The City of Artists
Ever dreamed of taking an early retirement, moving to Mexico and reinventing yourself as an artist? Tap into this tequila-infused fantasy with a trip to San Miguel de Allende…even if it’s just for a long weekend. Sixty different nationalities live in this Guanajuato mountain town, and their various cultures infuse the food, design and daily life with an artistic flair unlike anywhere else.
Where to Stay
Think outside the box hotels
Casa de Sierra Nevada
Run like a top-notch hotel with a full staff, fabulous restaurant and spa, Casa de Sierra Nevada is actually comprised of six colonial houses dotting a charming neighborhood. The 37 rooms and suites are all unique and decorated to perfection with art and antiques. Tap into Mexican culture with a class at its Sazon cooking school or try a Temazcal volcanic spa treatment, a cleansing ritual dating back to pre-Hispanic times.
What to Pack
Dangly gems that swing with each step will give you that Frida Kahlo vibe (without the eyebrows). Swap out your studs and make this your jewelry staple.
Essential for sun coverage and blending in with the creatives is a hat with attitude. Opt for this classic chapeau, woven from straw and accented with a ribbon.
Where to Eat
Mexican cuisine at its finest
Pass through the grand stone archway of this 18th-century home turned inn and you’ll think you’ve entered another time and place. Try the namesake cactus fruit dishes like Xoconostle guacamole and sopes (thicker, open-faced tacos), then ignite the belly with a tequila-braised pork loin.
Hotel Matilda snagged rock-star chef Enrique Olvera (the talent behind New York City’s Cosme and Pujol) for its Mexican-fusion eatery. With food and decor this sophisticated, now’s the time to spring for the six-dish tasting menu.
Schooled in the Michelin-star restaurants of Europe, Chef Malloff lets loose with this funky café-meets-art gallery. He’s created arguably the best breakfast spot in town, serving croque madame with pulled pork and Juevos, not to mention chocolate cappuccino brulee. (That counts as a breakfast food, right?)
What to Do
Get inspired and scratch that creative itch
House & Garden Tour
When artsy types get their hands on a historic home, you know it’s going to be gorgeous inside. Join this Sunday morning stroll through a selection of San Miguel’s colonial mansions and artist lofts; proceeds benefit the public library’s educational programs. (Did we mention Antonio Banderas and Johnny Depp have homes here?)
Cristi Fer Art Class
Take a “One Painting in One Day” workshop for adults (good for even those of us who never got past finger painting). Tuesday is abstract art day and on Thursdays on an on old street in San Miguel will be your muse.
La Aurora Cultural Arts and Design Center
A former textile factory in operation for 90 years has become the city’s premier art venue. Dozens of modern galleries, antique shops, design boutiques and cafes bring life to a vintage industrial space. Don’t miss the brilliant artist Fernando Diaz’s gallery, built around the original machinery, and visit any open studios to watch the artists at work.
What to Skip
Don’t just stick around the Plaza Principal
The main plaza, aka El Jardin, and its surrounding streets are uniformly perfect thanks to UNESCO’s strict preservation rules. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore the wilder edge of old town. Explore Colonia Guadalupe, the only neighborhood in SMA allowed to mark up the walls with (very impressive) street art and mural projects.