You could easily spend several days just walking through the narrow, cobblestoned streets of San Miguel discovering new boutiques, charming courtyards, and incredible dining.
For those of you with a little more time to spend and curiosity for what lies beyond our town borders, here is our list of the 11 best day trips from San Miguel de Allende.
Photo: A Stunning Mural at Hacienda de Jaral de Berrios
Also a world heritage site, Atotonilco is nestled between San Miguel de Allende and Dolores Hidalgo. The main attractions include the hot springs (more info on that here) and the Sanctuary of Atotonilco, which has been called the "Sistine Chapel of Mexico."
Enjoy the mural covered ceilings and Mexican Baroque art inside the chapel. Stop by the the little market stalls lined up outside, and then head to El Macehual for a lavender margarita and amazing enmoladas (enchiladas with mole sauce). To make it a spa day visit Nirvana and be sure to take a dip in their hot springs pool before your treatment.
Hacienda de Jaral de Berrios
This place is pure magic. Once the home of the richest man in Mexico, this dilapidated ex-hacienda is dripping with intrigue in the form of gorgeous hand-painted murals, peeling French wall paper, and extraordinary woodwork.
Now the site of Mezcal Marques de Jaral de Berrio, you have the opportunity to explore the ruins of the old hacienda and taste some of Mexico's finest mezcal. Just don't drink the mezcal first, as the ruins themselves are already a bit dangerous.
Located about an hour and a half away from San Miguel de Allende, take Route 51 all the way to San Felipe Torres Mochas. It is about 25k further to Hacienda Jaral de Berrios and the route is signed.
Tip: Plan to pay about $30 pesos per person to get inside, but bring a lunch because there is no where to eat. Guided tours may be available for purchase at the San Miguel de Allende Biblioteca.
Antea LifeStyle Center
This shopping mall is the largest mall in Mexico and second largest in Latin America. It's located about one hour from San Miguel de Allende in the city of Querétaro. This really is the largest and most beautiful outdoor mall I have ever been to. You will find many familiar names such as Zara, H&M, Crate & Barrel, Sephora, Michael Kors, Coach, and many more. The mall also boasts an El Palacio de Hierro, the Mexican Neiman Marcus, with high-end designer boutiques inside.
There are a number of places to eat from the typical mall style food court to finer dining, like PF Chang's, as well as plenty of options in between. I never thought I would be so happy to see a California Pizza Kitchen, but after living out of the US for a couple years these little tastes of familiarity do help with the occasional home sickness.
Tip: the mall is located close to Walmart, Costco, and Home Depot in case you need to pick up some essentials while you are in the area.Top
Chapel of Jimmy Ray
This 2.5 acre art installation is like nothing you have ever seen. Just a few miles outside of San Miguel de Allende in La Cieneguita, you can experience the incredible work of Anado McLauchlin. The whole site is filled with the most amazing, brightly colored mosaics. I don’t even have the words for how cool this place is, just trust me and get yourself there for an incredible experience.
Tip: Take a taxi instead of an Uber, as cell signal can get spotty out there, making it harder for your Uber to find the location. Ask your driver to retrieve you at a specific time. Local taxis will know where it is.
Guanajuato City is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the birthplace of the famous artist Diego Rivera. With wide-open pedestrian streets and a large student population, there is an openness and vibrancy to this compact city. Guanajuato is easily accessible by car or bus from San Miguel de Allende. Or you can book with one of the many tour companies for a more in depth experience.
Tip: Be sure to make a reservation at my favorite restaurant there, Los Campos, for a late lunch or dinner.
Guanajuato Wine Route
You might be surprised to discover that right here in the mountains of central Mexico, there are actually several vineyards that are starting to become quite popular. The Ruta de Vino (Wine Route) stretches from San Miguel de Allende to Dolores Hidalgo. Many of these wineries offer tours and tastings. Some of the most popular are: La Santisima Trinidad, Vinícola Toyan, Rancho Santa Gloria, Cuna de Tierra, Dos Buhos, and Camino de Vinos.
Hire a driver and visit one or more of this wineries on your own. Or you can book a 6-hour tour with Catrina Tours that includes two vineyards, wine making, tasting, and food pairing.
La Cucina di Afrodita
Why not have an authentic Italian experience in the Mexican countryside? Yes, you read that right. Chef Laura Buccheri is one the most accomplished Italian chefs in SMA, and she has a very impressive resume. On Sunday afternoons she serves up farm to table Italian food at her home in the campo.
Expect wood fired pizzas, freshly made pasta, roasted vegetables, and homemade cheese all served al fresco in a peaceful, beautiful setting in the country. Visit their facebook page for the weekly menu and send an email at email@example.com to reserve your spot.
La Canada de la Virgen
About 25 kilometers outside of San Miguel de Allende is an Otomi archaeological site. It is not nearly as big as Chichen-Itzá, but it still very much worth the trip. Occupied between 540 and 1050 a.d., it is perched upon a small mesa surrounded by canyons. It is made up of four patio/pyramid complexes, an ancient artificial pond, and a ceremonial causeway covering the 16 hectares that is now government property.
You can book an English-speaking tour guide through Albert Coffee Tours that includes transportation from San Miguel.
Tip: Stop at Don Ceros on your way back into town for some of the best gorditas you will ever have.
Mineral de Pozos
This old mining town, about one hour from San Miguel de Allende, was founded in the 16th century. It was abandoned twice over the years due to the fall and rise of precious metals and natural calamities. It ultimately became somewhat of a ghost town until a recent revival.
Both Discovery Tours and Catrina Tours offer tours to Pozos that include walking down into a mine shaft, with the latter providing lunch and a tour of a local lavender ranch.
Tip: Try the escamoles at Los Escamoles. Don’t overthink what you are eating, just dive in and enjoy!
Peña de Bernal
Bernal's Boulder is one of the tallest (but not largest) monoliths in the world. Adrenaline junkies will find magnificent natural landscapes for rappelling, mountain climbing, or extreme sports. Those of us who prefer to admire it from afar (and with two feet firmly on the ground), can enjoy the small and picturesque town of San Sebastián Bernal where it is located.
This town was recently named a Pueblo Mágico or "Magical Town" by the Mexican Department of Tourism for being unique and culturally special. Wander through the labyrinth of beautiful colonial-style streets with flower-filled balconies and charming street lamps to buy artisan handicrafts and enjoy the local gastronomy- tacos, gorditas, enchiladas, barbacoa.
Tip: There is path that leads almost all the way to the top of the peña for those interested in a hike, but getting to the tippy top requires serious mountain climbing equipment
If a day out in the country listening to live music is your jam, then you will really enjoy Sunday afternoons at Zandunga. This ranch in the countryside, just 20 minutes from San Miguel is owned by the incredible musician Gil Gutierrez. You will get the chance to experience the country lifestyle while enjoying quality jazz or blues and home-cooked food in a semi-enclosed space with room to dance.
Admission includes one small alcoholic drink and a Mexican buffet (grilled meat, fresh tacos, and quesadillas made to order). A cash bar is also available. Purchase your tickets from Mixta (one of our favorite local boutiques) at Pila Seca #3 between Hernandez Macias and Zacateros. More information available here.