1. History and Mystery
2. The Three Great Gringo Schools of Language and Art and their buildings.
Housed in glorious Colonial mansions, Bellas Artes and the Instituto Allende offer classes in arts and crafts as well as Spanish language. In a smaller centuries-old house in the center of town, the Academia Hispano Americano offers the course for studying intensive Spanish, and you can pick up along the way Mexican history, literature, information on the Mexican Mind, and Modern Indigenous Indian Groups, as well as cooking and writing—and all in Spanish and accessible even to beginners.
3. Elegant Hideaways
Villa Riviera Hotel and Restaurant is tucked right into the center of town, with the famous parish church, La Parroquia just next door, yet offers an oasis of peace and tranquillity as well as a small heated swimming pool and a delightful restaurant. La Puerticita Hotel is up the hill in Atascadero, but provides hotel transportation to town. Casa Liza Bed & Breakfast is the ultimate luxury pied de terre near the Parque Juarez, and will be forever famous for being the home base for Antonio Banderas during a movie shoot.
4. La Biblioteca Publica is the center of expatriate life in San Miguel.
Here you can practice your Spanish while helping Spanish speakers practice English, catch an English language or subtitled flick in the Teatro Santa Ana, have a bite to eat or a margarita in the lovely café, and take the popular weekly House and Garden Tour.
5. Festivals and Fiestas
The churches and church festivals--especially Semana Santa in spring, El Dia de los Locos in June, The Day of the Dead in November, Las Posadas at Christmas. And the civic fiestas, especially in September, with La Pamplonada (running of the bulls), Independence Day, San Miguel Day. The whole month is one party after another.
6. El Jardin
Known as the zocalo or plaza in other Mexican towns, here it is simply the Garden, which is not only the geographical center but the heart of San Miguel life. Not too big to be unknowable, if you sit here long enough, legend has it, that you will see every one you ever knew.
San Miguel de Allende is in the heart of the Colonial Highlands, and just a car or bus ride away from other fascinating towns, full of culture and history. Easy day trips to Guanajuato, Dolores Hildago, Queretero, Minerales de Pozos, Atononilco, and surrounding haciendas and thermal spas.
8. Fabulous bars and restaurants
The new Catrin’s, La Nirvana, El Companario, La Capilla, the legendary dive, La Cucaracha, and the best kept musical secret in town, El Caporal.
9. Great Shopping!
Diva Boutique, a tiny store in an ancient courtyard with the owners unique and lovely clothing designs, made on the premises, and tasteful and elegant jewelry by several well-known designers, all handpicked.
Casa Maxwell, another beautiful mansion in the center of town, has rooms and rooms of designer furniture and accessories, perfect for browsing and buying. El Mercado is open every day, and it’s where the locals buy their foodstuffs. After pigging out on the displays of exotic fruits and vegetables and flowers and strange cactus, nuts, and seeds, walk next door to the Artesanias and meet the artists themselves (often indigenous peoples, such as the Huicholes, and buy handmade souvenirs for everyone back home. The Tuesday Market (El Tianguis) is only once a week, but what a day it is! Sellers come from all over Mexico to hawk their wares here at the edge of town, and you can find everything from used Donna Karan to rusty tools. Come early and bring small bills and a couple of shopping bags.
10. The Annual Chamber Music Festival in July/August brings internationally renowed performers such as the Tokyo String Quartet, the Ying Quartet, and others to provide two weeks of outstanding nightly concerts in the Teatro Angela Peralta, master classes, and student workshops.