The tawny, green-touched flanks of the Sierra de Guanajuato rise up around the Mexican colonial city of Guanajuato. Sprawling along the steeps side of this mountains region, Guanajuato came to public attention when a very profitable vein of silver was discovered here circa 16th century.
Prospects here are still good, though for sight-seeing not silver seeking. The mine, La Valenciana, is still in operation but it's unlikely you'll find any precious metal outside shop displays. Take a tour for a first-hand look at the ore-mining process on a trip out of the city center. Equipped with transportation or a good pair of walking shoes, wander the grounds of Ex-Hacienda San Gabriel de Barrera, a restored 17th century hacienda just over a mile out of Guanajuato proper.
Ramble around steep, narrow streets for a closer look at the city itself and the small museum on the grounds of artist Diego Rivera's birthplace. Find a unique kind of exhibition at the Museo Iconografico del Quijote, a museum that showcases art and artifacts relating to famous fictional character, Don Quixote de la Mancha. Should this fall short of a spiritual experience, spend a few hours visiting the city's churches.
Get a spot of exercise with a climb up the hill to the monument to El Pipila. Even visitors who know nothing of local history can enjoy the view over Guanajuato.
Guanajuato is less than hour driving time from San Miguel de Allende.