In recent years, San Miguel de Allende has transformed from a sleepy and slightly down-at-the-heels Colonial hill town without a traffic signal into a fiesta-crazy magnet for international gastronomes. This small town located about 150 miles north of Mexico City was named for both the monk who founded it, Juan de San Miguel, and General Ignacio Allende, a hero in Mexico’s War of Independence. Thanks in part to its colonial Spanish architecture, San Miguel is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a magnet for weekenders and expats. Visitors enjoy walking alongside the quaint cobblestone streets, browsing the shops for artisanal crafts, hot springs, horses, balloon rides, organic restaurants, and inventive chefs working in all types of cuisines.

When you visit San Miguel, you can and take part in any number of festivals that make this picturesque town a great year-round destination. You’ll find a city with a wild soundtrack, from dueling mariachis in the Jardín to the busker in front of the San Francisco Church playing “Smells Like Teen Spirit” on his violin, while a woodwind ensemble plays Mozart in the Angela Peralta Theater. Here you’ll find the best wines from Baja’s Valle de Guadalupe or the smallest batch of boutique mezcals from Oaxaca. There are croissants at Cumpanio identical to the lightest found in a Paris bakery, small batch Casa Dragones tequilas as smooth as the finest cognacs, and a farm-to-table movement that is among the best in Mexico. On the horizon is a concerted push to develop the local wine industry with new vineyards springing up throughout the surrounding countryside.

They don’t run the bulls anymore through the Jardín, but the landmark Parroquia Church has lost none of its iconic stature. The houses of the leaders of the 1810 Revolution and the silver barons now are museums, banks, or boutiques. You walk out your door and there’s a shop selling something you didn’t know you wanted.

Even though it continues to feel like a small town, recent investors from Monterrey and Mexico City have brought a new focus to the area along with the ambition to strive higher. Now San Miguel is a full-fledged resort, a place for weddings and family reunions, as popular with Mexicans as foreigners, and the mixing of various cultures is largely seamless. And there are still no traffic lights. VisitSanMiguel.com will help you get acquainted with this picturesque mountain town.

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