Susan Portnoy is an award-winning travel photographer, freelance travel writer and the editor of The Insatiable Traveler. You can see her work in Newsweek, Travel Weekly, USA Today and Adventure.com, among others. Follow her on Instagram @insatiabletraveler.
One hundred seventy miles from Mexico City, San Miguel de Allende, is the affordable escape discerning travelers crave. Steeped in local culture, it has a vibrant art scene and foodie-friendly cuisine surrounded by colorful 16th-century colonial architecture—not to mention, a Dias de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebration rivaling New Year’s Eve in Times Square.
La Colmena, an old bakery specializing in traditional recipes and baking techniques, is a must. Fret not: You’re guaranteed to walk off your oven-fresh carbs while exploring the city’s steep cobblestone streets. (Pack comfortable shoes!)
In the heart of the city is the Main Square and the renowned pink Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel. Food carts in and around the plaza are safe, inexpensive and tasty. For a sit-down meal try Los Milagros, an airy cantina with live music and the best enchilada I’ve ever eaten. Afterward, unpack at the eclectic Casa Hoyos, a new boutique art hotel with a rooftop bar sporting a loungy vibe and panoramic views.
On Monday nights in the summer, The Santa Fe Photographic Workshops’ world-class photographers and writers discuss their work for free at Bellas Artes.
Every Tuesday, La Placita, a massive market on the edge of town (a $5 taxi), hosts hundreds of local vendors selling everything under the sun. If you’re keen on the indigenous culture, visit the Mask Museum, where an exceptional collection of nearly 500 Mexican ceremonial masks will amaze you.