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5 Reasons You’ll Love San Miguel de Allende

Nov 04, 2022

We believe our latest upscale boutique hotel, with what will be oversized suites, enhanced amenities, and superior services, deserves a home as charming as its offerings, and San Miguel de Allende is the place. Founded in the 16th century, the charming cultural center is known for its rich and accessible history. Named the 2019 American Capital of Culture, tourists the world over come to explore its myriad cobblestone streets lined with pastel colored, colonial era buildings and discover the city’s hidden gems, all in the heart of Mexico’s Guanajuato. And our “Vantage” guests will have a front row seat. From this perspective, we’ve been able to identify five reasons we know you’ll love San Miguel de Allende, and we’re excited to share them with you here.

History & Architecture

Named as a UNESCO heritage site in 2008, historical accounts claim San Miguel de Allende to be the birthplace of the Mexican Revolution. Independence hero, Ignacio Allende, originally a captain in the Spanish army, led the 1810 rebellion against Spanish forces, along with Catholic priest, Miguel Hidalgo. To remember its heroes, the city erected a statue of Allende in the central plaza. When you’re there, turn to see the Museo Histórico de San Miguel de Allende. Built in 1760, Allende’s former home is now dedicated showcasing the hero’s life and the country’s struggle for independence.

To complete the story, it’s worth a visit to the Sanctuary of Atotonilco. Affectionately known as Mexico’s ‘Sistine Chapel’, it’s one of the best examples of the city’s colorful amalgamation of Spanish, Creole, and Amerindian style and design. The site is famous for its murals of angels and demons and jaw-dropping Mexican Baroque interior. Allende and the rebel army stopped here en route to San Miguel to pick up the banner of Our Lady of Guadalupe to use as their flag and is considered to be the place where the march to Independence began.

The site is not to be confused with what is likely considered to be the city’s most famous landmark, however. La Parroquía is a massive neo-gothic church admired for its iconic pink spires and turrets that casts a shadow over anything between it and the sun. Bring your camera! Along your way, stop and sit in the town plaza; El Jardín is one of the best places to mingle with the locals and watch the world go by.

Art & Culture

San Miguel de Allende is arguably one of the most colorful cities in Mexico. If La Parroquía isn’t example enough, many other buildings from the Spanish colonial era are equally colorful, from orange and blue church towers and domes to the canary yellow walls of Centro Cultural Ignacio Ramirez ‘El Nigromante’, a former convent-turned-art institute. Government regulations require streets and buildings get painted bold, autumnal hues (warm browns, reds, yellows), which makes for a vibrant city to walk around.

With a temperate climate, vibrant art scene, and moderate cost-of-living, San Miguel de Allende is not only brimming with Mexican culture, it also attracts many foreign retirees, artists and writers predominantly from the U.S. and Canada. With the economic downturn, more tourists are coming from other cities to live in Mexico and other countries and many weekend festivals celebrate the variety of music and dance from other cultures.

You’re Close to Everything!

Curious what’s outside the center of San Miguel? Trust us, the fringe is worth exploring, too. Just off the beaten path you can visit a giant flea market. Open on Tuesdays, you’ll be able to buy everything from handmade pottery and local spices to handmade clothing to fleece blankets with regional patterns and colors. And visit hungry; local food vendors serve mouth-watering traditional fare you won’t want to miss. While you’re out, visit the Jardín Botanicó which showcases the best of the
region’s succulents. Walk through more than six miles of cactus-lined paths and enjoy the view of the wild canyon below. The botanical garden is part of a larger nature preserve with scheduled educational events, including bird watching tours, workshops for kids, traditional sweat lodges, and a monthly full moon ceremony.

Another great side trip from San Miguel de Allende is to the state capital, colorful Guanajuato City. Surrounded by mountains and old silver mines, Guanajuato City is a place of steep hills and outstanding views. Guanajuato City is also revered for its role in the Mexican Wars of Independence. You can visit the Alhondiga de Granaditas, an old storehouse that played a central role in the battle for the city and that’s now a wonderful museum. Then climb the hill to stand in the shadow of the statue of El Pipila, a famed character who supposedly helped take the city from the Spanish. Guanajuato is a lively place to be when the sun goes down, too. You can join a musical Mariachi-style tour of the city, dine out al fresco in the center, and enjoy a few glasses of local wine before heading back to San Miguel de Allende.

Color & Vitality

Hardly a weekend goes by without some kind of parade, festival, or celebration in San Miguel’s “centro.” Most activities take place in front of La Parroquía de San Miguel Arcángel. One of the most festive times to visit is during Day of the Dead, which occurs every November 1st and 2nd. This is a time when the city comes alive with color and excitement as people create altars to commemorate their loved ones who have died. The altars are at once beautiful and poignant, proudly displaying framed photos of lost love and mementos of their lives. You’ll also find food and drink presented on the altars reflecting the Mexicans’ belief that the souls of their loved ones return every year to visit.

If your visit doesn’t coincide with the holiday, lift off to enjoy another way to celebrate the city’s sprawling color palette in a hot air balloon. Early each morning, balloons rise from the edges of the city and drift peacefully over the suburbs, fields, lakes, stables, vineyards and, if the wind direction allows, the historic center. 650 meters above ground, it’s a tranquil experience, with passing herons for company. From the air, you can pick out the Parroquia’s pink spires, the peachy tower of the Oratory of San Felipe Neri, and the yellow dome of the Church of the Immaculate Conception.

And finally, we think our sunsets (and sunrises) are spectacular. They’re especially dramatic, at least in part, because of the refracted light from the changing colors of the Sierra Madre foothills. If you plan to spend your evenings out, simply grab a table in the plaza, bath in the golden light of the magic hour and look skyward; you can’t miss them.

Walkability & Nightlife

The historic center of San Miguel encompasses 24 blocks of narrow streets, alleys, and paths without any traffic lights. Although the city is quite walkable in terms of distances, the uneven cobblestone streets can be rough on the ankles, especially for someone wearing the wrong shoes. So, tread carefully!

But don’t hesitate to get out there anyway. Retail opportunities in San Miguel de Allende come in a mix of art galleries, souvenir shops, modern boutiques, and old stores like the centuries-old pharmacy of Botica De Santa Teresita that still doles out inexpensive homeopathic remedies. In addition to the art galleries mentioned above, there are a number of shops selling fine jewelry and artisan crafts.

Whatever you do, make plans to get into the city center for a night out. Locals won’t make it out until after 11, so there’s no rush. Take your time and hurry up; sip and stroll, dance to live music and admire the stars from one of many of San
Miguel's rooftop bars. Stop in for a paloma (tequila, grapefruit, and soda) and live flamenco guitar at Mama Mía's, a crowd favorite a few blocks away from El Jardín. Or grab a Victoria (the local beer of choice) and smile with locals at Manolo's, a local bar.

Ready to visit? We’ll soon be ready to host you! Pueblo Bonito Vantage San Miguel de Allende is slated to in 2024, and we couldn’t be more excited to welcome you among our first guests. Queretaro and Leon airports make it easy to reach the destination, with direct flights through major cities in California and Texas as well as Chicago with American, Volaris, United, and VivaAerobus airlines, so start your planning. There’s truly something for everyone in San Miguel, and when you stay with us at Pueblo Bonito Vantage, it’s all right on your doorstep.

Stay tuned for more news about the grand opening.