Located in the Guanajuato region, this is a popular destination and is one of our favorite road trip destinations. It’s a direct shot from the United States border while taking toll roads. Depending on where you cross, it can be a single, long day on the road or a two day drive for direct travel.
We recommend taking two days for the direct trip as it prevents night driving and breaks the trip into two, manageable days with 5-6 hours on the road. There are plenty of great stopping points around the halfway mark as well.
Route Options from the US Border
There are a few ways to get there. Your entry point is a big factor and Texas has the most direct routes available. You could drive the entire Pacific Coast and cut to central Mexico after Tepic, via Guadalajara. I’ve done this route after taking the Baja Ferry to Mazatlan and it’s not bad by any means.
You could also drive the long way through Chihuahua and Durango to get there. Unless you have specific stops to make however, the Texas routes are ideal. For the sake of expediency, we will pay closer attention to Texas and the easy, direct routes.
Route #1: Driving from Laredo to San Miguel de Allende
While many travelers intentionally avoid crossing at Laredo, it’s not a bad option. It has a direct and convenient route and if you avoid the city itself, the driving is pretty easy. Local law enforcement also make regular runs from the border to the immigration (bancercito and aduana) stop. Follow them on the highway for a secure path.
The alternative is driving a short distance to the Colombia Solidarity Bridge to avoid downtown Laredo entirely. It’s not a major detour and many travelers are more comfortable being far removed from the busy city by traveling just on the edge of things.
On either route, you will drive through Monterrey before catching Mex Highway 57 south all the way to San Miguel de Allende. Expect to pay tolls on the way unless you want to drive the side roads and deal with incessant speed bumps and delays.
Route #2: Crossing at Eagle Pass
This is a favorite way to cross and jump directly on the correct path south. It’s also a super friendly border crossing with room for RV’s and bigger rigs. The nice thing about crossing here is the fact that you drive a single highway the entire distance. It’s direct and relatively quick on the quota roads.
The stopping points along the way are also nice and you shouldn’t have any issues finding a decent hotel or rental for stopovers. There are even dog friendly hotels for those traveling with pets.
Route #3: Driving from Nogales
For those located in the west, you can take the longer coastal route. Crossing at Nogales is one good option that takes you down the Sea of Cortez and on to the Pacific Coastline. You pass through Mazatlan, then Tepic before turning inland to Guadalajara.
This route takes much longer so plan for a minimum of four long days of driving to complete this safely. You can also drive the safer and easier Baja Peninsula, taking the ferry to Mazatlan. It’s a longer journey as well but makes for a wonderful road trip.
The reality here is that it’s actually easier and quicker to drive to Texas before jetting south. If you have plans along the coast however, this can be a fun drive with some nice beach stops.
Favorite Stops on Your Drive through Mexico
These are all centered around the Texas crossing routes. If you choose a less direct, longer path, definitely do some research to plan stops. Always pad your drive times with backup options. Hitting delays and unexpected stops isn’t uncommon.
If you’re coming from Laredo, Monterrey is another nearby option. Saltillo is a wonderful town and it’s only 5.5 hours from Eagle Pass (4 from Laredo). The town has amazing crafts, plenty of great food and a charming old downtown. Many visitors come just to experience the colonial architecture and laid back vibe.
It’s nearly nine hours from Eagle Pass, meaning you could make it in a long day. If you cross the border early and drive without any long stops, it’s pretty ideal. You can also leave early the following day and make your destination by mid-morning. For those who want to make time, consider Matehuala as a good stopping point on day one.
San Luis Potosi
This is much closer to your final destination and is eleven hours from the Eagle Pass crossing. It’s worth spending an extra day (or more) to experience the landscape and culture. The canyons and waterfalls alone make it worth the trip.
There are many more attractions in the area and you could easily spend a few weeks on fun detours while driving to San Miguel de Allende.
As always, remember to have your passport and Mexican car insurance for the border crossing. You will also need an FMM for each person and a TIP for the vehicle.