There’s nothing worse than wasting your first couple of days of vacation trying to figure out where you should go and what you should do. Here's our list of the 10 Best Things to Do in San Miguel de Allende and where to do them.
NOTE: San Miguel de Allende is a city teeming with festivals and celebrations. Be sure to check the local paper, Atencion, for more information about what's happening while you are in town. Copies are available at shops and restaurants for $20 pesos and are written in both English and Spanish. Christmas, New Year's Eve, Semana Santa (Holy Week before Easter), and Dia de Los Muertos are all very exciting times of year.
1. GET LOST
Start in the main Jardin, as it is the center of the town, and as you wander the streets you can use the Parroquia (the giant pink cathedral) to guide you back. Duck into all the little arches and alleyways to discover the sweetest cafes, courtyards and shops. You truly never know what you are going to find.
2. HAVE DRINKS ON A ROOFTOP
After all that walking you have earned time to relax atop one of the many spectacular rooftop bars with a view of the Parroquia.
Here are our favorites:
Luna Rooftop Bar is located at the Rosewood Hotel and has the best view of the Parroquia. They have tasty small plates and are always happy to accommodate any food sensitivities or allergies. The cocktails are tasty but tend to be rather weak, so we stick with wine here.
Address: Hotel Rosewood, Nemesio Diez 11, Zona Centro
Hours: 2pm-11pm Mon-Thurs and 1pm-11pm Fri-Sun
La Única is a restaurant located just off the Jardin. The downstairs dining area is gorgeous, but head upstairs to their romantic terrace with a beautiful view of the Parroquia. Order a glass of wine and share the Cordelion for the most decadent chocolate dessert.
Address: Diez de Sollano y Dávalos 14, Centro, Zona Centro
Hours: 1pm-11pm Sun-Wed and 1pm-2am Thurs-Sat
Antonia Bistro is a favorite of ours. It’s up at the top of Calle San Francisco giving you a view of everything from above the city. It is a great place to have a drink and watch the sunset, but they also have really, really good food.
Address: San Francisco 57, Centro, Zona Centro
Hours: 8am-10:30pm: Sun-Wed and 8am-11pm Fri-Sat
Atrio has such a beautiful, yet cozy atmosphere. I love sitting up on their terrace with a glass of wine, snuggled under one of the soft blankets they provide while admiring the view.
Address: Cuna de Allende 3, Centro, Zona Centro
Hours: 1pm-11pm Daily
La Posadita is a favorite for Martha and her family. The up-close view of the Parroquia is beautiful and the food is outstanding. Make sure to arrive well before dinnertime to get a good view. Order the "elephant finger," queso fundido, and guacamole as appetizers for your group.
Address: Cuna de Allende 13, Zona Centro
Hours: 1:00pm to 10:00pm daily, closed on Mondays
La Azotea is another great spot. Located directly above Pueblo Viejo on Umaran, this swanky rooftop bar is great in the afternoon and in the evening. Count on DJ Martha to be spinning on the weekends, where you'll experience killer margaritas and well-heeled crowds from Mexico City.
Address: Umarán 6, Zona Centro
Hours: 6:00pm to 10:00pm
Fatima is located on the terrace of Casa Blanca 7 Hotel. It offers Mediterranean share plates with gorgeous views of the surrounding churches. Order the Polenta Truffle Fries to start and end with the Chocolate Budino. You'll thank us later!
Address: Juarez 6, Zona Centro
Hours: 1:00pm to 1:00am
3. VISIT THE HOT SPRINGS OR A SPA
It's hard to stay away from the pool and spa at the Rosewood Hotel. Located near Parque Juarez, just a short walk away from Centro, the hotel boasts several restaurants, a beautiful pool, and a wold-class spa. Day passes are available separately for the pool and spa (which includes a workout facility, sauna, steam room, and lounge area). Spa appointments can be made online.
Address: Hotel Rosewood, Nemesio Diez 11, Zona Centro
Hours: Spa - 7:00am to 8:00pm, Pool - sunrise to sunset
The Mayan Baths are located 30 minutes outside of San Miguel and consist of underground pools that are connected by an upper tunnel and underground cellar, all built with quartz, stone, and glass. There is an outdoor pool where you can watch the sunset. This is the only hot springs you will need to make a reservation for ahead of time. Aim for at least one month in advance, as it is only open to the public on weekends and allows a maximum of 45 people per event. Your reservation includes a three-course meal, a robe, and towel service. There is a cash bar available for cocktails and a sign-up for great one-hour massages. Bring cash!
For Reservations email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Cost: Approximately $1500 pesos per person
La Gruta & Escondido Place are located very close to each other about 20 minutes from the center of San Miguel. I have asked several people which one they think is better and the answer is about 50/50. Both have a restaurant, multiple pools including hot springs and cool water pools. Both also offer spa services. Either way, it is best to visit on a weekday as weekends become uncomfortably overcrowded in my opinion, especially during the high season. If possible, go midweek in the morning and you will likely have the whole place to yourself. Keep in mind these are family friendly locations, so expect to see lots of kids on busy days.
La Gruta Spa has one large grotto where hot water flows in from a tube high in the wall of a dark, rocky cave that you approach via a darkened tunnel. They also have a large temazcal (traditional Mexican steam bath) and will bring you cocktails from the bar while you soak in the pools. There are expansive lawns and plenty of loungers for sunbathing.
Address: Carr. Dolores Hidalgo km 10, Guadalupe, 37893
Hours: Wed-Sun 7-5
Cost: $200 pesos + refundable deposit for a locker.
Escondido Place is a larger and more spread out property with multiple rock lined grottos.
Address: Km 10, San Miguel de Allende - Dolores Hidalgo, 37700
Hours: Open Daily 8am-5:30pm
Cost: $150 pesos per person. You can bring your own lock for lockers or buy one there.
4. TAKE A CLASS
ArtLeapAdventures offers two-day paper mache workshops where you will learn how to create your very own paper mache creature using traditional techniques, as well as sketching and watercolor classes.
The VanDoren Metal Art Workshop is a two-day class that gives you the opportunity to make your very own metal art masterpiece. Alex and Lane will instruct you on how to use all of the tools in the shop and give you the chance to make sparks using power tools in a safe and empowering environment. I highly recommend this workshop, and have taken the class myself, three times so far.
Address: Located just out of town in Los Frailes
Cost: $370 for two days and includes all materials and lunch with wine for both days.
SMA Workshops offers a multitude of classes for teens and adults in their workshop in Colonia Guadalupe, the arts district of San Miguel de Allende. Classes run about 4 hours each and include watercolor painting, beginners jewelry and metal smithing, shibori dyeing, block printing, and more. The workshops are taught using only the best quality materials and will have you taking back beautiful pieces to show off back home.
Take a Spanish on the Go class to learn the dos and don’ts of traveling in Latin America along with the most helpful phrases and most used vocabulary to get you communicating in Spanish in just three short classes.
Reservations & Information: Online at SMAworkshops.com
Learn to cook delicious Mexican food with Paco Cardenas. Owner of the delicious Petit Four bakery, Paco takes students through the market for seasonal ingredients from his favorite vendors. Students then head to his home for a cooking class and delicious meal. This experience is highly recommended for anyone who loves to cook.
Reservations: Email Paco at email@example.com.
Cost: $150 US per person (up to 6)
5. LEARN TO DANCE
Sabor y Ritmo will teach you how to Salsa and Cumbia with confidence so that you can enjoy nightclubs and other places where Latin music is played. Drop in for as many classes as you like during their regular hours, or schedule private lessons, wherever is convenient for you.
Address: Condicion Sano Gym Homobono #17, Zona Centro
Hours: M,W,F 7pm-8pm & T,Th 6pm-7pm
6. HAVE AN OUTDOOR ADVENTURE
Zip Line with Hanging Bridge - Live the ultimate adventure at 492 feet, soaring on seven zip lines, and then crossing a suspension bridge... All high above a natural canyon!
Cost: $750 pesos per person
Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Ride with Breakfast - The best way to view San Miguel de Allende is at sunrise from a hot air balloon. Enjoy a 40-60 minute flight and then enjoy breakfast at La Lolita or The Rosewood.
Cost: $2800 pesos per person
Horseback Riding & Organic Farm Tour - This four-hour tour takes you to the heart of rural Mexico to live an authentic experience. Start off with a short, educational walk through the farm, Organic Way. Then enjoy a ride through the Los Picachos hills, followed by a gourmet meal at an authentic Mexican ranch including a pulque tasting. Includes transportation from San Miguel.
Cost: 1200 pesos per person (4+), 1500 pesos per person (3), 1800 pesos per person (2)
To Book: email: Humberto@viaorganica.org or call 415-113-9672
7. HIKE/WALK THROUGH THE BOTANICAL GARDENS
El Charco del Ingenio is a botanical garden and outstanding nature preserve. Featured at the garden is a large collection of cacti and other Mexican plants, many of which are rare, threatened, or in danger of extinction.
They offer guided tours, bird watching tours, a traditional temazcal sweat lodge, and full moon ceremonies. Or feel free to wander around on your own. Free transportation is offered Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday in a 14 passenger van with El Charco's logo on the sides. It leaves from Mesones opposite the Civic Plaza at 9:30am. and returns at 1p.m.
Address: Paloma S/N, Las Colonias, 37720
Hours: 9am-5pm Daily
Cost: $50 pesos
8. VISIT ONE OF THE MARKETS
Mercado de Artesanias (Artisan Market) stretches from a large undercover area, in which there is a mix of crafts, produce, flowers, and food stalls. The market continues down some steps through a passageway with stalls on either side and out into the open, winding through the narrow streets until you come out at Calle Hidalgo. Here you will find items such as jewelry, hand-painted traditional Mexican ceramics, Oaxacan rugs, art, hats, clothing, and handmade childrens' toys.
Address: Plaza Lanatón, Andador Lucas Balderas, Zona Centro
Hours: Open daily from 9am-7pm.
The Tianguis is an open-air market that takes place every Tuesday, and it is HUGE at about 3 football fields long. It is a short bus or taxi ride away from Centro. This is the place to go when you're looking for, well, just about anything... Seasonal and imported produce, antiques, blown glass, hand-carved furniture, pirated DVDs, handmade huaraches, tools, household items, new and used clothing, and souvenirs. The food stalls include tacos, gorditas, and even pizza. Try to go early, as it gets really packed and can be a bit overwhelming.
Address: Arcos de San Miguel
Hours: morning - 3pm on Tuesdays
TOSMA is the Saturday organic market at Mercado Sano. Here you'll find local organic produce, handicrafts (including hand-embroidered pillowcases and table cloths), chocolates, artisanal breads and pastries, and delicious food stalls. This is the perfect stop for Saturday brunch while listening to live music and getting your shopping done for the week.
Address:Ancha de San Antonio 123, Zona Centro
Hours: 9am-2pm Saturdays
9. VISIT AN ART GALLERY
Fabrica la Aurora is an old textile mill that now houses cafes, shops, and galleries with works by local artists in several different mediums. The first Saturday of every month they host an art walk that draws a huge crowd and offers free wine and mezcal. Check out Skot Foreman Fine Art while you are there. The gallery features a wide selection of modern masters including pieces by Picasso, Warhol, Dali, Siqueiros and Rivera.
Address: Calz de La Aurora S/N, Aurora, 37710
Hours:10am-6pm Mon-Sat & 10am-5pm Sun
Parque Juarez is a beautiful park located just 3 blocks east of the main Jardin. This tranquil green space offers colorful flowers, winding paths & benches under shade trees, plus basketball courts. It is a great place to stroll through any day of the week, but on the weekend you will find local artists selling their artwork along the outside wall that surrounds the park. Whether you are looking to add to your collection or just want to enjoy the view, this is one of my favorite things to do on the weekend. There is some truly amazing artwork on display.
Address: Cañadita de los Aguacates 75, Centro, Zona Centro, 37700
Hours: Open daily from 8am-9pm. Artwork shown on Saturdays & Sundays 10am-3pm.
10. GO TO THE “BEACH”
Located in a beautiful 300 acre valley just 3 kms from downtown San Miguel, Los Senderos is a fabulous place to spend a relaxing day. You can swim in the lagoon, book spa treatments, soak in the thermal pool, stand up paddle board, or just park yourself on one of their comfortable lounge chairs and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere.
Don’t miss their Manaia Restaurant and the signature cocktails!
Address: Carretera 51, A Dolores Hidalgo, San Miguel de Allende km 3.5, Nuevo Milenio
Hours: 10am-6pm Tues-Sun
Cost: Your entry fee is $600 pesos and $400 pesos of that goes towards food and beverage consumption.