Nestled in Central Mexico is a picturesque colonial-era city called San Miguel de Allende that is brimming with culture, art, music and delicious food. At first glance. it may not look the most family friendly but it is indeed an unexpected paradise for families, too! Read on for tips for planning a trip to San Miguel de Allende with kids.
1. Ditch the Car (and maybe even the stroller, too)
San Miguel is full of narrow, cobblestone streets and there is limited parking so try to avoid driving unless completely necessary. With taxis and ridesharing opportunities ample and cheap, you can get around town easily. If you have little ones and want car seats or more predictability, car service is also an affordable option. I highly recommend Zarco Premium Travel if you need any car service – Sergio and his team were professional and prompt with spotless, well-maintained vehicles.
If you stay in Zona Centro, it is very easy to walk to most things including restaurants, parks and museums. If you’re visiting San Miguel de Allende with kids, staying close to Centro will lend itself well to having easy access to everything you need. But, do be warned that there are many bars and restaurants sprinkled throughout this area and the music can often play to 11pm or midnight. If you have light sleepers, you may consider asking your hotel reception or AirBnB host about the noise levels. I am the lightest sleeper on the planet and, with a pair of ear plugs, I had no issues falling asleep.
With regards to strollers, they can be more of hindrance than a helper in San Miguel de Allende with kids. The sidewalks are very narrow (maybe two feet wide at best) plus the street itself is uneven, cobblestone. Unless you have an all-terrain stroller and your kid doesn’t mind a bumpy ride, leave it at home. Instead, I would recommend carrying your younger travelers in something like a Tula Toddler Carrier or a Piggyback Rider.
2. Rooftop Restaurants are everywhere…but some do not allow children
San Miguel de Allende is full of rooftop terraces that have cafes, bars and restaurants with beautiful views. Unfortunately, some do not allow children on the rooftop. In most cases, they will seat families on a ground level. While not a complete dealbreaker, it is disappointing to have a spot with amazing views and then end up indoors.
When planning San Miguel de Allende with kids, some of my restaurant recommendations would be:
- Hecho en Mexico – the only spot we visited that had a dedicated kids menu. Super affordable and the food was delicious. Nice courtyard setting.
- El Pegaso – so many food options for the whole family. This is a spot that will only seat families on the lower level indoors but the food was still very good.
- The Restaurant – on Thursday night, it is “Burger Night” and very popular with ex-pats. A beautiful ambiance and the burgers were pretty delicious. Definitely recommend booking a table if you want to go (done via OpenTable).
- El Tupinamba – delicious Spanish cuisine in a lovely courtyard setting. The kids loved the French Toast for dessert!
- Quince – Amazing views! I took my older daughter here one night for a nicer meal and, it was so good, I insisted my husband take our other daughter the next night. This is definitely a spot to grab a cocktail, have a nice meal and then indulge in their decadent desserts!
We also loved exploring cafes for breakfast and snacks. Our recommendations are:
- Café de Santos – located just a block from the main square, they have both indoor and outdoor seating. We had breakfast here one day and then returned another time for dessert.
- Ki’Bok Coffee SMA – sister property of the cafe by the same name in Tulum, you can grab a coffee and a pastry and enjoy wi-fi as well a multiple levels of seating.
- Café Oso Azul – a nice, little spot for breakfast. Generous portions and great prices.
- Chocolates y Churros San Agustín – the BEST churros in town. They do serve food but we went one evening for dessert.
- Lavanda Café – we heard great things but never made it there. We tried to go on a Tuesday only to realize they were closed that day and then had plans the next two mornings. Saving this one for next time!
3. Get Lost in the City
Quite possibly the highlight of our trip was when we would not have a destination. Zona Centro is very safe and very walkable (assuming you are in comfortable shoes!). If you are visiting San Miguel de Allende with kids, be sure to plan for days where you can walk around, find a park, grab an ice cream cone and just marvel at the beauty of the city.
One of our favorite days was going to Parque Juarez. Despite the playground being closed, the kids still loved running around the pathways and looking at the flowers in the butterfly garden. On our walk, we even stumbled upon a beautiful hotel called Hotel Villa de Santa Monica and had to take a look at it was so eye catching at first glance.
We also spent quite a bit of time in the main plaza (Jardin Allende). The benches under the trees are currently unavailable but it was still nice to do some people watching, discover little stores and grab a snack. One thing I quickly learned was how nondescript many of the restaurant/store entrances were. As an American, I am usually expecting a huge, neon sign and, because of maintaining the historical charm of the city, you often have little to no signage. A map on your phone can definitely be helpful but be sure to also leave time to stop and smell the flowers (because they are everywhere and they are beautiful!).
4. Side trips and Day Trips are in order…
While San Miguel de Allende is a gem in itself, there are some nearby spots perfect for visiting with kids. We pre-planned a few outings alongside our local explorations.
One morning, we explored a local hot springs called La Gruta Hot Springs which is about a 15 minute drive from San Miguel de Allende. It is very family friendly and has spacious grounds where you can easily spend hours. While the facilities are a bit dated, it was clean and my kids still had a blast. The pool temperatures are warm but not scalding hot and you have a few options so we were able to safely distance from others. The pool adjacent to the Grotto (a really cool cave) was definitely busier. Food and drink is available for purchase and be sure to bring your own towels. Admission is 250 pesos per person (about $12-13 USD). There is also another hot springs, Escondido Place, in the same area.
We did a day trip to Guanajuato which is about a 90 minute drive from San Miguel. Not really knowing much about this town, we made the journey and started at a high point in town to get a panoramic view of the city. We then took a short funicular ride right into the main plaza. The city center of Guanajuato is amazing with kids as there are no cars. Instead, all traffic is diverted into underground tunnels! We were also dazzled by the gorgeous colonial-era architecture and the beautiful tree-filled Jardin de la Union. There is quite a bit to do in Guanajuato depending on how much time you have – we skipped the mummy museum and opted for the Diego Rivera House Museum (art), Teatro Juarez, trying some delicious street food (with help from our guide) and then a stroll around the city to learn more about the history.
We didn’t go to the Toy Museum (Museo La Esquina) because it was indoors but it looked really fun and I would add that to my itinerary for next time. We also had heard that the Rosewood Hotel has historically offered day passes to their pool for non-guests, however, this is currently not available.
5. Finding the Best Accommodation for Families
The city of San Miguel de Allende has plentiful options for both hotels and vacation rentals. For those seeking a hotel experience, there is the Rosewood San Miguel de Allende and Live Aqua San Miguel de Allende. Both properties have convenient locations, on-site dining and swimming pools.
If you are keen to have your own space, you will find lots of choice in the vacation rental market. For those looking for more of a high-touch service model, Premier San Miguel represents many beautiful properties, with and without pools. AirBnB and VRBO also have ample options. My recommendation would be to stay as close to Zona Centro as possible. We stayed at Casa Pinerolo (hosted by AirBnb Super Host, Alberto). This 3 bedroom property boasted a huge roof deck, all en-suite rooms, a lush courtyard and, if needed, a small parking spot. A housekeeper is on-site on some days and can be there daily for a small, additional fee. Rental starts at $271 USD/night.
Looking for more great vacation rentals? Get more recommendations here.
What Else To Know About Traveling to San Miguel de Allende with Kids?
- You can fly into Leon (Bajio International Airport) or Queretaro. Both are about a 90 minute drive to San Miguel de Allende. Mexico City is also an option but plan for a 3 hour drive.
- Need transport? Zarco Premium Travel picked us up from the Leon airport and provided car seats for our two youngest children. We also used this company for transport to/from the La Gruta Hot Springs and for the day trip to Guanajuato.
- We rented baby gear from San Miguel Kids. Amber and her team had everything at our house when we checked in. She also offers a babysitting referral service and relocation assistance (should you fall in love with SMA and want to call it home!).
- During COVID times, we felt extremely safe in San Miguel de Allende and Guanajuato. Mask wearing was pretty much 100%, temperature taking/contact tracing was the norm for pretty much every restaurant or shop and sanitizer was everywhere. Most of the dining in San Miguel is already outdoors but takeout is readily available, too.
- We did need a negative COVID PCR test prior to heading home. We used BiosLab and they came to our house to do the tests for about $40 USD per person. Our results in about an hour and I picked up the certificates to show the airline the next day.
- With regards to flying home, we did need to show our negative test results at the Leon airport to the airline as well as doing a health questionnaire online ahead of time. There was also a health/temperature check when you went through security. Upon arrival in the US, it felt relatively normal with immigration and customs.
Have more questions about visiting San Miguel de Allende with kids? Leave a comment and I will be happy to answer!