Babies sure do add a new dimension to travel. Whether vacationing with a partner or a whole family, take things slow and consider dining in, lunching out, exploring a lot on foot, and handing off baby (occasionally) for a little R&R on your own.
SAN MIGUEL DE ALLENDE, Mexico – The central Mexican city caters to a jetset clientele that gives San Miguel a great energy and lots of diversions. Fortunately, it also operates at a luxuriously slow pace that's perfect for parents of newborns.
Babies add a new and challenging dimension to travel, and you don't have to give up exploring! Just make sure to have a support system for (at least) part of your trip so that you don't end up carrying around a stroller, bags, and an infant on your own all the time. I flew alone with the baby and met family once I got to Mexico.
Sleepless nights, constant nursing, and a needy newborn might not sound like vacation to you, but that 4/5-month mark is a sweet spot: The baby is not eating solids yet; she doesn't need to be in a highchair; she's portable in a wrap or carrier; and because she's probably not sleep trained yet, you can enjoy dinners out without messing up her schedule. Traveling will seem like a beautiful daydream — or at least a nice escape from everyday diaper drag.
San Miguel is foodie heaven, and food is a sleepless new mama's best friend, especially when she's nursing and hungry 24/7. With an abundance of incredible restaurants and innovative chefs, this is not a provincial food destination.
The best high-end Mexican food is at Andanza at the boutique hotel Casa Sierra Nevada, featuring a magical leafy candlelit courtyard and a dreamy bar you can picture Hemingway hanging out in. La Posadita (Cuna de Allende 13; +52-415-154-8862) has a gorgeous rooftop right by the Parroquia, that makes it a lovely spot for taking pictures and enjoying fine Mexican dining amidst a glorious sunset. Thursday is burger night at the chic courtyard The Restaurant. (Possibly the best salmon burger I've ever had.)
For lunch, in the know locals snack at Delica Mitsu, a divine hole in the wall serving the most incredible Japanese food: fresh, healthy salads, crunchy miso tempura portabellos, savory rice balls that will make your mouth sing. For Mexican and American breakfast, try the cute boho Cafe Muro. The owner gave my baby a tour of the kitchen while I peacefully devoured my chilaquiles. Brilliant. Seafood and ceviche fixes can be had at Sirena Gorda, a funky little nightspot that gets fresh fish directly from Zihuatanejo on the Pacific, where the original beach side Sirena Gorda is located. On Sunday, don't miss brunch at Rosewood, where, for around $30, you'll have a divine all-you-can-eat gourmet brunch spread with green juices. I will never forget celebrating my first Mother's Day here.
MARKETS + TEA TIME
If you're renting one of the gorgeous homes in San Miguel (which is the thing to do), you'll want to stock up on food and snacks for when you're resting at home. Via Organica has organic and fresh lunch food, plus a small shop with natural and organic items. On Saturdays, you won't want to miss the Organic Market (8:30-2:30 p.m.; corner of Ancha de San Antonio and Cardo on the grounds of the Rosewood) for fresh organic produce, fish, breads, quiche, beauty products from local farms, handmade gifts, and authentic Mexican prepared foods. Grab a clay plate, point to the delicious concoctions, and eat at a picnic table. For decor inspiration, the best hot chocolate in town, or a glass of wine, head to the chic Carlota & Emilia (Local 8, Cuna de Allende 15; +52-415-154-9803) tucked away in a central courtyard among gorgeous boutiques. The gourmet deli Luna y Queso has an incredible selection of local cheeses at prices that will make you curse the U.S. They also always have fantastic chocolate and cheesecake.
I'm a firm believer in teatime wherever I go. My favorite secret spot for an afternoon break is Camino Silvestre, a hummingbird-themed boutique with a courtyard serving delicious tea, sweets, and savory lunch. Cafe San Agustín (San Francisco 21; +52-415-154-9102) is a gorgeous setting for churros and chocolate overlooking a picturesque square. Walls are adorned with Art Nouveau pictures, including quite a few of the famous owner and Mexican soap star Margarita Gralia. For pastries, stop at Petit Four, a French patisserie that will satisfy any sweet tooth. Or Verintort, a new Russian bakery and cafe making delightful cakes.
KEEP IT MOVING
SMA is made to explore by foot. The colorful cobblestone streets, magical hidden courtyards, magnificent churches, whimsical shops, and architectural details are best enjoyed walking. Did I take my huge UppaBaby stroller with me? Yes. Did I use it in town? Once, and I struggled, as the sidewalks are narrow and high. Good thing I brought a baby carrier.
You absolutely must visit Artisans Alley also known as Mercado de Artesanias (9 a.m.-7 p.m.; Plaza Lanatón, Andador Lucas Balderas), which is a walking-only stretch crossing multiple streets lined with stalls offering beautiful handmade artisanal crafts and gifts (hand-painted ceramics, whimsical metal light fixtures, embroidered dresses, table runners).
Another must in the center is the artisan workshop La Puzzleria (Canal no. 21, Plaza Colonia 112), where you can commission a custom wooden puzzle (with non-toxic ink) made with your child's name.
Make sure to drive out or take a cab to El Charco del Ingenio, a succulent-filled botanical garden and nature preserve. I walked with the baby while my husband and brother ran the trails around the canyons. We met up for smoothies at the park cafe.
One of my favorite authentic experiences was driving out to Rancho Vinicola Toyan outside of town. The vineyards and whimsical organic farm have a small market and rustic kitchen serving farm-to-table lunch cooked in traditional clay pots, for a pittance. You'll feel transported back one hundred years.
Watching the sunset in San Miguel is de riguer. The views are spectacular, and the city is teeming with rooftops. Private ones are the best, of course. But Rosewood is the next best bet, and your family pics will look great from this vantage point.
One thing that should be a must: Splitting babysitting time between you and your partner so that you both have a little freedom for exploring or relaxing on your own. At various points on our trip, I convinced both my brother and my husband to brave the baby carrier for a couple hours so that I could enjoy spa treatments at the Rosewood Spa in between nursing sessions. We would all meet up again for live music in the candlelit courtyard of boutique hotel Nena. Everyone was happy about it.