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It’s Always Spring in San Miguel de Allende

Kathryn Romeyn - January 01, 2016

Kathryn Romeyn is a freelance travel, beauty and wellness writer with an extreme case of wanderlust. An Atlanta native, she calls Los Angeles home when she’s not working on her laptop at a cafe or beach somewhere around the world. On her travels Kathryn seeks out pizza, eclectic jewelry and decor, and 3-4 foot waves for surfing. Her recent trips include Peru and Colombia, Lebanon, several destinations in Mexico, Australia and Indonesia. On her wish list: Sri Lanka, Cuba and Morocco.

There’s nothing like a long weekend in Mexico to thaw you out in the dead of winter. But we don’t mean beaches. The almost 500-year-old mountain town of San Miguel de Allende is a UNESCO World Heritage site with culture and sun to spare.

At an altitude of 6,000 feet, it exists in a state of perpetual spring (though the jacaranda only blooms in March).

Being outside is pleasant year-round, especially when ensconced in a hot-air balloon basket for a scenic ride over the colonial town's charming architecture and cathedrals. The richly painted Santuario de Atotonilco (also a World Heritage site) is a must-see by foot—it invites comparisons to the Sistine Chapel.

In San Miguel, culture is around every cobblestoned corner, like the former cloister that’s now Centro Cultural Ignacio Ramírez “El Nigromante,” a community center and gallery with rotating shows and a significant permanent collection of allegorical murals. More aesthetic expression can be seen at Fábrica La Aurora Centro de Arte + Diseño, a repurposed textile factory that now houses artist studios—Thursdays are open-studio days—alongside enticing home goods and jewelry boutiques. Fashion-wise, the ultimate takeaway is a hand-crafted serape updated in contemporary fabrics and trims from Recreo San Miguel.

Regional designers and craftsmen are just a couple of the ways “local” is emphasized. Most restaurants source produce and proteins from nearby farms. De Temporada takes it a step further by actually being on a farm, where sophisticated dishes are served in a charming, casual setting.

San Miguel locals and expats flock to La Sirena Gorda (translation: The Fat Mermaid) for authentic Mexican seafood dishes in the oldest cantina around. Meanwhile, Moxi Restaurant is the poster child for Latin haute cuisine. Superstar chef Enrique Olvera (of famed Mexico City restaurant Pujol and NYC’s Cosme) turns traditional dishes on their heads, like using a fish of the day for the classic pork dish al pastor, along with pineapple puree and serrano chiles. It’s San Miguel in a nutshell: the perfect fusion of new and old.