We have been having such a great time this past month experiencing all the things to do in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico! Since arriving late last month, we’ve been trying to tour San Miguel de Allende as much as we can as a family.
We’re currently renting out an Airbnb near the central part of town. The location is so convenient, as we can walk to the market, the main town square, and many of the city’s sights. Our days as a worldschooling family usually involve a couple of hours of schooling in the morning, and then an excursion out into the city. It has been fun getting into a routine here in this part of Mexico, and getting a feel for what it’s like to live here.
This post was updated on May 18, 2020.
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What to know about San Miguel de Allende
San Miguel de Allende is a city in central Mexico, about a four hour bus ride from Mexico City. It’s set at a higher elevation than some other parts of Mexico, so the climate can get pretty cool in the winter time. The city has almost 60,000 people, and a large percentage of that are expats and foreigners.
In 2008, the city was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Ten years later, in 2018, it was named the world’s best city for the second year in a row by Travel and Leisure. Tourism is so popular in San Miguel de Allende, it accounts for more than a third of the city’s economy!
While tourism and foreign residents do make a big impact locally, the city does hold on to a very rich culture. The city’s Day of the Dead celebrations last for several days, and the streets of the town center, as well as the cemeteries, are filled with people honoring their past loved ones. We were lucky to be able to experience this wonderful cultural event!
Twelve things to do in San Miguel de Allende with your kids
We’ve had a lot of fun exploring San Miguel de Allende during our time here. Since we’re worldschooling too, there are a lot of educational activities we’ve been able to do as well! We like using Moon’s San Miguel de Allende: with Guanajuato and Queretaro travel guide to give us ideas for things to do in the city.
For families visiting this city, there are so many things to do in San Miguel de Allende. It’s easy to tour this Spanish colonial city on your own, and experience some of the fun things the city has to offer. If you’re planning a visit to this unique city, here are my suggestions for places to visit and things to do.
Take a stroll through Jardin Allende
The central part of the city is called the Jardin Allende. This town square is located next to the main Catholic church, the Parroquia de San Miguel Arcangel.
Free and open to the public all day, every day, the Jardin is a fun place to spend an afternoon. Restaurants and stores line the circumference of the square, while snack and ice cream vendors occupy spaces within the square. On most evenings, you can find mariachi bands playing at the Jardin.
Check out things to do in San Miguel de Allende at the Artisan Market
The Artisan Market, known as the Mercado de Artesanias in Spanish, is a great place to visit and buy locally made souvenirs. We loved seeing all the crafts, pottery, metalwork, and textiles that are made by local artisans.
Adjacent to the Mercado de Artesanias is the Mercado Ignacio Ramirez, where you can find local flowers, produce, meat, and clothing. During one of our worldschooling days, the kids and I visited the market and pointed out to each other some of the local vegetables we saw, including cactus, chayote, and cilantro.
Both markets are located just north of the main central area of town. It’s open every day of the week, from 8am to 8pm. On Sundays, the market closes early, around 6pm.
See toys from the past at the Toy Museum
When we were looking for things to do in San Miguel de Allende, I was so excited to find out that they have a toy museum. The Museo La Esquina, located on the corner of Nunez and San Francisco, houses an enormous collection of Mexican toys.
During our visit there, we saw toys made from wood, made from plant fiber, and made from cloth. There were wind up toys, puzzles, dolls, kitchen toys, cars, and puppets. There was pretty much every type of toy you can imagine, and all of them were handcrafted in Mexico. The only downside was they were all enclosed behind glass cases. So while the kids and I enjoyed looking at the toys, it was not much of an interactive museum. Keep this in mind if you’re planning on visiting Museo La Esquina with young kids.
Museo La Esquina is open from 10am to 5pm from Tuesdays to Saturdays, and from 11am to 4pm on Sundays. It is closed on Sundays. Entrance to the museum is 50 pesos for adults, and 35 for kids.
Check out the things to do in San Miguel de Allende for locals at Parque Juarez
One way we like to blow off steam while we’re traveling is to hit up a public park. In San Miguel de Allende, the only public park with a playground is Parque Benito Juarez. Located south of the main central area of the city, Parque Benito Juarez is a beautifully landscaped park, with a children’s playground and an area for playing basketball.
On some evenings, you can find music playing at the park’s gazebo. And on weekends, there is a small market along the main pathway. The park is open every day, and is free to use.
Visit Centro Cultural for artistic things to do in San Miguel de Allende
My kids are not always big fine art fans, but as they’ve gotten older, I’ve been trying to expose them to more fine art. One place to see fine art for free in the city is at the Centro Cultural Ignacio Ramirez El Nigromante.
The Spanish style building is a former convent, that has since been converted to a cultural center. The central courtyard has chairs and trees, so families are free to take a break in the shade while they enjoy the relaxing sounds of the fountain. Around the main floor is a cafe, as well as rooms with art work that you can view for free. Classes and workshops are also available at Centro Cultural El Nigromante.
The Centro Cultural Ignacio Ramirez El Nigromante is open Mondays through Saturdays from 10am to 6pm, and Sundays from 11am to 2pm. Admission into the center is free.
Take a trolley tour to learn about the city’s history
One fun way to tour San Miguel de Allende is to take a trolley tour. You can pick up one of the trolleys in front of San Francisco Church, between Mesones and San Francisco Streets. The trolley takes you around the city’s Centro area. You’ll be able to see some of the popular sights, and learn a bit of history about the city.
Trolley tours cost 65 pesos for adults, and 45 pesos for kids under 8. The tours are in Spanish, but you can catch English language tours at special times of the week. Check first with the trolley company.
Spend an afternoon at the public library
Since we’re a worldschooling family, we obviously had to visit the public library! The Biblioteca Publica de San Miguel de Allende has a large selection of English language books, both for adults and kids. It was created by a Canadian, though it serves the general population of the city. If you’re planning to stay in this part of Mexico for awhile, the library is a great way to have access to books.
Visitors can get a temporary membership to the library for a deposit of 100 pesos and two photocopies of your passport or driver’s license. A Bronze membership costs 170 pesos, and allows you to check out 4 books. Silver membership costs 270 pesos and allows you to check out 8 books. A Gold membership costs 550 pesos and allows you to check out 6 books and also gives you a ticket to a house and garden tour. The check out period for books is 15 days.
Hang out with other digital nomad families at Geek and Coffee
One of the things to do in San Miguel de Allende that we enjoyed was getting together with other traveling families. Since there’s only public park in the city, we had to find other places that allowed for kids to play. Fortunately, many of the restaurants and cafes in the city have kids play areas.
One of our favorite cafes for meetups and playdates is Geek and Coffee. The cafe is located in the northern part of town, on the other side of Arroyo de las Cachinces in a shopping complex adjacent to Calz de la Aurora. They have good selection of drinks, food, and deserts. However, our favorite part is the outdoor play area where the kids can run around and play.
Enjoy some active things to do in San Miguel de Allende at Smart Trampoline
It’s not always sunny here in Mexico! From time to time, we get hit with bouts of rain and cold. For things to do in San Miguel de Allende on a cold and rainy day, Smart Trampoline is where it’s at! Smart Trampoline is a trampoline park located at the Plaza La Luciernaga shopping mall. It’s not very big, but it does have trampolines, foam pits, rings and bars for you to tap into your inner ninja warrior!
Smart Trampoline is open from 11am to 9pm every day. An hour session costs 140 pesos, while a two hour session costs 160 pesos. Special socks cost 35 pesos. While the price tag to Smart Trampoline is not cheap, especially when considering the cost of other things in Mexico, it is a fun place to spend an afternoon.
Watch a cheap movie at the Cinemex
One of the things to do in San Miguel de Allende that is cheap is a visit to the movie theater! The city’s main movie theater, Cinemex, is also located at Plaza La Luciernaga. Most of the movies are in Spanish, but there are a few showings of movies in English. I actually enjoy going to movie theaters when I travel. It makes me feel like I’m living somewhere instead of just visiting.
Movie tickets cost 30-60 pesos per person. You can also get popcorn, soda, and other snacks. We watched Fantastic Beasts 2: The Crimes of Grindewald in English, for a fraction of the cost of what we would have paid in the United States!
Enjoy nature at the Botanical Garden
You can’t experience this city without a visit to the botanical garden! El Charco del Ingenio, located in the northeastern part of town, is a relaxing retreat from the busy city. It houses native plants such as various types of cactus, agave, and local trees and shrubs.
There is also a conservatory and children’s garden with a slide. A walk around the botanical garden will take you along the reservoir at Presa Las Colonias. You can walk along the dam and explore some of the rocks. Just be careful not to fall in the water!
Tickets to El Charco del Ingenio costs 50 pesos for adults. Kids are free. The garden is open every day from 9am to 5pm.
Get rowdy at a Lucha Libre match
One of our favorite things to do in Mexico was to check out a Lucha Libre match. Lucha Libre is Mexican style pro-wrestling. The wrestlers are known for wearing masks, which hide their true identity.
Like American pro-wrestling, the matches are full of theatrics and acrobatics. Wrestlers jump across the ring, and sometimes out into the audience. They throw each other in the air and onto the ground, and pretend to slam each other down. The crowd gets really into the spectacle, and even for foreigners like us, we enjoyed the entertainment.
Lucha Libre matches are located at Salon Los Pinos, near the mall. The matches start at 7pm, and generally last for a few hours. Tickets to a Lucha Libre match cost 100 pesos for all ages.
Ready to explore things to do in San Miguel de Allende on your own?
We had so much fun exploring all the things to do in San Miguel de Allende. In a few days, we’ll be heading off to the next destination. While we’re sad to be leaving, we are excited to see what the rest of Mexico has to offer.
San Miguel de Allende is a great introductory place to get to know Mexican culture. While many of the places cater to foreigners, there are still several places that are popular among the locals. What we loved best about this city was how easy it was to get around, and how many family friendly activities in San Miguel de Allende there were to do.
If you’re planning to visit this city with kids, consider doing some exploring of your own. You’ll be surprised at what you might find.
Have you visited San Miguel de Allende? Share your favorite things to do in San Miguel de Allende in the comments!
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