San Miguel de Allende mixes the best aspects of small-town life with the cosmopolitan pleasures of a big city. It is the smallest of the silver cities and perhaps the most relaxed; its wide variety of restaurants, shops, and galleries makes urbanites feel quite at home. Most of the buildings in the central part of the town date from the Colonial Era or the 19th century; the law requires newer buildings to conform to existing architecture, and the town has gone to some lengths to retain its cobblestone streets.
Living in San Miguel is a large community of Americans: some retired, some attending art or language school, and some who have come here to live simply and follow their creative muses -- painting, writing, and sculpting. The center of this community is the public library in the former convent of Santa Ana. It is a good place to find information on San Miguel or just to sit in the patio and read.
A notable aspect of San Migueleña society is the number of festivals it celebrates. In a country that needs only the barest of excuses to hold a fiesta, it is known far and wide for them. Most of these celebrations are of a religious character and are meant to combine social activity with religious expression. People practice Catholicism with great fervor -- going on religious pilgrimages, attending all-night vigils, ringing church bells at the oddest times throughout the night (something that some visitors admittedly might not find so amusing).