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San Miguel de Allende
San Miguel de Allende is a breathtaking historic town in central-eastern Mexico that draws American and European ex-pats with its wondrous architecture, pleasant weather and affordable living.
San Miguel de Allende is one of the most picturesque nooks in Mexico that has earned its rightful place on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Founded in 1542 by Franciscan monks, the town was an important stopover on the gold and silver trade route. It was also home to General Ignacio Allende, Mexican War of Independence hero. While the town was declared a national historic monument in the 1920s, it wasn’t until the fifties that Americans began to notice the exquisite colonial architecture and thermal springs that San Miguel de Allende has to offer. Soon this historic Mecca became the darling of affluent ex-pats and the most prestigious Mexican families, not to mention droves of tourists. Artists, actors, entrepreneurs and politicians say San Miguel de Allende is the “Malibu of Mexico” with its exquisite architecture, small town vibe, wealthy patrons and arts community.
Most people fly to the Léon/Guanajuato airport to arrive in San Miguel de Allende, which is situated in Central Mexico -- east of Puerto Vallarta and Guadalajara, North of Mexico City. Buses and taxis then drive the 90 minutes to the town. Once arriving there, 90% of the town in accessible by foot, so seeing everything will be no problem with comfortable shoes.
Accommodations around town range from $50 to $415/night. On the budget-conscious end of the spectrum, there is Hostel Alcatraz for 70 pesos/night ($8), which is located right in the center of town and features purified drinking water, TV and an open kitchen. Moderate stays can be found at Guadiana Bed and Breakfast ($55-$65/night) or La Mansion de Bosque ($33-$88). High end San Miguel de Allende hotels include: Casa de Liza en el Parque ($150/night) and Casa Luna ($126 - $135/night) and Oasis Boutique Hotel ($325 - $415/night) which have amenities like fireplaces, private terraces, pools, spa services and gourmet meals.
There are countless architectural marvels to behold in San Miguel de Allende. The tall gothic-influenced, pink behemoth in the center of town is the Parroquia de San Miguel Arcangel (called El Jardin by the locals), built in 1683. Churches like The Templo de la Concepcion, Templo de Nuestra Senora de la Salud and Templo de San Francisco are all breathtaking landmarks. Even private homes, like the Casa Mayorazgo de la Canal home and the Casa del Inquisidor estate, hold unprecedented beauty.
Visitors can take a cab for $3 to the renowned San Miguel de Allende thermal pools for a relaxing afternoon. Nearby capital Guanajuato houses a really neat mummy museum (Museo de las Momias), underground tunnels and the Cristo Ray statue. History buffs may want to travel another 25 miles to Dolores Hidalgo, the birthplace of Mexican independence. The brave souls can try the avocado or pork rind flavored ice cream here! Festivals occur during Easter Week, for New Year’s Day, on September 16th (Independence Day) and on September 20th (Running of the Bulls).
If you are traveling to San Miguel de Allende, you will need the skinny on San Miguel de Allende Hotels, San Miguel de Allende restaurants and San Miguel de Allende activities. Of course, you may also need information on San Miguel de Allende real estate because few people who come here ever want to leave.
So you have decided to come to the beautiful, historic town of San Miguel de Allende! Excellent! Most people visit from December 15th to April 1st because the days are sunny and the nights are comfortable. From April to August, the days are a little hotter and it may rain a little more. Semana Santa (Easter Week) is a crazy celebration with festivals, parades and live music. Other big days include Independence Day (September 16th), Pamplonada / The Running of the Bulls (September 20th), Dia De Los Muertos / The Day of The Dead (November 2nd) and the Los Locos carnival (June).
To get to San Miguel de Allende, you will have to board a plane to Leon/Guanajuato airport. From the East Coast (New York City), plane tickets average around $500 round-trip, including taxes and fees. From the West Coast (Los Angeles), a round-trip flight might cost as little as $350. Once you arrive at the airport, you can catch an inexpensive cab or bus for the 90-minute journey to your San Miguel de Allende accommodation.
There are San Miguel de Allende hotels for every taste and budget. Frugal backpackers can find clean, comfortable accommodations at Hostel Alcatraz or the Iron House Hostel for less than $10/night. If you plan in advance, you can stay at a cozy bed and breakfast, plush with all the amenities of home, for $65 - $100 at Guadiana Bed and Breakfast, La Mansion del Bosque or Casita de las Flores. If you’d like a ritzier San Miguel de Allende accommodation, you can try Casa de Liza en el Parque for $150/night, Casa Luna for $125-$136/night, Casa Calderoni for $110 or La Casa de la Cuesta for $165/night. The extremely wealthy or group travelers often decide to rent out an entire piece of San Miguel de Allende real estate for their vacations. Casa Chorro, Casa Quinta Ocho, Casa Puesta del Sol and Casa San Jose are all tremendous beauties nestled in the hilltops overlooking the town and historic monuments, offering privacy and supreme relaxation.
Of course you will need to feed yourself while you arre in town. You will not find very many familiar San Miguel de Allende restaurants, since town officials have fought tooth and nail to maintain the authenticity and local flavor of the region. While you’re here, be sure to try some of the famous local dishes like rabo de zorra (eggs and chiles), pacholas (ground beef patties), empanadas de carnitas (pork turnovers) and fiambre (meats, fruits and veggies tossed in olive oil and apple cider vinegar). Authentic Mexican cuisine is served up around every corner. Often recommended true Mexican San Miguel de Allende restaurants include: The Restaurant, El Correo, El Rinconcito, La Posadita on Allende, Ole Ole and Cha Cha Cha. For live music and an eclectic menu, you can stop into Mama Mia or La Capilla. El Pegaso serves up a little bit of everything, Naturalismo and El Tomato appease the vegetarian diners, Bacco Restaurant dishes up excellent Mediterranean meals and Bella Italia serves world renowned Italian.
Have you decided you never want to leave San Miguel de Allende yet? You’re in luck. It turns out 75% of the 11,000 expatriates who live here are also from America, so you’ll fit right in! Many residents of San Miguel de Allende report living comfortably off $50,000/year and housing prices average around $100,000 for a nice place. In the coming years, the 55+ community is expecting to boom, offering low-cost health care, entertainment and a pleasant atmosphere for older Americans who wish to live more comfortably.