It’s commonly understood that the best way to explore a new place is to go straight to the locals. Each week in the Urbanist, we take that wisdom one step further by seeking out not just locals but local experts — those who are especially well versed in their cities’ newest and most noteworthy scenes — to give us insider recommendations. This week, we asked artist Sabina Arias, creator of the Malo artist residency, for her picks in the Mexican city.
“San Miguel de Allende has always been a magnet for artists from around the globe. It’s a unique place to visit because of its beautiful 18th-century Spanish architecture and its relevance in Mexican history. San Miguel was one of the most economically important towns during the Spanish rule and the cradle of the independence movement in 1810. Life here is very beautiful. The weather is really great. The houses are all yellow, red, and all these warm colors. It’s a very vibrant place. Near the Fabrica la Aurora art galleries, you can find the studios of extraordinary San Miguel artists such as Margaret Dawit and Gerardo Ruiz. And there are current efforts in San Miguel to revindicate its long-standing artistic legacy through many festivals, including the Guanajuato International Film Festival in July, the Chamber Music Festival in August, the Writers’ Conference and Literary Festival in January, and the Jazz Festival in November.”
Her Other Musts
“Only one hour and a half away from San Miguel, you can visit Guanajuato. The capital of the state, Guanajuato City is built on a narrow valley with little alleys and stairs that go along the mountainside surrounding its numerous plazas, churches, and Colonial buildings. The architecture and narrow streets are quite charming, and Guanajuato is also known for being an artist magnet: You can visit the Museo Casa Diego Rivera (Positos 47), Casa Museo Gene Byron (Marfil 10), and Museo Casa Olga Costa (Calle Pastita 158). Mineral de Pozos is a magic town located an hour away from San Miguel that was once a prominent mining site for silver. It’s surrounded by beautiful mountains and abandoned haciendas, including Hacienda Santa Brigida and Mina Cinco Señores. You can get to both by walking or by renting a four-wheeler in town and riding around the hillsides. Stop by Los Hornos del Mineral (Calle Ocampo 114) to get a taste of local delicacies, such as escamoles (ant larvae, a.k.a. Mexican caviar), or the main square to get colonche, a local drink made from fermented prickly pears. For music lovers, there are two Mesoamerican music shops, La Casa del Venado Azul (34 Calle Centenario) and Camino de Piedra (Calle Leandro Valle 13), where you can buy indigenous instruments, such as a wooden drum known as huehuetl, rain sticks, or stone marimbas.”