An Art Lover’s Guide to Visiting San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

About once a year, or so, my wife, Carrie, and I try to take a trip together to get away from the demands of our busy life and to reconnect. Some of our favorite recent trips have been to Savannah, Georgia, Charleston, South Carolina, Montreal, Quebec and Charlotsville, Virginia.

This year we are celebrating our twentieth anniversary, and so we decided that we should visit a locale that’s a bit more exotic. We talked about a variety of destinations around the world, but were having a hard time deciding where we most wanted to go – Hawaii, Paris, Milan, Alaska, Sydney? The possibilities were all a bit overwhelming.

This spring we were having some remodeling done to our master bathroom, and we became good friends with our contractor, Jose, a native of Guadalajara, Mexico. Carrie mentioned our desire to visit somewhere unique, beautiful and exotic, and Jose told her we should consider Mexico. He mentioned several possible destinations that were beautiful and safe, but the one that stuck out was San Miguel de Allende, a colonial town in the central highlands of Mexico.

Carrie and I did a little research online, and quickly decided that San Miguel was exactly what we were looking for. The city was selected in 2017 as Travel and Leisure Magazine’s best city in the world, and is a UNESCO world heritage site.

We made reservations for flights and a hotel and began preparing for the the trip, which was about two months away when we made the reservations.

My top priority was to learn enough Spanish to be able to get by and have some conversations with locals. I speak Portuguese fluently, and the two languages are close enough that a Collins audio course, listened to in the car on the way to the gallery and home every day was enough to get me up to speed, if not quite fluent.

Our kids were all finished with their school year on May 31st, and Carrie and I embarked on the trip the next morning, June 1st.

Getting There

Descending into the Leon airport

There is no airport in San Miguel, so to get there, one has to fly into either Mexico City,  Querétaro, or Léon, and then figure out how to get from one of those airports to San Miguel, which is between 1.5 and 3 hours away. It turned out that it was easiest for us to fly into Léon from Phoenix, through Dallas.

I wasn’t interested in renting a car and driving on the Mexican highways and byways, but fortunately our hotel was able to help. I let them know when we would be arriving in Léon, and they made arrangements to have a car service pick us up at the airport to drive us to the hotel. All of these arrangements were made by email with the hotel staff with a lot of help from Google Translate.

Our plane landed in Léon late in the evening Friday, but a few minutes ahead of schedule, which we didn’t realize. We experienced a few minutes of panic when we walked out of the terminal and found that there was no one there to meet us. Our driver, Antonio, showed up a few minutes later, however, and whisked us away in his Dodge Sedan.

Antonio, a native of San Miguel, conversed with me for a few moments in Spanish, and then, when he realized that Carrie didn’t speak any Spanish, and that mine was rudimentary, switched to English. We spent the two hour drive learning about San Miguel. Antonio loves his hometown passionately and was delighted to give us a long list of attractions we should visit. When he learned that we own an art gallery, he was sure to direct us to a couple of must-sees for art lovers.

Accommodations

I had found and booked our hotel, Casaluna, online, which can sometimes be a bit dicey. We felt fortunate that the hotel, a boutique, ended up being beautiful, and in an excellent location, just a few blocks from the central plaza.

The hotel is built around a small courtyard, and each room has unique architectural features. We were amazed by the vaulted, brick ceilings in our room. The staff was friendly and accommodating, and very patient with our limited linguistic abilities.

Because the US Dollar is currently fairly strong, giving us a favorable exchange rate, the cost of the hotel was roughly equivalent to a two-star hotel in the states, but it was much, much nicer, and far less generic.

Another bonus was that the internet the hotel provided was fast and consistent. I would spend an hour or so each morning keeping up with work and email, and the internet connection was terrific.

The City

Because we had arrived late at night, Carrie and I had only caught a glimpse of the city as we arrived. Saturday morning we put on sunscreen, ate breakfast at the hotel, and then headed out into the city.

We were immediately delighted by the sights and sounds that greeted us outside the hotel. The entire central part of town (El Centro) is traversed by cobblestone streets that date back to the colonial period, and lined with buildings, many of which are likewise several hundred years old.

Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel. Grand, neo-Gothic 17th-century church known for its soaring pink spires & lofty, ornate sanctuary.

San Miguel boasts a stunning, neo-Gothic cathedral at its center. Built in the 1600s the soaring pink chapel is stunning, and serves as a central landmark in the City. During our five-day stay in San Miguel, Carrie and I found ourselves returning to the church and it’s plaza multiple times throughout each day.

During our first day in town, we decided not to plan any specific destinations or make any schedules. We just wanted to explore. San Miguel is a very walkable city, as long as you are wearing comfortable shoes. We kept track of our explorations using Google Maps Timeline feature, and most days we walked a total of four to six miles. It was a good thing we were walking so much, because we couldn’t resist indulging in the many culinary delights San Miguel offers!

The Food

In researching San Miguel, I read that there are approximately 350 restaurants in the city – enough that you could spend almost an entire year exploring new eateries. I don’t know if that number is right, but I can tell you that we had some amazing food while we were visiting.

When we’re on vacation, Carrie and I usually only eat two meals each day. We will have a leisurely, late breakfast (it would probably be more accurate to call it brunch), and then we will eat a large meal late in the afternoon or early in the evening. This approach allows us to feel a little less guilt as we indulge, and it helps assure that our clothing still fits at the end of the vacation 🙂

Within a couple of days we decided that the hotel breakfast, while good, was a little too boring to repeat every day.

We ended up finding a small cafe around the corner, the Café Monet (of course!) that served an excellent variety of foods, including fruits, baked goods, pancakes, and, my breakfast staple, oatmeal. We also fell in love with their hot chocolate. Though we didn’t repeat any other restaurants during our visit, we did end up eating breakfast at Café Monet three or four times.

Some of the other restaurants where we ate were serendipitous discoveries – we would be walking by and would be drawn in – or were found using Yelp or Google Maps. We were never disappointed; everything we ate was amazing.

Like our hotel, because of the strength of the US dollar, we found restaurant prices to be stunningly reasonable. Carrie and I felt no restraint in ordering appetizers, entrees and deserts, and it was often the case that the check would arrive and our bill would total between 300 – 400 pesos. At current exchange rates, that’s between 15-20 US$. We almost felt like we were getting away with something, so I always gave a generous propina (tip).

The Art

Though on vacation and trying to get away from work, Carrie and I find it impossible to stay away from art. Within a half-hour of begin our explorations of San Miguel, we found ourselves in our first gallery. We fell in love with several of the artists this particular gallery was showing, and before we left had bought a decorative sculpture for our home. The gallery staff was happy to make arrangements to ship the sculpture back to the states for us, and once again, the exchange rate made the purchase very affordable.

This was only the beginning. San Miguel has become quite an artist’s colony, and we visited a number of galleries and studios during our stay. The driver who had picked us up from the airport had recommended that we visit Fabrica la Aurora, a renovated textile mill that has been converted into galleries and design studios. We spent several hours there enjoying the very sophisticated (and more expensive) art and fine furnishings.

Walking back, we noticed a home that had signs painted on the doors indicating that it was a studio. We had no idea what kind of art might be inside, but we decided to ring the bell. A young artist opened the door and welcomed us into the house. It turned out that he was apprenticed to the painter, a woman, who owned the house. The owner and her deceased husband were both painters and they had turned the home into a gallery for their work, along with paintings by the apprentice. I managed to lose the card for the gallery so I can’t share these artists’ names, but this experience was typical of what you might expect in San Miguel. There are hundreds of artists’ studios scattered around town, and dozens of galleries.

We visited a good number, but we felt as if we had only scratched the surface of the art scene.

The area is so beautiful and authentic that it’s easy to see why artists would be attracted to settle in the region.

The Weather

San Miguel, as I mentioned, sits in the highlands of central Mexico. Its elevation (between 6,200 and 7,000 feet), and it’s southerly latitude help create a very pleasant climate. May and June are the hottest months, and while we were there, the late afternoon temperature would reach into the high eighties. It was hot enough in the afternoon that we would usually return to the hotel for a siesta.

Though moderate, especially for visitors from Arizona, it was hot enough to be a bit uncomfortable, especially considering the fact that there seems to be no air conditioning anywhere in town. This is understandable when you consider that the temperature is in the 70s for ten months out of the year, but that didn’t help us much in our west-facing room.

We suffered a bit for a few days, until we thought to ask the hotel staff for a fan, which they happily provided. Our room would still get hot late in the day, but the fan was enough to make it more than bearable.

If you are planning to follow our lead and visit San Miguel, I would recommend you avoid visiting in May or June, though Antonio did tell us town was a bit less crowded in May and June than it would be the rest of the year.

Safety

When we told friends that we were planning to visit San Miguel, we invariably received two reactions: “It’s not safe,” and “What do you mean it’s not on the beach!?”

Carrie and I aren’t real beach-goers, so we were happy to report that San Miguel was in the mountains, many hundreds of miles from the coast.

As far as safety, I could understand the concern. If you hear about Mexico at all in the news, it’s likely to be reports of drug-related violence or kidnappings. U.S. Citizens have become understandably wary of traveling south of the border. San Miguel, and some other regions of Mexico, should be given an exception to the safety concerns, or at least should be considered much safer than many areas around the borders.

The US State Department shows San Miguel as requiring caution, but does not list it as an area to be avoided. Carrie and I did our best not to attract undue attention, but we never felt unsafe. The local government has worked very hard to make the area safe by increasing the police presence and keeping the city clean and orderly.

I can tell you that I felt far more safe in San Miguel than I have felt in some areas of major cities I have traveled to in the U.S.

Recommendation

In summary, Carrie and I agree that our trip to San Miguel has been our favorite vacation in our twenty years of marriage. We were delighted by the picturesque beauty, by the friendly locals and by the rich cultural and artistic heritage of the city.

If you haven’t been to San Miguel de Allende, and if you are looking for a unique travel experience, I heartily recommend you consider making the trip!

Where Should We Visit Next?

Carrie and I have spent the first twenty years of our marriage building a business and raising our family. We’re looking forward to seeing more of the world as we move into the next twenty years, and beyond!

Do you have recommendations for other destinations we should consider? I’m particularly interested in cities or areas that you found to be outstandingly beautiful or culturally and artistically rich. We’re less interested in visiting tourist traps!

Share your recommendations and the reasons you recommend the destination in the comments below.

If you’ve visited San Miguel, I would love to hear what you thought!

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About the Author: Jason Horejs

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69 Comments

  1. Santa Fe is my hometown and has many of the things you loved about San Miguel – great galleries, museums, restaurants, Day trips to stunning landscape / hikes…. Maybe you have already visited? I would love to show you my studio if you come.

  2. Just got back from a Safari in Krueger Park, South Africa. Trip of a lifetime and I have travelled a lot. Cape Town is beautiful also but the safari in Krueger was unreal. Paris / Francevus my second choice.
    Glad you had a great vacation!

  3. San Mguel is so artsy and i have been there several times, painting with artists there, and staying at the institution and the san miguel de allende art school taking pottery, painting, weaving, etc. the school gave lots of tours outside the area. I went with professor harry ? from palomar college art school in san diego, ca. and still have the great itineries and places we went and all the photographs. The paintings from there are my best sellers still. I have sold over 16,000 prints, oils and giclees of my art and am in the process of updating my website. I just noticed my email on my website in wrong. There are and have been so many great artists there who welcome you into their homes for imprompto classes. It has always been my most favorite of all places as we wandered to quaniquanto(sp) and other great neighboring villages. the best experiences for about 6 weeks. I did take your course when you first did the class, i need to brush up on it!

    Keep great memories of san miguel. My favorite pieces are my handmade silverware and pictures and souveniers from there. joyce dodd harcharik

  4. I enjoyed reading about your trip to SMA! I was there in March of 2009, while the cranes were nesting in the blooming Jacaranda trees. What a beautiful place, full of spirit and magic. I agree, the food was amazing and the art was captivating. We loved walking along the cobblestone streets and in the center of town with that beautiful cathedral.

  5. Consider Portugal as a great destination.
    Beautiful country, great food and wine, people are very nice, good weather and of course….the ceramic tiles, murals everywhere.

  6. I highly recommend the island of Newfoundland, my favourite Canadian province. It has amazingly hospitable and friendly people, a wide variety of stunning scenery (fjords, mountains, dramatic coastlines), a rich fishing history, quaint architecture, fantastic seafood, and top notch live music everywhere. The west coast of Newfoundland is the continuation of the Appalachian mountains, making for great hiking.
    But I agree with Priscilla that Paris, Florence, and London are amazing art destinations and if I had to pick one, it would be Florence.

  7. I traveled to San Miguel de Allende two years in a row to study with fabulous artist, Frank Gardner, who lives there and has a gallery there.
    It was wonderful both times. A vibrant city, gorgeous countryside, and lovely people.
    Frank is an excellent teacher and an accomplished artist. (Check out his work.)
    I highly recommend both the city and the artist!

  8. I have a friend that has lived in San Miguel for 15 years and I visited there. She and I are both artists and it is a wonderful place. I live in St Petersburg Fl and we are an art mecca, with galleries, studios museums and great restaurants. Come visit.

  9. Recently my husband and I rented a 4 Wheel Dr. and toured Iceland for 10 days. The vistas were breathtaking, We stayed in guest houses, And for most of our meals we picnicked by the roadside. In your lifetime do put Iceland on your bucket list, there is no other place on earth like it.

  10. I was last in San Miguel de Allende in 1978, visiting my sister in law to-be in the closest thing to a honeymoon that we had…Like you, we were completely charmed. I bought my wedding dress in the market, and we had our wedding rings made by a local silversmith ($3 ea). Then we went home and got married.
    As for other destinations, I’ve always wanted to go to Barcelona to see Gaudi’s architecture. Portugal is also on my list. I lived in Holland as a child, and still remember the amazing boat trip we took for several days along the canals…and much else. And then there’s Rome, Florence, Venice. You might need to start taking two trips each year.

  11. Happy Anniversary Jason! Manny and I have spent much time in Mexico, although we have never been to San Miguel. We love it there, and love the Mexican people! I do have an advantage because Manny speaks fluent Spanish. I speak poquito–a little!
    We just celebrated our 34th. on May 25th. We were married in Hawaii, and I would definitely recommend a trip to the Hawaiian Islands–especially Kauai. I lived there for 11 years. Another place that I have been that is exceptional is Tahiti. I also loved Greece. Thank you for sharing your beautiful experience with us!

  12. Santa Fe, New Mexico should be one of your destinations. The architecture is outstanding and the art is of very high quality. You can see art everywhere you go, the train station, restaurants, in the Plaza and all around the town. Just to go window shopping is a beautiful experience. Many museums too. Go!

    suzanne

    1. Two years ago, I and a fellow artist, stayed in San Miguel for one month in February. We rented a casa through AirBNB that was owned by two artists. It had a studio on the top floor and we spent the month painting. It was such a cool experience and I loved San Miguel. Everything you described brought back many memories.

  13. I loved both Costa Rica and Lima, Peru for the culture and outdoor exploration. Beautiful countries and people. Lots of art as well!

  14. Jason, I was delighted to read about your trip to San Miguel. While my husband and I have traveled throughout Mexico and Central America for the past 35 years, our favorite place in Mexico would have to be Ajijic – Located within an hour drive from the Guadalajara airport. Ajijic is a smaller town than San Miguel yet it has many restaurants and, it has many local and American artist. Located at 5000 foot elevation, it is located on the largest lake in Mexico “Lake Chapala”. Like San Miguel, Ajijic has mild climate, and, it has a diverse flora and fauna…attracting many birds. Actually, we will be there soon celebrating my birthday. Another favorite place of ours is Guatemala – Places we like to visit are; Antigua, Lake Atitlan and the Rio Dulce! It is very beautiful yet, I feel it does not have as much art as Mexico has. The best time to travel to Guatemala is January-May (avoid Easter holiday).

  15. Hi Jason, I take artists to Morocco on painting holidays and it is a favourite of mine. For anybody who is into visual pleasures like art-minded people, it is a gold mine. The light, colours, textures are incredible. And yes, it is safe. The people are friendly, open-minded, have a stable government and love their king. I would highly recommend it! Happy anniversary to you and your wife.
    Greetings from Canada
    Karin Richter

  16. Jason you have a ton of art friends that would be more than happy to help you with info on best restaurants, hotels, art galleries sites and airport transportation. San Miguel has been a art mecca for years, many of us have traveled there. Next time just ask, ok?

  17. San Antonio, Texas, if you haven’t already been: the McNay Art Museum, the Botanical Gardens, La Villita artisan plaza near the River Walk, and the Alamo of course.

  18. Hi Jason;
    I’m an artist from Canada, would love to get to your gallery someday. My husband and I went to SMA for his birthday in early March, loved every minute of the trip. Perfect time to go, came across the most fascinating festival…here’s part of an excerpt I could have written…

    First Friday in March – The Festival of Our Lord of the Conquest. The faithful come to the Parroquia to recite 33 prayers, one for every year of Jesus’ life on earth. Indian conchero dancers dance in front of the Parroquia on this day, arriving shortly after dawn and dancing till dusk. They dance in honor of “Christ of the Conquest,” one of the most revered statues in San Miguel’s Parroquia church. Fashioned of cornstalks and orchid bulbs, the statue was brought from Pátzcuaro and represents the acceptance of Christ by Mexico’s indigenous people.
    The concheros wear elaborately plumed headdresses and costumes festooned with bright colors and metallic fabrics, and move to the deep, steady beat of large drums. This is the most colorful of all the March events in San Miguel de Allende, and one of the best of the entire year. Bring your camera and lots of film or flash cards. This is definitely a “Kodak moment.”

    We sat mezmerized for 2 days, just before Easter, with constant goings-on in the square. A must visit during that time, and perfect weather. I think I’ve a photo at the same spot you and your wife are at in yours.

    Also loved Santa Fe, I believe over 300 galleries in the not-so-large city. Many worthwhile day trips from there as well, and if you have the time, drive down to Carlsbad Caverns, a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
    Portugal, Italy, Greece, Croatia on bucket list!
    (Sorry, if you check my website, it’s in dire need of upgrading/updating, also on my bucket list!)

    Happy travels!

  19. I had the good fortune to be asked to join five other artists on a trip to San Miguel a few years back. We rented a beautiful old home high up on the hill (it felt like a mountain for sure since I walked up to our casa a few times a day). We cooked, drank wine and laughed a lot.
    We never felt unsafe. We adored the friendly townspeople and I had two long conversations with
    residents who spoke no English.

    One, with a cab driver who took me up to our casa after I spent an entire day alone walking the city and neigborhoods, seeing beautiful courtyards and marveling at the huge stone sidewalks. He managed to find my location in spite of my lack of Spanish.

    Secondly, a long and spirited conversation with a very old woman walking up the hill as I descended. I know I did not know a word she said and seriously doubt she knew anything I said..but we parted with big smiles on our face.

    I would highly recommend the home tour if available through the bibliotec (library) for a glimpse into the architecture and beauty of the courtyards & gardens hidden by the simple walls on the streets..it is magical!

    If the outdoor fish taco place under a canopy is still near the art school, go there for sure. The city itself is a piece of art and the view of the church from our casa on the hill breathtaking. Lastly, spend time on a park bench on the square and watch children play and listen to the Marrachi Bands.

    As artists we loved seeing the artwork, loved painting on site, but it was the spirit and pace of the city that stole my heart.

    My next favorite place to suggest you visit is Italy, romantic, beautiful Tuscany…Sienna, (gentle and soulful) Rome, (spend days, think history and art, art, art) but savor it, don’t pack too much in one visit..take time, sit at a cafe with coffee or wine and breathe in the atmosphere. Eat the pasta, the gelato..walk and walk.

    Don’t get me started on how my visit to Hong Kong (before the handover) and a week at a resort in Thailand changed my life and art…

    It is always the people, the discovery of how other cultures live that fill up my soul when I travel. In Europe we stayed at small hotels, (climbing five flights of stairs and sharing a bathroom..ok, not my favorite thing to do) rented rooms, and even ended up a night in the shelter in the rail station in Munich, Germany. Lunch was sometimes a bottle of wine, a hunk of cheese and a baugette in the park.

    Ireland..County Clare and Beara Pennisula …the Cliffs of Mohr..

    London, the city with so many museums and the lovely, unique Burrough Market, great theaters..

    The Redwood Forrest in California, the wine country, Michigan along the west coast to Lake Superior with it’s Rocky coast..it touristy, but if there, Mackinaw Island.. watch Somewhere in Time before going to “the” hotel…

    Think I better pack a bag! Jason, you asked and it made me realize how fortunate I have been to have traveled to these places.
    Thank you.

  20. San Miguel de Allende is a truly magical place. In the “centro” it is very safe – the local, state, and federal governments make sure of it. My husband and I go every year for 4-5 weeks.

  21. My travel has been very limited in my life. (A regret at times.) But I hav a list of where I’de like to go. But this would be me. I would want to see Las Caux because that’s pretty close if not the place where painting started. I have contacts in the Netherlands and had an acquaintance who fell in love with Iceland. I’de like to experience a high Sunday Mass in Amiens Cathedral, or a second choice would be Notre Dame du Paris. My Irish-English heritage cannot be denied. But these would be my list.
    Happy 20th- I can say with surety that the next 25 will be glorious and the partnership will get deeper and greater.

  22. So glad you had a wonderful trip to celebrate your twenty years together. I am rather partial to Jasper and the Icefield Highway between Jasper and Banff. Do come in summer unless you like skiing. Another favorite place is Martigny, Switzerland. The museum there is one of the best. We have often visited while reconnecting to cousins living in Valais. Happy travels.

  23. Happy Anniversary! I’ve always wanted to go to SMA & still hope to do so.
    I think you would really enjoy Oaxaca! It’s full of art museums, lots of trips
    to artist’s homes/studios, markets & the food is fabulous! Very colonial city with
    many churches & ruins! Definitely one for the bucket list for art lovers!

  24. It sounds like you and Carrie had a wonderful time. Congratulations for your twentieth anniversary. I lived in Santa Fe as a child, and was fascinated with the adobe architecture and especially the La Fonda hotel. More recently, visited the Georgia O’Keefe museum and other landmarks. Washington, DC is interesting and lots to do there. I’ve been there twice. The museums, the National Zoo, monuments, and much more. One trip with my brother, we rode the elevator down below the Senate building and were able to see where the legislators ride a subway type vehicle from building to building. Unfortunately, now, they don’t let the public down there, I don’t think. Carnegie Hall is on my bucket list, as well as Ireland and Wales. I’ve been to the Cayman Islands, Honduras, Belize, and the southern part of Mexico, but the most memorable thing for me was the turquoise water, and the beaches- just beautiful. And the perfect temperature in November. No matter where I go, I’m always glad to get home to the San Luis Valley in southern Colorado, surrounded by 14000′ mountains and incredible views. The Great Sand Dunes National Park, on the east side of the Valley, is unique with a creek that flows around the high dunes, which surges like the ocean. Along the way, to the Dunes, there’s Zapata Falls, a waterfall that comes from a hole in the rocks above, and not a bad hike into the area where you can look up to see it. A visitor’s center there expands on the unique qualities of the Park. The Headwaters of the Rio Grande is on the west side of the Valley, along with two large waterfalls. Autumn is a great time to visit, to see the Aspen and Oak colors against the stands of Pine trees. Wolf Creek ski area is also on the west side, near South Fork. Happy travels in the future. I think you guys would enjoy wherever you go. Thank you for sharing your lovely photos and account of your trip.

  25. Happy Anniversary and what a lovely way to enjoy it! My husband and I celebrated our 30th this year in Greece and Venice and that was amazing. The art and architecture from sculpture in stone to delicate fine glass and contemporary paintings in local galleries were memorable. Whistler/Blackcomb close to Vancouver where we live is a gem of the Canadian west coast if you like Mountains. The relately new Audien Art Museum in Whistler Village has an interesting collection of works for a small privately owned gallery and Chateau Whistler and Four Seasons Hotels have fine art on display that rotate as well as some permanent pieces (ie by Gordon Smith). Wherever you travel you are likely to find inspiring art from that area.
    May your travels onward continue to wonderful!

  26. Your trip sounds wonderful and will definitely consider it as we are heading to South America in the fall. But for your next trip VIENNA. We are here now and spend a few months here every year. It is the best city in the world and that is not just my opinion but has been voted such as a place to live and a tourist destination 7 years in a row. You don’t need to learn German but a few words now and then are appreciated. Gruss Got when you enter a store or restaurant and Auf Wiedersehen when you leave for instance. I am continuing to learn local customs although we have been coming here for 20 years. Best museums nicest people best concerts. It is the city of music but also all kinds of art is practiced and thrives here. The people take their art very seriously here. Such a joy. It is truly the best city in the world. If you want to be FB friends let me know (carolyn carradine) as I do a running narrative about our time in Vienna when we are here and my page is only open to “friends”. Prague and Budapest are easy day trips (by train). Another very art related place is Pietrasanta Italy, I spent a month there learning to carve marble. The month of August it turns into a city of galleries, a big destination for sophisticated Italians. But Vienna is definitely a place you must visit. The museums are the best in the world.

  27. Visit Australia’s Arnhemland’s aboriginal art communities to see extraordinary art and history of the descendants of earth’s ildest continuing culture. Yes, “it’s a longway to go”. I’ve heard this so often ehen I’ve visited the USA. My response is that “it’s the same distance from here to there”. You wont ever regret this experience and the time you took to get it.

  28. Another outstanding destination. The villages and tribes of the Omo Valley, Ethiopia. The people are the art. An extraordinary privilege that so few people get to experience.

  29. Hi Jason,
    Travel to Nice, in the South of France. Apart from the bustling city life, you can take frequent buses to St Paul de Vence (really arty), Antibes, Beaulieu, and Monaco. Well worth a visit, you can do loads in one week.

  30. Prague, Czech Republic is a great place to visit. A walk across the Charles Bridge in Prague is such a unique and memorable experience. Rome is the city I’ve visited the most number of times. Going there never gets old. Just thinking of Italy makes my mouth water. What great food and what great art and history!

  31. Happy Anniversary. I would recommend you visiting Euskadi and the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. Euskadi is also an area with great food and natural beauty. I could send you a brochure if you were interested.

  32. My sister, an artist, lived in SMA for 13 years up to her recent death, and I visited several times (and think I’ve had the same driver). It is/has been home to many well-known artists (e.g., Leigh Hyams). It sounds as if you missed Berlin Bar, a bar/restaurant frequented by the expat residents with a large gallery space where invited artists show. Next time! I personally love huge but highly navigable cities like Paris, Rome, and NYC (I adore Mexico City but it is a bit tougher to get around). For smaller areas, I like Lucca, Perugia, and Bologna in Italy; Puebla and Queretaro in Mexico; Nerja and Seville in Spain (not a big fan of Barcelona), with a trip to the Alhambra (Grenada) a must; Victoria, BC and Toronto; Grasse/St Paul de Vence in Provence. I recommend renting a car in Italy, France, or Spain so you can tour the many wonderful towns and countryside around those mentioned. Happy Trails!

  33. Saudações!!!! Happy 20th you two!! I would suggest Praha (Prague) in the Czech Republic. I was there in 2006 and fell in love with it and its artists. I was amazed you speak Português and wonder if you would tell us how come. I was born and raised in Brazil, so speak the Brazilian version of it. Portugal too would be wonderful with their tiles and hand embroidered rugs, especially in Arraiolos (which is the name of the basic stitch). Abraços para os dois.

  34. As an artist and resident of San Miguel de Allende, I wish I had known you were coming. I am an exhibiting artist and I currently am joining Galleria San Francisco in its Fabrica Aurora location as well as its Jardin principale location in front of the Parrocchia. I have lived here for only five short months but San Miguel already feels like home for all of the reasons you stated in your blog. I’m happy you got the chance to experience the magic of San Miguel.

  35. Love your articles. This was especially good I live in a very arty area in the middle of Ontario Canada.It has an Art College . Many of the instructors and students have stayed in this part of Mexico so it is well known here. Thank You Keep up the good work.

  36. Thank you for sharing your beautiful experience! Twenty years is something to celebrate and I hope you two have many more!
    I was privileged to visit Jocotepec, Jalisco, Mexico and other villages on the coast of lake Chapala with surrounding mountains a few years back. I would recommend it. I took a shuttle to a bus from the airport in Guadalajara. The bus ride was awesome! All were friendly… making frequent stops… with vendors entering the front and exiting the back….& as we left the city winding mountain roads with beautiful scenery and stops along mountain villages dropping and boarding interesting people all the way , until I was dropped off on the side of the road myself. There was lots of great food and interesting scenes.. art that was usually bright and festive and much folk art…
    Another destination that was a favorite was Myanmar. The architecture was very interesting and the people were so friendly. I was only in Yangon, but, Mandalay comes highly recommended.

  37. I know you said you are not beach people but the panhandle of Florida has some of the most beautiful, soft, white as sugar, sand beaches. There is a strip of highway approximately 25-30 miles long that boasts some of the best food in the area has an incredible art community, wide bike trails for family outings, jazz/music festival, art shows, hiking… The strip of highway is called 30A. This area all centers around a central town area called Seaside and there are small town areas close together all down this strip of highway. Some being Alys Beach, Rosemary Beach, Blue Mountain Beach, Watercolor, Grayton Beach… I could go on and on!! It is a fabulous family destination and there is a new international airport in Panama City, Florida approximately 20mins away depending on which small town area you pick. The beach is most crowded late May – early September. I hope you will come see our beaches with your family and would be happy to help you in any way with restaurant ideas …
    I truly enjoyed reading this piece and look forward to your next excursion! Happy Travels!

  38. Victoria, British Columbia, on Vancouver Island and, if more time and more adventurous, visit Ucluelet and Tofino on the west coast of the Island. (It’s a 45 minute drive between the two communities, sharing the fabulous Pacific Rim National Park between them. Make sure you have reservations, being small communities and extremely popular). Here are some relevant links:
    https://www.tourismvictoria.com/
    http://ucluelet.ca/
    https://tourismtofino.com/

  39. I have been to San Miguel. Once for 5 weeks thru a University Study Abroad program. I took two classes one in Bronze casting via the lost wax process and stone Lithography via the Instituto de Allende. It was an awesome trip with many side trip adventures. A few days before and after in Mexico City. I would not recommend doing Mexico City now though. Even years ago we were told to stay in large groups.
    Glad you enjoyed but can’t tell you about my special place in Tuscany because everyone will go and I like it just the way it is not very touristy and very reasonable.
    Happy Travels and good for you do not wait to travel as one never knows what the future hols for them.
    Sincerely, Virginia

  40. HappyAnniversary! I am off to visit the French Riviera in October on a walking holiday and will be checking out museums etc dedicated to Matisse, Chagall Picasso, Cocteau and more. Provence isa a wonderful area of France with so much variety. — and being mentioned more than once by others- come to British Columbia. Vancouver and Victoria are great but also the Gulf islands where I live which are full of artists. Canada has a lot to offer – tourism and art that Americans don’t know about, so do come and explore!

  41. I went to art school (briefly) in San Miguel de Allende 45 years ago. I was just 17 but used to traveling and very adventurous. I landed in Mexico City and took a “bus”, along with chickens and goats and very friendly people, on a wild all day ride to San Miguel where I managed to meet up with a friend also attending the art school. Pretty amazing as this was well before cell phones and we had made no definite plans. But the town was much smaller then. We found a furnished apartment in a house just a block or two from the square and proceeded to have a memorable time. I have never been back but after reading about your trip I’m feeling the pull.

  42. Hi Jason,

    Thank you for taking so many pictures and I’m glad you and Carrie had a great celebration in what looks like a dream destination. I didn’t know the weather there is so perfect for most months so now I’m more intrigued than ever.

  43. Happy 20th anniversary to you and Carrie! It sounds like you had an amazing trip. I know many people who go to San Miguel de Allende regularly and I’ve only heard good things about it.

    My personal favourite place is France, particularly Paris and/or Provence, but the whole country is beautiful.

  44. OH THANKS for the memories…. I lived in San Miguel for over a year and one half. Talking about the church in the the cent of town…. and the market that come into the center ever Saturday then. Most of the time it was cool enough for one of the hand knitted coats that the natives use to make. Hand spun wool from the sheep in the area …. Segway. Penny Forrest..I was there when I was in my early 20’s and had more fun that should be allowed. .. I think we may have be in class together. I went to the art institute too. I lived in the Hotel that was run by Jasue and his family. It was up on the south hill and to get there we had to walk out of the harden up to the main road and over the little bridge to the Hotel. the Hot water went off at 9:00 so you best get your bath early or by 9…. Just to many memories…. there was a bar/restaurant on the harden called no less…La Coucroca (the roach)… there was also one that was underground on the other side of the harden… up by the church. One thing that you may have missed or may not be there any more… you can in by Leon. and that road runs into the town just north of San Miguel there are or were HOT SPRINGS…. you could go there and soak away any soreness you may have gotten from all the walking… most definitely ware COMFORTABLE WALKING SHOES… we only had tennis shoes back then but you could buy LEATHER sandals in the market that had TIRE soles … the locals would take old tires and cut them up and trim them into the sole of the saddle. NEVER WARE OUT… The Church use to ring the bells at the hour or call to worship which came regularly. Every one went…. and every one dropped a peso in the plate… more if you had not spent it all the previous night in the bars or in the markets. When I was there you could barter.. if you did not have any pesos and saw something you liked… you could ask if they saw any thing of yours they like in exchange… One last commit…. the reason no one drove back then was that the locals step on the roads because the sun would heat them up and they would stay warm for a long time. NO ONE DROVE the roads at night…Day time was ok as long as you passed the wagons and horses and live stock slowly.. I drove back and for for about 3 more years and LOVED EVERY MOMENT. I would fill up my car, three some times four more people and drive down for a long weekend…Thursday until Tuesday evening. I say evening as we would leave San Miguel about 10 AM and be at the boarder in time to cross into El Passo or to other boarders towns… Lived in Phoenix in Winter with the other Snow Birds and Texas to make a living…. Thanks for the memories. Have not been there in a long time but as I read your reporting loved the memories. Rambling .

  45. So many choices, so little time! Internationally: Portugal, Ireland, Iceland, and Bilbao, Spain. For the USA: Asheville, North Carolina (very artsy with beautiful mountains, 5 hours from Atlanta) and Bar Harbor, Maine. Thanks for sharing your experiences of San Miguel, and for all your advice over the years Jason!

  46. Arles – standing in the exact spot where van Gogh painted The Cafe Terrace on the Place du Forum – a dream for a committed Van Gogh admirer/painter like me, and Montepellier in France. Barcelona, Spain – Gaudi WOW!, how did one man create so many masterpieces? London …ahhh afternoon tea, Florence – David we admired him for two and half hours until closing when we got a shot with him and no one else in it, Amsterdam – more Van Gogh, Anne Frank and endless streams of bikes …everywhere! Rome an absolute must, so much to see and do, two of my favorites – Trevi Fountain and the restaurant, Alfredo alla Scrofa, that created the recipe for Fettucini Alfredo. Paris – Eiffle Towel – enough said …well Moulin Rouge is pretty cool too! Last, but not least – Manhattan, touristy …but worth it! Thanks for the tour of San Miguel (loved your room), definitely on my list to do 🙂 Happy Anniversary Carrie and Jason!

  47. Enjoyed reading about your travels and congratulations for your anniversary and a well deserved getaway. Several years ago we drove through Croatia and Slovenia, while it was still called “Yugoslavia.” It was one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. A year later was the war that broke it up. Have never returned but I am sure the natural beauty is still there. I am curious as to how and why you are fluent in Portuguese (?) very cool!

  48. If you like animals, try Tanzania and Kenya. By far our favorite trip. An out of time experience. tent camping on the Mara plains is incredible.

    Another great place is Viet Nam — especially Hanoi. The contemporary art there is amazing.

  49. Also… In Mexico, we loved Patzquaro in Morelia. Great food and wonderful crafts in the many villages around the lake. Few tourists. You can fly into Morelia and drive to Patzquaro. We have a friend who runs a B & B so they picked us up. I would recommend that.

  50. Bali is gorgeous. Ubud in particular as it has many artists and galleries. The country is beautiful, the people are so friendly and the food is wonderful. I’ve been a number of times and always enjoy the trip. You just have to be willing to spend a full day on an airplane to get there….that’s the only downside.

  51. Congratulations on your anniversary!

    Our family always takes in art and we love nature walks. There are fantastic places we have visited around the globe, but two that stand out for both nature and art are Salzburg Austria and Melbourne Australia.

    English served us well enough in Salzburg, which we traveled there via Munich, Germany. If you travel to Melbourne (where we lived for almost two years), I recommend seeing the museums, Botanical Gardens, taking a train to the Dandenong Ranges, riding Puffing Billy (a steam locomotive in the countryside), travel to the coast, and especially going to the Healesville Wildlife Sanctuary. You might want to rent a car for day trips, but there are likely guided tours to specific locations.

  52. I wish I had known that you guys were visiting, as I live in San Miguel, and have done for almost 14 years. I got my Masters in Fine Art at Instituto Allende, and actually have some sculptures in a gallery in La Fabrica Aurora. I would have loved to show you some of my favorite places around town. I’m glad you enjoyed your trip, and I hope you make it back to San Miguel as it really is an amazing place, and there is so much more to see and do here.

  53. The Pacific Northwest is beautiful! I lived there for two years. There a lodge on Mt Ranier and a walking path that goes part of the way up the mountain. The views are stunning and in August there are beautiful wildflowers everywhere. In May or June there may still be snow on the path. Don’t look down too much. This Louisiana girl got a bad sunburn from the sun reflecting off of the snow. Pike’s Market in Seattle is an interesting mixture of flower market, fish market, and an array of different shops. Victoria Canada is a ferry boat ride from Washington and has a beautiful garden with gorgeous flowers. Mt St Helens has very interesting history and beautiful scenery. Portland Oregon is a beautiful city with restaurants on the river. And while I am not a beach person either, their coast is beautiful with huge rocks jutting out of the water(much of the time too cold for swimming but great for walking and flying kites)

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