Nestled north of Mexico City in Mexico‘s central highlands, the colonial-era city of San Miguel de Allende delights travelers with its thriving festival scene and baroque Spanish architecture. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this gem in Mexico’s central highlands beat out world-class destinations and earned the coveted “Best City in the World” designation by Travel + Leisure in 2017. Perhaps most importantly, it’s a family-friendly town with locals and expats always ready to lend a hand. Say “holá” as you explore the cobblestone streets, and you’ll receive a warm smile in return.
Although San Miguel de Allende is quickly becoming a must-see for tourists, it takes a little sleuthing to find the best spots for kids to make the most of this Mexican adventure. Here are our tips for the top things to do.
Tourists and residents alike gather in El Jardin, the main square. Pedestrians are free to wander, go window shopping or pay a visit to Parroquia de San Miguel Arcangel whose magnificent bells go off throughout the day. Children race through the square and gather in the gazebo to dance with their local peers. Small toys, ice creams and treats abound in the square and festivals set up shop in the surrounding areas.
San Miguel de Allende is also known for its late-night festivities, when the square ignites with live music and fun. Even very young children stay out late in Mexico, so no one will bat an eye if you have your own child in tow.
Kids adore La Esquina Mexican Toy Museum, where Angélica Tijerina shows off her expansive toy collection. Angélica began collecting playthings as a young child and has amassed more 1,000 unique folk toys that delight visitors and give them insights into Mexican children’s playtime favorites. Three floors of colorful toys wind guests through a taste of Mexico’s history before emptying onto a rooftop with remarkable views.
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Except for a handful of accommodations in the city, swimming pools aren’t the norm in San Miguel de Allende However, for a few dollars, most of the area’s pools offer daily and monthly passes for tourists who want to come and spend the day.
To really embrace Mexico’s unique landscape and rich resources, hop in a taxi and head to nearby La Gruta Spa. Spend a few hours soaking in the temperate, warm and hot baths, designed more like swimming pools situated in a lush landscape than raw hot springs. When the kids get restless, make a trip out to nearby Parque Acuático Xote, which welcomes families to spend the day on water slides and pools in a tranquil setting.
There is one public playground in San Miguel de Allende, Parque Juarez. With swings, slides and plenty of places to climb, it’s a must for kids to blow off steam before exploring the rest of the park, which resembles a small botanical garden with winding paths. Treats, toys and snacks are readily available (gumballs cost as little as five pesos). You might even catch a local school’s band practice in the late afternoon hours.
San Miguel de Allende beckons tourists to walk through its cobblestone streets and explore its churches, gardens and rolling hills. After you’ve had your fill of Parque Juarez, head to the nearby Charco del Ingenio on the outskirts of town. This lovely botanical garden and nature preserve boasts a biodiversified canyon with native plants and animals, some of which are rare and endangered. There’s also a children’s garden and unique paths for strolling, jogging and hiking.
The Biblioteca de San Miguel de Allende combines an outdoor courtyard, cafe, library, presentation room, concert hall and even a little movie theater. Families will find books in both Spanish and English, and films are often shown in English or with subtitles. Even if you’re not in the mood to read, the Biblioteca is a great way to refresh with a cold drink and enjoy some quiet time outside of your hotel room.
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