Blue skies, warm sun, colorful Spanish colonial buildings, friendly locals, cobble stone streets, birds chirping. This describes our charmed life in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. It’s hard to complain, and why would you? We came here (for the 3rd time) looking to settle down for a bit, after a year of moving from country to country every month or so. We weren’t ready to give up on travel, but we wanted to give our son a chance to make some friends and establish some routines.

People often ask us how we got started traveling and what advice we might have for others looking to do long term family travel. We were recently interviewed by Family Adventure Podcast and we touched on these common questions.

People choose to travel for a number of reasons, but it often includes a desire to expose oneself to new experiences and cultures. It gives us an opportunity to grow and learn. To us, it’s what makes travel such a rich and worthwhile venture. However, putting yourself in unfamiliar situations, where you don’t always know the language, can sometimes cause stress and frustration. In fact, travel challenges are guaranteed. How you handle that stress and frustration will determine your success as a traveler and the satisfaction you get from traveling.

Rancho Xotolar (show-toe-lar) is an authentic, family-owned, working ranch just 18 kilometers from the center of San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. This 1250-acre ranch is set amid pristine rolling pastures and dramatic canyons – all adjacent to the newly opened pre-Columbian archaeological site of Cañada de la Virgen. The Morín family has lived and farmed Rancho Xotolar for six generations and now welcomes guests to experience ranch life that is untouched by modernization.

Taking a cooking class in San Miguel de Allende is not only a great way to learn a little about Mexican culture and cuisine, it’s also a lot of fun. You’re often introduced to new flavors and ingredients that you aren’t familiar with and shown new methods or techniques that you can’t wait to put into practice in your own kitchen. You can look forward to meeting some locals and other travelers, sharing a meal, and perhaps making some new friends. Best of all, you get to take the recipes and your new found knowledge back home with you. What could be a more perfect souvenir?

Founded in 1542, the colonial city of San Miguel de Allende is a UNESCO World Heritage site within Mexico’s hilly central highlands, about 170 miles northwest of Mexico City. Known for the beauty of its well-preserved colonial architecture, vibrant art scene, cobblestoned streets, and eternal spring-like weather, it’s hard not to fall in love with this charming and picturesque city. Many do. In their November 2013 issue, Condé Nast Traveler named San Miguel #1 in their Reader’s Choice Awards for Top 25 Cities in the World.

If you ever find yourself in Playa del Carmen, Mexico looking for a good place to eat, then look no further than the list below. We promise you won’t be disappointed with any one of these choices. So, without further ado, here are our Top 5 Favorite Restaurants in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.

La Fragata 

  • Address: 26th Street between 5th & 1st Ave
  • Hours: Daily 7:00am – 10:00pm
  • Cuisine: Mexican, French, Seafood
  • Recommended Dishes: Everything
  • Comments: Jacques Pépin named this as his pick for best restaurant, period. It’s truly delicious.

Situated 14 km outside of San Miguel de Allende in central Mexico, you’ll find the sleepy hamlet of Atotonilco (ah-toe-toe-NEAL-co). As you enter the town, you’ll be greeted by a statue of Miguel Hidalgo and an unremarkable whitewashed church. The simple exterior of the church, known as El Santuario de Atotonilco (Sanctuary of Atotonilco), belies the unexpected Baroque gem found within.

I came across a brief article today on the Past Horizons website noting that archaeologists at the site of Tehuacan in Puebla, Mexico believe they’ve identified a mid-fourteenth century shrine to the Aztec god Mictlantecuhtli (pron. Mict-lan-te-cuht-li) or ‘Lord of the Land of the Dead’.

Just last night I wrote a post about hosting my first Dia de los Muertos celebration, so I’d already been thinking about Mexico’s deeply rooted views that life and death are fundamentally interconnected.