Introducing guest blogger Astrid from The Wandering Daughter
Many families come to Mexico for its beautiful beaches. But did you know its central towns are also worth visiting? San Miguel de Allende, located in Central Mexico, is the perfect place for families to learn about Mexican culture and history.
San Miguel de Allende is a historic town and also a UNESCO World Heritage site. The city is home to over 60,000 people. It’s been named the world’s best city several times by Travel and Leisure magazine. Tourism is so popular in San Miguel de Allende, it accounts for more than a third of the city’s economy!
This post is part of our Explore My City series – come and visit cities around the world through the eyes of locals
Experience the top things to do in San Miguel de Allende
Most families come to San Miguel de Allende for just a few days. But to really experience the city, you’ll need at least a week. Ideally, you would stay a month to experience the city and all it offers.
If you have time to explore San Miguel de Allende, here are ten of the best things to do during your San Miguel de Allende itinerary with kids!
#1: Take a stroll through Jardin Allende
The central part of the city is called the Jardin Allende. This town square is located next to the main Catholic church, the Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel.
Free and open to the public all day, every day, the Jardin is a fun place to spend an afternoon. Restaurants and stores line the circumference of the square, while snack and ice cream vendors occupy spaces within the square. On most evenings, mariachi bands play music around the Jardin.
#2: Shop at the Artisan Market
The Artisan Market, known as the Mercado de Artesanías in Spanish, is a great place to see and buy locally made souvenirs. While living in San Miguel de Allende, we loved seeing all the crafts, pottery, metalwork, and textiles that are made by local artisans.
Adjacent to the Mercado de Artesanias is the Mercado Ignacio Ramirez, where you can find local flowers, produce, meat, and clothing. Both markets are located just north of the main central area of town. It’s open every day of the week, from 8 am to 8 pm. On Sundays, the market closes early, around 6 pm.
#3: Visit the Mask Museum
Located near the Mercado de Artesanías, the Mask Museum is the private collection of Bill LeVasseur. It’s located in the bed and breakfast that Bill owns, and is open for viewing by appointment only. Admission is 100 pesos per person. Children are free.
The museum contains over 500 masks. Bill, who has been living in San Miguel de Allende for almost two decades, enjoys collecting masks used by the various cultures throughout Mexico. He also loves learning about the stories and traditions behind those masks.
His wife, Heidi, is also a collector, but of the folk art variety. Her San Miguel de Allende art gallery features works by various indigenous and Mexican artists. The gallery is also located at the bed and breakfast.
#4: Look at art at the Centro Cultural
One place to see fine art for free in the city is at the Centro Cultural Ignacio Ramírez El Nigromante. The Spanish-style building is a former convent that has since been converted to a cultural center.
The central courtyard has chairs and trees, so families are free to take a break in the shade while enjoying the fountain’s relaxing sounds. Around the main floor is a cafe and rooms with artwork that you can view for free. Classes and workshops are also available at Centro Cultural Ignacio Ramírez El Nigromante.
The Centro Cultural Ignacio Ramírez El Nigromante is open Mondays through Saturdays from 10 am to 6 pm, and Sundays from 11 am to 2 pm. Admission into the center is free.
#5: Take a trolley tour to learn about the city’s history
One fun way to tour San Miguel de Allende is to take a trolley tour with Tranvia Turistico. You can pick up one of the trolleys in front of San Francisco Church, between Mesones and San Francisco Streets. Currently, the tours only run on Saturdays and Sundays from 9 am to 8 pm.
The trolley takes you around the city’s Centro area. You’ll be able to see some of the popular sights, and learn a bit of history about the city.
Trolley tours cost 65 pesos for adults and 45 pesos for kids under 8. The tours are in Spanish, but you may be able to catch English language tours at special times of the week. Check with the trolley company.
#6: Take a food tour of San Miguel de Allende’s restaurants
To get a taste of Mexico’s vibrant cuisine, take a food tour of San Miguel de Allende. Our favorite tours are with Taste of San Miguel. There are five tours that Taste of San Miguel offers: Downtown San Miguel; An Evening in San Miguel; Tacos and Tequila; Chocolate and Cobblestone; and Landmarks and Lunch.
Each tour runs between two and a half to four hours long and is priced between $43-$80 per person. All of them are walking tours, so be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes as you visit all the San Miguel de Allende restaurants on the tour.
You can also arrange to privately tour San Miguel de Allende. Private culinary tours start at $45 per person.
If you’re not in the mood for a food tour, you can also experience the best of San Miguel de Allende cuisine at Mercado del Carmen. This open-air food court hosts restaurants specializing in all kinds of food from around the world. San Miguel de Allende is truly a treasure trove of Mexican and global cuisine!
#7: See toys from the past at the Toy Museum
The Museo La Esquina, located on the corner of Nunez and San Francisco, houses an enormous collection of Mexican toys. The museum has toys made from wood, made from plant fiber, and made from cloth. There are wind-up toys, puzzles, dolls, kitchen toys, cars, and puppets.
All the toys are enclosed behind glass cases. So, it’s not really an interactive museum. But it is worth seeing the old-fashioned toys.
Museo La Esquina is open from 10 am to 5:30 pm from Tuesdays to Saturdays, and from 11 am to 3 pm on Sundays. It is closed on Sundays. Entrance to the museum is 50 pesos for adults, and 35 for kids.
#8: Play with your kids at Parque Juarez
One of my favorite tips for enjoying a family trip to Mexico is to take advantage of the local parks. The only public park with a playground in San Miguel de Allende is Parque Benito Juarez. Located south of the main central area of the city, Parque Benito Juarez is a beautifully landscaped park, with a children’s playground and an area for playing basketball.
We love the secluded feel of the park. But we also love seeing all the local families that congregate there. On some evenings, you can find music playing at the park’s gazebo. And on weekends, there is a small market along the main pathway. The park is open every day and is free to use.
#9: Explore nature at the Botanical Garden
You can’t experience San Miguel de Allende without a visit to the botanical garden! El Charco del Ingenio, located in the northeastern part of town, is a relaxing retreat from the busy city. It houses native plants such as various types of cactus, agave, and local trees and shrubs.
There is also a conservatory and children’s garden with a slide. A walk around the botanical garden will take you along the reservoir at Presa Las Colonias. You can walk along the dam and explore some of the rocks. Just be careful not to fall in the water!
Tickets to El Charco del Ingenio cost 50 pesos for adults. Kids are free. The garden is open every day from 9 am to 5 pm.
#10: Get pampered at La Gruta Spa
With its close proximity to mountains, San Miguel de Allende has several hot springs nearby. La Gruta Spa is a family-friendly hot spring spa that is located 12 km outside of San Miguel de Allende.
Families can enjoy thermal pools, as well as restaurant services. There is also an option to experience a traditional temazcal, a sweat lodge ceremony originating from the Nahuatl people of Mesoamerica.
La Gruta is open Wednesdays to Sundays from 7 am to 5 pm. Admission is 250 pesos for anyone aged 3 and older. A similar type of hot springs spa is Escondido Place, which is about 13 km outside of San Miguel de Allende.
So much to explore in San Miguel de Allende
Families will have so much fun exploring all the things to do in San Miguel de Allende. It’s a great introductory place to start diving deeper into Mexican culture.
While many of the restaurants, shops, and hotels in San Miguel de Allende cater to foreigners, several places are still popular among the locals. The city is easy to get around, and you will find many family-friendly activities to fill up your San Miguel de Allende trip.
If you’re planning to visit this city with kids, consider doing some exploring of your own. You’ll be surprised at what you might find.
About the Blogger
Hello, my name is Astrid Vinje, and I’m a family travel writer on the blog, The Wandering Daughter. Since 2018, I have been slow-traveling around the world with my husband and two kids. One of our favorite countries to visit is Mexico. We’ve spent over twelve months living in cities throughout Mexico, including San Miguel de Allende.
The Wandering Daughter focuses on worldschooling and responsible family travel, inspiring families to use the world as their classroom and helping them become engaged global citizens. I also recently launched a new blog called Mexico Family Travel, dedicated to family vacation travel to Mexico. On that blog, you can find itinerary ideas, planning guides, and tips for traveling to Mexico with kids.
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With thanks to Astrid for her contribution to our guest series. You may also like to read about Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, or Cusco, Peru.
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