It’s difficult to find the best words to describe San Miguel de Allende: a large town with a historic UNESCO World Heritage site; a small city with a rich, artistic culture that is found in everything from its impressive architecture to its coveted gastronomy scene; a place that boasts one of the most eclectic communities of diverse expats and locals in the world. Situated about four hours northwest of Mexico City in the central state of Guanajuato, San Miguel is sure to take you, no matter who you are, on a journey like no other. With vibrant bohemian energy and a modern yet traditional blend of the best of Mexican culture, here are some experiences we recommend making note of while you plan your gay-cation to this cultural haven that is sure to be a top LGBTQ+ destination in 2021.
Lose Yourself in Atypical Architecture
The first, most poignant thing that stands out about San Miguel is the skyline of warm, colorful buildings that snake through the lush valley where the town stands. Reaching levels of near-abandonment during the influenza pandemic at the dawn of the 20th century, San Miguel was rediscovered by transient artists after World War II who looked to the mixture of Spanish-colonial and gothic architecture for inspiration. No other building stands out as much as the timeless emblem known as La Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel, the central church in the heart of the city that looks more like a small cathedral that one would see in a dreamy mirage. With triangular spires and walls bathed in a bright coral color, the neo-gothic structure was built in the 1800s and continues to inspire countless photographers, creatives—and queer folks who just want to take in the sun and pose—who flock to the town square for everything from artisanal jewelry to local Mexican-style hot dogs and tacos from street vendors (which are always a great idea after a few cocktails and some late-night clubbing…).
Savor a Taste of the Cultural Cuisine and Chic Hospitality
Hitting the perfect balance between upholding honored traditions and embracing innovative modernity, San Miguel’s gastronomy and hospitality go hand in hand. Creating an authentic ambience for any traveler that is hungry for both food and culture, San Miguel’s restauranteur landscape is as competitive as it is delicious. With a range of Michelin-star restaurants and LGBTQ+ friendly boutique hotels, the options are seemingly limitless for a such a small city: we recommend booking a reservation for Áperi or the Quince Rooftop ahead of time if you’re ready to feast on an unforgettable view. Be sure to try classic dishes such as fiambre, a hearty blend of savory meats and vegetables, or enchiladas mineras which pack a decadent, spicy burst of flavor that can also be modified for any vegetarian or vegan. We also recommend experimenting with the international fusion dishes like Mexican renditions of sashimi and tuna tartare, along with sampling regional and imported wine lists that match every curated menu with precision and warmth. After a delicious meal, most travelers and locals gather at hotel bars and nightclubs depending on the season and the overall vibe. Don’t be afraid to ask bartenders and shop owners about where to go out if you’re looking to dance, as most of the after-party clubs are walking distance in the city center and tend to shift in popularity depending on the season.
Escape to the New Queer Oasis
Whether you’re looking for a classic bar scene or want to day trip with your partner (or partners), San Miguel is a city of openness that accommodates LGBTQ+ travelers with optimism. Although the city is small and does not have namesake LGBTQ+ bars, most of the visitors to the city identify as queer creatives from a variety of international cities. Since most of the expat community consists of artists and those who are heavily influenced by them, everything from interior design to leisurely walks around San Miguel is as alluring and quaint as the people you will see throughout the cobblestone streets. As San Miguel Pride grows each year in early July, queer travelers are able to soak in San Miguel’s rich history and activities that accommodate honeymooners and LGBTQ+ singles alike from mezcal tastings to horseback riding. Whether you would like to visit San Miguel for a Christmas and New Year’s Eve celebration full of go-getter travelers and dazzling fireworks or for a summer escape to find inspiration in an artist’s retreat, San Miguel is a unique and enigmatic destination that is sure to capture your attention in the best possible way.
San Miguel isn’t just the bona fide cultural LGBTQ+ oasis that’s on the rise—it’s a dreamy destination that is sure to have you longing for authentic escape once again. So, what are you waiting for? ¡Visit San Miguel as soon as you get the chance, quench that thirst, and be a part of the SMA cultura with us, bébé!
We would like to spotlight and give partial photography credits to @rafaelgrigon, one of our favorite international lifestyle and travel experts from Mexico who contributed to this article.