3 Hour Activities


CENTRO DE LAS ARTES DE SAN LUIS POTOSÍ
705 Calzada de Guadalupe, Julián Carrillo, Santuario
+52-444-137-4100
centrodelasartesslp.gob.mx

GO DIRECTLY TO JAIL

  • Visit a thriving new arts complex fashioned out of a 19th-century prison
  • See art and sculpture exhibitions mounted in former jail cells
  • Time your visit to a live music or dance performance

One of the most striking landmarks in central San Luis is the city’s former prison compound, built in the 1890s out of locally quarried stone. Its twin fortress-like turrets and crenellated ramparts make for an imposing sight (and occupy some seriously prime downtown real estate). So when the facility was decommissioned in 1999, city officials wisely sensed an opportunity—and a decade later, the prison was transformed into the Centro de las Artes de San Luis Potosí, a sanctuary for visual arts, dance, and music. Every hidden corner of the complex now bursts with creativity, with artworks mounted in former jail cells, resident artists at work on sculpture installations, and a constant stream of performances and events, from ballet recitals to documentary screenings. The art itself draws power and impact from the dramatic surroundings—vast courtyards, now zero-scaped with succulents; outdoor corridors flanked by 30-foot stone walls painted dusky rose. You can easily spend a few hours exploring the grounds, peeking in on exhibits, perhaps taking a tour (English-language guides are available by special request), and ideally timing your visit with a play or live concert.
The arts center is a 15-minute drive from the Conrad. Note the unusual business hours: Tuesdays through Fridays, 5 p.m.–8 p.m.

CENTRO DE LAS ARTES DE SAN LUIS POTOSÍ
705 Calzada de Guadalupe, Julián Carrillo, Santuario
+52-444-137-4100
centrodelasartesslp.gob.mx

DINE OUT ON MEXICAN HISTORY

  • Have an elegant dinner inside a magnificent 1870s convent
  • Sample dishes based on centuries-old recipes from all across Mexico
  • View the rotating art exhibits in the upper-floor gallery

Step into El Atrio restaurant and you’ll be convinced you’ve mistakenly wandered into some aristocrat’s elegant home: a Victorian-esque parlor here, a light-flooded atrium there, a cozy library nook for two among the dining rooms. The house was originally a convent, built in the 1870s; taking a cue from that history, owners Juan de Dios Solis and Ricardo Herrera have created a menu based on recipes from the 17th to 19th centuries, sourced from convents and monasteries all over Mexico. They tweaked the instructions for the modern kitchen—original recipes measured ingredients in pinches and handfuls, and cooking times were counted by the number of Hail Marys—and developed a distinctive menu rooted in heirloom foods such as regional cactus fruits, nuts, and seeds. Try the chilevirreinal, a dried ancho stuffed with beef, almonds, figs, and candied cactus fruit, among other ingredients. It pairs well with the ensalada vizcainanas, a bright salad mix with green grapes, sesame seeds, walnuts, and a honey dressing. End the meal with buñuelos, thin and crisp fritters—a holiday staple in Mexico—topped with brown sugar and chased with café de olla (coffee made with cinnamon and served with piloncillo, a cone of cane sugar). After your meal, check out the upstairs art gallery, where exhibits by Mexican artists rotate every six months.
The restaurant is 10 minutes by car from the Conrad and is open for lunch and dinner.


BOLIVAR, BOTANERO Y MESCALERÍA
685 Simón Bolivar, El Centro
facebook.com/botanerobolivar

LA PIQUERIA MEZCALERÍA
1190 Independencia, Plaza Aranzazu, El Centro
+52-444-814-7395
facebook.com/lapiqueriamezcaleria

LA ORUGA Y LA CEBADA
169 Universidad, El Centro
+52-444-812-4508

TAKE THE ULTIMATE BAR CRAWL

  • Sip flights of fantastic mescals from across the country
  • Savor regional craft brews and the legendary (or is that notorious?) pulque liquor
  • Snack on thin-crust pizzas topped with prosciutto and olives

A handful of great bars, all located downtown and within blocks of each other, specialize in mescals and microbrews, which might as well be the official sponsors of San Luis’s social life. Start things off on the southwestern edge of the historic district at Bolivar, Botanero y Mezcalería, a dressed-up version of a traditional Mexican cantina, where you can order flights of mescal from San Luis Potosí and Oaxaca, among other regions in Mexico. Walk two blocks east to get to La Piqueria Mezcalería, where collegiates and young professionals huddle over wooden tables in low-lit corners to sip craft beers (try the blond ales and IPAs from Wasumara, a locally beloved brewery). Or turn to the long list of mescals, which includes a number of varieties of pulque, a centuries-old drink, native to central Mexico, that’s also produced from agave fibers. (It’s making a modest comeback on menus throughout San Luis, though we’ll be the first to warn you it’s an acquired taste.) Around the corner you’ll find La Oruga y La Cebada, the most popular bar in the historic center, thanks to its lengthy microbrew menu, large rooftop, and regular (and good) live music. If the weather is nice, snag an open-air table and sip Mexican beers like the Minerva Colonial Stout or Dos de April, a pale ale made in San Luis. This is also the best bar for food: hot thin-crust pizzas—topped with prosciutto and olives or tomatoes and pesto—are delivered straight from the oven.
All three bars are within a 15-minute drive of the Conrad and a close walk from one other.

BOLIVAR, BOTANERO Y MESCALERÍA
685 Simón Bolivar, El Centro
facebook.com/botanerobolivar

LA PIQUERIA MEZCALERÍA
1190 Independencia, Plaza Aranzazu, El Centro
+52-444-814-7395
facebook.com/lapiqueriamezcaleria

LA ORUGA Y LA CEBADA
169 Universidad, El Centro
+52-444-812-4508

Plaza de la Fundadores

Plaza de Armas

Catedral Metropolitana de San Luis Potosí

Manuel José Mathón (street)

Plaza de Carmen

HIT THE TOWN WITH A WALKING TOUR

  • Explore the rich and colorful history of San Luis Potosí
  • Step out of the heat and into grand cathedrals dripping with gold leaf
  • Treat yourself to fresh lemon or guava sorbet from a street vendor’s tin cart

Like many cities throughout central Mexico, San Luis Potosí is anchored by a historic center with Catholic and colonial roots. Narrow streets open up to sophisticated plazas framed by stately buildings and grand churches that were built during the city’s heyday as a mining capital. Begin your walk in the Plaza de la Fundadores, the urban center’s oldest square, now dedicated to city events ranging from concerts to flea markets. On the plaza’s eastern border you’ll find a statue of Louis IX of France, the city’s namesake and its patron saint, hoisted on a pedestal stamped with bars of gold and silver. (Potosí was added to the capital’s name in honor of Potosí, Bolivia, once home to bountiful mines.) Walk two blocks east to the Plaza de Armas, the city’s largest—and most photogenic—square, designed with pedestrian paths, neatly trimmed magnolia trees, and ornate 19th-century benches. Here, you can peek into the Catedral Metropolitana de San Luis Potosí, the capital’s largest and most important church, built in the 1700s. Marble statues imported from Europe and an interior dripping in gold leaf speak to San Luis’s wealthiest decades. Stroll east along Manuel José Mathón, where street-food and jewelry vendors regularly set up shop, to get to Plaza de Carmen, home to the 19th-century Teatro de la Paz and the Templo de Nuestra Señora del Carmen, an architectural gem with an intricately carved baroque façade. Here, Semana Santa processions (the world’s second-largest after those in Seville, Spain) take place every spring. If you have a stomach for street food, keep an eye out for some of the historic district’s regular vendors. Men push modest tin carts with fresh lemon or guava sorbets; other stands have familiar sweets like gummies and candied apples, alongside balls of tamarind paste rolled in sugar. The most popular snack among Potosinos is elote, or grilled corn on the cob. Eat it fresh from the flames or rolled in cream, cotija cheese, and dried chili.
San Luis Potosí’s historic district is 15 minutes by car from the Conrad. While you can certainly explore all the above on a self-guided tour, you might consider hiring a private guide for a more in-depth look. Ask the Conrad concierge to arrange.

Plaza de la Fundadores

Plaza de Armas

Catedral Metropolitana de San Luis Potosí

Manuel José Mathón (street)

Plaza de Carmen