Some 58.6% of all international trips taken by U.S. travelers are to Mexico, where stunning beaches make it a destination that surpasses the popularity of spots like Canada, the Caribbean, and even Europe.
So how did a tiny central Mexican town, hours from the coast, get named one of the 2024 Trending Destinations by American Express Travel when Mexico’s beach destinations are so popular? With its layered history and vibrant cultural scene, the charming, colorful town of San Miguel de Allende pulses with everything that Mexico’s busiest and most popular beachfronts lack. It’s a signal of the growing popularity of new styles of travel, poised to transform the travel horizon in Mexico.
Trends in Travel
Data from Mexico’s Anahuac Tourism Competitiveness and Research Center (CICOTUR) shows the top destinations for U.S. travelers headed to Mexico are all located along the country’s coasts. With pristine beaches dotted with luxury resorts at resort towns such as Cancún on the Caribbean coast and Puerto Vallarta and Los Cabos on the Pacific, it’s no wonder they’re popular.
The unwavering popularity of beach vacations among U.S. travelers means that it’s unlikely Mexico’s beach destinations will one day fall out of fashion. Much the opposite. Investment in projects like a new international airport in the popular beach town of Tulum and the soon-to-debut Tren Maya connecting beaches to Mexico’s ancient ruins show a country burning on all cylinders to make its beaches more attractive than ever.
However, beachless cities like San Miguel de Allende represent a new, growing trend in tourism in Mexico, focusing much more on experiences and connection than rest and relaxation.
Much-Loved San Miguel de Allende
San Miguel de Allende may be one of the trending travel destinations of 2024, but its fame is nothing new. The town has been named one of the world’s best cities by Travel + Leisure, winning the top spot multiple times.
“Americans have been fascinated with San Miguel since we were on the cover of Life magazine in 1948,” notes Greg Gunter, who has lived and worked in San Miguel de Allende since 2009 and is broker at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices in the heart of the city’s historic center. “Travelers love our 480 years of history so carefully preserved in our UNESCO-protected village. It’s rare to find a UNESCO site where one can actually live, work and play!”
San Miguel de Allende is known colloquially as one of Mexico’s “magical cities” — an official government designation designed to promote tourism to some of the country’s richest cultural and historic destinations. Visiting these charming destinations is now one of the most popular things to do in Mexico.
While the city was removed from the list of over 170 villages in Mexico when it was protected by UNESCO in 2008, walking its colorful, cobblestone streets where colorful papel picado flags wave in the breeze feels just as magical as ever.
Staying in San Miguel de Allende
San Miguel de Allende’s endlessly growing popularity has sent the number of hotels and guesthouses in town skyrocketing, but its crowning jewel is Casa de Sierra Nevada, A Belmond Hotel. Voted one of the world’s best hotels by both Travel + Leisure and Condé Nast Traveler in 2023, it’s its own precious travel destination hidden within San Miguel de Allende’s historic walls.
Belmond is known for crafting incomparably genuine travel experiences, making Casa de Sierra Nevada the perfect destination for a memorable encounter with San Miguel de Allende. The hotel comprises six luxuriously restored heritage mansions in the heart of San Miguel de Allende’s protected historic center.
Its décor is exquisite down to the most minute details, bringing the historic charm of San Miguel de Allende close to guests in a way the town’s modern resorts and hotels can’t. Casa de Sierra Nevada’s shaded gardens with cascading bougainvillea and peaceful blue pool make you wonder why anyone would want to fight over lounge chairs at a crowded beach resort. As you lounge, age-old church bells chime from nearby plazas.
To fall in love with San Miguel de Allende and the new style of travel in Mexico’s most charming towns is to have a memorable and engaging experience with it firsthand. Casa de Sierra Nevada embodies this style of travel for its guests better than anywhere else in San Miguel de Allende.
Guests eager to take the flavors of Mexico home with them can try a cooking class at the hotel’s Sazón cooking school. The hotel also offers workshops with Hermes Arroyo, a local artist long dedicated to making mojigangas, a traditional Mexican art form using cardboard to create what are often large-scale recreations of famous figures. Arroyo is renowned for his mastery of the art form. He has created installations for everyone from local shops and hotels in San Miguel de Allende to major cities in the United States and even Formula One races.
With the city’s vast cultural offerings and one-of-a-kind travel experiences, San Miguel de Allende offers an engagement with the heart of Mexico that beach resorts can’t replicate.
Future of Tourism in Mexico
While San Miguel de Allende’s history is its greatest treasure, it doesn’t lack innovation. Earlier this year, Casa de Sierra Nevada, A Belmond Hotel, launched the brand-new Tunki Rooftop by Handshake. The rooftop cocktail bar is the San Miguel de Allende outpost of Mexico City’s Handshake Speakeasy, which was recently named the third-best bar in the world.
Mixing unexpected ingredients with Mexican and international spirits rooted in ages of tradition, Tunki Rooftop by Handshake serves revolutionary cocktails with the perfect sunset view overlooking a historic city. It’s just another reason to visit San Miguel de Allende this year.
Travelers excited to experience this trending destination in 2024 are in luck, with numerous new flight routes between the United States and Mexico making it even easier to visit. While most visitors still travel through the international airport in Mexico City, airports in Guanajuato and Querétaro are closer. Added flights to these cities, particularly for those visiting from California and across the southwestern U.S., can make visiting this city easier than ever.
This article was produced by Media Decision and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.