10 Best Day Trips From San Miguel de Allende

An old hacienda estate is one of the many places you can explore on a day trip from San Miguel de Allende. In this image, a cactus and large maguey plant frame a small church. On the left is an old wooden wagon.

These day trips from San Miguel de Allende include something for everyone.

Artists will be delighted to explore the eccentric mind of Anado while wandering the grounds at The Chapel of Jimmy Ray. Spa lovers will enjoy a relaxing day soaking in the hot springs near San Miguel de Allende.

History buffs will look forward to learning about Mexican history from the archeological site through the Mexican Independence movement. And mezcal enthusiasts will revel in exploring Finca La Devocion while tasting its brand of artisan mezcal.

I’ve included all the details you need to make these San Miguel de Allende day trips part of your itinerary. Let’s jump in!

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Transportation for Day Trips From San Miguel de Allende

Getting to many of the best day trips from San Miguel de Allende can include a mix of public transportation and taxis.

Although you should consider renting a car if you are a group of travelers or if you prefer more flexibility with your plans. 

It is easiest to rent a car from the airport you are landing in as rentals in San Miguel are limited. Below I’ve included links to a car rental aggregation site which will show you the best prices from three of the most popular airports to fly into.

San Miguel de Allende Car Rental From Nearby Airports

If you prefer not to drive or deal with public transport, I’ve included a highly rated tour for each San Miguel de Allende day trip when available.

Let’s take a look at the best day trips from San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.

1. Soak in the Hot Springs at La Gruta

Banana trees and other lush vegetation surround on of the hot spring pools at La Gruta Spa, the most relaxing day trip from San Miguel de Allende. The pool is constructed of off-white rocks.

Hours – Wednesday to Sunday, 7 am – 5 pm
Cost – 250 peso entrance fee, 50 peso returnable locker deposit

This relaxing day trip from San Miguel de Allende takes you north of town to an area known for hot springs.

While there are several to choose from, La Gruta (open Wednesday through Sunday) and Escondido Place (open every day) are the most popular.

Escondido Place is known for having a more natural setting, although based on recent reviews we chose to visit La Gruta.

On the thermal waters at La Gruta Spa include several pools and a steamy cave (gruta) of warmer water that visitors can access by swimming through a picturesque tunnel. 

The pools themselves are surrounded by lush plants, banana trees, and flowers. They attract butterflies and birds which I enjoyed watching from the open pools.

There is also a restaurant on site, several spaces with tables and chairs for lounging, and a small spa.

And upclose view of the tunnel that leads to the cave at La Gruta Spa near San Miguel de Allende. The narrow passage is framed with small rocks fitted together to form an archway.

How to Get to La Gruta | Day Trip From San Miguel de Allende

If you aren’t driving, you can get to La Gruta by tour, taxi, or bus. The best form of transportation will depend on your budget, group size, and travel style.

Hot Spring and Horseback Tour

If you desire to see the surrounding countryside, consider booking this horseback and hot spring tour from San Miguel de Allende.

Your day will start by exploring the area by horseback and finish with a well-deserved soak at either La Gruta or Escondido Place.

Taxi to La Gruta Spa

The easiest way to get to La Gruta Spa is to hire a taxi. Although, you will need to arrange for the taxi driver to pick you up as well which means being on a schedule.

Despite it being only a 15-minute drive north of San Miguel de Allende, a taxi will cost about 250 pesos each way. If you are a small group that can split the cost, this could be a good option.

Bus to La Gruta Spa

A bus to La Gruta from San Miguel de Allende takes about 30 minutes and costs around 10 pesos per person. 

Its proximity to the highway makes this about the only hot spring in San Miguel where public transportation is a viable way to get there.

The bus to Atotonilco leaves roughly every hour from 7 am to 5 pm, although the departure time seems to be 20-30 minutes after the hour. It’s located across the street from this point on the map.

When you get on, let the bus driver know you are going to La Gruta and he will drop you off along the highway. After you (carefully) cross the highway, it is about a 2-minute walk to the entrance of La Gruta.

To get back, it is easiest to catch the bus at the departure point in Atotonilco. Plus, this day trip from San Miguel wouldn’t be complete without walking to the church in Atotonilco (see next) before returning to the city.

2. The Sanctuary of Atotonilco

Intricate murals of the life of Christ are painted on the walls and arched ceilings of the Sanctuary of Atotonilco near San Miguel de Allende.

Hours Every day, 10 am to 5 pm
Cost – No entrance fee, but donations are suggested

After soaking in the hot springs, take a leisurely 20-minute walk to the community of Atotonilco. A long portion of the route has a sidewalk and shade.

The main draw to this tiny pueblo is the Sanctuary of Atotonilco, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that sometimes draws up to 5,000 visitors a day.

This church is regularly referred to as the “Sistine Chapel of Mexico” because of the intricate murals that adorn the interior archways, walls, and ceiling.

Painted mainly by one man over the course of 30 years, these murals depict the life of Jesus Christ in a style called Mexican Folk Baroque.

TIP – Before going inside, make your way to the food stalls located on the street directly past the church. Here you can eat blue corn gorditas stuffed with your choice of guisado (stew) and wash it down with a refreshing glass of the water of the day.

They start to wrap up around 4 pm, so if you arrive hungry after soaking in the hot springs, you should make this your first stop in Atotonilco.

If you decide to only explore Atotonilco as a day trip from San Miguel de Allende, you can take a taxi or a bus (follow instructions for La Gruta above).

The bus to return to San Miguel leaves Atotonilco from this location every hour (closer to 15 minutes past the hour) from 7 am to 5 pm. I’ve heard it’s difficult to find a taxi in Atotonilco, so this is probably the easiest way.

If you want to visit Atotonilco and Dolores Hidalgo as one San Miguel de Allende day trip, then book this highly rated tour with a knowledgeable guide.

Visiting both in one day on a tour with transportation will save lots of time so that you can make the most out of your trip to San Miguel de Allende.

3. Enjoy a Mezcal Tasting at Finca la Devoción

Several bottles of mezcal are lined up on a table for a mezcal tasting at Finca La Devocion near San Miguel de Allende. Behind is a large sliding barn door made of wood.

If you arrive at the hot springs early enough, you’ll have time to explore this estate located along the walk between La Gruta Spa and Atotonilco. Or you could turn this mezcal tasting into its very own day trip from San Miguel de Allende.

Among the beautiful grounds, this property includes an event space, a boutique hotel and thermal water pool, and a mezcal tasting bar featuring the owner’s brand of artisanal mezcal, El Tinieblo.

The mezcal is produced at Rancho El Tinieblo, a 9,000-acre ranch in the state of Tamaulipas, which is located in the north of the country along the Gulf of Mexico.

While reviving the ranch’s legacy of producing single-origin, hand-distilled, and sustainably harvested mezcal they also helped to conserve the local populations of rattlesnakes, whitetail Miquihuanense deer, wild pigs, and rabbits.

To schedule a time for a tasting, send a message to their Instagram page.

4. Visit The Chapel of Jimmy Ray Gallery and Casa de las Ranas

At the eclectic house of Anado is are circular mosaic decorations on the ceiling with green bottles hanging upside down. There are many other items such as a gold fish, several doll heads, a cross on the window, and the skull of a bull. The house is included in a visit to The Chapel of Jimmy Ray, a day trip from San Miguel de Allende.

Hours – Tours on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays at 10:30 am
Cost – 300 pesos per person

Located in the community of La Cieneguita, this colorful house and art gallery showcase the eccentric artwork of Anado as well as the works of artistic friends he has bonded with visually and often mentally.

As you walk through the expansive property you’ll be transported through the wonderland of his imagination.

Having created art since early childhood, Anado’s vision for the property he and his partner acquired in the year 2000 was to create a visceral playground for both adults and children.

Sadly Anado passed away in 2021. His partner, Richard, continues to give tours with an insight into Anado’s work and their life together.

Tours of The Chappel of Jimmy Ray and Casa de las Ranas are held on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays at 10:30 am, by appointment only. To make an appointment for the tour, email him here.

This day trip from San Miguel de Allende will only take a few hours, though you can turn it into a full day by adding the mezcal tasting, Atotonilco, or even the hot springs (although it’s recommended to arrive early).

How to Get to The Chapel of Jimmy Ray

Unless you rent a car, hiring a driver is the best way to get to The Chapel of Jimmy Ray.

A taxi or Uber will cost 100-150 pesos each way. Keep in mind that you will need to ask the taxi driver to return to pick you up around 12:30 pm.

5. Explore El Charco del Ingenio

A narrow, deep canyon surrounded by green and a few cactus is the focus at El Charco del Ingenio, one of several San Miguel de Allende day trips.

Hours Every day, 9 am – 5 pm
Cost – 50 pesos

El Charco del Ingenio is the best day trip from San Miguel de Allende if you simply want to get out and explore nature.

While it’s labeled as a botanical garden, it is better described as a nature preserve with a large collection of cactus and other native plants.

TIP – Ask for a map of the grounds when you pay the entrance fee. It will help you to identify different areas such as the solar observatory, the plaza of the four winds, and the sculpture walk.

If it’s the views you’re after, follow the paths to the left after you enter. Walking along the northernmost path will give you views of the deep canyon below and the city to the left.

How to Get to El Charco del Ingenio

It’s possible to walk from San Miguel to El Charco Botanical Gardens. Although it’s a bit strenuous as you will be winding up into the hills. If you only want to walk part of the way, I recommend taking a taxi there and walking back (downhill) to centro.

You could easily spend all day exploring the massive grounds of El Charco del Ingenio. However, I’m going to guess most visitors max out at 2-3 hours.

TIP – On Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10 am, El Charco del Ingenio hosts a Natural History Tour from 10 am to 12 pm. The tours are in English and cost 150 pesos per person. To book, send a message to their Facebook page.

6. Cañada de la Virgen | San Miguel de Allende Archeological Ruins

Hours –  Tuesday to Sunday, 10 am – 6 pm (last tour starts at 4 pm)
Cost – 70 pesos includes transport from the entrance (not SMA)

This archeological site was discovered in 1995 and opened to the public in 2011. It is believed to have been built after the collapse of Teotihuacan, near Mexico City. 

The Otomi people were known to be passionate watchers of the sky. So naturally, the site features various pyramid structures that were used for astronomy.

One of the most notable is the House of the Thirteen Heavens which was considered an essential structure to observe the skies. 

Another of the structures, the House of the Longest Night, relates to the winter solstice and shows the importance of this site for agricultural planning.

The entrance fee includes a Spanish-speaking guide and transport from the office (not San Miguel).

If you prefer a bilingual guide, book this highly rated tour of Cañada de la Virgen which is hosted by one of the archeologists that helped to excavate the site.

It’s important to keep in mind that access to Cañada de la Virgen requires a bit of mobility. After the included transport from the office, visitors must walk 3 km (almost two miles) to the site.

Day Trips From San Miguel de Allende to Nearby Towns

These day trips from San Miguel de Allende take you to nearby towns that are within a 90-minute drive.

The exception is Bernal which is why I suggested staying the night. Plus you’ll want to get an early start if you plan to hike Peña de Bernal.

If you have the time, several of these day trips could turn easily into a weekend trip from San Miguel de Allende.

7. Guanajuato City

A view of Guanajuato City from the Pipila viewpoint shows many colorful buildings stacked into the surrounding mountains as well as the main church in a bright yellow with red trip.

Guanajuato City is the capital of the state, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and the birthplace of Diego Rivera. It is known for its colorful buildings and narrow alleyways that twist their way through the hillsides of the surrounding mountains.

Other than getting lost among its picturesque streets, highlights of a day trip to Guanajuato include taking the cable car to the Pipila monument for the best views of the city, visiting the Mummy Museum, passing by Callejón del Beso, and touring the Juarez Theater.

If you prefer to take a tour with a knowledgable guide that helps Guanajuato City come alive through history, culture and art, book this private tour of Guanajuato from San Miguel de Allende. The tour includes transportation and since it’s private, the trip can be tailored to include the places you want to see.

Transportation for a Day Trip to Guanajuato from San Miguel de Allende

Other than driving or taking a tour, you can easily take a bus on a day trip to Guanajuato from San Miguel de Allende.

Buses leave every 1-3 hours, depending on the time of day. You can check the schedules on the websites of Primera Plus and ETN which is the slightly more luxurious and slightly more expensive option.

8. Santiago de Queretaro

The simple but stunning arches at the Queretaro Regional Museum are flanked with columns. In the background is the staircase that leads up to this Queretaro museum.

Although Queretaro is located in a different state (of the same name), this large city is one of the closest day trips from San Miguel de Allende.

The city center of Queretaro is very walkable with many architectural details to admire, museums to explore, and incredible statues (more than 1,000 in total).

I would highly recommend booking this affordable walking tour of Queretaro to learn about the history of the city, its buildings, and its role in the independence movement.

Or, if you take the 7:30 am bus from San Miguel de Allende to Queretaro, you’ll arrive just in time to start this wine and cheese tour which takes you east of the city, into the heart of Queretaro’s wine and cheese route. The tour finishes with an exploration of the pueblo magico of Bernal.

Bernal | Bonus San Miguel de Allende Day Trip

The large monolith of Pena de Bernal hovers over the small pueblo magico near Queretaro. In the foreground are colonial buildings. And in the background, the large, jagged monolith.

If you plan to go to Queretaro for the day, consider booking a hotel in the pueblo magico of Bernal for the night.

In the morning, you can get an early start on hiking Peña de Bernal – the third largest monolith in the world.

Afterward, refuel with a blue corn gordita and wander through the small town, which sits along the beginning of the wine and cheese route. Highlights include the main church and square, the mask museum, and tasting pan de queso.

Hiking Peña de Bernal is easy to do on your own. You can walk to the park entrance from the center of Bernal, pay the minimal entrance fee, and follow the path which only gets tricky at the end.

Although if you want to go to the very top, you’ll need to book a tour with an experienced climbing guide that will provide all of the necessary equipment and expertise.

9. Dolores Hidalgo

This small town, located less than an hour from San Miguel de Allende is known as the birthplace of the Mexican independence movement that began in the 1800s.

History buffs will enjoy exploring the town of Dolores Hidalgo more when they book this highly rated tour to the city with guides that are passionate about Mexican history. It also includes a stop at the Sanctuary of Atotonilco.

Mariachi fans will want to pay a visit to the colorful mausoleum of José Alfredo Jiménez at the local cemetery and explore the museum located in his childhood home.

While wine lovers won’t want to miss the Museo del Vino which explains the history of wine production in this region of Guanajuato.

And ice cream enthusiasts will want to try all the exotic flavors of nieves, including the local fruit, garambullo, which grows on a shrubby cactus. While the shops around the main plaza are most well known, I recommend trying the homemade flavors at this shop.

How to Get to Dolores Hidalgo on a Day Trip From San Miguel de Allende

Located less than an hour from San Miguel de Allende, this day trip can easily be done by public transportation. 

Pegasso buses leave from the San Miguel bus station throughout the day. You can check the schedule and purchase tickets on their website.

10. Mineral de Pozos

This deserted mining town is one of the less visited San Miguel de Allende day trips. And that’s all the more reason to visit!

If you don’t have a car, I suggest booking this guided tour which explains the history of one of the oldest mines in the state since many of the attractions are outside of town. The tour also includes a stop at the nearby lavender field and lunch at a local restaurant.

Highlights of a day trip to Mineral de Pozos include wandering through the center of this pueblo magico, taking pictures in the lavender fields, and exploring the depths of the mine of Santa Brigida with its picturesque structures called Los Hornos (the ovens).

Final Thoughts – Day Trips From San Miguel de Allende

As you can see, these day trips from San Miguel de Allende really expand the things to do in the city. From soaking in the hot springs to visiting the eclectic Jimmy Ray Chapel Gallery, you won’t be bored in this colonial town!

Furthermore, the whole area is worth exploring whether you take a day trip to Guanajuato from San Miguel de Allende or explore the smaller towns of Dolores Hidalgo and Mineral de Pozos.

Questions About San Miguel de Allende Day Trips

How many days do you need in San Miguel de Allende?

You should spend at least three nights in San Miguel de Allende. You can easily walk through the town in one day although there are many interesting San Miguel de Allende day trips. You should consider a longer stay if you plan to visit some of the surrounding cities on a day trip from San Miguel.

What is the best time of year to go to San Miguel de Allende?

The best time of the year to go to San Miguel de Allende is November through March. During those months the temperatures are cooler and you are likely to see very little rain. However, it does get cold at night with temperatures averaging in the low to mid 40’s during the winter.

What is the rainy season in San Miguel de Allende?

Like most of Mexico, the rainy season in San Miguel de Allende is during the summer. The rainy season in San Miguel de Allende lasts from roughly June through September with a peak in the middle of the summer.

What is the coldest month in San Miguel de Allende?

The coldest month in San Miguel de Allende is January, when the average high is in the low 70s and the temperatures dip down to the low 40s at night. With a lack of humidity in the air, it’s important to bring a coverup or light jacket at night.

Do you need a car in San Miguel de Allende?

You do not need a car in San Miguel de Allende. In fact, the small streets and limited parking make having a car in San Miguel difficult. However, if you plan to take day trips from San Miguel de Allende, a car is the most convenient transportation.

Why is San Miguel de Allende so popular?

San Miguel de Allende is a popular destination because of its charming streets, colonial buildings, and its ornate pink church, Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel. It has also become a haven for artists, creating a bohemian vibe and vibrant art scene.

What airport do you fly into for San Miguel de Allende?

The best airport to fly into for San Miguel de Allende is Santiago de Queretaro (QRO). Not only is this the closest airport to San Miguel de Allende, it’s also a small and incredibly modern airport. There are direct flights to Queretaro from Dallas and several other US cities.