San Miguel De Allende Mexico

San Miguel de Allende Mexico is a city that is easy to fall in love with. Found in the centrally located state of Guanajuato, its notable charms include a well-preserved historic center, which is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is an absolute joy to explore. And while it wears the guise of a small, working class town, San Miguel de Allende, or SMA, also offers many cosmopolitan elements, including fine restaurants, numerous shops and a vibrant art community. It has it all, including an agreeable climate and an annual event calendar full of colorful festivals. Visit San Miguel de Allende, and you will quickly realize why it is such a popular destination for Mexicans and foreigners alike. But be careful, as you might fall so hard for the city that you end up calling it home. San Miguel de Allende’s strong expatriate community is proof of its seductive qualities.

San Miguel de Allende Historic Center

San Miguel de Allende Historic Center
San Miguel de Allende Historic Center

San Miguel de Allende was founded in the 1500s and grew into an important settlement in what was then New Spain. When it reached its colonial zenith in the mid-18th century, it had a higher population than Boston and even New York. During this time, many of the city’s mansions, palaces and religious edifices were built, and plenty of these historic structures remain. In the city’s historic center, which spreads out from the wonderful El Jardin plaza, you will find an abundance of 18th century buildings, as well as older structures, including the Parish Church of San Miguel, or Parroquia de San Miguel Arcangel. A symbol of the city, this church was originally built in the 17th century and had its stunning Neo-gothic façade added in the 1880s. No other church in Mexico looks like the Church of San Miguel, and it is understandably one of the most photographed religious buildings in the country. More than 20 blocks of narrow streets and alleys comprise the historic center of San Miguel de Allende. The area is very walkable, provided that you wear proper shoes. There are parts where cobblestone streets remain.

Top San Miguel de Allende Attractions

Top Miguel de Allende Attractions
Top Miguel de Allende Attractions

In addition to the Parroquia, San Miguel de Allende offers numerous other attractions that are worth adding to the agenda. Among the examples to make note of are the Artisan Market, which has tourist souvenirs and just about anything else you can think of for sale, and the Bellas Artes Ignacio Ramirez Cultural Center, which occupies a former convent building and is a branch of the Palacio de Bellas Artes of Mexico City. Admission to the Cultural Center is free, and if nothing else, it can be a joy to stroll the grounds and relax in the courtyard. Other ideas for things to do in San Miguel de Allende include visiting the El Charco del Ingenio Botanical Garden, ducking into the JOHFREJ chocolate shop to sample some of the best chocolate made in Mexico, visiting other churches such as the Church of San Francisco, and stopping by the La Esquina Mexican Toy Museum to see the amazing craftsmanship while also getting in touch with your inner child. When visiting the El Charco del Ingenio Botanical garden, it can be a good idea on hot days to go early in the AM when it is cooler and then walk back into town before the afternoon heat sets in.  

Attractions Near San Miguel de Allende

Complementing the attractions in San Miguel de Allende proper are various nearby attractions that warrant a trip out of town for the day. At the top of the list is Sanctuary of Atotonilco. Found in the small, rural community of Atotonilco, this church complex dates back to the 18th century and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Among the main joys of visiting the Sanctuary of Atotonilco is the chance to marvel at the beautiful murals that cover nearly every wall and ceiling. Two other points of interest in the area are the Casqueros Chapel in San Miguel Viejo and the fellow Guanajuato city of Dolores Hidalgo. San Miguel Viejo was the original settlement in the immediate San Miguel de Allende area, and its Casqueros Chapel is an adorable, mission-style structure that was originally built in the 1500s and rebuilt in the 1600s. Its rather remote location in the country is part of the charm. Getting there by foot or on a horse are basically the main methods of transportation. As for the city of Dolores Hidalgo, it is best known for its ceramics and pottery.

San Miguel de Allende Shopping

San Miguel de Allende Shopping
San Miguel de Allende Shopping

The shopping opportunities are extensive in San Miguel de Allende. For starters, there is the aforementioned Artisan Market, which extends for three blocks from the municipal market past the Hotel Quinta Loreto. Complementing the market are numerous stores and shops, most of which are open Monday through Saturday. Specific San Miguel de Allende stores that shoppers won’t want to miss include the La Antiqua Casa Canela Store, which has pottery and fine gifts for the home, and Sindashi, which specializes in gorgeous handcrafted clothing for women. Also worth your time is a visit to Botica de Santa Teresita. This pharmacy has a beautiful handpainted sign on the outside and can mix up concoctions to help with that which may ail you. Of course, every city has a Starbucks. San Miguel de Allende’s is styled to blend in with the city’s architecture and colors, which is a common building practice here.

San Miguel de Allende Restaurants

San Miguel de Allende Restaurants
San Miguel de Allende Restaurants

San Miguel de Allende’s role as a tourist destination and popular expatriate community lends to its diverse dining choices. From street food to gourmet restaurants, the city has something to suit just about every taste and budget. Among the more notable eateries around town are Los Milagros and the Maria Xoconostle Restaurant. At Los Milagros, try their Molcajete Volcano Bowl with lunch. The Maria Xoconostle Restaurant is ideal for peaceful breakfasts. Don Taco Tequila is another good San Miguel de Allende restaurant, offering unique gourmet tacos. For those times that you might be thinking of trying something other than Mexican food, Hank’s New Orleans Café & Oyster Bar has steak, seafood and more, not to mention a great happy hour.   

San Miguel de Allende Events

San Miguel de Allende Events
San Miguel de Allende Events

San Miguel de Allende puts on numerous celebrations throughout the year, with the most renowned being those that relate to Semana Santa. The largest and most colorful of the Semana Santa events is the Procession Del Nuestro Senor De La Columna (Our Lord of the Column). The procession, which takes place two weeks before Easter, starts at the Sanctuary in Atotonilco in the early morning and ends in the evening at San Miguel de Allende’s Church of San Juan de Dios. The centerpiece of the procession is a large statue that depicts a tortured and beaten Jesus, which is carried along the way. Anyone can join or follow the procession. Another major annual event in San Miguel de Allende is the celebration of the city’s patron saint – Archangel Michael. The feast day for this celebration is on September 29, though festivities take place throughout the week. Most of the San Miguel de Allende festivals reflect Mexican culture, though there are various festivals that are more general as well, such as the annual Chamber Music Festival in August.    

Taking Pictures in San Miguel de Allende

Taking Pictures in San Miguel de Allende
Taking Pictures in San Miguel de Allende

San Miguel de Allende is a very photogenic city, so taking good pictures around town is easy. The cobblestone side streets and the city’s churches and other historic buildings bring one photographic opportunity after another. And San Miguel de Allende is home to rooftop restaurants and bars where you can take awesome snapshots of the skyline. Only adding to the allure of taking pictures in San Miguel de Allende are the sunrises and sunsets, which tend to be very dramatic and add to the changing colors of the day. And keep an eye out for the Mjiganga Giant Puppets in San Miguel de Allende. You will see one or more without question if you spend any real amount of time in town. The large puppets are commonly used for fiestas and celebrations and can be a joy to photograph.

San Miguel de Allende Accommodations

San Miguel de Allende Accommodations
San Miguel de Allende Accommodations

The San Miguel de Allende hotels are many and the rates are relatively reasonable across the board. An example of a great value is the renovated La Morada hotel, which occupies a historic building just a half block from the city’s main square. The city also has several 5 star hotels for those who are looking for the best of the best, including the colonial-style Rosewood Hotel in the heart of town. More contemporary hotels such as the Hotel Matilda are available to choose from as well, and luxury villas such as the Casa Carino populate the hillsides and can be booked through vacation rental websites like VRBO.

San Miguel de Allende Images

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