We ended up liking and almost loving San Miguel de Allende much better than we thought we would. Here are some quick facts about this small town.
- It was a Spanish colonial city built in the mountains of central Mexico.
- It dates back to the 1500s and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- In 2013, Conde Nast Traveler voted it #1 Top City in the World.
- Depending on the source, there are between 10,000 to 20,000 foreign expats living in the city. That’s roughly 10% of the city’s population.
We didn’t expect ourselves to like this town too much, especially after reading some websites coining it Mexico’s Disneyland given how many foreigners call it home. But surprise! There is no smoke without fire, in a good way. We now know why people fall in love with San Miguel de Allende. Hundreds of art galleries. Theater, music, and art events going on every weekend. Top notch children’s playground. Foodie’s paradise (known as #2 best food in Mexico after Mexico City). Affordable Waldorf AND Montessori schools that are all Spanish speaking. Beautiful architecture all around. Good weather. Literally everywhere you turn there is something of beauty whether it is of sight, sound or taste that will marvel you.
We spent two weeks here and even though that seems like a long time we only drove the van a couple of times. There was enough to do in town every day to occupy us, especially when the restaurant selection was so good. We found our favorite restaurant which happened to be vegetarian called Nutri Verde. We ate there twice and wish we could eat there every single day. Really. In almost 4 months on the road, I will miss this hole in the wall restaurant with only three 2-top tables run by a single Mexican woman the most. Even Simon will agree and that’s saying something. And we had some of the best pizza of our lives here too served with beef carpaccio and mussels (separate pizzas of course).
When we arrived it was Carnival and for several nights Ty got to egg total strangers with cascarónes which are hollowed out eggs filled with confetti. It’s supposed to be good luck to get the eggs crushed over your head. We visited the open markets and a very impressive organic farmers market. Ty even tried a fried grasshopper that was coated with lime and chili but said he didn’t like it. There was a beautiful playground that rivaled the best that we saw back in the States. And there was good music everywhere. This flamenco group we listened to one night was especially awesome. Enough to prompt me to “like” these four young guys on facebook which never happens. They are called Media Luna and I’m waiting for their album.
We stayed at the only campground in town – San Miguel Trailer Park. It was full of overlanders from all over the world. Our rig is small to begin with and is minuscule next to the big beefy campers from Germany and Switzerland. Because we were staying put, we got to spread out Ty’s toys and Jamie’s crib. The MagnaTiles that Auntie Apollo brought us in Baja is worth every penny. We even made it to the Health Clinic to give Jamie his 1 year vaccinations for free!
One evening we visited the local El Charro Botanical Gardens to witness bird murmurations with some new friends from California (ourbiggerpicture.com) and New Zealand (flightlesskiwis.com). It’s a pretty awesome experience to see and hear thousands of birds swarming in the orange sky.
Before San Miguel de Allende, we stopped in the city of Guanajuato, the capital of the state of Guanajuato. That city is stunning as well and in some ways even more so than San Miguel. The entire colorful city is built into the hillside and there are networks of tunnels to connect it all. But the campground wasn’t a place the kids could hang out in so we moved on after just one night.