This week’s dream
A family vacation in San Miguel de Allende
“San Miguel de Allende exists as its own singular slice of Mexican life,” said Nevin Martell in The Washington Post. Twice voted the best city in the world by Travel + Leisure readers, the colorful colonial town north of Mexico City occupies a different world than crowded Cancún, Cabo, and Tulum. My wife and our 6-year-old son were as delighted as I was by the easily navigable city’s delicious food, its vibrant markets, its picturesque architecture, and the splashes of vibrant color everywhere you look—in plants along the rooflines, ribbons tied to windows, and vendors selling a rainbow of chewing gum or balloons. One day, we climbed to a hilltop neighborhood east of the city’s UNESCO-listed center. From a terraced street called El Mirador, we looked back across a sea of clay-tile rooftops, church spires, and purple jacaranda trees in bloom.
San Miguel de Allende is rich in activities. The arts market, Mercado de Artesanias, “features almost every kind of handcrafted Mexican art imaginable,” including intricate Huichol beadwork and the hand-carved, brightly painted folk-art creatures known as alebrijes. My son enjoyed running around El Charco del Ingenio, a 170-acre botanical garden where we adults kept to a more leisurely gait, following the meandering pathways through its myriad cactus and succulent varieties. We escaped the heat in Museo La Esquina, a toy museum packed with more than 1,000 handmade playthings. And though we skipped the sunrise hot air balloon ride we heard about, we found the hot springs at La Gruta Spa bliss-inducing.
One day, we left our son with his grandmother and took a cooking class with chef Gabby Green. The Mexico City native took us to a market where we bought nopales (cactus pads), chicharrones (pork cracklings), and several types of chile peppers. Back in her kitchen, she taught us how to make half a dozen dishes, explaining techniques “while refilling any wine glasses she judged were too empty.” What better way to celebrate a successful family vacation than with a feast of our own making?
At Casa Maricela’s, a B&B (casamaricela-bnb.com), doubles start at $52.