San Miguel de Allende is a small colonial town in the Bajio mountains of central Mexico, about 170 miles northwest of Mexico City. Founded as "San Miguel" in 1542 by a San Franciscan Monk named San Miguel El Grande, it became a centerpiece in the war for Mexican independence from Spain; it was renamed San Miguel de Allende after Ignacio Allende, a hero of the independence movement. In danger of becoming a ghost town in the early 20th century, the town was declared a national monument in 1926 and building became heavily restricted in the town's historic centro district, allowing the city to keep the colorful native facades that have become the backdrop of many famous works of art and even modern motion pictures.
A series of artist colonies were founded in San Miguel in the 1950s, including the famous Instituto Allende, and many G.I.s moved their families here following World War II either to attend one of these colonies or to escape the Polio scares raging through many U.S. cities. The result was a healthy American expatriate population that exists today mostly as elderly retirees and second-generation business owners. This population, combined with the Mexican wealthy (especially actors and politicians) that have rediscovered San Miguel as a Malibu-like retreat from Mexico City, has created an eclectic mix of Old World Mexican charm, American hospitality, and a party atmosphere that makes San Miguel a world-class destination for adventurous travelers.
San Miguel is, first and foremost, a city built for relaxing. It is a Spanish colonial town of perhaps 140,000 people; a heritage site protected by the Mexican government in order to maintain its character. In July of 2008 it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It's a tourist destination, an art colony, and a retirement community for a few thousand foreigners, mostly Americans, Canadians, and Europeans. In spite of the increased number of foreigners over the past perhaps 20 years, it still is charming enough that many Mexicans visit for special holidays, and there are more than a few visitors who buy a house within a few days of their first arrival.
Weather is typical of central mountainous Mexico. It varies little, and even in the hottest months (May and June) when daytime temperatures can reach 100F (over 35C), the dry air makes it tolerable and cool mountain breezes tend to make evenings delightful. Winter evenings (from December to February) can get cold, even down to freezing overnight, but it warms up quickly in the morning. The rainy season extends from June to September when days are pleasant for sightseeing until heavy downpours (usually late in the afternoon and evening) cool and freshen the air. Ultimately, the climate has the lazy, quiet air and temperance of Palm Springs, encouraging long hours of swimming and pool-side tanning, reading or napping, or just lying in a hammock and forgetting the world exists.
The Spanish version of the history of San Miguel de Allende is correct, why is it not so in the English version? San Miguel de Allende was founded by Franciscan Monk Fray Juan de San Miguel Miguel. He baptized the city with the name San Miguel el Grande and yes, after the War of Independence from Spain in the year 1826 San Miguel was elevated to a city status and given the name San Miguel de Allende in honor of Ignacio Allende y Unzaga, the first Mexican soldier and a native of the city.
San Miguel's climate
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One of the most difficult aspects of visiting San Miguel de Allende is actually getting there. Its remoteness is definitely part of the charm of the city - your afternoon nap will never be disturbed by the sound of an overhead plane or a train pulling in - but reaching San Miguel, and eventually escaping, can be a problem, if you do not understand your options.
If you're an experienced driver in Mexico, you'll have few problems reaching San Miguel. It's less than two hours from Léon and one hour from Queretaro, and maybe a three hour drive from Mexico City. The only difficulty will come when you actually reach San Miguel - parking spaces are an absolute premium here, so you'll want to arrange to have a spot for your car waiting when you arrive. Additionally, these cobblestone streets were never designed for modern traffic, so driving around San Miguel can be a challenge. Most people walk or take a two dollar cab ride anywhere downtown.
If you've never driven much in Mexico, driving to San Miguel is not difficult. While San Miguel is on the side of a mountain ridge, most of the roads leading to it are in excellent condition and safe to drive, at least during the day. Since much of this area is "free range" land, horses and cattle may find their way on the road, especially at night.
Senior citizens and tourist touring the region may find sight-seeing more difficult because of the local's propensity to drive fast along these two-laned highways. It's not much fun having a car on your bumper while trying to see the beautiful countryside in this area.
Your best bet is flying into Leon or Mexico City, and taking a shuttle or bus to San Miguel.
Then you do not have to worry about parking you car, which is of little use in this colonial city.
The closest airports to San Miguel are in Léon (BJX, about 70 miles away) and Queretaro (QRO, about 45 miles away). Arriving at either of these airports will make your final journey a relatively inexpensive (between US$30 and US$60) hour shuttle or cab ride. for more information about prices and times from any airports check [http;//www.visit-sanmiguel.com] A bus ride from Queretaro is even cheaper around US$10 to US$15), but the trip will take 2-2:30 hours because the bus is not direct to San Miguel and you have to take a taxi from the airport to the bus station. Colectivos from the bus station to the city center are much cheaper.
Your flight may be less expensive if you go through Mexico City (MEX), and connect to a flight to Leon or Queretaro. You may ride an airport bus from Mexico City to Leon and then catch a local bus to San Miguel. However, it's a 4-5 hour trip. Another option is a bus from MEX airport to Queretaro and on to San Miguel.
American and Continental airlines have direct flights to Leon from Dallas-Ft.Worth and Houston, respectively.
By bus: From the Mexico City airport you can get a first-class bus ticket on the line called "Primera Plus" (see the section on "Buses") for about US$25 (in 2006). Buses leave every 45 minutes to 1 hour throughout the day and will take you non-stop to Queretaro in less than 3 hours. You can take a bus from there to the San Miguel bus depot for about US$8 (about 1 hour), or a taxi to your door in San Miguel for about US$35 (about 45 minutes).
By taxi: If you're well-heeled, you can take a taxi from Mexico City directly to San Miguel. This will cost more but you´ll be safer because the driver wait you at the airport and he takes you directly to your destination in San Miguel.
Travelers should excise caution at the airport in Mexico City, especially if you are changing dollars into pesos. Only leave the main terminal with people you know or have arranged through a reputable agency.
If you fly into Mexico City and need to reach San Miguel, do not try to take a taxi from the airport. The taxi drivers in Mexico City are well trained to screw you out of your money by charging you three or four times the cost of a trip to San Miguel - it's simply not worth the hassle. If you're Hell-bent on flying into Mexico City and NOT taking a bus, call ahead to the hotel or B&B where you're staying and ask them to send a taxi from San Miguel. Yes, they may charge you for both the trip to and from the airport, but it will be infinitely less expensive than if you try to pick up a taxi from the street outside the Mexico City airport. For safety reasons, it is very important not to "pick up a taxi from the street outside the Mexico City airport." Take one of the official airport taxis to your hotel. These "Transporte Terrestre" taxis are the only ones allowed inside the airport. You will buy a zone-priced ticket ahead of time inside the airport by walking all the way down to the right (several hundred yards) after exiting the international arrivals area.
If you fly into a regional airport like Léon or Queretaro, taking a taxi the rest of your way is much safer - just make sure you use an approved taxi service (the green and white cars are official taxis). Even still, if you don't know San Miguel that well, you may want to consider calling ahead to your hotel or B&B and having them provide transport - regional taxis may know how to get you to San Miguel, but only a taxi or car sent by your lodging will know how to get you straight to them.
By far the most convenient airport to fly into is Leon (BJX). Arrange for a ride beforehand with one of the many shuttle services listed on San Miguel websites. Average price about $25-30 per person. This will almost alway be cheaper than taking a taxi from the airport--and the driver will know the town of San Miguel much better than a taxi driver from the airport. There is no easy way to get from the Leon airport to San Miguel by bus.
If you do want to take the bus but want to minimize the hassles associated with it, here are a few tips:
Plan your route well ahead of time. Know not just what bus depot you plan to leave from, but what bus line you plan to take. Flecha Amarilla, Estrella Blanca, Omnibus de Mexico seem to be the most reliable.
ETN and Primera plus runs several times a day to Leon too
Have a back-up plan. At the very least, have a few extra dollars for an overnight stay in the event that your bus leaves you behind. (The bus lines will fall all over themselves to help you if the bus forgets you, but they won't be able to help you if the ticket window is closed because it's 2AM.)
Try to avoid getting off the bus at stops unless EVERYONE is off the bus. Be especially wary if they also claim to need to remove your baggage from the compartment (saying the bus needs to be cleaned, for example) - they may be trying to avoid taking you all the way to your destination.
If you're coming from USA, when planning your route, avoid a bus that crosses the border. You'll be required to get out at the border to get a visa, and more than one person has been left behind here while that was happening. There are several Mexico-side border towns with bus depots - you may want to take a plane or bus to the border, cross the border by foot, and take a bus from the other side. In particular, Nuevo Laredo (across the border from Laredo, Texas) has a major bus depot and an overnight bus leaves Nuevo Laredo every evening for San Miguel. If you drive to Laredo, you can park your vehicle overnight at La Posada hotel (covered) for about $18 per night or at Rio Grande Plaza Hotel (uncovered) for $5 per night. Both are within walking distance of the international bridge. After you have crossed the bridge, stop in on the Mexican side to get your visa (about $25). Take a taxi to the bus station for about $5 US. Be sure you know which bus station, as there are several.
Maybe 90% of San Miguel's attractions are within walking distance. Just keep in mind that because San Miguel was built into the side of a mountain, it can turn out to be difficult to traverse, some inclines are 15 or 20 degrees. Furthermore, the streets are cobbled and narrow - some were nothing but goat tracks before they were paved - and many have fallen into disrepair. Curbs are often a high step away from the road. All in all, the town can be unforgiving to an inexperienced walker. For this reason, it is advisable to bring comfortable shoes.
The streets are cobbled, and the visitor can get a certain pleasure from the burros carrying loads of new cobbles for road repair. The steep inclines can be useful in backtracking. Rule of thumb: If your calves hurt, you have been walking uphill. If your shins hurt, you have been walking downhill. Then simply reverse course until your legs are uniformly painful. You should now be near your point of origin.
Bici-Burro is a bike shop that has operated in San Miguel since 1963. They offer bike rentals and biking or hiking tours with guides that hold an intimate knowledge of the area around San Miguel. You have the choice of seven bike tours and 2 hiking trips which take you amongst natural landmarks and some of the historical ruins of the area. These are of varying degrees of difficulty and range from 5 to 8 hours. The bicycle tours include a 27 speed aluminium mountain bike with helmet, gloves and transportation if needed. (note - their web site, http://www.bici-burro.com, you can e-mail and they do answer the telephone.
Driving in San Miguel is even more nightmarish. There was a time when the city was not so wealthy and only taxis could be found on these roads. Now that the real estate market has boomed, an influx of money has made cars more affordable and now the average resident is more likely to own one - good news for the economy, but bad news for the roads. Many two-way streets in San Miguel are too narrow to support two lanes of traffic, and it's not uncommon for a street to become so choked with cars that drivers have to get out and negotiate which one is going to back up to a wider street to let the other pass. Many streets are one-way so look for an arrow on the side of a building indicating which direction the traffic is going. A double arrow indicates a two-way street. Watch out for very steep streets. They can get even steeper than you realize and at least one in San Miguel is so narrow at the bottom that no more than a medium-sized car with its side mirrors pulled in can safely maneuver between the buildings. Scratches on the walls attest to drivers who have literally had to scrape between the buildings. Backing up the hill is not an option.
For this reason, and for the serious lack of parking spaces, it is strongly recommended avoiding driving a car within San Miguel. Taxis are extremely inexpensive and reliable, and they can take you anywhere in or outside San Miguel you'd want to go when you don't feel like walking. Additionally, San Miguel has its own pleasant and reliable bus system that serves the entire town, including out-of-the-way areas like Gigante and the bus depot. Leave your car in a parking lot in the outskirts of the City - it's entirely unnecessary here, and its suspension will thank you.
Another warning on driving a car into San Miguel: if you manage to find a parking place on the streets rather than in one of the (pay) parking lots in town, do NOT leave it parked for more than 24 hours, or the police will come by and remove your rear license plate. You can get it back by going to the police station on the main square, but it will cost you MN$ 99 in fees. There are no signs warning about this.
Catch a taxi within San Miguel for a flat rate of only 25 pesos withing centro, 30 pesos outside centro (30-35 pesos after dark). In-town taxis are abundant and a great option after an afternoon of shopping. If you call a taxi to pick you up in a location, there is additional cost. Rates can also be negotiated to destinations outside of town. For the best luck with taxis, and to avoid any confusion or argument, you best bet is to ask the taxi driver what the rate will be to your destination before you get into the taxi.
By tourist trolley
Two different companies provide Sighseeing rides using trolley-looking buses that cost 60 pesos. You can ask for tickets in the main tourist office just in the main square. The ride lasts 1.5 hours (if traffic allows) and reaches the top of a hill for a fantastic sight of the town.
Teatro Angela Peralta.
Street behind the Parish.
Parroquia de San Miguel Arcangel The marvelous pink granite parish, looking like an ornate candy sculpture at the zocalo (called "El Jardin" by the locals).
El Jardin The main square or also known as the Plaza Principal
Museo Casa Ignacio Allende Home of one of the independence heros. Entrance $34 pesos.
Casa Mayorazgo de La Canal Home of a very wealthy family.
Templo de la Concepcion A church, also called "Las Monjas.".
Centro Cultural El Nigromante, Bellas Artes
Teatro Angela Peralta
Oratorio de San Felipe Neri
Statue of Ignacio Allende at the Plaza Civica
Templo de Nuestra Señora de la Salud Church
Templo de San Francisco
Casa del Inquisidor Where the Holy Inquisition was located. Now a private home.
Benito Juarez park
Jardin Botanical The unique El Charco del Ingenio park above the town with its enormous collection of cacti.
The Jardin Botanico is a vast area just past the Balcones area (go uphill past Los Arcos, take a left, and walk until you get tired. Now you're nearly there. Or be a wimp and get a cab from anywhere.) It includes some of the older engineering installations (an old mill and raceway), lovely canyons, well informed guides (mostly expats) for the botanists and birdwatchers. Go early in the day to avoid the heat and for more wildlife. Locals who are members are sometimes given a key to the back gate - find one and buy him beers until he relents! The reservoir is host to a number of migratory birds, and the locals can be rather stunning as well.
Santuario de Atotonilco. The Sanctuary of Atotonilco (Santuario de Atotonilco) is a church complex and a World Heritage Site, designated along with nearby San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico. The main feature of the complex is the rich Mexican Baroque mural work that adorns the main nave and chapels. This was chiefly the work of Antonio Martinez de Pocasangre over a period of thirty years. The mural work has led the complex to be dubbed the "Sistine Chapel of Mexico." The complex remains a place of worship and penance to this day, attracting as many as 5,000 visitors every week.
When you're ready to absorb the city itself, San Miguel has plenty to see. You can spend a day just exploring the buildings, walking randomly along its streets and exploring some of the facades and architecture that have made San Miguel famous. Painters and cameramen have captured sites like La Parroquia and El Mirador countless times, and whole books have captured the beauty of the doorways along the street. Even Hollywood has taken notice of San Miguel, filming movies like "Once Upon a Time in Mexico" and "And Starring Pancho Villa as Himself" almost entirely here.
You can also explore inside some of these historic buildings, including the Angela Peralta Theatre and the home of Ignacio Allende, now museums of art and culture dedicated to the town itself.
San Miguel's many art institutes are always open to travelers looking to discover (or become the next) Frida Kahlo. Painting, sculpture, printmaking, photography, you name it and it's probably there.
Take in one of the numerous festivals. The place celebrates Semana Santa (Easter holy week) with impressive and touching parades, and Dia de las Locos in mid-June is also worthwhile. The days leading up to Independence Day (September 16) and New Year's in San Miguel are favorite times for Mexicanos.
There are also music festivals covering classical and jazz at different times of the year, and endless art galleries with works that range from wonderful to "what that'?".
The once famous Sanmiguelada, San Miguel's version of the "running of the bulls" is no more. After the crowds grew to an unmanageable size and violence broke out in 2007, the event was canceled. This was also the time that San Miguel was attempting to obtain UNESCO World Heritage City status, and it was deemed a negative factor as to the city's image to have the running of the bulls. There has been some talk of reinstating it in a somewhat different form, but no decisions have yet been made.
Coyote Canyon Adventures, ☎ 415-154-4193, . Offers horseback riding, hiking, biking, rappelling, camping, four-wheeler (ATV), hot air ballooning, boating, Cañada de la Virgen pyramid tours, and multi-day cross country adventures. Their guides lead you safely through working cattle ranches, into canyons, through rivers, over plains, across gorges, and down sheer cliffs, all the while sharing with you their in-depth knowledge of the native flora and fauna.
Roombo: A Place for Kids, Animas no. 57, ☎ (415)152-8083, . 9:00 - 7:00. ROOMBO is a state-of-the art child center in San Miguel de Allende offering learning and play opportunities for families with children aged 0 to 12. Roombo offers year-round classes in early stimulation, arts & crafts, dance/ movement, games, theater, science, singing and more! Roombo also has various classes for parents and caregivers. Summer and school-vacation camps provide kids with dynamic opportunities to interact with other kids and meet unique counselors and special guests. All programs are bilingual.
Cristi Fer Art Studio, Federico Montes de Oca 6A (Col. Independencia), ☎ 415-121-2311, . 9 AM - 1 PM. Founded in 1989, Cristi Fer Art Studio offers original art and painting workshops. Choose from one day to one month long classes. Most popular is "One Painting in One Day" workshop designed for adults. Tuesday is Abstract art and Thursdays is dedicated to painting a street of San Miguel. The workshops are easy and fun, and require no art experience. Classes and workshops for unblocking creativity for painters are also offered.
Take Spanish lessons. There are schools that will offer classes and arrange a "home stay" with a host family for a very good price. Some examples are:
Centro Bilingue  It's believed that language and culture are inseparable, and for this reason the programs provide a linguistic and cultural experience.The programs combine language and study with an exploration of Mexican culture, history, tradition, cooking, dance, as well as field trips and cultural excursions in or around San Miguel de Allende. (Ideal for toddlers to seniors.)
Language Point (Languages), 20 de enero SUR # 42 (S.W. from the Jardin), ☎ 1524115, . 8AM to 2PM. Spanish by speaking. Learn in groups of 3 maximum. Spanish lessons are designed to teach you the tenses and vocabulary you really need. The small class size allows real conversation- even for beginners. $143/week.
Habla Hispana Spanish School, Calzada de la Luz 25, ☎ +52 415 1520713, . Spanish classes at Habla Hispana are focused on enable students to communicate effectively. Emphasis is placed on verbal interaction in the classroom, and class placement is based more on verbal fluency than on academic knowledge. Spanish classes at Instituto Habla Hispana are designed as four week sessions and divided into three levels - Nivel Principiante (Beginner), Nivel Intermedio (Intermediate), and Nivel Avanzado (Advanced). The school is flexible in working with students who can not stay for 4 week sessions and also will work with you on focused Spanish for medical professionals. Comfortable and affordable accommodations are available in a residence on same school grounds as well as homestays with local families. Program also includes cultural tours, music and cooking.
MexArt: Summer Teen Institutes Calzada de la Aurora no. 48. +52 (415)152-8900 or U.S. (202)391-0004. http://www.gomexart.com MexArt Summer Teen Institutes are one-month programs where students may focus on art or dance and Spanish language while immersed in Mexican culture. Set in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, students live in a central B&B with experienced counseling staff. MexArt excels in teaching the visual arts, dance, and Spanish. Participants choose one area in which to focus and choose other areas with which to experiment. Open to students ages 14 - 18.
Any type of Mexican artwork that you can think of. In addition to its cultural staples, San Miguel de Allende is known for its amazing shopping. Being near the geographical center of the country, artisans from every part of Mexico have been known to send their artwork to San Miguel to be sold.
Whenever possible buy directly from the artisan. Many amazingly, talented artists are not able to support their families due to the low prices they receive for their art. At times it is very necessary to barter and at other times inappropriate -- use your intuition and allow for mistakes.
We can afford to be generous in this developing nation!
The best place to get great quality Mexican and international art is at Fabrica La Aurora. This old textile factory has been converted into a unique art and design center that now houses over 30 artists, galleries, restaurants, antique shops, and specialty stores. It is about 10 minutes from the main square down Hidalgo Street on Calzada de la Aurora. Inside the Fabrica la Aurora you will see galleries such as Gallery Skot Foreman, where exhibitions are arranged all year long featuring contemporary fine art. See Gallery Skot Foreman.
The streets around the Jardin are full of specialty shops selling common souvenirs, clothing, art, furniture, and Mexican tile. The open-air Mercado Ignacio Ramirez (Ignacio Ramirez market) a few blocks from the zocalo (locally called the "Jardin") is several blocks long where you'll find reasonably-priced jewelry from beads to silver, tile, mirrors, and other accessories for the home. It winds down the side of a hill, ending on yet another street of stores where you'll find (among other things) local pewter which can be very attractive and a real bargain. Some still call it by the name "El Nigromante", which is not as loaded a term in Spanish. There's the local food market indoors, and as one goes more downhill there are the usual clothing and music kiosks. The artsy-craftsy merchandise is found in the sunlight and down by the stream-side as one progresses through the area. Kiosk food is safe, by and large.
Also of note is the Tuesday Market - acres of native crafts, cheap Lakers t-shirts, fly swatters, cheap leather jackets and miscellaneous stuff that you really need, like flypaper, sewing kits, and more flyswatters. This correspondent is six foot tall, and feels like an NBA star walking through the crowds there. This correspondent cannot find any clothing to fit him there, either Tamano Grande (sorry can't access tilde) is US Medium. T. Ex-G does not exist. Still. it's worth it, if only for some of the more occult candies on offer.
Fair Trade Shopping includes the following:
Casa de Las Artesania de Michoacan, Calzada de la Aurora #23, a non-profit shop where the artist profits 60% of the retail price.
Save the Children shop on Hidalgo, this store offers crafts from various villages around Mexico. Artists receive a fair price for their arts and crafts, entire villages have become sustainable through Save The Children Mexico projects.
There is also a women’s co-op shop.
Ladies: don't forget to pick up a pair of San Miguel shoes as soon as you arrive. Your walk around town will be much more comfortable.
Cristi Fer Art Studio, Federico Montes de Oca 6A (Col. Independencia), ☎ 415-121-2311, . 9 AM - 1PM. Cristi Fer Art Studio offers original paintings, photography, note card
Mama Mia, directly to the south of the Jardin, half a block from the Parroquia. An open air patio restaurant with a stage and an exterior/second floor patio. The restaurant has traditional Mexican dishes, but specializes in pizzas and pastas. An always packed space, this is an amazing place to eat with a clean kitchen, and a lively bar. Very popular with tourists, less so with locals.
El Pegaso, located just off the Jardin on the Corregidora street. This trendy cafe style restaurant offers a delightful blend of Mexican and international flavor. Its atmosphere is definitely one of the best in town.
El Correo, a small Mexican food spot located just a block away from the main square, offers simple yet interesting authentic Mexican food in a great location.
El Rincon Español, correo #26, a must for an international night, administered and owned by a Catalan immigrant the food is truly exceptional, you will not be disappointed.
Cafe San Antonio, Refugio Sur 24, regional, national and international cuisine, enjoy your breakfast, lunch or Dinner in a lucious and open courtyard in the heart of Colonia San Antonio, under the century old native mezquites pines and pirules, truly a unique experience.
Posada Carmina - This restaurant is based in the patio of a charming Inn located in a remarkably well preserved colonial house. Branded as "fusion", the food offered by this restaurant will make your visit to San Miguel even more memorable, it mixes the clasic elements of mexican cuisine with oriental flavors and dishes.
Planta Baja, located in front of "Las Monjas" church this modern Mexican restaurant is definitely one of the most avant-garde spots to eat in San Miguel. Great food.
Casa Payo, Zacateros # 26, One of the most traditional restaurants offering argentine cuisine in a mediterranean ambient inside dining and exterior in a charming patio featuring live music
Tio Lucas, bar and grill, across from the Teatro Angelica Peralta.
San Augustin A well run restaurant with great food, Mexican and international. The restaurant/cafe in proud of their freshly made churros and a variety of hot and cold chocolate milks. Owned by Margarita Gralia.
Local restaurants to support include: ChaChaCha’s located on 28 de Abril owned and operated by Mexican couple, Rinconcito on Refugio is close by too, try the Mar y Tierra.
Fresh coffee at La Ventana on Urmaran or Café Etc. on Reloj, both practice Fair Trade.
If you are looking for healthy organic food in San Miguel, Naturalismo is located one block from the Jardin toward the end of Cuna de Allende. Many people find that organic food is not always easy to access in Mexico and this is one place that has organic home cooking.
Cafe Yenatu Panza, Calzada de la Aurora no. 48 (follow Hidalgo out of the jardin until it turns into Aurora.), ☎ (415)152-8900. 8:30 - noon. This is undoubtedly the most innovative and creative breakfast menus in town featuring design-your-own omelets & breakfast burritos, exquisite french toast, and home made fruit salsa. The vibe is very comfy and clients can choose from indoor or outdoor-garden seating. There's even free wireless.$5-7.
La Grotta. A wonderful, multi-story restaurant owned by Daniel and son Dyami. La Grotta is located downhill, around the corner, just a block from the main cathedral. While true that the restaurant is casual and the main items are pizza, calzones, and Italian-related, don't let that fool you -- the food is very carefully and freshly prepared.
Tacos Don Felix, 15th Fray Juan de San Miguel St. (Take a taxi and enjoy yourself.), ☎ 415 152 5719, . Fri-Sa-Su only. Wonderful soups, nachos, and entrees. Try the three meat enchiladas. Friendly service. Only open F-Sa 6PM to Midnight and Sunday, 2PM - 6PM. It is worth the trip!Moderate.
Visit Mama Mia (see above) or the trendy black and red Mexicana, just off the main square for an amazing evening. Located across from the hotel Mansion Virreyes, For a great nightcap, Berlin Bar & Bistro is just up the street. It's a great chill bar with a hipster crowd. The owner is very welcoming and the food is sublime.
If you can't find something to do in San Miguel at night, you're not looking hard enough. If you can't find something to do on a Saturday night, you're outright blind. This city is filled with clubs, bars, dance halls, and restaurants, and almost all of them have SOME plan for every night of the week. Following are just a few options, try these out, but also seeking your own favorite hang-out.
Bistro Los Senderos, Avenida Central 101, ☎ 415 155 9571, . Relaxed country atmosphere serving both old favorites and innovative fusion dishes - the Bistro has its own organic herb and vegetable garden. Great place to take visitors, and kids - bicycles available and horse back rides by reservation. Gets very busy on Sundays, reservations recommended. Only 8 minutes from downtown San Miguel, this charming place also prepares gourmet picnics, and available for private events. Not to be missed. 200- 400p.
Berlin Bar & Bistro at Umarán No. 19, 1-1/2 blocks from the Parroquia. A popular hangout with the local arts crowd. At the bar, a wide selection of national and imported beers, wine, classic and custom cocktails. In the back, a cozy bistro with fresh, international cuisine.
El Grito (15 Umaran, about a block from the jardin): This is arguably the most popular club in town, and easily the most expensive. It has a $15 cover charge, easily enough to dissuade the casual visitor from dropping in to take a look. Inside, the building is a panoply of stone and glass sculptures, light displays, and music. How energetic the evening gets usually depends on the crowd, but it's hard for the evening to get much past midnight before the dancing starts. El Grito is only open Fridays and Saturdays, or on certain holidays, like New Year's Eve (when they jack the price up to $50).
Dos Casas Wine Bar, Quebrada 101, Large selection of international wines in a an intimate setting. 2 blocks from the town center. Bistro menu.
Mama Mia's (8 Umaran, a few doors from the jardin): Mama Mia's is actually four clubs in one. There's a restaurant and bar in the center with some amazing Italian food, a sports bar to the left (usually displaying a soccer or football game of some kind), a music bar to the right where local acts frequently play (especially Pilaseca, a very popular funk-blues band that tours most of Mexico and the States), and a rooftop lounge overlooking the city. It is a popular tourist spot and usually a last resort place for locals. This is a great default place to while away the hours when nothing else is appealing - the music is worth it, if nothing else.
Manolo's Sports Bar Zacateros # 26, Complete coverage of national and international sports if it is on TV they have it
La Cava de la Princesa
Cafe de la Parroquia (changes name for dinner to La Brasserie), Jesus 11 (One block from the Jardin), ☎ 152-3161. 8AM-10PM. Beautiful courtyard dining on fresh, local ingredients. Although many menu items seem at first to be the "usual", there's nothing ordinary about them. Try in particular the chicken soup (throw in all the onions and cilantro), tacos and any omelette. $6-12 entrees.
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There are five hostels. Usually they're cheaper when you just walk in than when you book through hostel websites.
Iron House Hostel, H. Colegio Militar 17-D, ☎ 52 415 154 6108 / mobile 415 1111 759, . Independent hostel located an 8 minute walk from the Parroquia in the main square of the town. Ricardo the owner of the hostel is a resident of San Miguel and is always happy to show you the real gems of the town - the best sights, clubs, restaurants, bars, hot springs, artisan markets. Weekly and monthly rates are available.USD $25.00 private room, USD $9.00 dorm.
Hostel Inn, Calzada de la Luz 31A, . Price depends on the season, see their website. There's a laundry service with same day pickup.Dorms around 150 pesos.
Hostal Alcatraz, Relox 54. The most central one of the four hostels. Good showers, lockers outside of the dorms, no private rooms, nice staff.Dorms 150 pesos.
Hostal Internacional, Recreo 80. Dorms 150 pesos.
La Catrina Hostel, 80 Loreto (walk up Loreto street from Oratorio Church a few blocks and it's on the left hand side). In a quiet section of the town centre but close enough to walk to everything easily. Rooms are clean and spacious. The hostel is quiet and not super social, but the staff are very friendly. 160 pesos a night for a dorm bed includes breakfast AND dinner (if you eat dinner breakfast is continental, if you don't have dinner breakfast is full. Also you can order a extra food por 30 pesos, like great Chilaquiles or Molletes. ).160.
Mid- and high range
Arcos del Atascadero Bed and Breakfast Quiet, with gardens and back yard, yet 12 minutes' walk to the centro. The solar heated swimming pool makes for a pleasant escape from the heat of the day.
Dos Casas Hotel Contemporary designed boutique hotel, 2 blocks from the center. Includes wine bar and restaurant.
Casita de las Flores Based on the concept of the European pension or guest house, Casita de las Flores is far more private than a hostel and yet more personal and much less expensive than a hotel. It is different from a b&b. They offer a fully-stocked kitchen where guests can cook any time. Starting at US $36 a night.
Casa Carmen Bed and breakfast close to El Jardin. Eleven rooms start at $92 per night +$24 per additional guest. Breakfast and lunch are served in a comfortable dining room. The food is outstanding - including soup, entree and dessert at lunch time. There is also an interior courtyard and rooftop garden. Owner is very warm and friendly.
Casa Don Pascual a Colonial Style Boutique Bed and Breakfast with magnificent views.
Casa Mia Suites Apartments, Correo No. 61 Int 1 Col. Centro CP, ☎ 52 + (415) 152-2757, . Each room has a terrace, private toilet and bath with toiletries, living room, and fully equipped kitchen. Some of its amenities are high-speed internet access, car rental, currency exchange, and laundry/dry cleaning.Rates start at USD 110.00.
Contento A small, clean, quiet bed and breakfast. Healthy food is served there.
Haciendas Las Trancas Centuries-old ex-hacienda. Ten suites with beautiful views of the Sierra Madres, each with high-speed internet, sat. TV, propane fireplace, terrace, private bath. Additional beds and linens can sleep up to 30 people total. Wireless internet is available throughout the porches and gardens. The hacienda is huge (approximately 40 rooms). Includes all meals, use of horses, heated pool/jacuzzi, 17 piece Cybex Gym. Spa services available.
Hotel El Atascadero One of San Miguel's oldest family owned hotels. Once home to a famous bull fighter, a silk plantation, and has been for decades a retreat for artists such as Diego Rivera and Pablo Neruda.
Meson San Antonio half a block away from the Angelica Peralta theater, and across the Tio Lucas restaurant. The rooms are spacious and quiet, and the personnel is very kind. If you warn them beforehand, someone will check you in or open the door for you any time during the night. Continental breakfast is included with your room, and you can order additional, simple food such as sandwiches and fruit. Around $70 USD a night.
Posada Francia Guadiana 23, two streets down from Instituto Allende. Great location in a quiet street near downtown. There are 4 rooms for up to 4 people each, spacious and comfortably appointed. It has a lovely patio with flowers, birds and hummingbirds flying around. Between $60 and 100 USD a night, according to season. An excellent continental breakfast is included with home made pastries and jams.
Real de Minas Calle Ancha San Antonio. Great location near downtown. Inside this colonial styled building you will find a water well people say Miguel Hidalgo, Mexico's independence hero, used to drink water while he was in San Miguel. $100 a night.
Sagrada Wellness La Mesita 11, Rancho La Mesita. Sagrada Wellness is a retreat area just 15 minutes outside of town. San Miguel is not only a wonderful visit because of the town but also spectacular for its gorgeous countryside. Sagrada's quiet and tranquil location is high up in the country with views of the high desert. Cabanas and canvas bungalows are spacious and with modern amenities. Architecture is amazing - very modern and built with sustainable materials. Food, yoga, and other spa treatments are offered separately.
Villa Mirasol Pila Seca 35, Centro. Villa Mirasol, Well known as "A unique intimate Inn" just 4 blocks from the main square. Converted colonial home with 12 rooms and suites, simplicity and good taste have been combined to make every room a special one to be remembered. $110 to $150 a night,including taxes and breakfast.
Portal 8 Hotel Concepto, . Portal 8 is a renovated colonial house, offers 10 rooms, SPA and Lounge Bar with panoramic views of the city.
Casa De Suenos (http://www.casadesuenosmexico.com) A bed and breakfast located near El Jardin. Offers a self-service kitchen, rooftop garden, and four (4) artistically designed rooms. Within the property's premises is La Escuela, an art school.
Casa Carly, Calzada de la Aurora 48, ☎ +52(415)152-8900, . checkin: 2PM; checkout: 12:00. Seven charming casitas (small houses) surrounding a beautiful garden. Each casita has a kitchenette, coffee maker, TV, dvd player with a huge selection of films, wireless internet. On the grounds is one of the best breakfast cafes in the entire town (not included in room rate).$75 plus tax.
Casa de la Noche, Organos #19, Centro, . Casa de la Noche is a former brothel (or "house of the night") that has been converted into a very charming guest house with rooms and suites. Located 5 minutes from the Jardin and Parrochia. The grounds are beautiful with Mexican handiwork evident everywhere.Rooms start at $40/night and Suites with kitchenette start at $100/night. Weekly and Monthly rates are available..
Casa Florida, Hernandes Macias 60 (2 block from the main Jardin), ☎ Us 813-480-0505 Mex 415-154-8195, . 3 wonderfull designed rooms, full breakfast, roofgarden, great sunset and close to the main Jardin.99.00 us dlls.
Casita de las Flores, Colonia Allende, ☎ cell: 044 415 117 7223, . A cheap, cool B & B, just a 20 minute stroll from the Centro. A clean, comfy and friendly alternative to lonely, boring hotels, the Casita is social like a hostel, but far more private — and much kinder to your budget. Includes a fully-equipped kitchen where guests can cook any time. High season rate is $45, but if you "like" them on Facebook, a 10% discount is available. Clean and well-maintained.from $36/nt.
Rosewood San Miguel de Allende, Nemesio Diez 11, Col. Centro, ☎ +52 415 120 3500, . Luxury boutique resort with accommodations, on-site restaurants, SENSE, A Rosewood Spa and space for meetings, weddings and events.
San Miguel de Allende is a safe place day and night. No wonder thousands of retired North Americans choose this city as their home. Use common sense, don't leave valuables out in plain sight.
Consulate of the U.S.A. Hernandez Marcias 72. Phone 152-2357
Post Office The central post office can be found in Correo street 16 on the corner with Corregidora street, a block away from the main square.
Atención San Miguel is a weekly bilingual newspaper that is the main source of local news for English speaking residents and visitors. The calendar of the week's events is particularly useful. Atención is published on Fridays and is widely available at newsstands and businesses.
SMAmap.com is an interactive street-level map of San Miguel. The map is searchable by street name, colonia (neighborhood), or business name to easily locate your destination.
Green Map San Miguel uses the same interactive map as SMAmap, but has added layers of information on sustainable living in San Miguel. Look here for information on restaurants that serve organic and/or local food, recycling & composting, greentech businesses, green organizations and bus routes.
Thermal pools just outside of town for an afternoon of relaxation. Hail a taxi or grab a bus for just a few dollars to these pools, but be sure to arrange return transportation or know when the last bus arrives. The only hotel near the pools is said to be expensive and generally booked.
Atotonilco is a historic church approx. 10km outside of SMA. The sanctuary services as a piligramage desitination and the site where Ignacio Allende met up with Father Hidalgo to begin their fight for Mexican Independence.
Guanajuato, the Capital of the state. It is known for its network of tunnels under the city and for its "Museo de las Momias" (mummy museum), and you can also see Cristo Rey atop the Cerro de Cubilete.
Dolores Hidalgo is 40 km away and is worth a visit as it is the birthplace of Mexican independence - and a great place to sample odd ice cream flavors like pork rind and avocado.
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