San Miguel de Allende is a colonial-era city in central Mexico that makes a strong case for visiting our neighbor to the south and not hitting the beach. In fact, it's hundreds of miles from the nearest ocean and, at 6,100 feet, it boasts eternal spring temperatures. But what San Miguel lacks in white sand it more than makes up for in colorful architecture, romantic cobblestone streets, culture (it's a UNESCO World Heritage Site), charming character and incredible cuisine.
Morning: Arriving into town by car (driving three hours from Mexico City or an hour and a half from Leon's airport), you'll instantly get a sense of what makes San Miguel so magical: Narrow cobblestone streets are lined with buildings painted every shade of orange, red and yellow imaginable, with bougainvillea dripping down or cacti lining the rooftops. Check into Hotel Matilda, the most modern, inspiring and zen property around, with its rotating collection of art and installations and restaurant by star chef Enrique Olvera. For a lovely three-star option, opt for Hotel Boutique Hacienda del Santuario, in a converted 16th-century convent.
Afternoon: There are many photographs to be taken, and the afternoon light — especially during golden hour — is stunning, so wander around. It's a very walkable town (although sidewalks tend to be quite narrow) and you can always see where you are in relation to the steepled neo-gothic pink cathedral beside the main plaza of El Jardin.
Evening: Celebrate being in one of the most beautiful places in the world with a bottle of champagne at Moxi, along with the organic carrots with goat cheese, pumpkin risotto, and suckling pig confit by one of Mexico's most important chefs. The latter is an instantly addictive, melt-in-your-mouth dish you may need to order again before leaving town.
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Morning: Matilda's breakfast is fantastic, so don't skip out. After filling up on fresh juices, local honey and preserves, granola and other indigenous treats, hop in a taxi to El Charco del Ingenio, about 15 minutes away. There, check out a magnificent array of cacti as you hike through the botanical garden overlooking a lagoon.
Afternoon: Spend the heat of the day shopping and browsing the galleries at Fábrica la Aurora, a vast art and design center housed in a former cotton factory that also has cafe options for lunch. On the walk back to town, you can stroll through the alleyway markets and pick up woven hammocks, embroidered blouses and huichol-beaded pieces. Kingsley Market and Mixta are also worthwhile boutiques to browse.
Evening: The sunsets in San Miguel tend to be epic. The premier place to catch them is from Luna, on the rooftop of the Rosewood, over a Mezcal Pepino or Guayabito Salvatierra cocktail and snacks of fresh jicama with lime and chile. For a romantic dinner, try the tuna carpaccio and inventive gourmet burgers at The Restaurant, or opt for the famous ginger margarita with grilled octopus, and gringa camarones at the lively cantina-style La Sirena Gorda, which is filled with paintings of corpulent mermaids.
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Morning: Book a hot air balloon ride with Globo, who will pick you up at your hotel under the cover of darkness for your sunrise soar over the picturesque city and farms surrounding it. Afterward, recover from your early morning with a couples' spa extravaganza — think body wraps, infusions, and scrubs using organic local ingredients — at Spa Matilda. At the apothecary you can have custom artisanal lip balm or hydrating creams hand-blended just for you.
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Afternoon: Venture out to the country for an intimate lunch at De Temporada, a tiny, extremely rustic eatery that practically sits on top of an organic farm with free-range chickens clucking nearby and a warm breeze in the air. The menu changes regularly, but you can count on having incredibly fresh salads, Mexican-infused hot dishes and a huge array of homemade, natural ice creams made from scratch — red wine blackberry, brown sugar and ginger. (Bring your own wine or beer.)
Evening: For a different kind of taste of Mexico, Matilda guests can ask to be set up with a tour and tasting at Casa Dragones, the luxury tequila label based in a historic 17th-century stable in town. Learn all about how the exclusive $285-a-bottle joven tequila — housed in a hand-engraved crystal decanter — is crafted from blue agave in small batches while sipping the crystal clear libation slowly with your love. On your way out of San Miguel, check La Brasilia to see if the al pastor — mouthwatering spit-roasted pork served in a taco with pineapple — is ready.