What to do and see in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico: The Best Places and Tips

September 1, 2017 Marianna Hollaway

High in the cool hills, this colonial gem of cobblestone streets and picturesque churches inspires artists with its color, character and light. Baroque, neoclassical and neogothic mix in the city's buildings, notably at the pink stone 18th-century church on the Plaza Principal. Founded in 1542, the city is a mix of Hispanic and Mesoamerican influences.
Restaurants in San Miguel de Allende

1. Galeria Atotonilco

Camino Antiguo Ferrocarril # 14 | Colonia El Cortijo, San Miguel de Allende 37893, Mexico +52 415 185 2225
Excellent
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5 based on 282 reviews

Galeria Atotonilco

We are open BY APPOINTMENT only and usually have an Open House the last weekend of every month from noon to 5 pm. Please check our weekly ad in Atencion for directions to the gallery and contact information. Please note: We are NOT a "Museum" or an "Attraction." One of the largest and highest quality folk art collections in all of Mexico, on a gorgeous country property in an architecturally spectacular, much-published building, Galeria Atotonilco is a ten-minute drive north of town. It is an eye-dazzling array of a huge variety of folk art, from funny to exquisite, from all over Mexico. Folk art is a direct route to the true heart of Mexico: it's history, it's traditions, it's myths and legends, it's diverse cultures. Items in all price ranges can be shipped anywhere. We suggest you visit us early in your trip when you have not spent all your money and when shipping can be arranged if necessary. Even if you know little about folk art, we guarantee you will be amazed at the diversity, and we love sharing our knowledge with you. In addition to folk art, you will see country antique furniture, vintage textiles of great beauty, and historic photographs of 19th century Mexico. Within a mile is the historic church of Atotonilco, and the gorgeous country restaurant, Nirvana. Plan to spend at least an hour in our gallery. The time will fly by. Many visitors report that this gallery was the highlight of their visit to San Miguel.

Reviewed By XMV08 - San Francisco Bay Area, CA

Made an appointment to visit Galeria Atotonilco on a day trip from San Miguel Allende. Host Mayer Shacter, himself a gifted ceramic artist, has an encyclopedic knowledge of Mexican and Central American folk art, and a gallery with offerings for everyone from novices (that would be me) to dedicated collectors (others in our party). Our visit to his gallery (and home) was a highlight of our trip—don’t miss Galeria Atotonilco if you’re visiting San Miguel Allende or Guanajuato‼️

2. Parroquia de San Miguel Arcangel

North side of El Jardin, San Miguel de Allende 37700, Mexico +52 415 152 0544
Excellent
77%
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5 based on 2 reviews

Parroquia de San Miguel Arcangel

Built in 1683, this pastel pink church is the city's most recognizable landmark.

Reviewed By BobbiGunn - Virginia Beach, Virginia

An amazing Catholic Church that is just as beautiful on the inside as outside. Definitely the "show-stopper" in the center of San Miguel.

3. Chapel of Jimmy Ray

Casa de Las Ranas | 5km From San Miguel, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico +52 415 155 8044
Excellent
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5 based on 126 reviews

Chapel of Jimmy Ray

We have created a 2.5 Acre Art installation.......You have to see it to appreciate it...The Gallery shows the work of Anado McLauchlin and guest artists.....The whole site is full of mosaic whimsy and delightful mirth!

Reviewed By JoanJ77 - Newhall, California

It was definitely worth taking a taxi 20 minutes out of town and having it wait for us while we toured the Casa de Ranas. Adado is a wonderful host and took us on about an hour tour of the fantastic property and home he shares with his partner, Richard. His art assaults the senses and reminded us so much of the mosaic art of Guadi in Barcelona. The mural at the back of the property dedicated to his mother is especially unforgettable. Be sure to pick up some jewelry and a T shirt in their workshop before leaving.

4. El Jardin

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
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4.5 based on 855 reviews

El Jardin

The city's crowded center plaza is located at the heart of the historic district.

Reviewed By Marc N - Washington DC, District of Columbia

San MIguel is, by reputation and in actuality, a gathering point for the ex-pat community. El Jardin gathers those ex-pats, but also gathers the local and indigenous communities. You could spend an entire day watching the parade of humanity, from the eager-eyed and -eared gringo visitors (I am very much a gringo) to what to my eye is a fair sample of locals. I was on a short visit and so didn't spend my recommended full day watching, but that[s my plan for the next visit.

5. Galeria San Francisco

1 Calle San Francisco | 2nd Floor- entrance across from Intercom Bank, San Miguel de Allende 37700, Mexico +52 415 152 0552
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5 based on 93 reviews

Galeria San Francisco

Galeria San Francisco is located in the beautiful colonial city of San Miguel de Allende in one of the oldest buildings in the city. The gallery also offers art classes throughout the year for teens and adults. Please email the gallery for more information about classes. All of the artists represented in the gallery live and work in San Miguel.

Reviewed By mrosehtnal - Santa Monica, California

This is always my first stop when visiting San Miguel de Allende! I just visited the San Francisco gallery at the Aurora Factory and it's absolutely exquisite with its glorious art and location right next to the cafe, shops, and other artist studios. I especially love Susan Santiago's expressive art capturing the vibrance of Mexican Culture.

6. Sazon

Calle Correo # 22 | Centro, San Miguel de Allende 37700, Mexico +52 415 154 7671
Excellent
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5 based on 222 reviews

Sazon

Sazón is San Miguel de Allende’s premier tabletop store and cooking school, housed in a magnificent 18th century casa in the heart of this charming colonial town in the highlands of central Mexico. Sazón is the cooking school of Hotel Casa de Sierra Nevada, and is open to everyone, not only guests of the hotel.

Reviewed By AtlCanTraveller - St. John's, Canada

Ruben and Pilar were completely professional and great to be with for a 2.5 hour cooking class. My husband is celiac and they were very accommodating. We made a beautiful salad with fresh, local ingredients. Students made the dressing from roasted tomatillos, onion and garlic. Then we made mole. There were many steps, but Ruben made it all go smoothly. The mole was served around creamy rice, chicken and vegetables. For dessert, we had baked cinnamon apples on yogurt with rum and raisin ice cream on vanilla cookie crumbs. Over top was lime zest and honey.
Everything was organized very well, we had clear instructions and everyone (9 students) could participate. The meal was incredible. I feel like I really learned a deep lesson about Mexican cooking. I would go again. This was my cousin's third time in class. Each time they learned something different.

7. Canada de la Virgen

San Miguel de Allende 37750, Mexico +52 415 154 8771
Excellent
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4.5 based on 525 reviews

Canada de la Virgen

Reviewed By Susan S - San Jose, California

Found the tour fascinating. Albert Coffee had an amazing wealth of information about the pyramid, history, ranch owners, and botany. He also spoke of possible cross-pollination by Chinese and with other meso-American cultures. There is approximately a mile hike to the site. The tour does climb to the top of the pyramid, so be forewarned if you have fear of heights or falling; or have hip or knee problems.
Not mentioned in the write-up was an optional trip to the museum with meso-American style lunch for $20 usd. Afterwards, dr. Rossana Quiroe Ennis, chief archeologist, at the site, gave a lecture on the astrological implications of the site. Really fascinating.

8. Mask Museum

Calle Cuesta de San Jose # 32 | Cuesta de San Jose #32, Colonia Azteca San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico, San Miguel de Allende 37729, Mexico +52 415 154 4324
Excellent
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4.5 based on 342 reviews

Mask Museum

By appointment

Reviewed By JoanJ77 - Newhall, California

Be sure and e-mail Bill, the owner of Casa de la Cuesta, who is the collector of over 600 ceremonial Mexican masks. He will help you set up a tour time. He gives a great background talk before setting you loose to enjoy his collection....MoreThanks for this most generous review. Just a point of clarification. All masks, including those that I sell, have been used in indigenous dance performance. Otherwise, I would not consider them to be authentic.

9. La Esquina Mexican Toy Museum

Calle Nunez 40 | Centro, San Miguel de Allende 37700, Mexico +52 415 152 2602
Excellent
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4.5 based on 404 reviews

La Esquina Mexican Toy Museum

"La Esquina", Mexican Folk toy museum, is a cultural institution devoted to preserve Mexican toys and playful domains. In order to spread its collection , that consists by more than one thousand objects, this first in its genre country-wide museum was created to permanently-wise exhibit, this rustic toy heritage acquired by Angélica Tijerina over the course of fifty years. The toys are considered samples of the artisans production history in México.

Reviewed By lawgrrl52 - Nanaimo, Canada

We might have skipped this but the museum is rated as a “can’t miss” attraction by the Tourist Bureau, and for US$1 each as seniors, we thought we’d take a chance. It’s delightful! It seems very small, but goes up four floors and there is a rooftop Terrace with great views of the San Miguel skyline. The museum is dedicated to the preservation of traditional handicrafts used to create toys. Some toys are old and preserved, some new, and all are made with creativity. There’s everything from rag dolls to trucks & airplanes made of wheat straw, and everything in between. We came in early January and a collection of Nativity figures from throughout Mexico was on display. We stayed about 90 minutes and I’d definitely go again!

10. Santuario de Atotonilco

Calle San Miguel 14 km, San Miguel de Allende 37700, Mexico +52 415 185 2014
Excellent
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4.5 based on 313 reviews

Santuario de Atotonilco

Reviewed By PtLomafoodie

A UNESCO world heritage site, the Church of Jesus of Nazarene has beautiful frescoes of Jesus & his Apostles on the ceilings & walls. There is also a wall of gold leaf & oil paintings on glass with silver backing.
This Parish Church also plays a significant role in the Mexican Revolution against Spain. A banner of the Virgin of Guadeloupe was carried by the charismatic Friar Miguel Hidalgo to incite the people into revolting against the Spanish Colonialism.

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