Our family was in need of a vacation, we all have had a lot going on the past few months and it has been hot and muggy in Los Angeles. It’s too hot to be outside and being cooped up in the house with little kids is no fun at all! It was time to escape summer in Los Angeles! Leo had a week off of preschool so we thought it would be the perfect time for a Mexican getaway.
I had read about San Miguel de Allende on travel sites recently and a few friends have been and raved about it, so we figured… why not? After five nights there, I have to say I am absolutely in love with the town. San Miguel de Allende has a rich history, the Spanish colonial town has retained much of its old world charm with narrow cobble stone streets (don’t bother to bring a stroller if you go) and centuries old buildings in El Centro, or the historic core of the city which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Though it has a small village vibe and everything is essentially walkable, SMA also has big city amenities like fine dining and art galleries.
I had read many times that the population of SMA is about twenty percent American and Canadian retirees who flock there because of the low cost of living, excellent medical care and low crime rates. Because of this I expected more of a tourist trap vibe in the town. While we certainly met a few of these retirees on our trip, the town does not have touristy feel of the other Mexican destinations. Unlike Cancun, Los Cabos or Sayulita, American dollars are not accepted and most people do not speak English. Luckily, my wonderful cousin Carla came with us who speaks Spanish and I was able recall a few basic verbs and numbers from high school.
The landmark of the town is the Parroquia, or Parish church, a beautiful tall Spanish Gothic revival church made of pink sandstone with the accompanying Jardin that serves as the main town square. San Miguel is known for its festivals and parades, I would love to experience Independence Day or Dia de Los Muertos there. Even without at major holiday happening, on the weekend we were there there the Jardin was filled with excitement; wedding marches, Mariachi bands, a blues festival and a military band competition. A lot going on and a ton of fun for the kids.
We were amazingly fortunate enough to use a friend’s home at the Rosewood San Miguel de Allende. The property is gorgeous with lush gardens, great restaurants, beautiful pools and most importantly, Rosebuds; a drop off kids clubs with activities for potty trained children that Leo LOVED.
The hotel is centrally located and right down the block from Parque Juarez, the largest park in the city with an amazing playground and gardens for the kids to explore. Most mornings we would grab coffees and pastries and head to the park to play for an hour or two. Our go to spot in the mornings was Cafe Rama. The art gallery and cafe has a wonderful vibe, amazing egg dishes and coffee and pastries to go.
One of our favorite activities was visiting La Esquina, the Mexican folk toy museum in town. They have three floors of the coolest hand crafted toys. There was really so much to take in at the museum which is filled with new and vintage toys, dolls, rocking horses and the coolest moving toys that were so fancy I would probably never let my children play with them.
San Miguel is known for it’s food scene. We didn’t get to partake in many of the highly reviewed restaurants because our children are pretty terribly behaved around dinner time. We did have a lovely meal on the terrace at La Posadita, which has a a beautiful view of La Parroquia. They also had a spinach and cheese burrito appetizer which was the perfect dinner for the kids, likely the only vegetables they ate the entire trip.
Lenny and I were able to sneak away for a little shopping and lunch one afternoon and we tried Jacinto 1930 which we really enjoyed. The menu is sort of a Mexican fusion concept, or at least I think it was… I thought I knew a lot of food words in Spanish until I looked at their menu. We both ordered yummy spicy tequila cocktails and shared a composed salad and their version of chilaquiles with burrata which was exceptionally tasty.
The design of the space is beautiful, I love the contrast of the bold ceramic tiles and modern copper fixtures set in a the historic building which was designed to look stripped down to its supporting walls. Jacinto 1930 is part of a larger complex which holds a food hall, pastry shop, clothing store, book shop, art gallery, and wine and cocktail tasting rooms. One of the more upscale complexes in San Miguel.
We took the kids to Hecho in Mexico for dinner the first night. The casual restaurant has an outdoor courtyard and a diner-esque menu, i.e. a little bit of everything from Mexican to burgers and all in HUGE portions. Leo and Lucy were squirming in their seats so I didn’t have a chance to take any photos but I stayed and got the check while Lenny and Carla took the kids down the street for ice cream and it was 600 pesos! That’s about 33 dollars for for three adults and two kids to have dinner and drinks- and yes, some of the drinks were beers. No wonder expats love this place.
We ate a lot of meals (and by meals I mean chips and guacamole) at the Rosewood where the food was excellent but I really wish that we were able to try more places in SMA.
Other than the occasional (or frequent, depending on how to you look at it…) toddler tantrum, it was a great vacation. There is so much to do (and eat) in SMA that I am sure we missed a ton of things in the five days that we were there. I can’t wait to go back and explore more.