Around this time last year, I spent a few days with my sister in San Miguel de Allende. A friend just decided to go there last weekend and was asking for recommendations so this month I thought I would feature this beautiful town – which in 2008 was deemed a UNESCO World Heritage site. Locals believe the city was built on rose quartz, which is said to be the force of life. That may explain why this city is so exuberant or perhaps it’s just the lively Mexican culture combined with preserved traditions. Whatever the reason, this city is sure to charm you. And only 3 hours from Mexico City by bus ($20 for comfy recliner seats), it’s pretty easy to get to as well.

Top 5 Things to Do in San Miguel

Wander the Streets: The best part of San Miguel is just wandering through the cobblestone streets, taking in the colorful buildings and beautiful courtyards, passing vendors covered head to toe in dozens of hats and bags, and stopping into various shops to look at the colorful textiles, artisanal creations, and incredible alebrijes (Mexican spirit animals). Make sure to allocate most of your time to this.

Food, Mezcal/Tequila, More Food! And Sunset Drinks: There are so many fantastic food options from street tacos, to Peruvian at La Parada (great Pisco Sours), to vegan food at Don Taco Tequila. Have coffee and a breakfast bowl at Ki’bok. Overindulge in pastries at one of the many panaderías. Do a mezcal tasting at La Mezcaleria (or almost anywhere) or book a private tasting at Casa Dragones – a local small batch sipping tequila presented in handmade bottles. Their tasting room is located on the grounds of La Casa Dragones, stables which date back to 1671 and housed the Dragones, who led one of the movements that sparked the Mexican Independence. And be sure to catch two very different sunset views from the rooftops of Antonia Bistro and Luna Tapas Bar (top of the Rosewood Hotel).

Thermal Baths: San Miguel de Allende was founded on the edge of an extinct volcano, which last erupted 12,000 years ago. But this subterranean volcanic activity has resulted in dozens of nearby thermal baths and hot springs. There are several different options depending on what kind of experience you’re after.

Fabrica La Aurora: Built in 1902 and once a textile factory, La Aurora reopened in 1990 as a cultural and artistic centre housing art galleries, design studios, workshops, and restaurants, all surrounding a beautiful courtyard.

Live Music: If you walk through the Jardín – the town’s main plaza – in the evenings, you can count on being serenaded by lovely mariachis. Have a seat at Centro Bar to take in the music while looking at the cathedral. On Wednesdays and Thursdays, check out Bistro Mi Casa in the Instituto Allende, co-owned by perhaps San Miguel’s best known artist, Gil Gutierrez, for a dinner show. Or go to El Tupinamba in the evening for Spanish Tapas and live music.