San Miguel, Mexico has been on my list of places to visit for years. It’s reputation had preceded it – the shopping and art scene was supposed to be second to none. While we love traveling as a family, I had sort of put it on a pedestal, wanting to wait for that elusive opportunity to visit without our kids. I envisioned architectural tours, tequila tasting and gallery perusing. You know, the sort of activities kids under the age of 10 aren’t really stoked about.
So when my husband mentioned we needed to go visit some tile factories in the San Miguel area and wanted to take our kids, I was not super keen on the idea. In case you’re new here, we own a tile business called Riad Tile, importing handmade materials from various corners of the world. I knew we needed to make this trip before school started, even if it meant it looked a bit different than what I had anticipated.
So off we went, three kids in tow. We flew into a small airport in Queretaro which is about an an hour from San Miguel. Queretaro is a BREEZE to fly into, especially with kids. It’s not busy in the slightest and the kids loved walking right off the plane onto the tarmac into the terminal. Kale had connected with a group of Americans living in San Miguel on Facebook (connecting with ex-pats on social media is a critical travel tip, FYI!) who put us in touch with a local driver. He was so helpful the entire weekend – taking us to the factories we needed to visit and picking us up when the kids got tired of walking.
If it was just the two of us, I would have probably opted for a luxe hotel in the middle of the city. However, AirBNB has always been good to us and this time was no different. Kale found a terrific rental across the street from a park where the kids could play. While it didn’t have a backyard since we were in the city, it had a lot of places for our three children to play. Not to mention, a fun room with a loft that was perfect for them to sleep in for the weekend.
San Miguel was the first Spanish settlement in Guanajuato, formed in 1542. Needless to say, it certainly has that historical city charm, complete with lots of narrow, cobblestone streets. Our kids are 7, 5 and 4 and while we told them we’d be walking a lot, we weren’t really sure how they would do. After factory meetings, we would set out to check out the town. The AirBNB was about a 10 minute walk from the town center. To our surprise, they were all about the city exploring. We’d walk until someone needed a break or a snack, and then take an intermission in the park to swing with other local kiddos. There is so much to entertain them in San Miguel. I love watching their eyes get wide in the markets with all the food being prepared and local souvenirs being sold.
Our kids were little champs the entire time. However, I didn’t push my luck too much in galleries or boutiques. I’d sneak in solo and speed shop so as to not risk any casualties from curious hands. In addition to a traditional Mexican market with food vendors and locally crafted items, there were literally hundreds of boutiques. They’d have everything from art to fine jewelry to textiles, the list goes on. I didn’t get to dig in as much as I would have liked (I blame kids and tile), but I did find a few really nice places I’d recommend others check out.
Casa Michocana is a fine art gallery with loads of beautifully colored pottery pieces. It is expensive, but worth visiting.
Mixta jumped out at me during my research because it was touted as the Mexican Anthropologie. They weren’t wrong! It’s all local items ranging from beautiful printed dresses to exquisite candles to dainty jewelry. I was a fan!
Fabrica La Aurora is a must. It’s a collection of galleries with restaurants too! You could honestly spend all day here shopping. They had modern boutiques and shops with more salvaged items. So much art! Speaking of, I believe they even have art classes you could take here as well.
The first night, we stumbled upon a taco restaurant and we ended up loving it so much, we went back two more times. Don Taco is DELICIOUS. The kids devoured it, and mom and dad were thrilled with the cocktails. Come to find out, it’s actually mostly a vegetarian restaurant – but it’s so good, you don’t miss the meat. Promise. Embarrassingly enough, we didn’t even pick up on that until our second visit.
On our last night, we ate at Los Milagros Terraza which has amazing views of the city and a yummy aquachile. We also had drinks at the Rosewood San Miguel which also has a notable rooftop experience.
While I was definitely apprehensive about taking our kids, ultimately I am thankful for the experience they received going. I think it’s so good for them to see different cultures and know that Mexico is so much more than just a bunch of beach towns. They are seeing real culture, trying new foods and playing with kids who speak a different language than their own. My hope is that as they get older, we can confidently venture beyond Mexico to show them more areas of the world.
I think San Miguel was a wonderful visit, and most places were super family friendly. Shout out to the shop owner who had lollipops on hand to keep my kids sitting while I looked around. Fortunately, our factory visits were also successful, so I know this won’t be our last time in San Miguel. For my San Miguel inspired packing list, see below.
SHOP THE LOOK