San Miguel de Allende is known for being a picturesque colonial town in central Mexico, home to many ex-patriot American and Canadian retirees. Planning on visiting this quaint tourist town and expat mecca? San Miguel de Allende is a wonderful city for a weekend away! It will give you a taste of small town Mexico and leave you wanting for more. Here you can read about our San Miguel de Allende tips, to have the best experience!
Driving from Guadalajara to San Miguel de Allende
Last weekend we decided on a study/routine- break and went away to San Miguel de Allende in the state of Guanajuato.
The drive from Guadalajara took about 5 hours. (It could have been 4 without long stops and traffic). Just in time for our one longer stop, we happened upon a Pemex (gas station) with a perfect little patch of grass for Little N to get out and play.
All in all, it was a decent (yet expensive) toll road the whole way, and other than a couple missed turn offs due to late signs we made it without a hitch.
Our timing was a bit off with Friday night festivities closing off some of the one-way cobble stone streets. Without a map of the town it took us quite a while to navigate towards our hotel, but we made it!
We couldn’t go to bed without seeing something, so we had a late dinner keeping Little N up way past his bedtime. He was happy to entertain the local gringo residents that were out and about on the town and we were excited for the weekend to come.
Touring San Miguel de Allende
Tourist Information– located in the main plaza directly opposite the church
Highlights of the landmarks in town we most enjoyed:
- La Parroquia
- Casa de Allende Museum
- Instituto Allende
- Paseo El Charco (you must be fit to walk up to see the view, otherwise take a tour trolley or taxi).
- We would also recommend devoting several hours to the Jardin Botánico El Charco right outside of town.
Now let’s get to all the details!
Exploring San Miguel de Allende on Foot
Our first full day in San Miguel started with an early morning stroll through Mercado Ignacio Ramirez, a typical produce market. We enjoyed the empty streets as we got an overview of the historical center and ended up in El Jardín, the central plaza.
We had a nice breakfast on the plaza and then armed with a tourist map, set off to explore the town, starting with the main cathedral La Parroquia.
Casa de Allende
Our second stop was the Casa de Allende which houses the Museo Histórico de San Miguel de Allende. The first floor explained the history of the town, from a town in the silver mining region to an important stop in Mexico’s revolution.
The second story had replicated rooms of Ignacio Allende’s home, one of the fathers of the revolution and eponym of the town that was originally called San Miguel el Grande. From there we zig-zaged through the streets seeing multiple churches and landmarks of various importance.
- Templo del Oratorio de San Felipe Neri
- Plaza Civica
- Templo de San Francisco
Paseo el Chorro
We had a mid-morning snack of some churros in front of the Jardin de San Francisco. Then we started making our way down the hill towards the Paseo El Chorro, a climb up a hill past the Casa Cultural to see a view of the downtown area.
Our last stop of the day was in Parque Juarez, the municipal park full of families on this warm Saturday afternoon.
We ended the day with a late lunch/early dinner and retired to the hotel, where Little N retired after a long day and D & M enjoyed the outdoor courtyard and chilly evening breeze.
Dining in San Miguel de Allende
We began our last day in San Miguel with a wonderful breakfast. All in all, the culinary scene in San Miguel is nothing special.
Just about every place is ok and adequate for gringo standards, but we didn’t hear of anything that was extraordinary. So we were pleasantly surprised to happen upon some great food. Here are some places we recommend:
Restaurants in San Miguel de Allende
Rincon de Don Tomas– good standard Mexican breakfast, located on the main plaza.
El Correo Restaurant– fabulous breakfast in a nice location, located on El Correo 23.
Cafeteria at Jardin Botánico El Charco– the best meal we had in San Miguel, they make their own fresh baked bread for the sandwiches.
Shopping in San Miguel de Allende
Full of energy, we devoted a little time to shopping for handicrafts. We checked out a few of the more refined shops and then headed to the Mercado Artisanal.
True to its name, there were lots of options. After surveying our options and making a few purchases, it was time to pack up our things and start heading out of town.
Our last stop in San Miguel proper was at the Instituto Allende, a fine arts school. We took a look around the adorned building and admired the view of the downtown from its outdoor balcony. And we started clunking down the road for our final destination of the day.
Jardin Botánico El Charco
Just outside of town is the fabulous Jardin Botánico El Charco. It is actually a pretty big park with walking trails around a small lake and canyon, areas with endangered plants of Mexico, and a cute little restaurant.
We could have spent several hours exploring the different cacti and viewpoints, but alas we needed to have a quick (and delicious) lunch and head back to Guadalajara.
Accommodations in San Miguel de Allende
Here’s the information for where we stayed. For sure there are more options around town but we were happy with this choice.
Hotel Suites Dali– a newish hotel located in the central part of town. It was very clean, had wifi and cable television. The rooms are basic but if you don’t need “charm” this is a great value in the expensive town of San Miguel. 500 MXN/standard room.
Homobono 23 “A”, Zona Centro, C.P. 37700, San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato. Tel/ Fax: 01152 (415) 154 5637
San Miguel del Allende with a Baby
For those of you considering coming to San Miguel de Allende with children, here’s some more information! These are more specifically for babies, as I can’t see any problem with taking older children to this very quaint town.
Take a Baby Carrier!
We walked the town, touring the landmarks, with Baby Boy in the Ergo Carrier. The kid was a trooper, and even though it got a little hot for him on M’s back. But he didn’t complain and let us see the sights almost at our old (childless) pace!
I should note, that the cobblestone streets meant that we didn’t even take the stroller out of the trunk the whole weekend; it just wasn’t practical.
2- Baby as a Buffer
M was happy to have a “buffer” at the museum so that he could just sit around and not feel guilty. I was happy to be able to read through the descriptions, so it all worked out.
Overall baby loved our outdoor oriented activities. We climbed up a pathway to see the viewpoint, enjoyed the local park that was less than optimally shaded, and loved the botanical garden outside town.
The gringo retirees that lived there loved to “chat” with Baby Boy, and I was pleasantly surprised that all the restaurants we went to had high chairs for him! This meant we could enjoy our meals. He got to try frijoles and rice and bread along with some fresh veggies and it was a big success.
3- Consider your accommodations
Our only mis-managed aspect was that the hotel didn’t have a bathtub. One night he showered with me, and that was a slippery mess. The second night we bathed the kiddo in the sink and he made sure that all the water ended up on the floor. Oh well. Luckily he slept ok in the pack ‘n play, and was able to make up some of his missed sleep hours on the drive back to Guadalajara.
All in all, I would definitely recommend San Miguel as a child friendly tourist town. (Although if your baby is too heavy to carry, but not quite old enough to walk independently, it might be a bit more difficult).
Have you been to a place with cobblestone streets with a baby?
Here are a couple more bumpy locations to check out: Oaxaca and Guanajuato!