Things to Do in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
This architecturally rich respite in the Guanajuato state is about a two-and-a-half hour drive from Mexico City, and it boasts a thriving art scene, a fascinating historical center and a vibrant heritage. A visit here isn't complete without taking advantage of spa treatments, vegan eats, organic coffee-shop sips and hikes. Even after a few days gallivanting around the Mexican gem, you won’t get enough of the vibrant culture, colors, sounds and tastes it has to offer. I've rounded up some of the best things to do in San Miguel de Allende in this guide, and can always customize recommendations based on your travel style.
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Where to stay
Rosewood San Miguel de Allende
Stay here if you’re looking for a hotel with five-star service and amenities.
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One of the first design-led properties in town, it still holds the crown for stylish stays.
The original contemporary boutique property in San Miguel still remains a favorite homestead for the discerning traveler with a taste for the intimate.
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Things to do
Wander the streets of San Miguel
The streets of San Miguel are one of the best places to explore and straight up magic. Make sure to hang in El Jardín – the central garden – a great place to walk the cobblestone streets, people-watch or relax amid the beautiful chaos of the bustling crowd. It's one of my favorite things to do in San Miguel. Pop into shops and boutiques, check out the street art, get lost in the Mercado de Artesanias or stop by Mixta for exquisite souvenirs like hand-loomed robes and kaftans, jewelry and wall hangings sourced from all across the country.
Go to El Jardin
El Jardin is the heart of San Miquel de Allende, as it’s considered a sort of communal backyard for locals. This beautifully landscaped, central square is a hub for locals and tourists alike to gather. It provides a space for fireworks, music, dancing, eating out and being among friends. On a typical Sunday you’ll find solo travelers sunbathing on the benches, vendors selling elote (Mexican street corn) and locals meeting up for lunch.
Visit an extinct volcano
SMA is built on the edge of an extinct volcano that hasn't erupted in 1,200 years. Thanks to the subterranean volcanic activity, the countryside surrounding the town is full of healing thermal waters and hot springs. Take a $10 cab ride outside of town and arrive at this little slice of nirvana, Hotel Nirvana that is. Bathe in the warm thermal pool, sit under the continuous stream of healing water, and enjoy some vitamin D from a perch on one of the welcoming loungers or cabanas. Plan to stay for a farm-to-table meal at the restaurant.
Go shopping at a local market
At Mercado Sano, stock up on seasonal produce, snack-board essentials (fresh cheeses, meats, olives), gluten-free baked goods and cold-pressed green juices. On Saturdays, the market expands with vendors from all over the countryside who offer tasty local delicacies – like gorditas, tamales, pozole (like a Mexican chicken noodle soup with tortilla in lieu of noodles) – all with a side of live music. Be sure to visit the Les Quiches de Madame la Lune stand, a local favorite which is run by a Parisian expat who makes the best quiche and cake in town.
Combined with the altitude (more than 6,000 feet above sea level), hiking up the steep hill at Parque Ecoturístico El Chorro is a solid workout for the day. The amazing view will be your reward.
For something a little different, register to take a pottery class at Barro Clay Studio. Adria Calaresu is an accomplished expat sculpture artist who will gently guide and encourage you with your chosen project.
A converted fabric factory, Fabrica Aurora now houses countless art galleries, boutiques, decor stores and one of my favorite little coffee shop’s out back (Geek & Coffee). If your trip overlaps with the first Friday of the month, make a point of checking out their evening Art Walk.
Have a spa day
One of the best ways to relax in San Miguel is by spending the day surrounded by gardens, green space and hot springs. Go for a swim at the La Gruta Spa hot springs and enjoy a day to yourself. The thermal waters of the grotto help to improve blood circulation, eliminate toxins from the body and fight anxiety and/or stress. You can book professional massage services through the spa in order to relax to the fullest.
Get out of town
For a day trip, head to Hotel Nirvana’s gorgeous hot spring pool – you can go here for an afternoon and a delicious meal. You can also go horseback riding there.
A note from Amanda
Practical footwear is a must to explore the cobblestoned and hilly streets of SMA. Whether you’re stopping for a drink, dining or just wandering, make sure to seek out rooftops to get the best perspective of the city.
Eat & drink
Coffee & breakfast
BUNA Coffee at Hotel Amparo: One of the best bean roasters and coffee makers in Mexico City, and this is the only place in SMA currently serving it. Grab a table in the sunny courtyard.
Posada Corazón: In the heart of San Miguel de Allende, this beautiful bed and breakfast serves brunch fare through early afternoon. Ingredients come from an organic garden – including the house-made herbal tea. Call ahead for a reservation. Souvenir tip: Pick up a few bags of the house-made granola for gifts.
Lunch & dinner
Génesis Tienda Naturista: Head to this small health-food cafe for a vegetarian pita sandwich and house-made granola.
Vía Orgánica: For fresh and healthy fare. It offers a nightly special that includes a mug of house-made, organic beer, a salad, a healthy main such as freshly caught fish or grass-fed steak and even a little dessert (flourless chocolate cake FTW).
Fatima 7: A Middle Eastern-inspired restaurant by Canadian chef Donnie Masterton. Can't-miss options include the rich labneh, roasted cauliflower and fresh-baked pita.
Moxi: Be sure to dine at Hotel Matilda’s award-winning restaurant, where the Chef de Cuisine is none other than Enrique Olvera (of Michelin-famed Pujol).
El Tianguis: For a real taste (literally) of Mexico, the Tuesday market should be at the top of your list. Special mentions go to the roasted pork tortas from La Casa de Los Carnitas, the tripe or pastor tacos at Taco Torro El Buffet, Jugos Naturales from Energia Saludsod y Rico Sabor Frutal (the alfalfa/piña blend is amazing) and the steamed fish at a fabulous corner stall sin nombre (without a name).
Luna Rooftop Tapas Bar: Mexican tapas with the most spectacular view from the top of the Rosewood Hotel. Take your time admiring the pinks, blues and earthy browns of the San Miguel de Allende landscape while enjoying the cuisine.
Luna Rooftop at The Rosewood: It boasts expansive views that pair perfectly with the bar's tasty tapas, like grilled octopus. Go on a Thursday night for great live music and cold local beer.
Casa No Name: This stylish boutique hotel has a magical rooftop bar that's covered in tropical plants and tastefully outfitted with Balinese furniture and art. Gather around the contemporary communal fire pit and prepare to enjoy one of SMA's best margaritas.
Quince: In the battle of the rooftop bars, this place gets high points for view, vibe and value. Go at sundown and make sure you have storage on your camera roll.
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