and expatriates from all over the globe are drawn to the town’s rich history, enchanting houses, and many cultural events.

There are two international airports near San Miguel de Allende; the first is the Aeropuerto del Bajio (BJX), which is about 70 miles from San Miguel, and the second is the Aeropuerto Internacional de Queretaro (QRO), about 45 miles away.  You can book your flight to San Miguel de Allende here: (https://www.whatscheaper.com/flight.php).  Also, let us help you find your ideal hotel in San Miguel de Allende: (https://www.whatscheaper.com/hotel.php).   

When you arrive at San Miguel, take some time to sightsee and appreciate the unique architecture.  Many of the houses and buildings date back to the seventeenth and eighteenth century, and the town is so rich in history that it was declared a National Monument in 1926.  While the town’s lack of generic buildings, billboards and traffic lights is part of its charm and allure as a restful vacation spot, San Miguel also offers numerous cafés, shops, galleries, spas and bars. 

The center and heart of the town, El Jardín, offers its own opportunities for sight-seeing, with its brightly painted houses and the church, La Parroquia, which is exquisite, known for its height and soaring neo-Gothic spires.  El Jardín is where you can go to watch musical performances, purchase food from street vendors, or meet the locals or a few of the many expatriates who make up a large portion of San Miguel’s population.  Just outside of El Jardín, you’ll find ice cream parlors, cantinas and boutiques.  The list of places to visit and things to do is long. 

Whatscheaper.com recommends taking a course at one of San Miguel de Allende’s art schools: Bellas Artes and the Instituto Allende.  The latter is where Allen Ginsberg read his poetry in 1960 while Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady drank tequila at a popular cantina.  A true artist community, San Miguel has been known as a destination spot for many writers and artists.   From paintings to sculptures, galleries host events regularly.  You can also visit the Historic Museum of San Miguel (Museo Casa de Don Ignacio Allende y Unzaga), which dates back to the 18the Century, and view historical documents, artifacts, as well as contemporary works of art.

In addition to art classes, you can take a culinary course and learn how to prepare regional dishes like sopes, gorditas, and mole.  Pick up your ingredients at San Miguel de Allende’s largest food market, the Mercado Ignacio Ramírez, which is made up of vendors selling every kind of chile, Mexican herbs, achiote seeds used for flavoring rice, poultry and fish dishes, nopales, and local fruits.  The town is teeming with wonderful restaurants where you can sample and enjoy traditional Mexican fare.

Another great place to visit is El Charco del Ingenio Botanical Garden, which spans 167 acres.  You can visit the magnificent greenhouse that keeps endangered plants, view nopal cacti, or enter hiking trails.  For even more greenery, take a walk through Juárez Park, just east of the Allende Institute.  The park was established in the early 20th century. It’s serene, with a garden and fountains; at night, local bands and musicians hold concerts. Across the street, outdoor stone tubs are used by the public for washing laundry. 

Before leaving San Miguel, take an architectural or horseback tour, and stop by one numerous music festivals or outdoor celebrations that are held year-round.  Do a little shopping and purchase some of the old doors that are pervasive throughout the town, and pick up some other unique hand-carved wooden pieces.  San Miguel is a great place for furniture shopping, as well as for purchasing unique handmade jewelry.  Peruse outdoor vendors to purchase tableware made of blown glass and ceramics and artwork for your home.  Lastly, visit the Angela Peralta Theater, which was originally established as a venue for opera, but today, hosts a range of events including the Chamber Music and Jazz Festivals.

MUST SEE IN San Miguel de Allende LIST:

  • 1. La Esquina Mexican Toy Museum
  • 2. Shanti San Miguel
  • 3. Mask Museum
  • 4. Museum of San Miguel de Allende
  • 5. Mayan Baths
  • 6. Juarez Park
  • 7. El Jardin
  • 8. Rancho Xotolar
  • 9. Public Library
  • 10. Oratorio of San Felipe Neri

San Miguel de Allende EVENT CALENDAR:

  • 1. St. Anthony's Day - January
  • 2. Carnaval Day - March
  • 3. Child's Day - April
  • 4. Anniversary of the Battle of Puebla - May
  • 5. Corpus Christi Day - June
  • 6. International Chamber Music Festival - July
  • 7. Independence Day - September
  • 8. Pamplonada - September
  • 9. Feast of San Francisco - October
  • 10. International Jazz Festival - November

PHOTO GALLERY