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Best Things To Do in San Miguel de Allende

Cultivating your creative side is easier than ever in San Miguel de Allende, where artists and expats can be found sculpting and painting among the colonial architecture and cobblestone walkways. Start your day at El Jardin, the city's central plaza, where you might find yourself amid a mariachi concert or a local festival. Once you've had your fill of people-watching and exploring the shops that line the city center, make sure to stop at the mask museum or spend the evening at a performance in the Public Library's Santa Ana Theatre. 

How we rank Things to Do.

#1

#1 in San Miguel de Allende

Free
El Jardin is San Miguel's main plaza, located in the heart of the city. At the Zocalo, as El Jardin is often called, you can spend time people-watching, perusing the nearby shops and restaurants and reorienting yourself should the town's winding roads lead you astray.
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Parks and Gardens Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
El Jardin (Zocalo)
El Jardin is San Miguel's main plaza, located in the heart of the city. At the Zocalo, as El Jardin is often called, you can spend time people-watching, perusing the nearby shops and restaurants and reorienting yourself should the town's winding roads lead you astray.
... more

#2

#2 in San Miguel de Allende

Free
Intricate, pink pinnacles poking through the skyline will help you locate the Parroquia de San Miguel Arcangel, a towering parish church overlooking El Jardin from the southern side of the plaza. The prominent church's neo-Gothic design is the vision of the self-taught stonemason and architect Zeferino Gutiérrez, who is rumored to have used European lithographs of Belgian and German churches for artistic inspiration.
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Churches/Religious Sites Type
Less than 1 hour Time to Spend
Parroquia de San Miguel Arcangel
Intricate, pink pinnacles poking through the skyline will help you locate the Parroquia de San Miguel Arcangel, a towering parish church overlooking El Jardin from the southern side of the plaza. The prominent church's neo-Gothic design is the vision of the self-taught stonemason and architect Zeferino Gutiérrez, who is rumored to have used European lithographs of Belgian and German churches for artistic inspiration.
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#3

#3 in San Miguel de Allende

Free
A textile mill from 1902 to 1991, Fabrica La Aurora has since become an art-lover's paradise in northern San Miguel. Just a short walk north from El Jardin, the converted factory shows evidence of the site's history, including oil-stained floors and traces of cotton tucked into crevices. If you're looking to shop, you'll be satisfied by the diverse selection at furniture, jewelry and contemporary art stores that pepper the complex. After you've spent plenty of time eyeing paintings and sculptures, switch your focus from palette to palate with a stop at one of Fabrica La Aurora's restaurants like the Food Factory or Café de la Aurora.
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Cafes Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Fabrica La Aurora
A textile mill from 1902 to 1991, Fabrica La Aurora has since become an art-lover's paradise in northern San Miguel. Just a short walk north from El Jardin, the converted factory shows evidence of the site's history, including oil-stained floors and traces of cotton tucked into crevices. If you're looking to shop, you'll be satisfied by the diverse selection at furniture, jewelry and contemporary art stores that pepper the complex. After you've spent plenty of time eyeing paintings and sculptures, switch your focus from palette to palate with a stop at one of Fabrica La Aurora's restaurants like the Food Factory or Café de la Aurora.
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#4

#4 in San Miguel de Allende

Free
The picturesque Instituto Allende has been drawing art students to San Miguel de Allende for more than 50 years. Originally built in 1736 as the home of the noble Condes de la Canal family, the sprawling campus became an art and language school more than two centuries later. When the institute opened in 1951, American veterans flocked to the mountainside town after learning that the Insituto Allende qualified for study under the GI Bill. It wasn't long before word of the beautiful aesthetics spread and aspiring artists were heading to the school in droves.
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Cafes Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Instituto Allende
The picturesque Instituto Allende has been drawing art students to San Miguel de Allende for more than 50 years. Originally built in 1736 as the home of the noble Condes de la Canal family, the sprawling campus became an art and language school more than two centuries later. When the institute opened in 1951, American veterans flocked to the mountainside town after learning that the Insituto Allende qualified for study under the GI Bill. It wasn't long before word of the beautiful aesthetics spread and aspiring artists were heading to the school in droves.
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#5

#5 in San Miguel de Allende

Free
If you wouldn't normally include a library on your vacation itinerary, you might want to reconsider when you're in San Miguel. The city's Public Library has an extensive collection of both Spanish- and English-language books and films, and offers a quiet respite from the sights and sounds of the city. In 1954, Canadian expat Helen Wale invited Mexican children to read through a collection of magazines in her home. Soon, the volume of visitors outgrew the space. In 1958, the library moved to its current location in an 18th-century building several blocks north of El Jardin in central San Miguel. Today, in addition to its abundant bilingual media, the library offers free classes for children on subjects like computers, painting and piano. The library also hosts cultural events and English-language tours that guide visitors through the neighborhood's colonial architecture. 
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Entertainment and Nightlife Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Public Library (Biblitoecta Pública de San Miguel de Allende)
If you wouldn't normally include a library on your vacation itinerary, you might want to reconsider when you're in San Miguel. The city's Public Library has an extensive collection of both Spanish- and English-language books and films, and offers a quiet respite from the sights and sounds of the city. In 1954, Canadian expat Helen Wale invited Mexican children to read through a collection of magazines in her home. Soon, the volume of visitors outgrew the space. In 1958, the library moved to its current location in an 18th-century building several blocks north of El Jardin in central San Miguel. Today, in addition to its abundant bilingual media, the library offers free classes for children on subjects like computers, painting and piano. The library also hosts cultural events and English-language tours that guide visitors through the neighborhood's colonial architecture. 
... more

#6

#6 in San Miguel de Allende

Much of San Miguel's splendor can be discovered in its abundance of manmade beauty, but at El Charco del Ingenio, nature is the aesthetic draw. At this more than 170-acre botanical garden set in an ecological preserve, you'll have the chance to spot wildlife, walk along greenery-lined trails and learn about various species of local cacti. Meanwhile, the San Miguel community often gathers in the garden to watch performances, partake in ceremonies and attend environmental education programs. Recent travelers recommend enjoying a hike through the park, picnicking alongside the waterfalls or spending an evening at a concert in the outdoor amphitheater.
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Hiking Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
El Charco del Ingenio Botanical Garden
Much of San Miguel's splendor can be discovered in its abundance of manmade beauty, but at El Charco del Ingenio, nature is the aesthetic draw. At this more than 170-acre botanical garden set in an ecological preserve, you'll have the chance to spot wildlife, walk along greenery-lined trails and learn about various species of local cacti. Meanwhile, the San Miguel community often gathers in the garden to watch performances, partake in ceremonies and attend environmental education programs. Recent travelers recommend enjoying a hike through the park, picnicking alongside the waterfalls or spending an evening at a concert in the outdoor amphitheater.
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#7

#7 in San Miguel de Allende

When the buzz of the city's nearly countless cafes and shops leaves you in need of some quiet time, travel 7 miles northwest from San Miguel's center to Escondido Place. This retreat boasts 10 indoor and outdoor thermal pools fed by natural hot springs, and lush vegetation and colorful flowers surround the grounds. Decompress in grottos containing water that reaches up to 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Recent travelers suggest adjusting to the water temperatures by working your way from the least warm pools to the warmest and then back again when you're ready to leave.
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Natural Wonders Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Escondido Place
When the buzz of the city's nearly countless cafes and shops leaves you in need of some quiet time, travel 7 miles northwest from San Miguel's center to Escondido Place. This retreat boasts 10 indoor and outdoor thermal pools fed by natural hot springs, and lush vegetation and colorful flowers surround the grounds. Decompress in grottos containing water that reaches up to 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Recent travelers suggest adjusting to the water temperatures by working your way from the least warm pools to the warmest and then back again when you're ready to leave.
... more

#8

#8 in San Miguel de Allende

The artsy culture of San Miguel permeates many of the city's quirky museums. One prime example of the town's imaginative culture is the Another Face of Mexico (La Otra Cara de México) mask museum. The owners, American expats Heidi and Bill LeVasseur, curate an extensive collection of approximately 500 ceremonial masks that all together comprise an eclectic display. Indigenous textiles, handmade paper and traditional dolls can also be found throughout the gallery.
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Museums Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Another Face of Mexico (La Otra Cara de México)
The artsy culture of San Miguel permeates many of the city's quirky museums. One prime example of the town's imaginative culture is the Another Face of Mexico (La Otra Cara de México) mask museum. The owners, American expats Heidi and Bill LeVasseur, curate an extensive collection of approximately 500 ceremonial masks that all together comprise an eclectic display. Indigenous textiles, handmade paper and traditional dolls can also be found throughout the gallery.
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#9

#9 in San Miguel de Allende

Steps south of El Jardin, you'll find the birthplace of Ignacio José de Allende y Unzaga, a Spanish army officer who fought as a leader for Mexican independence in the early 1800s. Originally built in the 18th century, the officer's childhood home has served as a museum since its February 1990 restoration by the country's Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (National Institute of History and Anthropology). The museum's two floors of exhibits offer insight into the life of Ignacio Allende and furnishings and paintings from the 16th, 17th 18th centuries that highlight San Miguel's turbulent history.
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Historic Homes/Mansions Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Museo Historico de San Miguel de Allende (Casa de Ignacio Allende)
Steps south of El Jardin, you'll find the birthplace of Ignacio José de Allende y Unzaga, a Spanish army officer who fought as a leader for Mexican independence in the early 1800s. Originally built in the 18th century, the officer's childhood home has served as a museum since its February 1990 restoration by the country's Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (National Institute of History and Anthropology). The museum's two floors of exhibits offer insight into the life of Ignacio Allende and furnishings and paintings from the 16th, 17th 18th centuries that highlight San Miguel's turbulent history.
... more

#10

#10 in San Miguel de Allende

Home to a 40-acre archaeological site, Cañada de La Virgen is a sprawling nature preserve located just 15 miles west of San Miguel de Allende. Explore the site and you'll find seven pyramid structures across four complexes: House of the Thirteen Heavens, House of the Longest Night, House of the Wind, and a fourth complex that has yet to be excavated. These complexes at the basin of the Laja River were occupied by the Otomí and Toltec Indians from 540 to 1050 A.D. Cañada's archaeological zone is preserved by the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (Mexico's National Institute of History and Anthropology).
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Hiking Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
Cañada de la Virgen
Home to a 40-acre archaeological site, Cañada de La Virgen is a sprawling nature preserve located just 15 miles west of San Miguel de Allende. Explore the site and you'll find seven pyramid structures across four complexes: House of the Thirteen Heavens, House of the Longest Night, House of the Wind, and a fourth complex that has yet to be excavated. These complexes at the basin of the Laja River were occupied by the Otomí and Toltec Indians from 540 to 1050 A.D. Cañada's archaeological zone is preserved by the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (Mexico's National Institute of History and Anthropology).
... more

#11

#11 in San Miguel de Allende

Childhood amusement is on display at La Esquina Toy Museum, where the collection includes more than 1,000 handcrafted toys. The popular museum was dreamed up by San Miguel resident Angelica Tijerina when he began collecting trinkets and playthings that his father brought home from travels around the country. La Esquina, located only a few short blocks east of El Jardin, has three main rooms organized by region with exhibits that reflect Mexico's diversity. The first room, called The Dollhouse, displays dolls made from cloth and other materials. The second room, Unforgettable Mates, focuses on toys mirroring transportation — from horses to trucks. In La Esquina's third room, The Fair, visitors will find toy Ferris wheels, piggy banks and musical instruments.
... more
Museums Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
La Esquina Toy Museum
Childhood amusement is on display at La Esquina Toy Museum, where the collection includes more than 1,000 handcrafted toys. The popular museum was dreamed up by San Miguel resident Angelica Tijerina when he began collecting trinkets and playthings that his father brought home from travels around the country. La Esquina, located only a few short blocks east of El Jardin, has three main rooms organized by region with exhibits that reflect Mexico's diversity. The first room, called The Dollhouse, displays dolls made from cloth and other materials. The second room, Unforgettable Mates, focuses on toys mirroring transportation — from horses to trucks. In La Esquina's third room, The Fair, visitors will find toy Ferris wheels, piggy banks and musical instruments.
... more
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