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.
Updated June 11, 2019
- #1View all PhotosfreeEl Jardin (Zocalo)#1 in San Miguel de AllendeParks and Gardens, Sightseeing, Tours, Free, Neighborhood/AreaTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDParks and Gardens, Sightseeing, Tours, Free, Neighborhood/AreaTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDRead More
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.
Depending on when you find yourself in El Jardin, you may witness a political rally or have the chance to listen in on a live concert. According to one TripAdvisor reviewer, there's always something happening in El Jardin: "You'll hear mariachi bands, you'll see dance performances, you'll find arts and artisans, and religious ceremonies and every other possible entertainment experience here in the center of San Miguel." Early evenings and weekend afternoons are particularly busy times in the plaza; this is when you'll find expats and locals catching up with friends or simply relaxing on the wrought-iron benches.
- #2View all Photos#2 in San Miguel de AllendeChurches/Religious Sites, Sightseeing, FreeTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPENDChurches/Religious Sites, Sightseeing, FreeTYPELess than 1 hourTIME TO SPENDRead More
Intricate, pink pinnacles poking through the skyline will help you locate the Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel, 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.
Visitors often use the Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel as a point of reference when navigating the city's winding streets. But when you're not relying on the church for navigation, travelers recommend spending extra time gazing at the castle-like structure. "What's really great is how it changes throughout the day from the moving sun. It changes colors and illuminations," one TripAdvisor reviewer said.
- #3View all Photos#3 in San Miguel de AllendeCafes, Entertainment and Nightlife, Museums, Shopping, Sightseeing, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDCafes, Entertainment and Nightlife, Museums, Shopping, Sightseeing, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDRead More
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.
You'll find plenty of ways to experience La Aurora: observe artists during their creative process, attend an evening party or take a class in fine arts technique. Recent visitors recommend heading over on Open Studio day; held each Thursday, Open Studio day is your best chance to spot artists at work. And according to one TripAdvisor reviewer: "You might be lucky enough to be in town for one of the Aurora's renowned fiestas, attracting several thousand partygoers for an evening of art, design, music, food and drink." Luckily, you can find something to do at La Aurora every day; some artists offer classes in watercolor, painting and sculpture. More information can be found on Fabrica La Aurora's website.
- #4View all Photos#4 in San Miguel de AllendeCafes, Museums, Shopping, Sightseeing, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDCafes, Museums, Shopping, Sightseeing, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDRead More
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.
Located less than half a mile southwest of the city center, the Instituto Allende is open to all travelers looking to take workshops, explore the property and peer into galleries. You'll find plenty of open space on campus in the form of parks and gardens, as well as artsy cafes and restaurants. One recent TripAdvisor reviewer described the atmosphere as full of "beautiful architecture, meandering passages, galleries, a nice cafe, and an amazing view of the Parroquia from the back patio."