One of the easiest and most enjoyable outings from San Miguel is to spend a good part of the day at one of the local hot springs, where the warm thermal waters are ideal for soaking your bones. There are numerous hotels and mini-resorts with geothermal pools all around the area, but the best and easiest to reach are clustered around ten minutes’ drive northwest of town on the road to Dolores Hidalgo. The Santuario de Atotonilco and enigmatic Cañada de la Virgen are equally enticing cultural attractions, while the intriguing half-deserted settlement of Mineral de Pozos and historic towns of Dolores Hidalgo and San José Iturbide make easy and absorbing excursions.
Fifty kilometres or so from both Guanajuato and San Miguel de Allende, DOLORES HIDALGO is as ancient and as historically rich as either of its southern neighbours. This was Father Hidalgo’s parish, and it was from the church in the main plaza here that the historic Grito de la Independencia (“Cry of Independence”) was first issued in 1810. The town celebrates the event annually with the Fiestas de Septiembre, ten days of cultural and sporting events, music and fireworks, culminating with the Grito around dawn on the sixteenth.
Perhaps because of its less spectacular location or maybe because there is no university or major language school, Dolores hasn’t seen a fraction of the tourist development that has overtaken other places in the Bajío (despite becoming yet another Pueblo Mágico in 2002). It’s a good bet, though, for a one-night stopover, and if you can’t find accommodation in Guanajuato or San Miguel, this is certainly the place to head; you’ll get a better room here for appreciably less. True, there is less to see, but it’s an elegant little town and thoroughly Mexican.