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 March 27, 2017
- #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 SPEND...Read 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.
- #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 SPEND...Read More »
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.
- #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 SPEND...Read 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.
- #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 SPEND...Read 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.
- #5View all Photos#5 in San Miguel de AllendeEntertainment and Nightlife, Sightseeing, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDEntertainment and Nightlife, Sightseeing, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND...Read More »
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.
- #6View all Photos#6 in San Miguel de AllendeHiking, Natural Wonders, Parks and Gardens, RecreationTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDHiking, Natural Wonders, Parks and Gardens, RecreationTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND...Read More »
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.
- #7View all Photos#7 in San Miguel de AllendeNatural Wonders, Parks and Gardens, Spas, Swimming/PoolsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDNatural Wonders, Parks and Gardens, Spas, Swimming/PoolsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND...Read More »
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.
- #8View all Photos#8 in San Miguel de AllendeMuseums, Shopping, SightseeingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDMuseums, Shopping, SightseeingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND...Read More »
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.
- #9 in San Miguel de AllendeHistoric Homes/Mansions, Museums, SightseeingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDHistoric Homes/Mansions, Museums, SightseeingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND...Read More »
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.
- #10View all Photos#10 in San Miguel de AllendeHiking, Monuments and Memorials, Natural Wonders, Parks and Gardens, Recreation, ToursTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPENDHiking, Monuments and Memorials, Natural Wonders, Parks and Gardens, Recreation, ToursTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPEND...Read More »
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).
- #11View all Photos#11 in San Miguel de AllendeMuseumsTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDMuseumsTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND...Read More »
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.
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