What to do in Guanajuato & San Miguel de Allende

Guanajuato is a university town with a world-famous yearly cultural festival that takes over the entire city. San Miguel de Allende is an international artists’ enclave and budding gastronomical center. Both are UNESCO world heritage sites that played key roles in Mexico’s War of Independence. Charming towns with brightly colored buildings and cobblestoned streets, Guanajuato and San Miguel de Allende are must-see stops in Mexico’s colonial heartland.

Campanero 4 Puente, Del Campanero, Zona Centro, 36000 Guanajuato, Gto., Mexico
Near the old entrance to the city, I discovered my favorite cafe in Guanajuato. Santo Cafe is perched on a bridge that mirrors those that top the underground roads. The restaurant has a huge menu of breakfasts (eggs every style including “divorciados,” where two fried eggs are separated on their tortillas and smothered in two different sauces), sandwiches, coffee, beer, wine, and fruit smoothies (ask for a mix of two or three tropical fruits). Puente del Campanero #4, Bajos, Zona Centro, santocafegto.tumblr.com
Dolores Hidalgo, Guanajuato, Mexico
This has to be the most colorful thing I’ve ever seen in a cemetery. In the town of Dolores Hidalgo in central Mexico, singer José Alfredo Jiménez (1926-1973), “El Rey,” is memorialized by this sombrero-and-serape tomb. The names of some of his many hit songs are inlaid in the mosaic bands. Death be not proud...
Zona Centro, 36000 Guanajuato, Gto., Mexico
After the third person recommended Bar Incendio with a chuckle, we had to check it out. “It’s a real Mexican bar,” they would say. But on our first two attempts, the bar was closed (we discovered that “real Mexicans” close shop at 11 p.m.) Our third try was successful, and Incendio, or F.B.I. (Famoso bar Incendio) as the bartenders aprons cleverly proclaimed was as the locals described. Mexicans young and old were drinking tequila and cerveza, dancing wildly, and belting jukebox tunes in Spanish. We were the only Americans in sight, and we felt like we were inside a local secret.
Calle 28 de Septiembre 109B, Zona Centro, 36000 Guanajuato, Gto., Mexico
For less than $2, you can take a quick funicular ride to the Pipila Monument to get this top-of-the-world view of Guanajuato, Mexico. We arrived just after sunset, when lights were flickering across the colorful city. There were people around, but the scene was quiet. Walking down the hill, we stumbled upon Casa Zuniga, a hotel run by an enthusiastic expat named Rick Zuniga. He toured us around the property’s glass-walled rooms as the city was growing darker yet more luminous.
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