Where to Go, What to Do in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

Sunday, July 19, 2009

GETTING THERE: San Miguel de Allende does not have its own airport but is within easy driving distance of two regional airports. The new Queretaro International Airport, about 40 miles from San Miguel, offers service from all three Washington area airports. Continental, for one, offers connecting service via Houston, with fares from about $670 round trip for August departures. The second, less expensive option is Guanajuato International Airport, a 90-minute drive from San Miguel. Continental, American and Delta offer connecting flights starting at about $550 for August dates. Car rentals and ground transportation are available from both airports.

WHERE TO STAY: The city offers a huge selection of inns, hotels, luxurious suites and B&Bs. I visited nearly two dozen properties in various price ranges and didn't see any that were run-down or unpleasant. One of my favorites is Las Terrazas San Miguel (Santo Domingo 3, 707-534-1833, http://www.terrazassanmiguel.com; from $125 double a night), set within a walled compound that stretches up a hill in downtown San Miguel. The owners, an American couple, deliver gourmet breakfasts to the private apartments, which come with their own entrance and terrace. For old-world luxury, Casa Misha (Chiquitos 15, Centro, 212-372-0274, http://www.casamisha.com) is a refurbished mansion featuring grand common rooms, seven guest rooms, an apartment, gardens and rooftop terraces. Doubles from $250 a night.

WHERE TO EAT: Dining choices span the globe. Among the choices: Nirvana (Mesones 101) for Mexican-European fusion food, including watermelon gazpacho and tuna in soy vinaigrette, with entrees costing $10 to $18; Cha-Cha-Cha (28 de Abril Norte 37; $5.50-$8) for good Mexican, including chicken in a huazontle sauce; and Bella Italia (Hernandez Macias 59; $10-$25), with a daily risotto and spinach-filled ravioli. For fabulous desserts, stop by El Petit Four (Mesones 99-1); the assorted cookies, croissants and, of course, petit fours, cost 75 cents to $4. The pizza and Mexican dishes at Mama Mia (Umaran 8) are just okay, but it's a good place to catch salsa and Latin jazz.

FESTIVAL INFORMATION: The music festival runs Aug. 5 to 16. Individual tickets for professional performances range from $19 to $33. For a calendar and ticket reservations: 011-52-415-154-8722, http://www.festivalsanmiguel.com.

OTHER HIGHLIGHTS: Take Mexican cooking classes in a beautiful atmosphere at Sazon (Correo 22, 011-52-415-154-7671, http://www.sazon.com; about $44). Tour the city's architectural treasures with Leyendas y Mitos (011-52-442-212-4565, http://www.leyendasymitosdequeretaro.com; $11). When shopping for leather, jewelry, antiques and handicrafts, stop by La Buhardilla Arte y Antiguedades (Amazonas 422). Don't miss Aurora Factory (Calzada de la Aurora), a former mill that is now an arts center showcasing contemporary arts and crafts, antiques and furniture.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Tourism Office of San Miguel de Allende, http://www.turismosanmiguel.com.mx.

-- C.L.

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