San Miguel de Allende

San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato

Population: 62,000

Time Zone: Central Standard

Airport: 70 miles to Leon – Bajio International Airport (BJX)

Elevation: 6,500 feet

For years San Miguel was the secret retreat for the bohemians and artists, where they found the perfect, remote setting to spend their creative lives. And although the same element can still be found in this colonial gem, the presence of more mainstream travelers now make it one of the most popular destinations in North America.

Dating back to it’s founding in 1542, San Miguel was designated as a national historic monument by the Mexican government in 1926, ensuring the preservation of the city core, which endures today. Tree-shaded plazas connected by narrow, cobble-stoned streets lined with small shops, quaint inns and centuries-old villas create a Spanish-village, movie-set feel that has become to define Mexico’s series of Colonial Cities. And although expatriates from all over have moved (at least part-time) to San Miguel, it is clearly still a very Mexican town. Of course, popularity tends to affect prices, and it certainly has here. But you can still find small pensiones for under $50.00 and a meal from where the locals eat for a few bucks.

For many, the first introduction to San Miguel was to attend the Instituto Allende, founded in 1951 and Bellas Artes in 1938. The Institute offers Spanish language, art and photography classes, and Bellas Artes specializes in dance, art and music. Both are housed in old, beautiful buildings that enhance the cultural environment that defines the town.