Romantic San Miguel

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Romantic San Miguel
Cobblestone streets, colonial architecture, and garlands of bougainvillea spilling over balconies make San Miguel de Allende a romantic backdrop for a couples' vacation.
By Julie Schwietert Collazo, AFAR Local Expert
Photo courtesy of Rosewood San Miguel de Allende
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    Spa Treatments for Two
    Visiting San Miguel isn't physically taxing, but there's no need to justify a trip to the spa when you're on vacation. Many luxury hotels in the city offer all sorts of pampering for couples. Rosewood's Sense Spa is indulgent; in addition to its couples-only "Duet Suite Massage" treatment, most of its spa menu can be customized for two. Laja Spa at Casa de Sierra Nevada features a temazcal, a steam lodge ritual dating to pre-Hispanic times.
    Photo courtesy of Rosewood San Miguel de Allende
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    View from the Mirador
    If friends and family back home want to know what it was about San Miguel de Allende that left you so aglow, you might want to show them your photos from the lookout point, El Mirador. This high-elevation spot gives you the best vantage point for a panoramic view of the city; it's romantic, too, especially at sunset, when the fading light softens the bold colors of the city's landmark architecture. You probably won't be the only couple there, but that's okay; ask for someone to take a snapshot of the two of you for memory's sake. The climb to El Mirador is steep; if you prefer a lazier ascent, catch one of the trolleys that leave from the Jardín, the main square in the Centro.
    Photo by Robert Harding/age fotostock
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    Rooftop Bars
    San Miguel de Allende is beautiful at any angle, but viewing the city from an elevated vantage point offers a novel perspective. Head up to Luna, Rosewood's rooftop tapas bar, for exceptional views of the city, not to mention some excellent drinks. Put yourself in the bartender's capable hands and try a domestic spirit, like tequila or mezcal, as you watch the sun illuminate the spires of La Parroquia, the city's most recognized landmark. Another tapas and cocktail bar on a roof is the aptly-named La Azotea (The Rooftop Terrace). If you want all-hours access to a roof, the romantic, four-room luxury inn, L'Otel, has a rooftop pool (guests only).
    Photo courtesy of Rosewood San Miguel de Allende
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    Explore beyond City Limits
    San Miguel proper has plenty to keep you busy during a vacation, but if you want to see what's beyond the city limits, take a day trip to the countryside of Guanajuato. A popular activity is horseback riding along the outskirts of the city with the outfitter Leisurely Country Horseback Riding. Depending on the season, you may ford rivers and cross fields awash in wildflowers. Good for both beginners and advanced riders, the journey can be customized to include lunch and a stop to soak in a local hot spring. Options include half- and full-day excursions as well as overnight camping trips.
    Photo courtesy of Leisurely Country Horseback Riding
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    Take a Day Trip to El Charco
    El Charco del Ingenio is a botanical garden and nature reserve on the fringes of San Miguel. Cacti and succulents dominate the landscape, which also has a variety of rare and threatened plants. The reserve also attracts diverse avian life. Look for birds on your own or as part of a guided tour. In addition to a full day's worth of outdoor activities, staff at El Charco host several cultural programs, among them a monthly full moon ceremony and temazcal sessions twice each month. The temazcal—a traditional steam treatment administered in a sweat lodge—dates back to pre-Hispanic times, when it was used to restore the body after intense exertion.
    Photo by age fotostock
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    Soak in Hot Springs
    If outdoor relaxation sounds more appealing than indoor pampering at a hotel spa—or if they sound like excellent complements on an itinerary loaded with relaxing activities—head to La Gruta, San Miguel de Allende's local hot springs. Admission to the springs is free if you plan to eat at the on-site restaurant; otherwise, expect to pay around 100 pesos (admission is two-for-one on Fridays) to soak in the springs. Visitors particularly enjoy the cave, where a warm chorro—or hot water spout—pours water on their heads. The surrounding garden-like grounds are pleasant, and are set with chaise lounges where you can relax before or after your immersion in the springs.
    Photo by age fotostock
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    Table for Two
    If you and your partner consider yourselves foodies, San Miguel de Allende isn't likely to disappoint. There are plenty of upscale restaurants around the city where you can indulge in contemporary Mexican and international cuisine, including Moxi—the San Miguel restaurant of Mexico City star chef, Enrique Olvera—and Andanza, the ultra-romantic restaurant at Casa de Sierra Nevada. The latter has plenty of cozy tables for two; when making a reservation, ask for a spot by the log fire or, if the weather's warmer, a table on the terrace. Among its many offerings, Andanza's menu has an appetizer and an entrée specifically designed for two people to share.
    Photo courtesy of Andanza Restaurant at Belmond Casa de Sierra Nevada
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    Customized Romantic Itineraries
    Many of San Miguel de Allende's hotels, inns, and B&Bs seem infused with a natural charm that sets the stage for a romantic getaway, but some excel at rounding out your stay with a full slate of bonding activities. Hotel Hacienda El Santuario offers several package deals in which luxurious rooms and attentive service are combined with customized itineraries; two of the packages are specifically for couples. The basic romance package includes couple's massages, in-room wine, chocolate-dipped strawberries, and a musical serenade, while the romantic air package includes a romantic dinner at an upscale restaurant and a hot-air balloon ride over San Miguel de Allende.
    Photo by Francis Hammond/age fotostock
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    Explore Colonial Courtyards
    The Spanish patio, or courtyard, is a central architectural feature of most colonial-era buildings, but for visitors, access can be elusive. Not so in San Miguel de Allende, where a number of the romantic courtyards are open to the public, either daily or by special arrangement. Two of the most visited among them are those at the Biblioteca Pública and the Escuela de Bellas Artes, but one of the most interesting ways to get a peek at the inner yards of colonial homes is with the Biblioteca's weekly House and Garden Tour. Held each Sunday, the tours feature visits to several among 300 homes; the experience also includes breakfast in the Biblioteca's own courtyard.
    Photo by John Mitchell/age fotostock