Life is a journey. Stories are our mile markers."
There’s this quote by Ibn Battuta that I posted along one of my Instagram photos from San Miguel that says, “Traveling – it leaves you speechless then turns you into a storyteller.” San Miguel was one of those places for me and definitely has a special place in my heart. If you’ve read other articles about it you’ll get the typical info: It’s a colonial town named best city in the world more than once by Travel + Leisure. It’s one of Mexico’s best known destinations. You’ll find that these articles list the same few places to eat and things to do and while those places are great, I promise you there are other hidden gems that you’ll love as much as I do.
El Jardîn is basically the heartbeat of activity for tourists and artisans alike. From vendors, to weddings, surrounded by a fountain and courtyard with park benches and trees it’s a delightful gathering spot in the center of San Miguel. Plus it’s the perfect spot to snap a photo of the neo-gothic Parroquia de San Miguel Arcångel. It’s the iconic church known for its pink towers that you can see from miles away no matter where you are in the city.
Less than a 5 minute walk from El Jardîn is Juarez Park. This is one of my favorite places in San Miguel. A beautiful city park (and one of the cleanest I’ve ever seen) with French inspired gardens – it’s home to beautiful sculptures, greenery and many locals who practice tai chi, bring their children to the playground, a place for teens to shoot some hoops and so much more.
My suggestion, walk everywhere. The cobblestone streets lead to terracotta colored architecture every which way you go. Down one street you’ll find boutiques with beautifully designed dresses, an ice cream shop with authentic Mexican treats, and restaurants that specialize in locally grown, organic produce and livestock.
I’ve stayed in both an AirBnb and at the Rosewood twice and I will say both are great but the Rosewood offers an experience unlike any other I have had while traveling. Whether you’re staying there or not, you must visit for brunch while the Vicki’s are there. They’ve been there longer than the structure of the hotel. The original “Victoria” used to come by during the construction of the hotel and sell her homemade tortillas to the construction workers. She became so popular that she’d bring along her daughters and nieces to help her. Their tortillas were too good to pass up so the hotel decided to invite the “Vicki’s” to make all of the tortillas for the hotel and to come weekly for their quesadilla station. On Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays they make the best quesadillas with all the fixings, I promise you’ll go back for 2nds and 3rds.
There’s a very special local farm about 10 minutes away, run by an American expat named Carl. 40 years ago he worked for Campbell’s soup and they would send him to San Miguel to source organic produce for their soups. He fell in love with the city, fell in love with a woman and decided to move to San Miguel. When he retired he didn’t know what else to do except grow vegetables so he started a farm which has now become a local favorite, is certified organic and provides much of the produce for The Rosewood. Meeting Carl was a highlight of my trip and hearing him passionately speak about his farm and the food they produce was great. Also he is major goals — he’s 80 years and he has no machines – just two donkeys and a few people including his family that help with the farm. Carl, wherever you are right now, I love you!
If you’re into really refreshing beer, you must visit Cervecerîa Allende. Their beer IS SO GOOD! Every July, MAG – The Market of Arts & Gastronomy, puts on a food and art festival in San Miguel and Cervezeria Allende makes a special edition artwork label for their beer during this fest.
If you’re into the most amazing tacos and ceviche and cocktails then you absolutely must visit El Manantial. It’s a watering hole for locals (don’t be too obvious that you’re a tourist just because it’s a hidden gem); I visited 3 days in a row. Do order everything on the food menu (seriously though – the portions are small so you can definitely order a few things) and while the margaritas are AMAZING, I will also say order a La Bandera — a set of 3 shots: fresh lime juice, tomato juice, tequila, and an ice cold beer to accompany them. You sip on each shot and then sip some beer, and heaven. It’s delish. Don’t knock it until you try it.
I’m all about experiences and food and views paired with a delicious cocktail (or two) are my jam. So whatever you do, please please visit the Luna Rooftop & Tapas Bar at the Rosewood. Named “Luna” because of it’s incredible view of the moon (Luna is moon in Spanish) at night, you’ll instantly make this your favorite hangout while in San Miguel. The views are epic, the tapas are unparalleled thanks to Chef Victor Martinez. It’s newly remodeled and the architecture is so thoughtfully well done (kudos to Augstin Solorzano) and the bar, it’s definitely as well crafted as their cocktails.
The Rosewood has an amazing pastry chef and every morning they have fresh baked Mexican Pan Dulce and other pastries in their shop along with a coffee bar. People line up for these pastries and their baguettes every morning and if the smell of baked bread doesn’t get you to stand in line, the coffee will.
Walk around town and just take in the vibrancy that is this city. Papel Picado line the structures, mariachis fill the air with their music, and the intricate details of the wooden doors are picturesque.
San Miguel, te amo mucho!
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