San Miguel de Allende is a picturesque little town in central Mexico that is consistently named one of Mexico’s top rated travel destinations. With its nearly perfect weather year round — temperatures range from a comfortable 76ºF (24.4ºC) to 52ºF (11ºC) — to its rich culture, creative energy and beauty, San Miguel de Allende has something for everyone. The city was populated by indigenous people before the arrival of the Spanish in the early 16th century and it retains much of its historic architecture. With the refreshing absence of traffic lights, parking meters and billboards, the city seems untouched by time and the pressures of modern society.
Why San Miguel de Allende Attracts Tourists
San Miguel de Allende has grown in population and as a tourism destination, but has attracted artists and writers since the late 1930s. Numerous art schools were also created, which in turn began to draw more people into the town to study and to live. Today, thousands of people come to San Miguel de Allende each year to learn Spanish, study art, or take Mexican cooking classes. This spurred the establishment of tourism, with hotels, shops and restaurants being built to accommodate the growth in visitors. Many Americans who studied in San Miguel would later come back to retire; which was the beginning of the town’s reputation as an “American enclave in Mexico.”
Cruise down cobblestone and tree-lined streets and take in the colonial architecture and it’s easy to see why so many people come to San Miguel and never want to leave. You’ll fall in love with this ancient, beautiful city. Vibrant neighborhoods, deeply rooted in cultural history, have grown to attract musicians, artists and writers to its Mexican folk traditions, fiestas and religious celebrations.
The Artistic Legacy of San Miguel de Allende
San Miguel’s picturesque streets and architecture have inspired generations of artists, notably, Frida Kahlo, who hosted her famous salons here. The city’s artistic influence continued to expand over the years and it became a site of the hippie counter-culture movement in the 1960-1970s.
Families will find that San Miguel de Allende is not just a feast for the eyes but for all the senses; the town contains vegan and organic cafes, upscale restaurants and hotels, and a wide variety of bars and night clubs. San Miguel also offers incredible shopping, with its numerous stores, boutiques, art galleries and furniture and home décor shops selling countless Mexican handicrafts. Nightlife ranges from DJs or loud bands catering to the young, to jazz clubs, sports bars and even those that specialize in traditional Mexican music such as mariachi.
The main attraction of the town is its well-preserved historic center, filled with buildings from the 17th and 18th centuries. This and the nearby Sanctuary of Atotonilco have been declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Museums are a popular; the Oratorio de San Felipe Neri has more than 30 oil paintings, and is housed in beautifully preserved buildings. Art museums and history museums provide a host of entertainment options for the entire family.
Trip Planning Details for San Miguel de Allende
Accommodations range from a four-star hotel in an old monastery to charming and comfortable bed and breakfast establishments, mostly located in old buildings with quaint courtyards, often adjacent to the city’s central cathedral square. This square is the place where the locals and the tourists gather to stroll, to shop, to sit in the park and watch the rest of the world go by while summoning up the energy to walk to the local Library.
Notable hotels in the city are the upscale Rosewood San Miguel de Allende and Casa Quetzal. The Casa de Sierra Nevada is a luxury hotel and spa, complete with a cooking school. The Villa Mirasol Hotel is one of several, more affordable hotel that have been well-received with past visitors.
This closely knit community draws people in with their rich and colorful history and culture. Coupled with the city’s artistic ties and beauty, San Miguel de Allende is a perfect getaway for families looking for an authentic Mexican small town holiday.
For more information, look at the Visit Mexico tourism office’s San Miguel de Allende information page.
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