With its cobblestoned streets, colonial architecture and strong cultural scene — not to mention plenty of interesting new places to eat and shop — it’s easy to see why San Miguel de Allende has become a haven for travelers (and, admittedly, lots of retirees). There is no shortage of galleries displaying works by local and international artists, plus boutiques selling the kinds of fashion, jewelry and home designs you’d expect to find in a stylish capital like Mexico City, which is just three hours away. Here’s how to make the most of your day in this colorful and charming getaway.
Tulum’s cult-favorite café for a pick-me-up recently opened a second location in San Miguel de Allende. Get to Ki’Bok Coffee (Diez de Sollano y Dávalos 25) when it opens at 8 for your drink of choice, including pour-over, Chemex, cold brew or the Hemingway (a double espresso with brown sugar, topped with foam and a dusting of cinnamon), all made with single-origin beans organically grown in Veracruz. Despite the early-morning toll of church bells, the city seems to awaken slowly, which makes it an ideal time to stroll to El Jardín, the main square. There you’ll find the 17th-century La Parroquia (Plaza Principal S/N), the origin of the aforementioned bells. The city’s most iconic site is known for its stunning neo-Gothic pink spires. A few blocks away, El Correo (Correo 21-23) has been a mainstay for more than two decades and serves up hearty dishes like huevos tirados, eggs scrambled with black beans and a smoky, spicy chipotle sauce.
A quick taxi ride from the city center, Fábrica La Aurora (Calzada de la Aurora S/N), a former textile factory that now contains more than 50 galleries of contemporary art, antiques and handicrafts under one roof. Here, you can shop for pricey antiques like intricately carved wooden armoires and religious figurines at La Buhardilla and amazing woven wall hangings, rugs and other textiles inside Nelly Lorenzo’s tiny studio. There are plenty of paintings and sculptures, too — everything from world-renowned artists like Frank Stella, Andy Warhol, M.C. Escher and Keith Haring inside Skot Foreman Fine Art and abstract pieces by Mexican artist Fernando M. Díaz in his namesake gallery. A number of studios also offer hands-on workshops, should you be interested in metal-working at Van Doren Metal Art or mixed-media and acrylic painting at Galeria Manuk.