Ever get something in your head and just HAVE to do it?

That’s what happened with the Edward James Surrealist Garden – Las Pozas, and us.We were leaving San Miguel de Allende for our next spot in Oaxaca and decided it would be a good time to tack on short trip in between.

Our route ended up looking like San Miguel de Allende > Xilitla (how to the surrealist garden) > Querétaro > Mexico City > Oaxaca City.

This garden famed for being build by an eccentric British guy the came to Mexico with 5,000 boxes of Kleenex was not on the way at all.In fact, it was in the opposite direction but off we went at 4am through some very windy roads in the dark for 6 hours to get there. Addison was not impressed.

The garden was beautiful and the town was quaint but in hindsight it was unnecessary. Ever been on trip that needed up not being worth all the hassle?

Watch the video here ↓

While we seem to be the only foreigners in Mexico that don’t rate San Miguel de Allende we still found some activities and things to do that we really enjoyed, and would recommend incorporating into your trip.

Watch the video here ↓

Visit the Museo La Esquina (the Toy museum)

Cost: 30 MXN ( $2.25 USD) for adults and 20 MXN ($1.50 USD) for children.
Getting there: The museum is in Centro, a short walk from the main plaza at Calle Nunez 40

We had some spare time so thought we’d stop in and were pleasantly surprised. If you like folk art, or toys the museum is a must see, it is well organised across multiple, floors, generations and styles, with beautiful displays of toys, plus ceramics and other works.

Tres Raíces Vineyard 

Cost: 400 MXN ($19.90 USD) for a taxi – we recommend hiring a taxi for the day or going with a tour. company so you don’t get stuck out there – the wineyard is 30 minutes drive from San Miguel de Allende and there is no Uber here to bring you back.
Plus 400 MXN ($19.90 USD) for tasting 5 x wines
Getting there: Approximately 12 miles out of SMA on the Dolores Hidalgo highway.

You can take a stroll around the vineyard and learn about the process before visiting the tasting room to see what they have on offer, we also chose to have lunch, it certainly wasn’t cheap but the restaurant is set in the middle of the vineyard, with a panoramic view from all of the tables so it was a beautiful setting, that coupled with the delicious food was well worth the price.

La Gruta Spa 

The video of Addison that went crazy on Instagram

Cost: 250 MXN ($11USD) entry free for adults and roughly 80 MXN ($4 USD) Uber. 
Getting there: A quick 10 minute uber out of San Miguel de Allende centro

There are 4 heated pools, spa services and restaurant/bar services but by far the coolest feature at this place is the tunnel that leads to a sauna.

It wasn’t overly busy but there were plenty of kids running around and people coming and going, we went on a weekday and were told it gets packed on weekends, so if you get the option definitely opt for a weekday visit.

Was it a mind blowing must do if you only have a few days in San Miguel de Allende? No, but if you’ve got some time to kill and are a hot pool fan it is a good option.

Cañada de la Virgen

Cost: 39 MXN. ($2 USD) entry on your own or tour with Albert Coffee $50 USD or the equivalent in pesos per person and includes all transport, entry fees, water, Albert as guide through the archeological zone.
Getting there: Approximately 30 minutes drive from San Miguel de Allende centro + a 1 mile (ish) hike from the parking lot to the archaeological site.

Albert is a archeologist from Louisiana who is now a citizen of Mexico and lives in San Miguel de Allende permanently.

It felt a little like we were anthropology students – in a good way!

You can visit the site alone and pay for a visitors ticket on site but without a knowledgeable tour guide, we would’ve missed so much of the unique features of the area from a glimpse into the advanced astronomy that the civilizations of Mesoamerica incorporated into their traditions to the ceremonial acts of burying canines with the dead to act as their guides through to the underworld and other totally macabre but interesting facts.

This site was only re-discovered in the late 90s, excavated and was opened to the public in 2011.

After the tour of the site we went to Zänä for a delicious Prehispanic meal and a short talk with photos of the sun and moon positioning in relation to the pyramid to show how the construction is linked to astronomic markers and the surrounding geography to measure time using the mesoamerican calendar and as a way to predict the eclipse.

We were a little unsure why anyone would go to such lengths to predict an eclipse until Albert pointed out that the higher class folk could use it to show power to people by essentially tricking them into thinking they’d brought the sun back after the eclipse was over.

Add on: Museo de Astronomia Prehispanica (after Cañada de la Virgen)

Archaeo-astronomer Dr. Rossana Quiroz who conducted a decades long study at the site, has opened a restaurant that features native, seasonal ingredients and is based on the symbolism of the Aztec calendar. The added cost is $30 USD per person and includes added transportation and the presentation of her fascinating photographic exhibit.

Free Walking Tour 

Cost: Pay what you want
Getting there: The meeting point is usually in the main plaza

Every city we go to we try and set up a free walking your within a few days of arriving, San Miguel de Allende was no exception.

Booked with Guru Walk we visited the main churches, such as: San Miguel Arcángel parish church, the Purísima Concepción convent, the San Francisco convent and the Orartory of San Philip Neri.

We also visited a couple of art galleries and the artisans market to learn about the different ethnic groups in Mexico.

And got plenty of local knowledge on where to eat and other things to do in San Miguel de Allende.

Mercado de Artesania (Artisans Market)

Cost: Free but take some cash for shopping
Getting there: In centro and well sign posted

Open every day from 9 am until 7 pm. The market is full of handcrafted items with a strong focus on tourist and souvenir type products, but, don’t be put off – there are also gems to be found!

Art Class – Rhoda Draws

Cost: 2700 MXN (about $140 USD) for 4 x classes, includes equipment
Getting there: At cafes around centro

If you have a little more time in. San Miguel de a Allende a sketching class with Rhoda is a great way to see the city and learn a new skill.

You attend 4 classes, each with a different focus of skill to learn and each starting at a differnt cafe or meeting point around the city.

Rhoda’s Sketching Fast & Loose Sketching Techniques are useful to:

  • Capture the essence of a subject
  • Develop strong observational skills
  • Remember travel and other important life memories
  • Use “down time” wisely: waits, cafes, airports, etc.
  • Integrate into other visual mediums (sketchnotes, graphic recording, graphic facilitation and other visual ways of working)
  • Get ‘in the zone’ and stress release!

Sketching Materials

Develop skill in sketching what you see as simply and boldly as possible, using a few very basic art materials.

Rhoda demos techniques suitable for both beginners and intermediates who want to develop more confidence in drawing. As well as skilled artists who need to “loosen up” in order to work faster.

Fábrica La Aurora

Cost: Free
Getting there: A short stroll from the main plaza Calz de La Aurora S/N, Aurora, 37710

Fábrica La Aurora is a an old textile mill that has been renovated and is now home to an abundance of galleries, shops, and cafes with works by local artists in many mediums.

We recommended stopping at one of the cafes for brunch and then strolling the galleries for a chill day out.

Eat Your Way Around the City

With over 300 restaurants in San Miguel de Allende there is no shortage of food options so we’ve narrowed it down to our favourite, and not so favourite spots.

Check out our Restaurant Hits and Misses here

For the first time in 7 months we are in the negative and spent more that we earnt eeekkk.

We found San Miguel de Allende rather expensive in comparison to other cities or regions, not necessarily unjustifiably so – there were plenty of delicious restaurants with atmosphere and food to back up the prices but that didn’t help our wallet – the tours and activities were also more expensive than what we’d come to expect from other places but again they were pretty good and we can’t complain.

We managed to jam a lot in, in October including a trip to Xilitla to see the Sir Edward James surrealist garden, Querétaro and Mexico City. Although in Querétaro we spent the majority of our time in a mall after Zahn’s phone died and we had to take it to an iShop – luckily we were able to repair it but we ended up buying Addison a new phone as old one was locked and couldn’t take a Mexican (or anywhere else for that matter) sim card.

Unfortunately we also had some WIFI issues in San Miguel de Allende that prevented Addison from teaching which affected our income and we purchased extra data plus a Sky Roam WIFI device which we do no recommend, after purchasing an “Unlimited” Day Pass we were throttled down to 2G speeds after only using 1.5GB and the support was terrible and couldn’t let me know what the throttle limit was.

Our AirBnB hosts were great and tried to help with the internet speed but it wasn’t enough for our needs. It also seems we weren’t the only ones having issues and a slow connection is common in SMA.

So what did we spend all that money on!

Tours and activities

  • Teotihuacán Mexico City Day Trip $112.14 
  • Dia de Muertos Tour to learn about the traditions $77.84
  • Food Tour in San Miguel de Allende $254.78
  • Walking Tour CDMX $19.46
  • Tres Raices Vineyard Wine Tasting $20.56
  • La Gruta Spa $24.32
  • Canada de la Virgen Pyramid Trip $160 included lunch and astronomy talk
  • Charco Del Ingenio (El Charco del Ingenio Jardín Botánico y Área Natural Protegida) $4.85

Extra Accommodation

  • Hotel in Xilitla $17.10
  • AirBnB in Querétaro $51.36
  • Hotel in CDMX $134.32


  • Flight to Oaxaca from CDMX $71.36
  • San Miguel de Allende to Xilitla including stop in Pena Bernel and Querétaro $436.87 (includes tip, private driver, entrance to the Edward James Garden and guide) 
  • Bus Querétaro to Mexico City $32.88

Full breakdown:

Accommodation in San Miguel de Allende$557.03
Additional accommodation$202.78
Entertainment $669.10
Shopping including shipping to NZ$305.81
Eating Out$476.99
Laptop Payments$103
Subscriptions (Apple Storage & Netflix) $23.23
Cellphone Plan $58
Addison New Cell Phone$274.33
Art Classes x 4$90
Sky Roam$148
Total Expenses$3,646.49

Total Income

Prices are listed in USD and are for 2 people.

Owing to its peculiar topography, the city is made up largely of a series of alleys, where you can find numerous picturesque recesses. It is through these alleys that you can take one of the famous night tours, or “callejoneadas” one of the most popular activities in the city.

This tour starts from Juárez Theater which is located in front of the Plaza Principal or Jardín de la Unión where a student will guide you through the seven main alleys of the city.

At the beginning of the tour you stop to buy a drink (optional) and then you are led by students (although the rumor is they aren’t really students and this is just a sales tactic) dressed in old-school clothes with string instruments and accordions. During the tour, the students sing songs and tell stories that happened in the alleys as you go through. During the tour, everyone participates, sings and dances. Be aware that it’s all in Spanish but there’s bound to be a friendly local with a little English to help you out if you aren’t sure what’s going on.

The tour ends in the ” Alley of the Kiss “, which for lovers is one of the most emblematic alleys of the city and legend has it that if the couple kisses right on the third step, it promises for them seven years of happiness and love.

The tour costs $120 pesos each and you can buy a drink at the start. You also get a cute souvenir included in the ticket price.

In September we had the most amazing AirBnB right in the historic city center – the view from the terrace and mater bedroom was absolutely stunning!

Guanajuato was great value money in terms of accomodation, food and activities.

We barely ate in with some many good, cheap options on our doorstep, within minutes we had Ojillio for cocktails with a view, Los Huacales for Mole Chilaquiles (it’s not on the menu but ask for it), there’s also a place next door to Los Huacales that is bright pink and turquoise that makes great coffee and tortas. A little further is Truco7 (Mexican) and La Ronda for beer, wings and pool.

Breakfast is a cheap easy meal in Guanajuato with coffee, juice, fresh fruit, bread and a main like chilaquiles for $80 – $120 pesos ($4 – $6).

For paid activities in September we did:

  • The Funicular to see El Pipila $5.51
  • Momias Museo (the Mummy Museum) $4.59
  • Callejoneadas $11.60 – watch our Callejoneada video and review here
  • Diego Rivera Museum $1.38
  • The Arts Museum $1.84
  • Ex-Hacienda San Gabriel $15.07 including taxi there and back
  • Mina La Valenciana $4.13
  • Walking Tour (in San Miguel $18.93)
Ex-Hacienda San Gabriel

Zahn did a we bit of shopping in Guanajuato buying earrings, other small items and a sweater for the colder nights

Zahn buying more earrings

Other costs that came up during September was our tourist visa renewal – the visa process itself was free but we elected to have Sonia Diaz an immigration consultant complete the process for us at $250 pesos each.

We also arrived in San Miguel de Allende at the end of the month and spent more than usual on data for our phone because the WIFI in our AirBnB was pretty poor but overall we are happy with our September spending.

Full breakdown:


Entertainment $77.98
Eating Out$222.12
Laptop Payments$103
Subscriptions (Apple Storage & Netflix) $23.23
Cellphone Plan $77.54
Tourist Visa (FMM) Renewal$236.60
Total Expenses$1,716.71

Total Income

Prices above are in USD and for 2 x people

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