06 Jul Day Trips from San Miguel de Allende
Updated July 2020
San Miguel de Allende is beloved nationally and beyond. Nicknamed the crown jewel of Mexico, it’s known for its narrow, cobblestoned streets painted in hues of red and yellow, its iconic pink Gothic cathedral and gardens in the town square, and its relaxed, small town feel blended with cosmopolitan offerings, world-class cuisine, design, art and fashion.
It’s not hard to imagine the draw that San Miguel has on people. Its magnetism has pulled in many a wayward traveler, many of which have relocated to the city creating a vibrant, blended art scene of talented locals and foreigners collaborating to create intriguing projects.
And, beyond all of the beauty and magic that make the city so beloved, the region is equally impressive. San Miguel de Allende is located in Guanajuato, home to its capital city, which is also a gem, as well as many unique small towns, areas of nature and more. Wanting to explore beyond San Miguel? Read on for the best places to visit, what to do and more.
Ready to Explore Near San Miguel de Allende?
San Miguel de Allende is just the best. I really, really love it and am so grateful to call it home. Around these parts though, everyone talks about how good it is to come back to San Miguel because much of the local and foreign community travel a lot or divide their time between San Miguel and other places. Many of my friends work a season in the states and then live for the rest of the year here in Mexico. Others have second homes or do house swaps, house-sit or other such genius ideas, and I must admit, part of the magic of living in a place like San Miguel is coming back to it. To be clear, it’s nice to get out of here once in a while (or often if you’re travel junkies like us)!
Luckily for us, Mexico is an enormous, topographically and culturally diverse country and continues to surprise us with unexpected magic. There are so many nearby places (and many farther away …but that’s for another article) to see around San Miguel de Allende. Why not get out of town and explore? Here are a few of our favie-faves.
Day trips under an hour from SMA
These are the easiest, closet spots to discover outside of San Miguel. All within an hour from our beautiful UNESCO world heritage town, these are great ways to break out, enjoy a relaxing day, and still be home for dinner.
Las Aguas Termales
There are several hot springs outside of the city: La Gruta, Escondido Place, the Mayan Baths and Taboada, among others. This is one of the things we do most frequently when we have a free day and want to really unwind. Many of the hot springs have in-house massage therapists, restaurants and beautifully manicured grounds. Want to know more about the aguas termales? Read our article on it here.
Cañada de la Virgen
Another mega-fave of ours is the Cañada de la Virgen. The recently discovered pyramids, excavated just outside of San Miguel, are located on an incredible swath of land, home to a deep and craggy canyon accessible by horse and lots of wild flora and fauna native to the area. Touring the pyramids and official grounds is a fascinating experience, and horseback riding through the canyon with Coyote Canyon Adventures is seriously one of my favorite activities …ever. We wrote an article on the pyramids which you can take a gander at that here. We also wrote about horseback riding through the canyon, so check that out here.
We are lucky to have the Ruta de Queso y Vino (Cheese and Wine Route) just outside of San Miguel de Allende. The arid climate and full sun make this a great area for making wine. Some of the crowd favorites are La Santisima Trinidad, Vinícola Toyan, Rancho Santa Gloria, Cuna de Tierra, and Los Senderos. A great afternoon can be spent touring the grounds and tasting wine.
About 30 minutes outside of San Miguel de Allende, this sweet little town was the point of origin of the Mexican Revolution. The Cry of Dolores happened there, its namesake. The town square is famous for its abundance of unusual ice creams. In the (relatively) normal department, flavors include rose petal, garambullo (small, red cacti fruits, similar to blackberries), black sapodilla (a creamy brown, sweet fruit, similar to chocolate), and prickly pear. In the adventurous realm, there is tequila, beer, lard, pigskin, and shrimp & octopus ice cream.
Dolores Hidalgo is also known for its carnitas, braised pork eaten on tortillas with salsas and sides, and the restaurant Carnitas Vicente is particularly famous and deliiiiiicous. Expect to pay about 6 usd to fill your belly.
A UNESCO World Heritage site about 45 minutes from San Miguel de Allende, this dusty little town is home to one of Mexico’s greatest churches. Nicknamed the Sistine Chapel of Mexico, El Santuario de Atotonilco is architecturally impressive and visually stunning. The art inside can be described as beautiful, grotesque and spooky all at once. It’s an eclectic mixture and interesting for sure. Outside the cobblestone streets are lined with little carts selling gorditas, treats, toys and, most importantly, the most amazing blue corn tortillas around. The Folk Art museum there is also a lot of fun to see.
Mineral de Pozos
Mineral de Pozos is definitely one of our don’t-miss recommendations in the San Miguel area. Crumbling stone walls and dusty, rugged paths are the charteristic features of this once abandoned silver mining town. After a time, people began to trickle back into Pozos and new development began. Still quite sleepy, the ruins are some of our favorites. After you’ve tooled around for a bit, drop into Pizza & Chelas for cocktails and food, like fruit micheladas and unusual gourmet pizza.
Truly for the nature-lover, there isn’t much to see in Jalpa. What we love are the swaths of wildflowers that bloom here every September/October. The fields are solid pinky-purple, with little trails to explore (if that’s your thing). Farther along, you arrive at Jalpa proper (though you might now know it at first glance), indicated by the church and a small reservoir. This little town is on the edge of a small body of water. We often picnic here by the water or in the fields of wildflowers. Great way to get a big dose of nature.
A Little Farther, but still Day Trips from SMA
Over an hour, but under 3, these destinations are a little farther away, but definitely worth getting to know if you are spending more than a few days in San Miguel (and especially if you live there!). These places can be seen in a day as well, though one might choose to stay a little longer.
Guanajuato is a beautiful colonial city, similar to San Miguel but larger. A college town buzzing with life, this spot is great for theater, dance, and performance art, culminating in their annual Cervantino festival in September, the largest theater festival in Latin America. The Guanajuato International Film Festival is also held here (as well as in San Miguel). Fun for walking around and exploring the tunnels and narrow, romantically-lit alleyways, you’re sure to stumble onto something interesting while exploring here.
Jaral de Berrio
Another of our super duper mega-faves, Jaral de Berrio is an anachronistic dreamscape. Now in a state of decay, this spectacular gem was once the home of the richest man alive, the Marquis Jaral de Berrio. Enter for 20 pesos with a free taste of their Mescal collection and get lost in the amazing, crumbling labyrinthine structure. Want to read more? We go in-depth on Jaral de Berrio here.
P.S. You are in Mexico! Personal responsibility is everything. There are many dangerous places in this structure and there are no warnings. Flash back to Kindergarten and look both ways! You don’t want to be distractedly walking through here.
P.P.S. There is nowhere to stay near Jaral de Berrio. It’s really in the middle of nowhere.
Bernal is home to the second largest monolith in the world, La Peña Bernal. The town itself is adorable, full of gem and mineral shops and little restaurants. There is camping on the far side of the monolith and access to hike the first part of the mountain, and then strap in and climb the upper portion. Beautiful to admire from the taco and gordita stands below, and with a killer view from the top, it’s a great spot for people who like cultural and outdoor experiences.
Eateries Worth the Trip
Food makes distances seem so much more reasonable, doesn’t it? Many of these restaurants are simply worth the trip all by themselves!
An organic ranch, offering farm to table and a lovely selection of greens to purchase, this is an outing we love. Having a relaxing lunch at De Temporada, looking out over the greenery of the farm, and ending with one of their scrumptious gelato flavors is so relaxing. It really makes you feel that you’ve escaped dry, dusty SMA. We wrote about it here.
Organic never tasted so good! (Ok, yeah it has, but these burgers are *for real* amazing.) On a little plot of land toward Dolores Hidalgo, the open-air restaurant grows its own organic lettuce and tomatoes, bakes its own bread and ethically sources its meat. Super yummy with a relaxed outdoorsy atmosphere, it’s perfect for feeling like you’re out of town when town is only 10 minutes away.
Gourmet and delicious, the restaurant at Nirvana is upscale. Located in lush gardens, you’ll certainly feel you’re somewhere else. Ethically sourced and serving abundant farm to table veggies greens and edible flowers, this is a great place to get romantic or just spoil yourself.