If you've been following HonestlyWTF from the very beginning, you know the significance San Miguel de Allende has on me. My husband and I were married there a decade ago. So it seemed only right, on the eve of our ten year anniversary, that we return to the place we exchanged vows in front of our closest family and friends - this time, with our kids in tow. San Miguel de Allende is nestled in the Bajio mountains of central Mexico and known for its 19th century Spanish colonial architecture, vibrant artist community, narrow cobblestone streets, tinkling fountains, lush gardens and buildings painted in every color of a desert sunset. It's located in central Mexico so there aren't any beaches but there's plenty of culture and charm. We spent a week there and it still didn't feel like enough time . . .
Where To Stay
While there are some delightful boutique and luxury hotels in San Miguel de Allende, the best way to experience the town is to rent a hacienda or villa. Vacation rentals are common here and best of all, larger villas can accommodate big groups and are equipped with a staff to assist with cooking, cleaning and concierge services. Traditionally, the haciendas in San Miguel de Allende surround a central courtyard and most boast rooftop terraces with stunning views. Most homes have been restored with impeccable taste while still maintaining that beautiful, colonial charm. Casa San Jose is where we called home for the week and it was truly a special and stunning sanctuary. Every detail of the property was perfect. And after a long day of walking and exploring, we so appreciated the ability to walk back to our home to rest our feet enjoy a margarita, or two, poolside. I dream about our return . . .
Things To Do
Between the museums, local artisans, parks and shopping, there's no shortage of things to do in San Miguel de Allende. The town, albeit small, is chock full of cultural and family friendly activities. The best thing to do is explore SMA on foot - all the roads are cobblestoned so be sure to wear comfortable shoes! You'll discover the most charming cafés, boutiques and art galleries hidden in nondescript courtyards and dotted along tiny little side streets. One of our favorite activities to do with the kids was to visit the Toy Museum and a half day of horse back riding along the foothills of Coyote Canyon, just outside of town. Hanging out in El Jardin with the locals was also a post-dinner favorite. There was nothing better than playing in the square and listening to live mariachi music. Also, be sure to check in with the locals to ask about any in-town events! They'll be happy to share.
- El Jardín: This is the social heart of the city. Located just outside the Parroquia, it's a popular meeting spot and venue for live music throughout the day and night. We basically navigate our way around the town based on how far destinations are from the Jardín.
- Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel: San Miguel's iconic neo-Gothic, 17th-century church is best known for its soaring pink spires & lofty, ornate sanctuary.
- Fabrica La Aurora: This former textile factory now houses contemporary painters, sculptors, artisans and antique vendors.
- Another Face of Mexico Mask Museum: This is 100% a must visit. Owner and curator Bill LeVasseur has been collecting ceremonial Mexican masks for over 25 years and houses his massive collection in his home in San Miguel. It's an amazing and wonderfully educational experience - just be sure to call ahead to make a reservation.
- La Esquina Toy Museum: Our kids absolutely loved this museum which is dedicated to the history and craft of traditional Mexican folk toys. Although you can't technically touch any of the toys in the museum (!!!) there's a lovely gift shop!
- Parque Benito Juárez: This large, shady park is the perfect place to bring the kids. It was pretty pathways and a series of large play structures - great for burning some of that energy off!
- Horseback riding: If you have the time, I highly recommend a half or full day of horseback riding. It was so much fun for the entire family - plus, having a home cooked meal on ranch was such an memorable experience!
- Mercado de Artesanías
- Fabrica La Aurora
- Mercado Ignacio Ramirez
- Marquesa de Mancera
Where To Eat & Drink
The food scene in San Miguel de Allende is continuing to evolve. While bought our own groceries at the local markets and ate most meals at home, we loved visiting some of our favorite local eateries for lunch, an ice cream or churro, or an afternoon snack and cocktail. I was surprised to see an influx of vegan and vegetarian eateries, which were all amazing and surprisingly delicious. And while I appreciate the occasional plant-based meal, I always come to Mexico on a mission to find the best taco . . . and I'm happy to say we came pretty close!
- Taco Lab: We ended come back here over and over again. Amazing fish tacos with incredibly fresh ingredients.
- Don Tacos Tequila: Vegan tacos!! I loved the jackfruit taco. Plus, the guava margaritas were delicious!
- San Agustín Chocolates & Churros: The most popular place in town. Prepare to stand in line no matter what time of day for hot Mexican chocolate and fresh churros. So good.
- La Mezcalería: If you like mezcal, this is the spot. The food was incredible, although not the most kid-friendly.
- The Restaurant: Chef Danny Masterton catered our wedding 10 years ago. The food is as elegant as the restaurant itself.
- Lavanda Café: A great spot for breakfast or brunch. Don't miss the lavender coffee!
- Los Milagros: A long standing institution, Los Milagros serves your classic Mexican fare. The food is decent and the atmosphere is fun!
- Andy's Pastor Taco Cart: You might need to do some research to find out where this famous taco cart is posted up in the evenings. Whatever you do, find them. The make some of the best (and cheapest!) al pastor tacos I've had. Perfect late night bite!
- Luna Rooftop Tapas Bar: For some of the best views of San Miguel de Allende and the Parraoquia, go to Rosewood Hotel's rooftop bar.
- La Canti: A dive bar where locals and tourists hang.
- MÜI Bar: If you're tired of your standard margarita, MÜI serves up all the well crafted cocktails! The mixologists are super friendly as well.
- La Azotea: This rooftop bar has a closer view of the Parroquia and has a lively vibe. Great for a late night bite, live DJ music and drinks!
All images by HonestlyWTF