SAN MIGUEL TRAVEL GUIDE
I kicked off my summer with a girls trip to San Miguel de Allende in Mexico. If you’re following me on Instagram, then you likely saw my pictures from the beautiful, colorful streets of this adorable city. I went with two of my blogger friends, Ally from Allyson in Wonderful and Lynlee from Gal About Town. Vanessa of The Retro Penguin also came as our photographer. We spent four nights in San Miguel and had so much fun! Today, I am sharing my San Miguel travel guide including why visit, where to stay, where to eat and drink, what to do, and answering some frequently asked questions I got and providing a few travel tips. Be sure to catch up on everything I wore while there in my San Miguel outfit recap post.
I wanted to visit beautiful San Miguel as soon as I first saw photos of it. This beautiful, colorful city is located in central Mexico beneath the mountains and is a World Heritage Site. It’s location makes the climate a little different from some of the popular beach cities in Mexico and also makes what you do there a little different. San Miguel is becoming a more and more popular destination and after visiting, I know why. It’s just a little over two hour flight and then a little bit of a drive depending on where you fly into, so depending on where you live, it’s a pretty easy trip! The biggest reason to visit? It’s such a charming city full of life, history, and culture. It’s also incredibly affordable for a vacation spot. We were constantly in awe of just how far your money goes there with everything, but particularly with food.
Getting to San Miguel seemed easiest to us by flying directly into Querétaro (QRO) and then setting up transportation with our hotel. They picked us up from the airport with a sign with our names, which helped us feel safe and taken care of. The drive was a little over an hour. You can also fly into Leon or Mexico City, but the drive is a little farther from each of those.
WHERE TO STAY
As soon as we decided we were going to visit San Miguel, I looked up hotels. I very quickly stumbled on Dôce 18 Concept House and was obsessed. I couldn’t believe that this hotel was real. I always love boutique hotels and this one is seriously a dream. The photos were breathtaking and it was in a perfect location, so after a few e-mails here and there, we were booked.
The photos do not do this place justice. If I could take every single thing and just turn it into my own home, I would. The decor is absolutely stunning. The location is perfect. The staff is so kind and helpful. Plus, they have every amenity someone may want.
Dôce 18 Concept House was a project that started with the hope to create a new space in the heart of San Miguel de Allende. This is a unique concept located in an iconic property that for more than one-hundred years was known as Casa Cohen. Dôce 18 transformed the inside, while respecting the past. It’s a charming synergy of traditional and contemporary, which resonates so well with my own personal style– both with clothing and home decor. The concept house is serves as a place to showcase cultural diversity and support national and international talent by bringing a meticulously curated collection of design, fashion, art, gastronomy, and hospitality all under one roof. At Dôce 18 Concept House you can find stores carrying just about anything, delicious food, art, and more. It’s a concept house first on the bottom and a hotel on the top.
We loved that it had a pool we could lounge and relax at, too. The hotel really had everything you could need all under one roof, which means you don’t really have to leave. They serve breakfast every morning in the courtyard or common area of the hotel and everything was amazing. They have a buffet of fruits, pastries, and breakfast staples, but also have made to order food. We ate breakfast here each morning! They serve great coffee just how you like it (they even had almond milk– always a bonus) and delicious fresh juices. The chilaquiles were my favorite made to order breakfast on the menu. I tried both the red and green sauces and loved both, but the red is always my favorite.
Below is everything the Concept House has to offer-
Fashion: Turia My Pear, Pop-up at The Collection, Blackfin, Armour, Recreo, Regina Donde, Sangre de mi Sangre, Carla Fernandez, The Hat Shop, Deitx & Co
Design & Home: The Library, Ma Maison, Hilando Mexico, Ceramica Estanzuela, Dupuis, Las Rosas de Aurelia, Laura Kirar/Casa de Micho, Ablu Botanica
Art: Carré D’Artistes, Dôce 18 Art Gallery, Pepe Soho
Fine Dining: Jacinto 1930
Casual Dining: The Kitchen, Naa.Na, Cent’anni Grill, Bridie’s Burgers, Taco Lab, Panio
Grab & Go: Spice Market, Le Macaron Boutique, Olio Fino Tasting Room, La Clochette, Dolcenero, MochiYu
La Santisima Trinidad, The Bar, Champagne Lounge, Casa Dragones Tasting Room
They are opening a spa up in the next year, which seriously means they will have EVERYthing you could ever need. I can’t wait to go back and try it, because I know it will be just as amazing as everything else. I cannot recommend staying here enough. I seriously would move in if I could or would just like to transport all the decor back to Dallas so I can enjoy it all the time.
WHERE TO EAT
In addition to those at the Concept House, there are some absolutely amazing restaurants in San Miguel. We were continually blown away by the food and dining experiences we had! Per usual, I couldn’t eat every where on my list, so I’ll break it down below based on where we ate and then places on my list for next time. We were so pleasantly surprised by how affordable everything was at all the restaurants we ate at. We usually got away with a few bottles of wine, sharing appetizers, each having our own entrees, and splitting dessert for around $40/person. SUPER affordable!
- Jacinto 1930: This delicious and beautiful restaurant was conveniently located on the first floor of our hotel. It serves up classic Mexican dishes. We shared a few appetizers and I had the fish of the day, which was so delicious.
- Atrio: Talk about rooftop goals! This is the most amazing setting for a restaurant. We went for lunch one day so we could take in the amazing view. We shared a few appetizers that were all great and had so much fun hanging out enjoying cocktails and the vibe. Such a magical setting with great International food!
- Fatima: This new restaurant is located in the Casa Blanca hotel and is so beautiful. We shared a bunch of small plates and loved everything we had! The service was great and the setting was so enjoyable, too.
- The Restaurant: This restaurant or THE restaurant as we kept joking was recommended to us time and time again. It definitely lived up to the hype! It has a beautiful Moroccan style courtyard that provides a perfect setting for a good dinner. By their own description, they serve global comfort food and everything we had was really great.
- Aperi: We ate here our last night and it was a perfect way to end our trip. This restaurant was named by Travel & Leisure as one of the best gourmet experiences in Mexico. The chef here has come up with some amazing and unique dishes that are considered Franco-Mexican fusion. The atmosphere is amazing and quaint and the service was great. I highly recommend this spot!
- Luna Restaurant: Not only is the food amazing here, but if nothing else, go for the view. Seriously it’s stunning. The rooftop view is one of the best of the city and everything from the cocktails to the appetizers were delicious. I got the octopus and papas bravas which was insane, plus some shrimp tacos. We also all shared guacamole and ceviche, which were so good. If you like spicy margs, theres is one of the best of I’ve ever had!
Places on my list for next time:
- 1826 Restaurant: this is the signature restaurant at the Rosewood hotel based on a ‘farm to table’ philosophy. You can dine inside or outside and everything on the menu is supposed to be fresh and fantastic. This is a little more of an upscale restaurant in San Miguel and is said to be totally worth the extra splurge.
- Moxi: This is such a pretty restaurant set inside another hotel called Hotel Matilda. We had reservations here but had to shift them around one day. I’m so sad we weren’t able to fit it in because I’ve heard such amazing things about the entire experience. They serve Mexican dishes with International influence and the entire menu sounds amazing. It’s definitely on my list for next time!
- Bovine: This restaurant looks amazing! The decor is beautiful and the food sounds so good. It has a menu that meat lovers will love with lots of great steaks and something for all of us who prefer fish, too.
- Casa Buen Viaje: This little spot is said to have amazing chilaquiles and tacos. They also put on events in the countryside around a BBQ made by the chef that sound like so much fun.
- Nicasio Comedor Mexicano: This small space is known for their imaginative take on Mexican classics. Their breakfast menu looks insanely good.
- El Manantial: Go for the food, stay for the drinks, music, and vibe. This is supposed to be such a great little spot for tacos and a casual, good meal!
- Cafe Lavanda: This is a cute and quaint little breakfast spot that uses fresh, local ingredients. The setting is cozy and it has a beautiful view.
- Quince: What-do-ya-know another fabulous rooftop bar + restaurant. Drink here, eat here, stay all day. Whatever! It’s super cute and is said to have amazing service.
- La Parada: This Peruvian restaurant has a beautiful courtyard and delicious food. The ceviche and Pisco Sours are supposed to be THE best you can find in the area.
- Nectar: Adorable, hidden gem that has great vegetarian and vegan options. They also are known for their teas and coffees.
- Café San AgustÍn: Chocolate churros. Enough said. Really though, this place is supposed to serve up delicious churros, as well as other favorites like empanadas and tortilla soup.
- Restaurante Del Parque: This spot located at the Belmond hotel is supposedly amazing. They serve dishes with classic Mexican flavors in a relaxed and charming setting. The restaurant has a beautiful view of their gardens filled with agave and cactus and they often have live music.
WHERE TO DRINK
- Rosewood Hotel: views on views on views. Luna is the lunch spot I referenced above that we went to and the drinks are just as delicious as the food! I loved my jalepeño marg and the view oh so much.
- Olivia Bar at Casa No Name: This spot is supposed to make some of the best margaritas in town. A bold statement in Mexico, but they reportedly live up to their name. They also serve food and have a cute, understated decor that makes anyone feel right at home! Plus, they have a great rooftop.
- Azotea: This rooftop bar was recommended so many times to us, but sadly we didn’t make it there before we left. It has a relaxed, fun vibe and is a great place for drinks and snacks.
- Antonia: Another spot with a beautiful view, but this is one of the only places to snag a panoramic view of the city. They also serve food!
- Hecho en Mexico: You can go here to enjoy cocktails in a fun, laid back environment. If you get hungry they have great, classic Mexican food at a really affordable price.
- Bond’s Gin Bar & Whiskey House: They have good views, good drinks, and televisions if you need to watch any kind of sporting event.
- Mama Mia’s: Go for the fun bar scene and stay for the late night karaoke. We indulged in a little singing and some margaritas one night and had so much fun hanging around both with locals and fellow tourists!
WHAT TO DO
There is so much to do in San Miguel! Eating and drinking is always an ‘activity’ in my mind when traveling, but there is so much to do outside of that. Two of my favorite things that we did were a tea tasting and a tequila tasting. I guess these technically count as drinking, but they were such fun activities that we all enjoyed so much!
- Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel: whether you go up inside or just walk around to look, this beautiful pink hotel with gothic style architecture sits in the middle of the city center and is so insanely gorgeous. It’s a must see!
- EuroTe tea tasting: This is the company and little shop we did our tea tasting with. It actually worked out perfectly because we did this one afternoon while it was raining. The shop is part of Dôce 18 Concept House and is located just down stairs. We were all pleasantly blown away by this experience! The teas were absolutely amazing and the entire tasting was so beautiful and delicious. I came home with a few teas and am counting the days until the brand is available to purchase on Amazon. We tried a green tea called Ate de Membrillo, a black tea called Xocolate, and two fruit teas called Dátil Choco Chile and Guava Punch. I drink green tea almost every morning and loved the green tea so much! The Xocolate tea we drank with almond milk and it tasted like hot chocolate and the Choco Chile was also amazing. Both were like desserts and were seriously the craziest, most delicious flavors! The Punch is one they often drink around Christmas and was so great and festive tasting. They said they often mix it with tequila around Christmas. We tried it this way and it was fantastic! I would highly recommend this to anyone visiting or at least stop by and stock up on some amazing, unique teas. I have a few at home with me and have loved drinking them since. It almost transports me back to San Miguel, which I love.
- Shop– always. My favorite little store we stumbled in was Mixta. Agave Sky and GalerÍa Casa Diana are also great ones to stop in depending on what you’re shopping for. There are SO many amazing street vendors, too. And of course, all the amazing stores at Dôce 18 Concept House.
- Mask Museum: This museum was made public in 2006 after a private collector with over five hundred masks after twenty five years of collecting.
- La Esquina Toy Museum: This museum features over fifty years of toys and is focused on preservation and celebration of Mexican toys.
- El Charco del Ingenio JardÍn Botánico: This botanical garden and ecological preserve is the largest like it in Mexico that has tons of rare or endangered species of plants, specifically cacti and succulents. There is a greenhouse, a nursery, a shop, picnic areas, steam baths, walking paths, and a cafe. It’s a long walk or hike, so its recommended to take a cab there and walk back down. As a bonus, the Dala Lama proclaimed this a Zone of Peace when he visited in 2004.
- Fábrica La Aurora: The largest concentration of contemporary art galleries and design studios are housed here. This space is a remodeled raw-cotton factory on the north end of town.
Escondido Place: This spa is supposed to be an amazing experience in town and is a great place to visit and spend some time enjoying the services when you want to relax and unwind.
- Leisurely Country Horseback Riding: You can ride through the country side via horseback and enjoy the scenery! This would be such an amazing way to enjoy one of the beautiful sunsets. They pick you up door and drop you off door-to-door and have excursions for all levels of riders. I am 100% doing this next time! I would have love to have done it this time, but it was raining so much on and off that we didn’t really have the chance.
- Casa Dragones tequila tasting: Casa Dragones is the named the world’s best sipping tequila. I know what you’re thinking, sipping tequila? But, it’s true. This is the best tequila I’ve ever tried and truly, you can just sip on it and enjoy it. Casa Dragones has a small tasting room located in Dôce 18 Concept House, but we did our tasting at La Casa Dragones, the home of the tequila just a few blocks from the hotel. It’s one of the only blue doors in downtown San Miguel, which they had to get special permission to paint. The entire space is beautiful and has so much history that I loved learning about. We tried two tequilas: Casa Dragones Joven and Casa Dragones Blanco. Dubbed the “Tastemaker’s Top Tequila” by Forbes Magazine, Casa Dragones Joven is a small batch, limited edition, 100% Blue Agave Tequila. It is a blend of silver tequila and extra aged tequila, That ages in oak barrels for five years, for a complex, smooth taste that is perfect for sipping and pairing with food. Casa Dragones Blanco has been named the “Best Blanco Tequila” by Epicurious, and is a small batch, 100% Pure Blue Agave silver tequila, that focuses on purity, for a crisp, smooth taste that is perfect to enjoy on the rocks or in signature craft cocktails. You can set up a tasting to meet your needs when you go visit, so definitely reach out and inquire about tasting at the hotel, the house, or even setting up a dinner or a private event. Brenda hosted us and she was so fabulous! We loved getting to know her and hear more about her take on San Miguel after living in the city for years. She had so many great tips for things to do in San Miguel!
FAQS & TRAVEL TIPS
I got a lot of questions asking if San Miguel was safe. From all of my research and our experience there, yes it absolutely is. We didn’t have any times where we felt unsafe. They suggested flying in earlier in the day and then making sure you were in San Miguel by sunset, so that you weren’t on the roads at night, but other than that I think usual travel recommendations go such as don’t wear too much flashy jewelry and keep your eyes on your belongings.
My biggest travel tips is to be cautious of what shoes you pack. As I’m sure you’ve noticed in these photos and in the photos on my outfit recap post, is that the streets are full of uneven cobblestones. It’s possible to walk in heels, but it is difficult. We always carried flats out with us and then changed into heels once we got to where we were going. Definitely bring sandals or comfy shoes and when packing heels, make sure they are easy to walk in. A block heel or a wedge is probably your best bet!
Another travel tip is to get out some pesos. While every restaurant took cards, the street vendors took cash. There are SO many cool vendors selling everything from floral crowns and hats to jewelry and clothes. Having pesos will ensure that you can easily shop when walking around. Be sure to negotiate a bit, because we noticed that they were trying to over price some pieces. Going to another vendor or negotiating a little will ensure you get the best deal and don’t over pay for something!
I hope that my San Miguel travel guide helps you when planning your trip to this beautiful city. It is definitely one that I’ll be visiting again! It was full of so much charm and beauty and I loved the vibe of the entire city. There is so much to do there outside of soaking up the sun, too! To get some outfit inspiration for your trip and to shop all of the looks I wore when visiting, be sure to check out my San Miguel outfit recap post.
Photos are by me and Vanessa of The Retro Penguin. In the effort of full disclosure, our hotel was comped and our tequila and tea tastings were complimentary in exchange for our reviews. This hotel is one I wanted to stay at regardless of receiving complimentary or discounted rates and as always, all opinions are my own. XO