It was the end of May 2018 and I’d just told Eric about my dream to overland around the world. We were wild camping outside Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, with a clear view of Grand Teton itself.
With more questions than actual hesitation, Eric made my dream his own. We started binge-watching overland videos on YouTube. How to wash your laundry in a garbage bag. How to assemble a proper first aid kit. And, much more glamorously, all the places you can go when you’re living out of a 4×4 vehicle.
It was then that we stumbled on a video of an overlanding team visiting San Luis Postosí in Mexico. We’ve tried so many times to go back and find that YouTube video, but for some reason we can’t. But let me tell you, I was completely smitten by this beautiful city: its history, architecture, people, and liveliness.
I wanted to visit San Luis Potosí.
Fast forward seven months, and I’m writing from my kitchen table in San Luis Potosí. YouTube didn’t let me down. I love this city.
Visit Mexico’s coasts if you like. But you must visit Mexico’s interior, as well. After driving 450 miles from Laredo, Texas, we spent 10 days in San Luis Potosí. If you’re wondering what it’s like, then here’s a quick look into our experiences and recommendations for the area.
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Where We Stayed in San Luis Potosí
We prefer to stay in Airbnb rentals because they give us separate living areas to work and play (especially important with a two-year-old). They also provide an equipped kitchen, so we can save money on meals when we like. More than that, you can live like a local from an Airbnb in the right location.
We love the unit we chose. It’s in the center of the city, in the center of everything. Imagine your favorite movie or show set in New York City, the way the main character swings open the apartment door and sweeps out onto the sidewalk with people and vehicles everywhere. That’s us and it’s an amazingly vibrant way to live.
Where We Parked Our Jeep
We walked almost everywhere for 10 days straight. In fact, we only took our Jeep out of the parking garage twice in all that time. We thought we might take taxis or buses, but we never found the need.
We parked our Jeep a pleasant three blocks away, just past Jardin de San Francisco. The garage at Hermenegildo Galeana 475 is open until 10 p.m. at night. So while it may not be suitable for late-night revelry, it’s perfectly sufficient for parents of toddlers. ?
The current rate is $50/night and $50/day, or $100MX for 24 hours. That works out to a whopping $5.30USD per 24 hours at today’s exchange rate.
We tipped an attendant named Arturo to keep a special eye on our vehicle during our stay. He was kind and vigilant. We also paid for a detailed vehicle wash on-site, which was convenient and appreciated.
What We Ate in San Luis Potosí
I’m not much of a cook on a normal day in the United States. I’m much less of a cook when I don’t have access to my normal grocery stores. And when eating out costs less in Mexico than a meal’s worth of groceries would in the U.S., I don’t feel bad about the whole thing.
We ate out a lot in San Luis Potosí. Most meals were perfectly satisfying, but we didn’t go back if they weren’t exceptional. There were too many options.
Of the countless places we visited, our absolute favorites were:
We visited La Oruga the most. There are multiple seating areas, but the upstairs terrace is lovely on a sunny day.
We tried so many things on the menu. The Menjurge is one of the best cocktails I’ve had. Our favorite dishes were:
- queso fundido (melted cheese with chorizo)
- cochinita pibil tacos (delicious slow-roasted pork, a specialty from the Yucatan peninsula, served with refried beans, pickled onions, and guacamole)
- arrachera tacos (tender sliced skirt steak with onions, refried beans, and guacamole)
- pizza de cochinita pibil (my favorite pork combined with orange and grapefruit pieces)
The French fries are actually really good, but make sure you ask for the chipotle ketchup. (Another idea: carry packs of normal ketchup with you everywhere you go in Mexico.)
We’re not beer drinkers, but La Oruga is well-known for its beer. Visa cards accepted.
Av Universidad 169 – Facebook
La Parroquia Potosina
We visited La Parroquia Potosina for the Saturday brunch buffet and were back again on Sunday. The only downside is the buffet is only available Thursday through Sunday!
On Saturday, I was a bit disoriented. It was later in the morning and busy, and I was trying to discern what each tray of food was. (I don’t eat eggs, so that limits my breakfast choices.) But when we went early on Sunday (just after 8 a.m.), I felt much more composed and knew what I wanted to try.
There’s fresh fruit and yogurt, a huge spread of pan dulce with cajeta (Mexican caramel sauce), make-it-yourself tacos with fresh tortillas straight off the griddle, traditional foods of the region like enchiladas potosinas, plus eggs and bacon.
This amazing buffet with equally amazing service is only $160MX/person ($9USD). Visa cards accepted.
Avenida Venustiano Carranza 303 – Facebook
Tortería Nueva was a last-minute find, but would’ve been a lunch standard had we found it sooner. I’m not a huge torta person, but Eric crafted an amazing one with arrachera, queso blanco (white cheese), avocado, lettuce, tomato, cucumber slices, radishes, and mayo. It was incredible.
Don’t be intimated by how packed it is at lunch. They’ll make room for you. We paid in cash here.
Ignacio Allende 220 – Website
Croque la Vie
Croque la Vie is my favorite for coffee + working remotely or wine + reading. It’s a hip, French cafe that plays a lot of American music. And the croissants are quite good when they’re fresh.
I recommend the outdoor atrium for reading, if you can catch it on a quiet weekday afternoon.
Avenida Universidad 260 – Facebook
Walking Around Central San Luis Potosí
Most people getting to know us ask questions like we’re tourists. But we’re not. In fact, we’re responsible for a full slate of clients who we love, and run three blogs we founded, plus all their related social media platforms. Eric also founded the Coast Guard Jeep Club, which has chapters across the country and even outside of it.
We work a full work week, with my days starting at 5 a.m. so I can get some things done before our little guy wakes up. Work has to come before play because it keeps the Jeep wheels turning.
Having said that, I don’t have a 10-day San Luis Potosí vacation itinerary for you. All I have is 10 days of what it looks like to live like a local.
In my opinion, it looks pretty good. And it’s sustainable, versus living full-time life as a tourist is fairly exhausting. All of our exploring in San Luis Potosí was done on foot and I only used our Lonely Planet guidebook once–days after our arrival. Everything we discovered, we stumbled upon.
City Plazas and Gardens
Our apartment was within easy walking distance of several plazas and jardins (gardens). A block to the west, Jardin de San Francisco is the loveliest in my opinion. The fountain and greenspace remind me a bit of an historic square in Savannah, Georgia.
A short pedestrian walkway called Avenida Universidad continues on the other side of Jardin de San Francisco. Many artisans set up there, some with quite lovely jewelry. The restaurant La Oruga is located along this walkway.
A block and a half to the north of us, Plaza de las Armas is the city’s main square. Catedral Metropolitana San Luis Potosí is here (built between 1660-1730), as well as Palacio Municipal (1838) and Palacio de Gobierno (1798-1816). They all have striking architecture.
We walked into the cathedral on a quiet morning, and were struck by the nativity scene still up. All of the animals were real stuffed animals, from a rooster to a goat and its kids.
During the holidays, there’s an acclaimed light and music show in Plaza de las Armas. We didn’t see it (#babybedtime), but the music welcomed us on our first night in town. It lasted hours and we loved it.
Plaza del Carmen was the most impressive to us because of its expanse. We walked through Museo del Virreinato, which was free during our visit (normally $15MX/person). I loved the 16th-century building as much, if not more, than the art it contained. There were no signs in English.
On another day, we visited Museo Nacional de la Máscara, which is on the south side of the plaza. This “national mask museum” is one of the best in Mexico. The main exhibit signs are translated into English, which was helpful for context. The museum was the perfect size for a two-year-old (I had him in a carrier on my back). At only $20MX/person (plus another $10 to take pictures), it was also bizarrely inexpensive given the quality of the pieces.
Other Suggested Places to Stroll
For more strolling, people-watching, and generally living like a local, head to Calle Miguel Hidalgo. It’s a pedestrian-only walkway that runs north-south through the center of town.
Go north to our favorite pastelleria/panaderia (bakery): La Parisiense. It’s located at the corner of Calle Morelos and Bocanegra.
And our mercado for fruit is just a bit farther north: Mercado Miguel Hidalgo. My favorite fruit vendor is on the north side, opposite the exit near the center. He has black curly hair and an energetic, friendly attitude. You’ll know who he is.
Calle Miguel Hidalgo runs all the way south to Jardin Colón and beyond. I didn’t see a lot of people running (for exercise) in the city center. But when I did, it was along this pretty stretch.
Lavandaria Automatica is in this area, located at the corner of Sevilla y Olmedo and Calz de Guadalupe. We used them twice during our 10 days. They were kind and took good care of our clothing. But beware the posted hours can be only suggestions. Our first time picking up, we returned twice during posted open hours and no one was there. It took an extra day for us to get our clothes back. So if you have a potty-training toddler who is about to run out of pants, confirm your pickup time when you drop off your clothes.
The only other sight-seeing-type thing I haven’t covered is Museo del Ferrocarril, or Train Museum. We went this week and Caspian was beyond thrilled. There’s not a lot to it and the signs are only in Spanish. But there are three old train cars you can walk (or run) through. And for $30MX/each ($1.50USD), it was totally worth it.
Did We Feel Safe?
I’ll address the elephant in the room: did we feel safe in San Luis Potosí? Did I venture out alone, or was I always with Eric?
Answer: yes, we felt safe. I did go out by myself a couple of times. I also walked the nine blocks to the lavanderia with Caspian, lugging our bag of laundry, and all the way back. I felt safer than I’ve felt in the neighborhood where I grew up in Corpus Christi, Texas.
We didn’t go out at night during our stay. Originally, that was at the recommendation of our Airbnb host. However, we talked about it and decided we would go out for a walk at night, in a well-lit, popular area.
It didn’t end up happening just because we wore ourselves out during the day. But our plan was to walk down to Plaza de las Armas, then stroll down Calle Miguel Hidalgo. Based on 10 days of experience, I’m confident we would’ve been safe and enjoyed ourselves.
The locals have been incredible. We haven’t had a single negative experience. Everyone has put up with my poor Spanish. Everyone has loved on Caspian. Nauhales Off Road 4×4 Club welcomed us with open, generous, loving arms.
So take everything you hear on cable news and let a black hole suck it into oblivion. Trade your television for travel.
Today, we headed deeper into Mexico’s interior.