Many people say that San Miguel is a bit like a Mexican Disneyland for foreign (mainly American) retirees and visiting chilangos (those from Mexico City).
While there is a certain contrived fairy tale feel to the place – and not a colonial brick out of place in its historic center – it is, nevertheless, a beautiful city, with colonial architecture, enchanting cobblestone streets and striking light (especially popular among photographers and artists). Regular festivals, fireworks and parades dominate the local scene, Lonely Planet points out.
The town’s cosmopolitan panache is reflected in its excellent restaurants and high-class accommodations. Numerous galleries are stocked with quality Mexican artesanías (handicrafts) and cultural activities are on tap for residents and visitors. There are few major sights in the compact centro histórico: San Miguel is the sight. The city – with El Jardín, the principal plaza, and the Parroquia, the large church, at its heart – was declared a Unesco World Heritage site in 2008.
Economically speaking, this is no budget destination and is a far cry from the 1940s, when beatniks and artists shacked up here on a shoestring to pursue their creative ventures. While the foreign influence is pervasive (more than 12,000 foreigners are believed to live or have houses here), on the whole, the population coexists comfortably.
Beneath the smart B&Bs and fancy shops, another Mexico emerges. You only have to laze in the main plaza, visit the food market or interact with the local people to sense a different ambience, color and vibe.
The climate is agreeable: cool and clear in winter and warm in summer, with occasional thunderstorms and heavy rain.
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