San Miguel de Allende with Kids ~ A Different Kind of Mexican Vacation

When you think of a Mexican vacation, you probably envision sandy beaches, turquoise blue ocean waves, and all-inclusive resorts. San Miguel de Allende has none of these things. It’s not a major city full of museums and attractions like Mexico City, either. So, why visit San Miguel de Allende with kids? A vacation here is about feeling, seeing, tasting, and experiencing. My family visited for a week and loved it so much, we returned for a full month in this beautiful Mexican city. In fact, we hope to move here someday. Take a look at my recommendations for things to do in San Miguel de Allende with kids.

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
The central square, or Jardín, in San Miguel de Allende (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

With its cobblestone streets, sunset-colored haciendas, and beautiful central square, San Miguel de Allende feels like a little slice of Europe in the heart of Mexico. But it’s a very Mexican town, too, offering traditional cuisine, a penchant for celebrations and festivals, and the patience and welcoming spirit of Latin America.

San Miguel de Allende's colorful colonial architecture and cobblestone streets
San Miguel de Allende’s colorful colonial architecture and cobblestone streets (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Located in the state of Guanajuato, San Miguel de Allende offers the best blend of its colonial Spanish roots and the culture of Mexico’s native peoples. About 140,000 people live in SMDA, with approximately half living in the city and the other half making their homes in surrounding rural communities. It’s widely regarded as one of the safest areas in all of Mexico, too.

Parroquia San Miguel Arcángel
Parroquia San Miguel Arcángel (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

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1. Parroquia San Miguel Arcángel

The pink sandstone Parroquia San Miguel Arcángel stands in the center of the city. Its neo-Gothic towers and facade were built in 1880. The original church dates back to the 1600s, though.

The fairytale architecture of this parish church is so pretty and it’s my favorite color, too! Along the coast, you may wish for ocean views. But in San Miguel, it’s all about views of the Parroquia.

San Miguel de Allende's Jardín
San Miguel de Allende’s Jardín (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

2. El Jardín

The Jardín is San Miguel’s central square, situated directly in front of the Parroquia. Most Mexican cities’ primary plazas are called zócalos and are located in front of the primary cathedral. Since the Parroquia de San Miguel Arcangel is a parish church, the square is referred to as a Jardín (garden) instead.

San Miguel de Allende dolls
Local artisan selling handmade dolls (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Indeed there is a garden in the Jardín, a beautiful one filled with boxwood shrubs, fountains, and a bandstand. Benches in and around the garden are plentiful, and are often filled with locals and visitors chatting and taking in the scene. Come on a Saturday night to listen to mariachi bands competing for attention and tips.

Cool off with a paleta, or popsicle, in the Jardin in San Miguel de Allende with kids
My daughter cooling off with a paleta, or popsicle, in the Jardín (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Vendors wander through the plaza peddling hats, candies, baskets of handmade dolls, and other handicrafts. Restaurants surround the Jardín and, despite the primo location, offer good food at affordable prices.

A hat vendor in San Miguel de Allende's central square
A hat vendor in San Miguel de Allende’s central square (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

3. Parque Benito Juarez

A visit to Parque Benito Juarez is a must during any visit to San Miguel de Allende with children. It’s like a miniature version of New York City’s Central Park.

Parque Juarez features a playground, walking/jogging trails, basketball courts (sometimes used for soccer matches), fountains, and permanent exercise equipment. Midweek we found the park to be a mellow place to wander or read. On Sundays, this green space often bustles with people and offers art for sale by local artists.

My kids loved the climbing structure in the playground at Parque Benito Juarez
Climbing structure in the playground at Parque Benito Juarez (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

4. Tianguis de Los Martes

Tianguis de Los Martes is an open-air flea market that takes place every Tuesday just outside San Miguel de Allende’s city center. It’s an easy cab ride away and worth the journey.

Pet birds for sale at Tianguis de Los Martes in San Miguel de Allende with kids
Pet birds for sale at Tianguis de Los Martes (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Find everything from clothing, furniture, and toys to freshly cooked hot meals, leather goods, and pet birds for sale at Tianguis de Los Martes.

When buying produce, stick to fruits that can be peeled or buy iodine to wash your bounty for safe eating. (This is easily found near the produce at the city’s largest supermarket, La Comer.)

Although you should not haggle with clerks in stores in the city, feel free to bargain with sellers here for the best price. I’m not much of a haggler and wanted to support the local sellers so I just paid the offered prices.

A vendor selling fresh fruits at Tuesday Market in San Miguel de Allende with kids
A vendor selling fresh fruits and juices at the Tuesday Market (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

5. La Esquina Mexican Toy Museum

La Esquina Mexican Toy Museum shows off the artistry and history of traditional Mexican toys. The museum is made up of five rooms, which contain toys from various regions of the country. You can read the signs in English or Spanish to learn about the toys.

Children, however, are more interested in playing with toys than reading about them. Therefore, the most memorable part of your visit will probably be to the small experience room where kids can get their hands on some of the darling playthings.

San Miguel de Allende's Toy Museum
San Miguel de Allende’s Toy Museum (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Be sure to go up to the roof for incredible views of the city and to pose in the playful character cut-out. Check out the on-site store on the first level, too, to purchase a toy to take home.

If you don’t have time to make it to the museum during your visit, then pop into Esquina’s additional toy store right next to the Parroquia in the Jardín.

The play room at La Esquina Museo del Juguete Popular Mexicano was my kids' favorite part!
The play room at La Esquina Museo del Juguete Popular Mexicano (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

6. El Charco del Ingenio Botanic Garden

Escape the city for a bit with a visit to El Charco del Ingenio. This unusual botanic garden features walking paths amongst wildflowers, cactus, succulents, and other greenery. It’s located within an ecological preserve and provides a view of a lake called Presa de las Colonias.

A greenhouse at El Charco del Ingenio
A greenhouse at El Charco del Ingenio (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

The views and walking paths are lovely, but kids will be most interested in a play area that includes a net climbing structure plus a cement slide adorned with two snake heads! (See video below.)

YouTube video

Grab one of the many affordable green and white taxis to take you about 15 minutes out of city center to Charco del Ingenio. If you don’t mind a long, uphill hike, you could walk to the gardens instead. Take a look at directions from the Charco del Ingenio website.

Cactus and other plants at Charco del Ingenio
Cactus and other plants at Charco del Ingenio (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

7. Local Events

Monthly calendars of events are posted at the corners of the Jardín. Find these for a listing of San Miguel’s plethora of local happenings including festivals, gallery shows, concerts, and more.

You may also want to purchase a copy of Atención, the local Spanish/English newspaper. It details local happenings and classes.

Dia de los Locos Parade in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
Dia de los Locos Parade in San Miguel de Allende (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

8. Dia de Los Locos

The craziest festival of the year in San Miguel de Allende is surely Dia de Los Locos (Day of the Crazies). My family was lucky enough to experience this playful day and its parade during our month-long visit in June.

A Dia de Los Locas parade winds its way through the city. Expect simple floats, marching bands, and plenty of dancing, dressed-up characters. This holiday celebrates Saint Antonio, for which one of the colonias (neighborhoods) is named in San Miguel.

Stake out your spot in the Jardín in advance and bring along an umbrella, or buy one from the many wandering vendors. Not only can you use the umbrella as shade from the sun or protection from rain, but also parade watchers turn the umbrellas upside down to catch candies flung into the crowds by parade participants.

A "float" in the Dia de los Locos parade
A “float” in the Dia de los Locos parade (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

9. Instituto Allende

San Miguel is home to Mexico’s oldest art school, Instituto Allende. This has led to the city becoming a mecca for artists from all over the world.

Art classes are offered here in both English and Spanish. Sign up for workshops on ceramics, jewelry making, painting, sculpture, basket weaving, and more. Some are as short as one week long. There’s even a summer art program for children!

If you don’t have time for a class, then you can still stop by and wander through the galleries here.

Instituto Allende helped establish San Miguel de Allende as an artistic city
Instituto Allende (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

There are also two places to eat at Instituto Allende. One is a little coffee shop good for a light breakfast, lunch, or snack. The other is a restaurant, Bistro Mi Casa, which is open for dinner and boasts surprisingly good views of the Parroquia.

The live music (on Wednesdays and Thursdays during our stay) was incredible. Beware, however, that there is a cover charge and the audience was a subdued older crowd of expats who did not appreciate any whispering during the performance.

A tile mural on display at Fabrica la Aurora
A tile mural on display at Fabrica la Aurora (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

10. Fabrica la Aurora

Once a textile mill, Fabrica la Aurora now houses dozens of art galleries featuring the works of local and expat artists. Some of the factory machines are still on display.

View all sorts of art here, from hand-woven placemats and adorable bird feeders to impressive wall-sized paintings and modern sculptures. Be sure to keep a close eye on your children at all times here, lest they accidentally “buy” some priceless artwork.

Fabrica la Aurora is located just outside of city center and is easily and affordably reached by taxi. There are two decent restaurants on site, as well as a courtyard coffee shop.

Fabrica la Aurora is a beautiful place to wander in San Miguel de Allende with kids
Fabrica la Aurora is a beautiful place to wander (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

11. Shopping

Wander in any direction to find an array of boutiques selling Mexican handicrafts and art galleries of all kinds in San Miguel de Allende’s downtown. I recommend stopping into Ono off the main plaza for its amazing selection of handmade goods including leather purses hand-painted by local artists.

Although not typically fans of shopping, my kids enjoyed wandering in and out of the many stores in San Miguel de Allende. My 10-year-old son was on a constant search for painted ceramic animals (animalitos) to add to his collection. Meanwhile, my 13-year-old daughter found plenty of silver jewelry and cute fashions. If your kids tire of walking, distract them with an inexpensive toy purchased from one of the wandering vendors in any of the city’s squares.

Be on the lookout for handicraft markets during your stay in San Miguel de Allende with kids, too. You can find these listed in the Atención newspaper, or you just may stumble upon one as you explore the city.

Toys for sale at Plaza de la Soledad in San Miguel de Allende with kids
Toys for sale at Plaza de la Soledad in San Miguel de Allende (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

12. Biblioteca de San Miguel de Allende

Here’s your chance to put that high school Spanish language to good use by asking a local, “Dondé está la biblioteca?” The Biblioteca de San Miguel de Allende is a library, of course. It offers up books in both Spanish and English, for kids and adults alike.

But it’s much more than that. There’s a cute onsite cafe, plus many expats and locals come here to hang out in the darling outdoor courtyard.

Courtyard at Biblioteca de San Miguel de Allende
Courtyard at Biblioteca de San Miguel de Allende (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Head to the Biblioteca’s gift shop to sign up for a guided tour of the city or nearby destinations, like Dolores Hidalgo or Guanajuato City. Even if you don’t want to purchase a tour, pop in to get a look at the impressive mural painted across the shop’s ceiling.

Biblioteca de San Miguel de Allende gift shop with its impressive mural
Biblioteca de San Miguel de Allende gift shop with its impressive mural (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

13. Museo de San Miguel de Allende

Museo de San Miguel de Allende is located very near the Parroquia within the former house of one of the leaders of Mexico’s revolution from Spanish rule, Ignacio Allende. At this museum, learn about the city’s history and its important role in the country’s revolution. Video displays are in Spanish but most of the signage is available in English.

Kids will likely find a visit here less than thrilling. They might dig the displays that show how Allende and his family lived in this massive hacienda back in the late 1700s and early 1800s.

A courtyard at Museo de San Miguel de Allende, former residence of one of the city's namesakes, Ignacio Allende
A courtyard at Museo de San Miguel de Allende, former residence of one of the city’s namesakes, Ignacio Allende (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

14. Spanish Language Schools for Families

Turn your family vacation in San Miguel de Allende into a learning experience by enrolling in Spanish language lessons. My kids adored their summer camp experience at Centro Mexicano de Lengua y Cultura (also known as Josephina School). That’s saying a lot, since they beg NOT to go to summer camp back home.

When I lamented the high cost of attendance, both kids exclaimed, “That’s because it’s fun and we actually learn something!” (Cost was $250 USD per kid per week, 9 am – 1 pm, Monday – Friday in summer 2018.)

My kids with their beloved instructor, Monica Centro Mexicano de Lengua y Cultura in San Miguel de Allende
My kids with their beloved instructor, Monica, at Centro Mexicano de Lengua y Cultura (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

After two hours of Spanish lessons, the kids work on craft projects like making pineapple-shaped piñatas, painting animalitos, or making decorative throw pillows. Seriously, the crafts they made here were way more impressive than anything my kids have ever brought home from camp in the U.S.

One day per week, students embark on a field trip. Sample activities include making pizzas at Mama Mia Restaurant downtown or shopping the Tianguis Market.

Sister school Centro Bilingue de San Miguel follows a similar format and many of the teachers work at both locations. Individual and group adult Spanish lessons are available at both schools. I highly recommend my helpful and patient instructor, Sara!

The beautiful flowers my kids made at Centro Mexicano de Lengua y Cultura in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
The beautiful flowers my kids made at Centro Mexicano de Lengua y Cultura (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Where to Stay in San Miguel de Allende with Kids

Rosewood Hotel San Miguel de Allende

For a grand stay in San Miguel de Allende with kids, you can’t go wrong with the elegant Rosewood Hotel San Miguel de Allende. The location near Parque Juarez is ideal and the grounds are stunning. In comparing prices to other Rosewood locations, you get a lot of luxe for your pesos in San Miguel.

View of San Miguel de Allende from Luna Rooftop Tapas Bar at the Rosewood Hotel
View of San Miguel de Allende from Luna Rooftop Tapas Bar at the Rosewood Hotel (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Although we never stayed the night here, we spent a lot of time taking in the amazing view from their rooftop tapas bar, Luna. Day and month passes for the pool and fitness center are available for non-guests.

Rosewood San Miguel de Allende pool
Rosewood Hotel pool (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Vacation Home Rentals in San Miguel de Allende

Both times our family visited San Miguel de Allende, we booked a vacation rental home. We loved having the extra space to spread out, relax, and sleep well. Plus, a kitchen makes snacks and meals easier and more affordable. A rental makes a stay in San Miguel de Allende with kids feel more authentic, too.

My kids doing a happy dance outside our San Miguel de Allende vacation rental
My kids doing a happy dance outside our San Miguel de Allende VRBO vacation rental (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

From crazy inexpensive to downright palatial, you can find all sorts of San Miguel de Allende home rentals via VRBO. Safe and centrally located neighborhoods include Centro, Guadiana, and much of San Antonio. Take a look at San Miguel de Allende accommodation options via TripAdvisor now.

I was in love with the backyard at our San Miguel de Allende rental home
The backyard at our San Miguel de Allende rental home (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

How to Get to San Miguel de Allende

Located in the center of the country, San Miguel de Allende isn’t the easiest destination to reach. It’s about a 4-hour drive from Mexico City. Bus service is available from the country’s capital, and supposedly the buses in Mexico are quite upscale.

It’s much easier, however, to fly into either León (airport code BJX) or Querétaro (airport code QRO). Although Querétaro’s airport is technically a little closer to SMDA, either destination will take about an hour and a half to reach. Plus, I’ve found more flights available flying into Léon.

For safety’s sake, I recommend arriving before dark. The sun sets around 6 pm in winter and around 8 pm in summer. The drive to San Miguel de Allende is mostly without any street lights, through minimally populated farmland and tiny towns on a two-lane highway.

If you have a late arrival or early morning departure, hotels near the Léon airport are extremely affordable and many offer free airport shuttles.

Mojigangas, celebratory life-sized puppets, in San Miguel de Allende
Mojigangas, celebratory life-sized puppets, in San Miguel de Allende (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Why We Want to Move to San Miguel de Allende

Our desire to move to San Miguel de Allende started before we ever visited this wonderful Mexican city. The cost of living in the U.S. keeps increasing — healthcare, housing, groceries, entertainment — everything. Based on the proximity to the U.S., our family’s fondness of Mexican cuisine, the welcoming Mexican culture, and the ease and usefulness of Spanish as a second language, we began considering a move to Mexico last year.

When I studied abroad in France, I found it much easier to befriend other expats from around the world (who were also eager to make new friends) than to get close with locals. Therefore, I like that San Miguel de Allende has a high percentage of expats. In fact, foreigners make up about 10 to 15 percent of the population.

Additionally, San Miguel is located in the desert highlands, with near ideal temperatures year-round. Plus, I love small, walkable cities. For me, huge cities are overwhelming and the suburbs are boring. San Miguel de Allende’s size seems just right for my family.

I miss the sense of calm and peace this city and its residents exude. I am ready to embrace a slower pace of life, where cars bumble over cobblestone streets and patiently stop for pedestrians.

Although I love my country, I want my kids to know a life outside of the United States. I want them to focus more on experiences and less on things. I want more connection and adventure. Most of all, I hope our dream to live in San Miguel de Allende comes true someday!

A colorful mural at Parque Juarez embodies the spirit of San Miguel de Allende with kids
A colorful mural at Parque Juarez embodies the spirit of San Miguel de Allende (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

More About San Miguel de Allende and Expat Life

Want to learn more about visiting San Miguel de Allende with kids? Check out my picks for the best restaurants in San Miguel de Allende.

If you want to learn or brush up on some Spanish before your visit, check out why I recommend Rosetta Stone for families!

Read our tips for expats, too.

Moon San Miguel de Allende

I found Moon San Miguel de Allende to be a wonderful resource, both for planning our trip and for writing this story.

A Better Life at Half the Price

If you’re considering becoming an expat, too, I highly recommend A Better Life at Half the Price. Written by my friend and fellow travel writer, Tim Leffel, the book discusses the benefits and pitfalls of living abroad in detail.

I especially appreciated the chapters on numerous developing nations. These are based on his personal experience and interviews with other expats. His book was instrumental in narrowing down our search for a new home to Mexico.

Becoming an Expat Mexico

For those of you considering a move to Mexico, I suggest reading Becoming an Expat Mexico. This guide will help you get a sense of different regions, cities, and pueblas so that you can find the right place for you. It also provides practical tips for moving to this country.

On Mexican Time

To get more of a sense of what it’s like to live as an expat in San Miguel de Allende, you will enjoy On Mexican Time. Although this memoir is based on the author’s experience of moving to Mexico from Los Angeles in the 1980s, you still get a sense of the allure (and drawbacks) of life in San Miguel.

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico with Kids

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Do you have any questions about things to do in San Miguel de Allende with kids? Let us know in the comments below!

A Note from The Travel Mama: I paid full price for everything mentioned in this article. I will always let you know if I receive a media rate or comp. All opinions are mine, as always.

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  1. I first heard of SMDA when I read 1956 novel aimed at teen girls SENORITA OKAY, nickname of small town Ohio high school student who receives bequest from her art teacher to go study at Instituto Allende. Could be fun read before visit for girls who might then be curious to spot places described (using Google maps, may have found area where title character lives!) Comments below run on a bit, but could add to appreciation of Mexico & its intriguing culture.

    Would you know otherwise that un-named nutritious low-cal vegetable “like a big potato…slice(d & eaten) raw with salt & lime juice” that protagonist Triss aka Patricia tries with her new friends at first lunch in SMDA is turnip-like “jicama” (pronounced hicama)? SENORITA OKAY includes other tips for travelers in Mexico that can still be useful.

    Also recommended for adults (tho author’s acknowledgement thanks his little daughter for being “reminder that learning a language is child’s play”), entertaining & informative book BREAKING OUT OF BEGINNER’S SPANISH by Joseph Keenan, available both in print & as e-book. 20th Anniversary edition cites compelling reasons to learn a second language, especially Spanish, now ranked as having 2nd largest number of native speakers on the planet.

    For Spanish learners, enjoyable way to practice comprehension is watching telenovelas streaming on demand in USA, such as 2021 dramedy PARIENTES A LA FUERZA (on NBC & Telemundo Youtube, Peacock, Spectrum) which is partly set in San Miguel de Allende (mostly 1st, 2nd & final episodes) about a Hollywood screenwriter suffering from writer’s block who was born in SMDA, but strayed from his Mexican roots & family values until he fulfills his mother’s last wish–and returns to fall in love with vibrant Mexican singer he takes back to LA to star in film he wrote with her as inspiration (literally meaning “to breath in”, which many characters do emphatically…and you might need to if reading aloud this long run-on sentence).

    Lovely scene where she first sings “their” song “Para Siempre” (Forever is the perfect time to love you) takes place in El Jardin facing La Parroquia lit up at night like an enchanted fairy tale castle, reminding me of Disneyland (see more ties to Magic Kingdom below–it’s a small world after all). She suggests as title for his next film project “Para Bien or Para Mal”/For Better or for Worse, an echo of marriage vows.

    100 episode series PARIENTES A LA FUERZA (Family by Force) purposely includes many idiomatic Spanish expressions & traditional sayings, proverbs or “dichos”–like phrase of title–often appearing in visual form, a way to expand beyond basic survival Spanish. Setting of Hollywood “dream factory” illustrates central theme of “Authenticity versus Appearance” with unpretentious, truthful heroine Carmen contrasting with fakery that writer is weary of in his previous personal & professional life.

    Riff on his zombie flick tagline “el virus que consumio todo”: wearing drab clothing like “walking dead”, he moans studio has been sucking his blood for 20 years, that he’s been consumed by work (leading to estrangement from his nearest relatives), his manager complains executives have been “masticando” her jugular, also in vein of vampire metaphor. Don’t rely on bland English subtitles as often ignore clever imagery of Spanish dialogue. Gallery of his movie posters foreshadows future story developments.)

    On topic of growing up multi-cultural, actor who portrays leading man was born in Brazil of US (non-Latin) parents who raised their 4 children all over Latin America, so he is fluently tri-lingual; his writer wife is Mexican (tho they met in Los Angeles), 2 of their kids also born in Mexico, family home is in LA, with working trips to Mexico & Miami studios.

    Disney’s ENCANTO has references to his first major hit telenovela,1994 Colombian feminist story CAFE CON AROMA DE MUJER, involving all aspects of international coffee industry (writer later created UGLY BETTY). He also starred in Mexican LA MENTIRA & both classics are streaming on VIX both featuring characters who are poly lingual, language skills very useful in increasingly globally connected world.

    Another, lesser-known Disney movie filmed around San Miguel de Allende is 1955 THE LITTLEST OUTLAW (see Wikipedia article with link to official site for purchase or rental). Mexican cast was bilingual so that film was shot twice with versions in Spanish & American English. I didn’t recognize many locations in movie, but may be before USA ex-pats & tourists helped turn sleepy town into South of the border extension of Disneyland’s carefully manicured Main Street.

    More recent animated Disney films on DVD include option for Spanish soundtrack & subtitles, but don’t expect word for word translations. TARZAN–for which Phil Collins sang in multiple languages–features Mexican superstars Eduardo Palomo & singer Lucero (aka “La novia de America”/ American’s Sweetheart) voicing Tarzan & Jane.

    Viewers might also play game of catching references to loads of movies–whose titles or catch phrases are often translated into Spanish in PARIENTES A LA FUERZA (May the force be with you)–with major link I didn’t realize until re-watching being THE WIZARD OF OZ: 3 male main characters have imaginative versions of quests by Dorothy’s 3 traveling companions (plus all that road imagery, among other clues); all find loving home and extended family by story’s eventually happy–at least for “los buenos”/good guys–ending.

    Carmen is called “torbellino”/whirlwind, evoking famous film tornado or cyclone. PARIENTES dialogue & songs include other words related to air, breezes, spinning like pinwheel or windmill. Also many references to dogs (like Toto): Yuli affectionately calls Carmen “Tontota”/silly; latter’s nickname for cousin is “Roja”/Red as in ruby slippers, Nicknames are popular in Mexico, partly due to many people having same given names. Won’t go into all associations meant by Uncle Juancho’s roosters, but they do crow to announce when sun is rising, appropriate for Sun/star Carmen.

    Even unobservant Spanish speakers may be oblivious to symbolism running throughout series, explained in English on the Penso and Parientes Blog. Scholarly book about TELENOVELAS (part of “The Ilan Stavens Library of Latino Civilization”) states on page 63 that genre did not develop from USA soap opera, but rather in pre-electric era when now-classic novels by Victor Hugo, Balzac & Dickens, etc. were read aloud in installments to male workers doing tedious work in Cuban cigar factories. So similar techniques used in study of literature should be applied to telenovelas.

    Because of Castro, radio-novela writers left Cuba to work in other parts of Latin America, including prolific influential author CARIDAD BRAVO ADAMS, whose parents were Cuban actors, but moved to Mexico. Her beloved stories LA MENTIRA & CORAZON SALVAJE were made into various versions for film & TV based on her own novels, yet reflecting concerns of contemporary society.

    One example of what may be overlooked in PALF is extended “stardom” metaphor: Future film Star Carmen is devotee of Patroness of Mexico, La Virgen de Guadelupe (also namesake of hero’s mother Lupita) aka Queen of Heaven,whose venerated image stands on crescent moon in middle of sunburst. Full name of city of Los Angeles is “El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora la Reina de los Angeles”. Carmen is life-giving sun (which is astronomically a star) around which protagonist George revolves–he is Planet Earth which is mostly blue from water, his favorite color & element he’s often near (note cloud-like ceiling lamps in his Beverly Hills home).

    Sight-seeing couple gaze at ocean by Santa Monica, while in background, beach-side roller-coaster (and world’s only solar-powered Ferris wheel) represent emotional ups & downs of story to come). George also shows her his star on Hollywood Walk of Fame in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. Rainbows are seen as multi-colored large sunshade umbrella in several locations, ribbons, and LGBT pride flag, Iridescent bubbles float in air, mode of transportation used by Glinda the Good in WIZARD OF OZ.

    Clincher for importance of astronomy imagery–film studio name ORBIT Studios. Attempting to separate Carmen & George, a rival signs singer up for year-long world tour, time it takes for earth to circle the sun. Be alert for other references to going in circles, as when Andy’s spacey New Age friend asks if he has some “cycle” to close with his father; many bikes, globes, star-shapes. Also note coin-op space shuttle kiddie ride in shopping plaza by fountain. Lots of pizzas too!

    Carmen calls her close cousin Yuli (who wears SUNflower print blouse) her shadow, corazon/heart, sister; I think her nickname “Chuli Julie”/Pretty Julie may refer to famous movie star name that’s spoiler). George’s duplicitous ex-wife is Earth’s pale moon who hides her dark side from planet she orbits. Their twin children Paz/Peace & Tomas (aka Tommy Cruz, sound-alike of actor Tom Cruise) seem link to astrological sign of Gemini.

    BTW, California was named after mythical Amazon warrior queen Califia in novel read by conquistador Hernan Cortez & mentioned by Cervantes in his own novel DON QUIXOTE, whose title character & side-kick Sancho Panza also seem reflected in PARIENTES A LA FUERZA, as well as suit of armor seen in mansion of one character, which simultaneously seems allusion to Tin Man of OZ, paralyzed without his “oil can”, in need of a heart. The more you know, the more you will notice.

    For further help on interpreting visual arts, see eye-opening book READING THE SILVER SCREEN by Thomas C. Foster, author of HOW TO READ LITERATURE LIKE A PROFESSOR.

    Hope these hints may enrich the experiences of visitors to Mexico–and those who dream of living there.