The Coolest Things to Do in Guadalajara, Jalisco

Things to do in Guadalajara, the cathedral

Guadalajara is known as a huge Pueblo, or as the song goes, it has the soul of the provinces. Even though it is Mexico’s second City there is little comparison with the sheer size of Mexico City (CDMX). That being said, there are still a ton of cool things to do in Guadalajara and the metropolitan region.

Guadalajara, Guadalajara! Guadalajara, Guadalajara!
Tienes el alma de provinciana Hueles a limpio, a rosa temprana
A verde jara fresca del rio Son mil palomas tu caserio
Guadalajara, Guadalajara Sabes a pura tierra mojada

Written by Pepe Guízar in 1937 and performed by numerous artists

Guadalajara Pilgrims on horseback

An Insiders Guide To Finding Cool Experiences in Guadalajara, Mexico

  1. Explore the Historic Downtown
  2. Eat as much as you can
  3. Find the best murals
  4. Take mariachis to a serenade
  5. Go shopping in Tlaquepaque
  6. Vía Recreactiva
  7. Take a Tour
  8. Tequila Volcano
  9. Amusement Parks
  10. Fútbol (Soccer)
  11. Baseball
  12. Bulls
  13. Take a walk in the park
  14. Colonia Americana
  15. Get Coffee
  16. Go to Church
  17. Traditional Markets
  18. Take in a show at the Degollado Theater
  19. Agave Lessons
  20. Cantina Tour
  21. Nightlife
  22. Lucha Libre Party Bus
  23. Museums
  24. Zapopan, Puerto de Hierro, and Plaza Andares
  25. Pilgrimages
  26. Archeological Sites
  27. Panteon de Belen
  28. Festivals and Events
  29. Quick Getaways from Guadalajara
  30. Guadalajara Travel Guide

The State of Jalisco and the capital Guadalajara, have always been known as a hub of traditional Mexican culture. Tequila, folkloric rodeo, and mariachi music help to define what Mexico is known for across the globe.

Today, Guadalajara is a destination for all that traditional culture but also for the excellent schools, the multinational technology industry, the movie production scene, and the massive services industry. There is a lot of history but Guadalajara is also a very modern city.

The area has one of the best economies in Latin America with a spectacular quality of life. Jalisco has one of the highest rates of foreign direct investment in Mexico because the multinational organizations like the business climate and the educated labor market.

There are highly conservative and extremely liberal sections of society but they seem to get along in a rising-tide-lifts-all-boats type of way. I know immigrants from just about every continent who lovingly call this place home.

As the community becomes more diverse so has the culinary arts scene. Not only can you find Korean barbecue, Venezuelan arepas, and regional Indian cuisine, but you can also find an astonishing collection of Mezcal from Oaxaca, wine from Baja California, and regional dishes from all over Mexico.

The Degollado Theater lit up at night for a concert in Downtown Guadalajara

There is a lot of wealth and opportunity but there is also a level of poverty that suburbanites may not be acquainted with. While I feel very safe here, things are different from where I grew up in Southern California. You probably shouldn’t drink the tap water or walk around distracted on your cell phone in the bar district.

The beauty of Jalisco is that it maintains the traditions of centuries past while keeping in touch with what is going on in the rest of the world. There is a constant stream of contrasts that will surprise you and delight you at every turn.

This is a quick glimpse of what I think makes Guadalajara so great a place to live and visit. And this is just the beginning. I always keep a list of places to visit: museums, botanical gardens, pueblos magicos, birrierias, and beaches that I can’t wait to experience.

1. Explore the Historic Downtown is one of the Best things to do in Guadalajara

Touring Downtown is one of the coolest things to do in Guadalajara

Guadalajara was founded at its current location in 1541 and has not stopped evolving since. Walking the streets of the historic core is the best way to appreciate the history guarded in this beautiful city. There is a contrast of traditional and modern ways of life that we will see over and over again, and we are going to start in the oldest part of town.

Click here to read the full article on touring Downtown Guadalajara

Besides the amazing architectural heritage, there is a festival-like atmosphere downtown with food vendors, artists, musicians, restaurants, cantinas, museums, and lots of space to walk. Over the last century, the area has been redeveloped to create a series of plazas and pedestrian streets that link the most popular tourist attractions. In 2020, line 3 of the Guadalajara Metro was inaugurated, running underneath the main plazas and Avenida 16 de Septiembre. After years of construction, the whole downtown is more enjoyable than ever.

Downtown Guadalajara deserves more than just one day to explore. There are Tapatíos (the name for people from the State of Jalisco) who have lived their entire life in Guadalajara and still find new corners of downtown that take their breath away. 

When I have guests in town, I love to give them one of my tours of downtown. I’ve lived here for ten years and I still love spending a Sunday museum hopping, enjoying a carriage ride, looking for new restaurants and cantinas. There is no shortage of things to do in downtown Guadalajara. 

From the Plaza de las Nueve Esquinas to the Hospicio Cabañas it is just over one mile. Even though you can walk a mile in less than 20 minutes, there are dozens of interesting things to see along the way. These are my favorites:

Plaza de las 9 Esquinas

Calle Galeana 379, Zona Centro, Guadalajara, Jalisco

My favorite walking tour of Downtown Guadalajara starts with breakfast in the Plaza de las 9 Esquinas. There are a number of traditional restaurants situated around a quaint fountain and plaza. The restaurants are famous for birria, one of Guadalajara’s favorite local recipes. El Pilón de Los Arrieros and Birrieria de las 9 Esquinas are both good options if you can’t decide where to eat.

Temple of San Francisco de Asís

Calzada Revolución, Zona Centro, Guadalajara, Jalisco

After breakfast, head north to the Jardín San Francisco to see the two temples. The San Francisco de Asís Temple is one of the oldest churches in Guadalajara predating the Metropolitan Cathedral by 18 years. The original adobe blocks were replaced with intricately carved stone in the baroque style and later some neoclassical arches were added. In 1750 it was considered one of the most beautiful churches in New Spain.

Plaza Universidad and the Biblioteca Iberoamericana Octavio Paz

Calle Pedro Moreno, Zona Centro, Guadalajara, Jalisco

Continuing north along the pedestrian street of Calle Colon you will reach the Plaza Universidad and the Biblioteca Iberoamericana Octavio Paz.

Like many of the buildings in the area, this library has seen a lot of changes over the years. Originally it was a Jesuit college dedicated to Saint Tomas of Aquino. When the Jesuits were expelled from Spain in the 18th century the property was given to the Royal University of Guadalajara. It continued to change ownership for another three centuries.

In the 19th century, the architectural style was altered adding some neoclassical columns. In the 20th century, Big Three Muralist, David Alfaro Siqueiros painted some murals in the main hall of the library. The murals are by no means the most impressive works by Siqueiros but they are interesting nonetheless because his style is so distinct.

Guadalajara Metropolitan Cathedral and the Cruz de Plazas

Avenida Fray Antonio Alcalde 10, Zona Centro, Guadalajara, Jalisco

The Guadalajara Cathedral is one of the most easily identifiable churches in Mexico due to its yellow, gothic bell towers. The first stone was laid in the mid-16th century and the Spanish renaissance style temple was dedicated in 1618. Earthquakes in the 19th century took down the original bell towers which were rebuilt in the style of the day.

The cathedral is open to the public but be respectful by taking your hat off and keeping your voice down. There are crypts underneath the pulpit and a very interesting museum of sacred art on the backside of the building.

The Guadalajara Metropolitan Cathedral is surrounded by four plazas in the shape of a cross when viewed from above. The resulting pedestrian areas are lovely and connect some of the most important historic buildings in Downtown Guadalajara. Museum hopping is one of the most enjoyable things to do in Guadalajara.

La Rotonda de los Jaliscienses Ilustres

Avenida Fray Antonio Alcalde 108, Zona Centro, Guadalajara, Jalisco

On the north side of the cathedral sits the Rodonda de los Jaliciences Ilustres. One square block is part memorial, cemetery, park, and statue garden. The actual Rotonda is a circular ring of 17 neo-classical stone columns. The base of the columns house the remains of some of the most notable people from the State of Jalisco. There are an additional 22 statues of some of the most popular folks from Jalisco.

In the 1950s, Governor José Jesús González Gallo wanted to revitalize Downtown Guadalajara and make it a tourist destination. This involved tearing down some buildings including a church where the Rotunda now stands. Originally called the Rotunda of Illustrious Men, the name was changed to be more inclusive. You will recognize the names of the people memorialized because of the many streets that have been named after them. Its fun to see who they were and what they did. Ironically, Illustrious painter Gerardo Murillo, Dr. Atl, who was missing a leg was sculpted missing the wrong leg.

The Rotunda is a great place to catch a tour of the city in an electric carriage or on the double-decker tour bus. It is also where you will find the entrance to the Guadalajara Regional Museum.

El Palacio de Gobierno del Estado de Jalisco

Avenida Ramón Corona 31, Zona Centro, Guadalajara, Jalisco

There are two Palacios de Gobierno on opposite sides of the cruz de plazas: one for the City of Guadalajara and one for the State of Jalisco. The city palace is cool but the state palace is much more interesting because of the Jose Clemente Orozco murals and small museums.

On the south side of the cathedral is the Plaza de Armas and state-level government palace. The building was finished in 1774 and has housed important historical figures like Father Miguel Hidalgo during the War of Independence and Benito Juarez during the War of the Reform. The government palace houses two excellent works of muralist José Clemente Orozco and some interesting information on the State of Jalisco.

The whole area was remodeled when the metro was built and looks amazing.

Teatro Degollado

Calle Degollado s/n, Zona Centro, Guadalajara, Jalisco

The Degollado Theater is located opposite the Metropolitan Cathedral, on the far side of the Plaza de la Liberación. The neoclassical architecture is marked by huge columns and carved marble scenes of Greek theater carved in stone. Inside the theater is an immaculately restored 19th-century performance venue with four levels of balconies and detailed murals on the ceiling. Even if you can’t get a show, stopping for a drink at the cafe/bar is nice.

The Plaza in between the Cathedral and the Degollado Theater is called Liberation Plaza because Father Miguel Hidalgo declared the end to slavery here in Guadalajara. The big Guadalajara sign is located next to the statue of Hidalgo breaking the chains of servitude. Right behind the Hidalgo statue is the oldest cantina in Guadalajara, La Fuente. It is definitely worth a stop.

Keep heading east along the plazas past the Degollado, the Plaza de los Fundadores, the fountain of the kids going pee, the coat of arms, the Plaza Tapatía and the statue of the Inmolación de Quetzalcoatl and San Juan de Dios Market until you get to the Hospicio Cabañas.

Cabañas Cultural Center

Calle Cabañas 8, Las Fresas, Guadalajara, Jalisco

The Hospicio Cabañas, also known as the Centro Cultural Cabañas is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, cultural center, and the most important museum in this part of Mexico. The property dates back to the 18th century when it was operated as a Catholic charity taking care of children, the elderly, the poor, and the sick. In the 1930s Jose Clemente Orozco pained a series of 57 murals that are considered to be his masterpiece. If you only visit one museum in Guadalajara, it has to be the Hospicio Cabañas.

In addition to the Orozco murals, there are rotating exhibitions, the Guillermo del Toro Movie Theater, ballet, and theater performances. There are some cool pictures of Barack Obama, Felipe Calderon, and Stephen Harper at the North American Leaders’ Summit in the Cabañas main hall with the murals.

2. Eating is one of the Most Enjoyable Things to do in Guadalajara

best restaurants Guadalajara Alcalde Restaurant Guadalajara The Best of Guadalajara
Frijoles puercos from Alcalde Restaurant

Guadalajara is a world-class foodie destination. The combination of traditional eateries and fine dining establishments means there is a lot to choose from. Recently, a list of exceptional chefs including Francisco Ruano (Alcalde), Fabian Delgado (palReal), Tomás Bermúdez (La Docena), Oscar Segundo and Xrysw Rules (Xokol) have turned Guadalajara into a destination for the epicurean set. These chefs are forging relationships with the small farmers, fishermen, cheesemakers, coffee roasters, brewers, and winemakers to show the depth of tradition and artisanal products available in Mexico.

If you have a limited amount of time in Guadalajara it is worth doing some research to start with the best examples of each category. These are my suggestions

My Top 5 Culinary Experiences in Guadalajara

MARKET FOOD

Mexican markets are amazing. Under one roof you have a concentration of small vendors that represent local ingredients and recipes. Whenever you get to a new town you should check out the markets. In Guadalajara, the most important markets are Abastos (wholesale market), Alcalde (old school downtown market), Santa Tere (neighborhood-style), San Juan de Dios (massive indoor market), and the Mercado del Mar in Zapopan (seafood). For those of us not accustomed to eating in a market the experience is visceral. The food is exceptional but the experience could be life-changing.

BIRRIA

I am not much of a fan of the torta ahogada. Not really my thing. When it comes to the traditional foods of Guadalajara, I am all about the birria. Jalisco style roasted goat stew is one of the great culinary traditions of Mexico. You can find excellent birria in the markets, in the Plaza de las 9 Esquinas or in the Chololo Hacienda. Do not miss out on this one.

PALREAL

Highly regarded as the best coffee in town, palReal has become one of the most celebrated kitchens as well. The weekend breakfast is packed, always. The lonche de pancita is one of the most Instagrammed dishes in Guadalajara, the encacahuatadas are my personal favorite, and everything goes down better with specialty coffee. Make sure to buy a few bags of coffee and learn about all the parts of Mexico that grow excellent coffee.

ALCALDE

I like to think about the Guadalajara food scene before Alcalde and after Alcalde. Chef Paco Ruano put Guadalajara on the map as a destination for Haute Mexican cuisine. He has convinced the locals to try new things and paved the way for a modern food movement. I love sitting at the kitchen bar to watch all the action. Make sure to try the frijoles puercos appetizer and the arroz con leche dessert are world-class.

XOKOL TORTILLERÍA, MOLINO Y ANTOJERÍA

There is a building movement of traditional foods and ingredients in Mexico. Small farmers and heirloom ingredients are fighting back against industrialized farming. Xokol prepares heirloom varietal corn tortillas in the morning and operates a boutique restaurant in the evening. There are waiters but the chef comes out to explain the cultural significance of the ingredients and recipes.

When I have friends visiting from abroad, I would like them to have a memorable experience. Cruising Mercado de Abastos or Mercado Santa Teresita before deciding where we will actually sit down and eat is one experience. Introducing a friend to tripe tacos before a big soccer match in the Estadio Jalisco is another. I, personally, love the combination of liver and onion tacos, ox tail soup, and with a bottle of Rioja Crianza (Federico Paternina Banda Azul to be specific) out of a leather wine bladder while tail gaiting in the Plaza Nuevo Progreso. Now that is a culinary experience.

Look for experiences that you will be telling stories about for years.

3. Find the best Murals in Guadalajara

Jose Clemente Orozco mural in the Palacio de Gobierno de Jalisco

José Clemente Orozco Murals

Along with Diego Rivera and David Alfaro Siqueiros, José Clemente Orozco is one of the three great Mexican muralists. Born an hour south of Guadalajara in the town of Ciudad Guzman, his family spent part of his youth in Guadalajara and would later move back to paint what are considered his masterpieces in the Hospicio Cabañas. The Orozco murals are little treasures spread about Guadalajara and can be found in the Hospicio Cabañas, the Palacio del Gobierno, the Museo de las Artes, and the Casa-Museo Clemente Orozco. Pick up a copy of John Steinbeck’s The Pearl for a quick peek at his style.

Check out the full article on the José Clemente Orozco Murals in Guadalajara.

David Alfaro Siqueiros Murals

David Alfaro Siqueiros mural in the Biblioteca Octavio Paz

Inside of the Biblioteca Iberoamericana ‘Octavio Paz’ there are some simple murals by famed Mexican muralist David Alfaro Siqueiros. If you have been to Mexico City to see the Poliforum Siqueiros you may be disappointed. If you are a major Siqueiros fan then you should stop by to see some of his early work.

Guadalajara Street Murals

They are all over the place in this town. My favorite places to look for cool street art is between the Colonia Americana and the Downtown Guadalajara area. Suerte.

4. Take Mariachis to a Serenade

They say that Mariachi music was born in the town of Cocula, Jalisco just 70 km to the southwest of Guadalajara. Even though it is difficult to truly ascertain the exact origins of this iconic musical style, it is very easy to find excellent mariachis in Guadalajara. Every year the International mariachi and charro (equestrian) festival is held in Guadalajara.

A kid singing with the mariachis at a Guadalajara house party.

The best way to appreciate mariachi is with a serenade. You bring a group of musicians to an unsuspecting friend’s window and start playing your favorite songs. It is the classiest way I can imagine to ask someone out on a date. There is a plaza filled with mariachis available for parties and serenades 24 hours a day.

The Philharmonic Orquestra of Jalisco has a mariachi season inside of a 19th-century theater. The Parian in Tlaquepaque, another 19th-century building, has performances every day. If you want to listen to mariachi with dinner, there are hundreds of options.

I recommend learning a few songs before attending a dinner that includes tequila. It is impressive how tequila can make singers out of the shyest individuals.

5. Tlaquepaque is one of the Best Things to do in Guadalajra

Church in Tlaquepaque, Jalisco

Tlaquepaque is famous for its artisans. They are famous for pottery but there are glass blowers, carpenters, and leather workers among many more skilled tradesmen. Most of the workshops have been pushed outside of the historic downtown and replaced by high-end galleries. I really enjoyed the ceramic museum and seeing examples of all the regional styles. The style of ceramics in Jalisco is different from other regional styles from places like Puebla, Oaxaca, or Tlaxcala.

Click here to read the full guide to visiting San Pedro Tlaquepaque.

In 2018 Tlaquepaque received the designation of Pueblo Magico from the Secretary of Tourism for the work they have done to preserve and protect culture. The cobblestone streets and pedestrian malls house some of the best art galleries in the country. There are very high-quality examples of folk art from Western Mexico including pottery, embroidered textiles, leather, and even tequila.

On the weekends there is a party-like atmosphere with musicians in the street, food vendors on every corner, and of course, one of the oldest bars in this part of Mexico: El Parián.

There was a time when Tlaquepaque was a whole different city. Today there is no break in the urbanization between the different municipalities of the Guadalajara Metropolitan Region: Zapopan, Guadalajara, and Tlaquepaque. Tlaquepaque is only 10 minutes east of downtown Guadalajara but it is a world apart.

Rodo Padilla's boutique in Tlaquepaque, Jalisco

Downtown Tlaquepaque is what you think about when you imagine a picturesque, traditional Mexican village. Internationally renowned artists like Rodo Padilla and Sergio Bustamante have set up boutiques in beautifully renovated colonial mansions that line the cobblestone pedestrian streets. There is Instagram gold to be found around every corner.

Cantaritos cocktails in the Tlaquepaque Parian

The Parián de Tlaquepaque is a collection of 17 different bars set in a 19th-century building. The bars are set around a kiosk stage where there are mariachi and folkloric dance shows every day. This is classic Mexico at its finest.

6. Rent a Bike and ride the Via Recreactiva

On Sundays, huge swaths of the city are closed to cars and opened up for pedestrians, bikes, skateboards, and all sorts of non-motorized forms of transportation. The Mi Bici program allows you to rent a bike and get an intimate view of the city while not having to worry about bad drivers. The bike rentals are cheap and you can pick them up and drop them off at numerous locations throughout the area.

Skating under the Vallarta Arches is one of the coolest things to do in Guadalajara

I recommend starting somewhere near the Glorieta Minerva roundabout and heading east down Av. Vallarta. Once you get to the city center walk the bikes around the main cathedral, the Plaza Tapatio, the Degollado Theater to the Instituto Cultural Cabañas and head back up by the San Juan de Dios market.

7. Take a tour

Since I have started writing this blog I have really jumped on the organized tour bandwagon. I really enjoy talking with tourism professionals and hearing stories from people who have dedicated a lot of time and effort to learn the history of a place.

Calandria Tour Guadalajara Downtown and Colonia Americana

Calandria tour Guadalajara in the rotonda de los Jalisciences ilustres

The horse-drawn carriage tour of Downtown Guadalajara is one of the most enjoyable ways to see the city if you get the right operator. Cruising at 5 mph gives you an awesome view and time to appreciate the waves of architectural styles. Make sure to get an electric calandria rather than a horse-drawn one.

The City of Guadalajara is slowly swapping the horse-drawn carriages for electric ones because too many horses were dropping dead in the street creating a PR nightmare. Some operators took really good care of their horses and others did not. Today, it is better to take the electric carriages rather than ride with a sickly-looking animal or a carriage in disrepair. The electric calandrias are a more enjoyable experience.

Choose a driver that is dressed in uniform as a tour guide with an embroidered shirt, boots, and sombrero. The professional tour guides know more about the city and enjoy telling stories about all the buildings and monuments you will pass.

A calandria tour will cost between MX$300-400 for 30 or 50-minute rides.

The Tapatio Tour Doubledecker Turibus

Tapatio Tour Website

Tapatio Tour Things to do in Guadalajara

The Tapatio Tour buss runs a hop-on, hop-off tours around Guadalajara, Zapopan, and Tlaquepaque. The cost is around 150 pesos per person.

Guadalajara Art Crawl and Studio Visit

Airbnb Experiences

Guadalajara Art Crawl with Alexandra Duncan

Guadalajara is a cultured town and famous for its artistry. That is not just in the historic sense. There are a large number of modern artists with small galleries and studios that will enchant art lovers.

The best way to see the depth of the modern Guadalajara art scene is to take a tour with Alexandra Duncan who is a local art dealer and Ph.D. in art history. She will walk you through the public art space and invite you into the private studios of local artists. Her love and passion for art are apparent from the moment you meet her, and her knowledge about both the historic side and modern side of the Guadalajara art scene will leave you impressed.

8. Visit the Pueblos in the Tequila Valles Region, Tour a Distillery, and Drink Tequila

visiting Tequila and the agave landscapes is one of the coolest things to do in Guadalajara.

The Tequila Valley Region is not technically in Guadalajara but it’s less than an hour away and easily one of the best things you can do in the Guadalajara area. First and foremost, the agave fields are spectacularly beautiful but there is a lot of small-town, ranching culture to experience. Plus, this is the heart of tequila country. There are big and little distilleries alike.

I specifically say the Tequila Valley Region because there are 11 unique towns in the region that each have some interesting tourist attractions. The pueblo magico of Tequila is the crown jewel of the Valles Region and has some amazing experiences that are complemented by the other towns that circle the volcano.

The Guachimontones archeological site sits on the opposite side of the Tequila Volcano from the Town of Tequila. There are several ex-haciendas that have been converted into boutique hotels and even a cooking school.

I highly recommend spending at least one extra day in the Tequila Valles Region to explore.

This is my complete article on things to do in the Tequila Valles Region: La Ruta del Tequila.

Mundo Cuervo and the José Cuervo Express

Mundo Cuervo Website

Grupo Cuervo has created one of the finest touristic products in Mexico. The train ride through the agave fields is a premium experience and the highlight of many travelers’ time in the region. More than just a train ride, José Cuervo has built a boutique hacienda experience that reminds me of a Mexican Downton Abbey. Hotel Solar de las Animas is stunning, the distillery tour is run by professionals, and the events spaces are world-class. It’s like Disney World for adults.

9. Amusement Parks

Guadalajara may not have as many world-class amusement parks as Mexico City but that doesn’t mean there is any shortage of fun experiences.

Guadalajara Zoo

Calle del Zoológico 600, Huentitán El Alto, Guadalajara, Jalisco // Website

The Zoo is one of the coolest things to do in Guadalajara

The Guadalajara Zoo is one of the best zoos in the country and some people say one of the best in Latin America. I grew up with the San Diego Zoo and my first job was at Sea World. I love these types of parks and can say that the Guadalajara Zoo is one of the coolest things you can do in Guadalajara, easily.

I was just watching the Penguins From Madagascar movie with my son ad there was a reference to the penguins from the Guadalajara Zoo which I absolutely loved.

The Zoo is located on the outskirts of town where there is a lot of space and some animals are in open enclosures accessible through a safari tram ride. They take good care of their animals, it is clean, and the gardens between the exhibits are well manicured. In addition to animals, the collection of plants is widespread.

The Guadalajara zoo really doesn’t get busy until late. We arrived at 10 am on a Saturday of a three-day weekend and got parking in the second row. It felt like we had the park to ourselves for hours and there was no line for the tram. By 1 pm the place was packed and the lines were long.

The University of Guadalajara has a top-notch biology program that supplies the zoo and the aquarium with amazing zookeepers.

Selva Mágica

Calle del Zoológico 600, Huentitán El Bajo, Guadalajara, Jalisco // Instagram

Selva Magica is one of the funnest things to do in Guadalajara

In front of the Zoo is the Selva Mágica amusement park with small roller coasters and other games.

Acuario Michin

Calle Mariano Bárcena 990, Zona Centro, Guadalajara, Jalisco // Website

The Acuario Michin is one of the coolest things to do in Guadalajara

The Acuario Michin is small but new and in excellent condition. There is an emphasis on animals from Mexico both salt water and fresh water. The axolotl exhibit is really cool. They are amphibians endemic to the floating gardens of Xochimilco and highly endangered.

The Acuario Michin is one of the coolest things to do in Guadalajara

There is a petting tank where you can get up close and personal with the rays. If you have seen the movie Moana, you can empathize with the grandmother who loves all the different types of rays. I know I do.

Fiestas de Octubre

Club Atlas 191, Auditorio, Zapopan, Jalisco // Facebook

In October, the fair (Fiestas de Octubre) comes to town with a bunch of rides and games of chance. There are concerts in the fairground Palenque, which also happens to be where the cockfights are held beforehand. There is junk food and tons of junk to buy. There is a farm animal festival running at the same time as the fair in a different location. It is a lot of fun for the kids to see the petting zoo and watch a rodeo.

The Fiestas de Octubre were canceled in 2020 and 2021 because of the Covid pandemic but will be returning next year.

Navidalia

Avenida Manuel Ávila Camacho S/N, Lomas del Country, Guadalajara, Jalisco // Facebook

Navidalia is a wintertime amusement park that is kind of a cross between the winter markets in Europe and the Tlalpujahua, Michoacan. There are music and theater presentations and everything is decorated to evoke a fairy tale feeling. It is a great option for the kids.

Calaverandia

Avenida Manuel Ávila Camacho S/N, Lomas del Country, Guadalajara, Jalisco // Facebook

If you are in Guadalajara anytime around Day of the Dead, you have to visit Calaverandia. Calaverandia is the first theme park dedicated to the traditions associated with Day of the Dead. It is a family-oriented adventure park that even grown-ups will love. There are light shows, traditional foods, rides, and theater presentations related to the holiday. If you enjoyed the movie Coco, you will absolutely love Calaverandia.

10. Attend a Soccer Game

Soccer is a big deal in Mexico and the games are a lot of fun to attend not just for the sports but also for the spectacle. Witnessing a big game when the stadium is full and the fans are on the edge of their seats is a memorable experience. Plus, the food is excellent.

Guadalajara has two first division soccer teams, Chivas and Atlas, and the second division Leones Negros. Chivas is one of the most popular and wealthy teams in the country. Atlas hasn’t won a championship since the 1950s but still has a strong following. The Leones Negros are associated with the University of Guadalajara which draws a more family-oriented and intellectual crowd. No matter which

Soccer games at the Estadio Jalisco are some of the best things to do in Guadalajara
Atlas-Xolos at the Estadio Jalisco

Estadio Jalisco: Atlas Fútbol Club and Leones Negros de la U de G

Calle Siete Colinas 1772, Independencia, Guadalajara, Jalisco
Atlas Schedule
Leones Negros Schedule

Atlas and the Leones Negros share the Estadio Jalisco. Chivas also played here until 2010 when they finished their new stadium, Estadio Akron, on the other side of town.

The Estadio Jalisco is an old, historic and some would say a sacred place. It was built in 1960, is the third-largest stadium in Mexico, and has hosted World Cup and Olympic matches. The stadium is in a residential neighborhood where the neighbors rent out their parking spaces and sell tacos in front of their houses. The food outside the stadium is excellent and many of the vendors have been to every game for decades.

Estadio Akron: Club Deportivo Chivas

Cto. JVC 2800, El Bajío, Zapopan, Jalisco
Chivas Schedule

Honestly, the new Chivas stadium feels a little sterile after visiting the old Estadio Jalisco. Everything is new and comfortable but the food is terrible. It feels corporate, cold, and the people selling snacks hate their minimum wage jobs. Chivas Football Club is one of Mexico’s top teams but the experience at the stadium leaves a lot to be desired. Unless it was a big game that will be at full capacity like a classic or a championship game, I would prefer to go to the Estadio Jalisco.

11. Catch a Baseball Game at the Charros Stadium

Calle Santa Lucía 373, Tepeyac, Zapopan, Jalisco
Charros Website
Mariachis Website

Baseball games at the Panamerican Stadium are some of the best things to do in Guadalajara

Guadalajara now has two professional baseball teams playing in different leagues. The Pacific League plays winter ball and the Mexican League plays summer ball. Baseball is one of the best things to do in Guadalajara

The Guadalajara Charros play in Liga del Pacífico along with Mazatlán and Culiacán. The winner of the Pacific League gains entry into the Caribbean Series. This is considered winter ball and many players from the US will use the time to get some additional at-bats and playing time.

The stadium was built for the 2012 Pan-American games and is really enjoyable. In 2019 the Charros won their first championship which helped fill the stadium. The level of play may not be on par with the MLB but the atmosphere is awesome. The smaller stadium gives you a close-up vantage point and the fan base feels well-to-do.

In 2021 Guadalajara launched the Mariachis Baseball Team in the Mexican League to compete with the Red Devils from Mexico city and the Toros from Tijuana.

12. Bullfights in the Plaza de Toros Nuevo Progreso

Montes Pirineos 1930, Monumental, Guadalajara, Jalisco // Facebook

Bull fight at the Plaza de Toros Nuevo Progreso in Guadalajara, Jalisco

It is not surprising that this brutal activity is a thing in Guadalajara. Given the amount of immigration from Spain to Mexico during the Spanish civil war, it was bound to happen. The professional corridas take place on Sundays at 4 pm in Spring and Fall. The atmosphere outside the plaza is excellent and the street food is world-class. Oxtail stew, and liver and onion tacos are just a couple of my favorite dishes. Bring a bottle of wine and buy a Spanish-style wine bladder to bring it into the plaza. Just be prepared to watch six animals meet a violent death.

13. Go for a Walk in the Parks of Guadalajara

Guadalajara is much smaller than Mexico City and unfortunately, there is nothing that compares to Chapultepec Park. That being said, there are still some great places to get some outdoor time.

Bosque Los Colomos

Calle El Chaco 3200, Providencia, Guadalajara, Jalisco // Facebook

Bosque de Colomos Guadalajara

You can tell how wealthy a community is by the condition of its parks. The Colinas de San Javier and Providencia neighborhoods have some money and they have, arguably, the best park in Guadalajara. The thematic gardens are very well manicured and this is a very enjoyable place to get your steps in. There are equestrian areas where kids and adults can ride horses. The park is free but parking has a nominal cost.

Bosque De La Primavera

Google Maps // Webpage

Rio Caliente hot springs in the Bosque de la Primavera, Guadalajara

The Primavera forest is considered to be the lungs of Guadalajara. This massive open space reserve just west of the periferico freeway has a lot of different activities and access points. The most popular entrance is along Avenida Vallarta, which turns into Interstate 15 to Tepic.

Another popular entrance is along Avenida Mariano Otero to the south. The Mariano Otero entrance is popular with mountain bikers while the Interstate 15 entrance is popular with families looking to picnic, hike, and visit the hot springs. There is still a lot of wildlife in the area so look out for snakes.

Parque Mirador and La Barranca de Huentitá

Volcán Hueytepec, Panorámica de Huentitán, Mascuala, Jalisco

Parque Mirador overlooking the Barranca de Huentitan
Parque Mirador overlooking the Barranca de Huentitan

Spectacular views and a challenging hike greet visitors to the Barranca de Huentitán National Park. The Santiago River has dug deep canyons along the North West corner of the Guadalajara Metro Region. The trail is a little rough and includes a steep section of cable car tracks. At the bottom of the canyon is a bridge with distinctive red cantera stone pillars and lush vegetation as far as the eye can see.

There is a lovely park perched atop the canyon where morning yoga classes contemplate the view. The barbeques and swings are in excellent condition for this family-favorite Guadalajara park.

Try to get there early to see the sun coming up over the canyon and avoid climbing back up the hill under the mid-day sun. During the rainy season, the water is rushing and the landscapes are vivid green.

Parque Metropolitano

Avenida Ludwig Van Beethoven 58000, La Estancia, Zapopan, Jalisco // Webpage

Guadalajara Acuatic Center at the Metropolitan Park

The Metropolitan Park is a very large park space with numerous jogging trails, bike trails, picnic areas, and a lot of leftover infrastructure from the Pan American Games. The tennis courts host a pro event and the aquatic center has three Olympic sized pools with a diving platform. The facilities are a little run down because the space is so big and there are not enough maintenance dollars coming into the government-run facility. If you live on the West Side of the Guadalajara Metro Region this would be a good place to jog.

Parque Montenegro

Avenida de la Solidaridad Iberoamericana 7007, La Capilla, Las Pintas, Jalisco

Out in the middle of nowhere on the freeway that leads to Chapala is one of the best skateparks in Latin America. Large, uncrowded bowls await those that have skateboards.

Parque Agua Azul

Calzada Independencia Sur 973, Centro, Guadalajara, Jalisco // Facebook

There really should be more parks downtown but Parque Agua Azul is a nice, old-school place to explore. The Paleontology Museum is small but has some interesting exhibits. The Jalisco Institute of Artesania is a gem. There is a cultural flea market on Saturdays.

Nighttime Bike Ride: Paseo Ciclista Nocturno

The Paseo Ciclista Nocturno is one of the coolest things to do in Guadalajara

Another spectacular thing to do in Guadalajara is to take a nighttime bike tour (Paseo Ciclista Nocturno). This is a very well-organized and very large bicycle group that meets every Wednesday (weather permitting). The pace of the bike ride is mellow with police escorts shutting down major intersections for the cyclists. A new path is taken every week but it has been going on for so long I am sure they repeat some favorites. The group meets at the intersection of Av. Mexico and Av. Chapultepec a little before 10 pm. I shot this photo from my apartment in the Torre Minerva while a particularly large group was coming through. This is a super fun bike ride with cool people and a great vibe.

14. Cruise the Colonia Americana

Calandria Tour of Guadalajara

This is one of the hottest neighborhoods for restaurants, bars, and nightclubs. In my opinion, the old mansions are a wonderful place to party. The Colonia Americana is considered to be a 20th-century architectural laboratory with some of the best examples of eclectic local style. The old mansions are cultural heritage and only some have been restored while others lay in ruins.

Many people describe the area as hipster because of the quantity of specialty coffee shops and fixed geared bicycles but it still retains a pre-gentrification authenticity.

The name is a blanket term applied to vast swaths of the westside of Guadalajara first developed during the Porfiriato era but continuing all the way through the 20th century. Originally, it was just a few blocks between Av Chapultepec and Av Enrique Díaz de Leon. Today it is common to hear this term applied to the area from Av Federalizmo to the Minerva.

After touring the Historic Downtown, I highly recommend touring the Colonia Americana on foot or on a bicycle.

Read the complete article on Chapultepec, Lafayette, and the Colonia Americana.

15. Get Coffee

The coffee in Guadalajara is exceptional

There is a wonderful specialty coffee scene in Guadalajara. It will take you weeks to see all of the excellent coffee shops and roasters the city has to offer. Café Estelar, partners of the palReal Restaurant, won the best roaster in Mexico in 2020 and the second-best barista in the world in 2012. Needless to say, they have set a very high bar.

Click here to read the complete article on the best coffee in Guadalajara.

16. Churches of Guadalajara

Guadalajara is a very religious city. Throughout the centuries great wealth has been allocated to the construction of places of worship. The vast majority of these places of worship are Catholic churches. The churches of Guadalajara represent some of the best examples of architecture from each given era.

The Guadalajara Metropolitan Cathedral or Catedral de la Asunción de María Santísima

The Guadalajara Metropolitan Cathedral is one of the best things to do in Guadalajara

The belltowers of the Guadalajara Cathedral are emblematic of the city of Guadalajara. They have been recreated into the logos of numerous organizations from pharmacies to taxis. Interestingly, the belltowers are not original. Earthquakes in 1818 and 1849 damaged the original belltowers and they were rebuilt in a contrasting neo-gothic style.

The Guadalajara Cathedral houses the remains of cardinals, bishops, and a young girl called Santa Inocencia who was murdered by her father for converting to Catholicism. If you saw Narcos Mexico, the bishop killed at the Guadalajara Airport is laid to rest in the Guadalajara Cathedral.

Click here to read the full article on the Guadalajara Metropolitan Cathedral.

Templo Expiatorio del Santísimo Sacramento

Things to do in Guadalajara Templo Expiatorio

The Templo Expiatorio is one of the finest examples of Neo-Gothic architecture in Mexico. The church was commissioned by Porfirio in 1897 but the construction was halted by the Mexican Revolution and later the Cristero Wars. It took 75 years to finish. This is one of the best places to attend Christmas mass.

Basílica de Zapopan

The Basilica de Zapopan during the Romeria procession

In the Catholic church, a basilica is a special honor given to certain buildings that represent some historical event or a major saint. Zapopan is home to one of the most important pilgrimages in Mexico dating back to the 17th century. An image of the Virgin of Zapopan is carried from the Guadalajara Cathedral to the Basílica de Zapopan along with millions of the faithful.

Other Beautiful Guadalajara Churches

Located in the Chapalita neighborhood, the Santa Rita Temple is one of my favorite churches in Guadalajara. The architecture is mid-century modern and typical of the neighborhood of Chapalita. The food vendors outside of the church are excellent. This is one of the best places to get a corn on the cobb in Guadalajara.

I can not recommend enough that you take a walking tour of downtown Guadalajara. There are more beautiful and historic buildings that I could ever include in this brief summary.

17. Visit the Markets of Guadalajara

Visiting the markets of Mexico is one of the most enjoyable and culturally significant activities that everyone can agree upon. Even people that don’t like shopping will enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells of a Mexican market. There are big markets and little neighborhood markets. Do yourself a favor and make time to see at least one market and enjoy a great meal.

Click here to read the full article on the markets of Guadalajara.

My personal favorite is the wholesale market but there are dozens of markets with different specialties. Santa Tere Market and the surrounding neighborhood are known to have great food. San Juan de Dios is famous for Jalisco-style saddlery, leatherworks, and pirated everything else. There are seafood markets, flower markets, a corn market just to name a few. As Pablo Neruda once said, “Mexico is found in its markets”.

Central de Abastos

Calle 4, Comercial Abastos, Guadalajara, Jalisco

Mercado de Abastos in Guadalajara, Jalisco

Guadalajara is less than 3 hours from the tropics, less than 2 hours from cattle country, and the shipments arrive 24 hours a day. This is where you can find some of the best examples of Jalisco-style birria, menudo, carne asadas as well as some good Asian food. The price of one of the best breakfasts in Guadalajara start as low as 50 pesos and the produce is about half of what you would pay in the supermarket for much better quality.

Mercado San Juan de Dios

Calle Dionisio Rodríguez 52, San Juan de Dios, Guadalajara, Jalisco

Mercado San Juan de Dios in Guadalajara, Jalisco

Also known as Mercado Libertad but affectionately known as Saint Johnny or Taiwan de Dios is a massive indoor shopping experience. There is a food court but the majority of the mall is non-food stuff like clothes, shoes, hardware, and entertainment. The pirated movie section has a better selection than the store in the mall. If you are interested in equestrian culture you will be blown away by the embroidered saddlery. The handmade belts, cinturones pitiados, are works of art.

There are some really aggressive young men selling cell phones on the bridges approaching the market. Take caution. Anything pirated, anything that is too good to be true probably is. Buying stolen or pirated goods perpetuates a problem.

18. Take in a show at the Teatro Degollado

Degollado Theater in Guadalajara, Mexico

Seeing a concert at the Degollado Theater will be one of the highlights of your things to do in Guadalajara. The theater was built in a classical architectural style in the second half of the 19th century. It is a time capsule. You feel transported back in time as you walk in the door. Growing up in San Diego, I wasn’t familiar with this type of ornate theater before.

It can be difficult to pay attention to the presentation because the theater is so beautiful. Sitting in one of the balconies, I would often look up at the mural on the ceiling and wonder what were the most popular shows that played here in the 1800s.

Murals in the Degollado Theater in Downtown Guadalajara, Jalisco

There are a number of different groups that use the Degollado Theater as their home base. The Philharmonic Orchestra of Jalisco has a season and plans events from classical music to the Beatles. The University of Guadalajara has a folkloric dance group that performs in the summertime. They also offer ballet interpretations of famous productions like Don Quijote de la Mancha.

My absolute favorite date night in Guadalajara is to dine at Restaurante Alcalde before going to the theater.

19. Agaves: Tequila, Mezcal, and Raicilla Tastings

Jalisco is the heart of tequila country and if you are interested in learning about the history and culture of agave-based spirits you should schedule a tasting at Mezonte. There are around 40 different classes of agaves used to make distilled spirits all across Mexico and Tequila is a class of mezcal that uses the Weber blue agave (agave tequilana) exclusively.

Mezonte will give you a chance to try the whole spectrum of agaves while teaching you the difference between something industrial and something artisanal. This isn’t so much a bar as it is a classroom with alcohol. You are more than welcome to stop by and have a drink but the two-hour tasting is really the way to go.

These are other establishments with excellent selections of agaves bases spirits where you can continue your education.

El Gallo Altanero | Calle Marsella 126, Lafayette, Guadalajara

Mezonte Destilados Mexicanos de Agave | Calle Argentine 299, Americana, Guadalajara

Pare De Sufrir Mezcaleria | Calle Argentina 66, Americana, Guadalajara

El Rey Mezcaleria | Bernardo de Balbuena 124, Ladrón de Guevara, Guadalajara

Agüita Agavería | Calle Marsella 167, Lafayette, Guadalajara

21. Cantina Tour

Cantina tour things to do in Guadalajara

If you are into history, there is a good chance you will enjoy drinking in a cantina or two. In a city as old as Guadalajara it is no surprise there are a number of classic cantinas that evoke the memory of a bygone era. Some of these establishments have been here for years while others are rather new but use older recipes.

The most famous traditional cantina in Guadalajara is Cantina la Fuente on Calle Pino Suarez in the heart of downtown, right behind the Miguel Hidalgo statue and the Plaza de la Liberación. The place has been there for a hundred years. If a business can hang on for a hundred years they are doing something right. There is an old bike hung on the wall, an antique cash register, and huge blocks of ice keeping the beer cold like in the old days. The food is good, the tequila is commercial and there is probably a couple of guys playing the marimba on the sidewalk out front. It’s an absolute classic.

De La O Cantina, things to do in Guadalajara
De La O Cantina

On the other end of the spectrum is Cantina De La O on Calle Argentina just off of Av. Vallarta. The place is new but it was conceived by guys who love the classic old-school cantina but wanted more a more artisanal menu. De La O doesn’t sell beer made by multinational companies preferring to sell local microbrews. It’s the same thing with the cocktail list. They have an excellent selection of traditional Mexican fermented drinks like pulque, tepache, and aguamiel, that you won’t see almost anywhere. They have some great food specials too like raw scallops and smoked oysters.

Los Famosos Equipales is on Calle Juan Alvarez and feels like a time capsule. La Occidental Cantina is in the Plaza de las 9 Esquinas neighborhood right where they sell the pitayas in the spring. They do some great cocktails with fresh pitayas that you won’t see anywhere else. Saloon del Bosque is in the Colonia Americana right next to the Casa Guadalupe Zuno. It is a little fancier in a well-maintained old mansion with table cloths and waiters in long-sleeve white shirts and bowties. The food is simple but excellent. Think albondigas, verdolagas, and guacamole with cecina.

Make sure to head over to Tlaquepaque to have a drink in El Parian. It’s a 19th-century public bar. There are mariachi shows daily but my favorite was getting off work at 1 am and heading to the cantina to get a drink before heading home.

21. Things to do in Guadalajara at Night

Mexicans know how to have fun and Guadalajara is such a large city that there are things to do at night for every budget and style. The nightlife in Guadalajara doesn’t get going until much later than people from the United States are used to. The precopa, or drinks before the nightclub, runs from 9 pm until 11 pm and you will probably get to the nightclub a little before midnight.

My favorite things to do in Guadalajara at night take place in the Colonial Americana and surrounding neighborhoods. Not the bars on Av Chapultepec, but the side streets around Av Chapultepec have some incredible old mansions that have been renovated to show off the architecture with a great party.

Beer Bars, Breweries and Pubs

Cerveceria de Colima’s Casa Trapiche | Calle Gabriel Ramos Millán, Americana, Guadalajara

Cerveza Minerva’s La Taberna Minerva | Calle Lateral Periferico Sur 4250, Los Periodistas, Zapopan

Cervecería Fortuna | Carretera Guadalajara-Nogales 4380, La Primavera, Zapopan

Patan Ale House | Calle Morelos 1281, Americana, Guadalajara

Wine Bars

Rayuela Bodega de Vino | Av Alemania 1779, Moderna, Guadalajara

Cru Wine & Deli | Av Tepeyac 1030A, Chapalita Oriente, Zapopan

Romea | Calle Emerson 5, Americana, Guadalajara

Roothouse | Av López Mateos Norte 779, Lomas de Guevara, Guadalajara

Cocktail Bars

Oliveria Cocktail Bar | Libertad 1852, Americana, Guadalajara

Guilty | Calle Gral Coronado 75-A, Zona Centro, Guadalajara

Fat Charlie | Calle Manuel López Cotilla 1940, Lafayette, Guadalajara

De La O Cantina | Calle Argentina 70, Americana, Guadalajara

Pigalle | Calle Emeterio Robles Gil, Americana, Guadalajara

Nightclubs

The Guadalajara nightlife scene is very trendy. One minute a nightclub is how and the next it sits empty for no reason than another nightclub just opened and took all the publicity, momentarily.

Kin Kin | Av. México 2981, Vallarta Norte, Guadalajara

Galaxy | Calle Lerdo de Tejada 2166, Americana, Guadalajara

Casa Cobra | Av. de las Américas 966, Italia Providencia, Guadalajara

Bar Americas | Av Chapultepec Sur 507, Americana, Guadalajara

Strana | Av Pablo Neruda 2715, Providencia, Guadalajara

La Santa | Real de Acueducto 371, Puerta de Hierro, Zapopan

El Chacal | Calle Bernardo de Balbuena 110, Ladrón de Guevara, Guadalajara

22. Lucha Libre Mexican Wrestling

Calle Federico Medrano 67 Centro, Guadalajara, Jalisco // Facebook // Instagram

Lucha libre at the Arena Coliseo in Downtown Guadalajara
Photo courtesy of Brian Laudy @ Hacienda Cereza in beautiful Sayulita, Nayarit

On Tuesday nights Guadalajara loves to get together for lucha libre. Lucha libre can be found all over the country but Guadalajara has a long history of hosting events dating back to the 1950s when Blue Demon inagurated the Arena Coliseo in Downtown Guadalajara.

The crowd is a big part of the show and the wrestlers are often thrown out of the ring and spilling beers. The locals know who the heroes and villains are. A friend casually pointed out a guy named Vampiro Canadiense at the mall once even though he was dressed in street clothes.

The best way to see lucha libre is with a tour operator like GDLWalks or GDLTours. The Arena Coliseo is in a sketchy part of Downtown, there is limited parking, and getting an Uber after the event can take a while. It is not recommended to use TicketMaster to buy your tickets because you have to arrive two hours before the event to pick them up from will call or they will not respect your purchase.

Unfortunately, The Red Pub went out of business during the pandemic. Prior to the pandemic, they operated the most popular party bus that many of my colleagues are still recommending. Let’s hope that the Red Pub can come back from the dead to ride the double-decker party bus once again.

Luchas are a lot of fun and one of the best things that you can do in Guadalajara.

23. Museums

Given the amount of history in Guadalajara, it is no surprise that there are a lot of museums. The most important museum in Guadalajara is the Instituto Cultural Cabañas. On the backside of the Metropolitan Cathedral is the Museum of Sacred Art. Directly across the street from the Metropolitan Cathedral is the Regional Museum of Guadalajara which has an anthropological look at the area around Guadalajara.

Hospicio Cabañas Guadalajara
Hospicio Cabañas Guadalajara

Hospicio Cabañas aka Instituto Cultural Cabañas

Calle Cabañas 8, Las Fresas, Guadalajara, Jalisco // Facebook

Designated a Unesco World Heritage site, this 19th-century Catholic hospital, and orphanage is part community center, part museum, and part theater. The murals of one of Mexico’s big three muralists, Jose Clemente Orozco, tell the story of Mexico from conquest to industrialization.

The English language-guided tours of the murals are enthralling. There are a number of rotating expositions by local artists, the Guillermo del Toro movie theater that screens all sorts of international genres of film, as well as an outdoor space that is used to stage ballet and theater productions that incorporate the building’s architecture into the set design.

Check the calendar to see what events are going on while you are in town.

The best things to do in Guadalajara hospicio cabañas

Museo de las Artes de la Universidad de Guadalajara

You will quickly realize that the University of Guadalajara is a major patron of the arts in these parts. The Museum of the Arts (Musa) is housed in one of the earlier University of Guadalajara administrative buildings and has a wonderful schedule of exhibitions. There are more José Clemente Orozco murals in the auditorium that are worth a visit.

Museums in the Guadalajara Metropolitan Area

24. Zapopan, Puerto de Hierro, and Plaza Andares

Zapopan is the western side of the Guadalajara Metropolitan Region. It is a large, independent municipality with its own city government and a lot of money. Downtown Zapopan is a quaint walking district situated around the Basilica of Zapopan with some excellent places to eat and drink. Cafe Candela is awesome.

Just a few minutes from downtown Zapopan is the high rent district of Puerta de Hierro, Andares, and Colinas de San Javier. The same family that founded the Autonomous University of Guadalajara also built one of the most popular malls in Mexico, Plaza Andares, zoned the area for skyscrapers and built exclusive residential communities. Puerta de Hierro is a very wealthy part of Mexico as you will notice in the car dealerships and luxury retail establishments. The food scene is not half bad either. Plaza Landmark and Plaza Andares have some excellent options if you are willing to spend the money.

There is some tech money in the offices above the plaza and you will see software engineers walking around on lunch breaks. The dress code is a little more formal than you might expect. Shorts and sandals are not in style and the girls go all out when it comes to fashion. The saying goes, “Mejore muerta que sencilla” (better dead than simple). The people-watching at Plaza Andares is exceptional. There are some characters.

25. Pilgrimages

There are three important pilgrimages in the State of Jalisco that attract millions to walk and reflect on their faith.

The Romeria de la Virgin de Zapopan starts at the Guadalajara Cathedral and finishes at the Zapopan Basilica. This procession is celebrated on October 12 which happens to be Columbus Day. There are usually close to 2 million people that come out to see the native dancers and the image of the Virgen de Zapopan along the eight-kilometer parade route.

Romeria de la Virgen de Zapopan

In addition to the pilgrimage that is within the Guadalajara Metropolitan Region, there are two more large events in the State of Jalisco.

Around Easter Time there is the Pilgrimage to the Pueblo Mágico of Talpa de Allende. It is popular for Tapatíos to start the trek from the town of Ameca, just outside of Guadalajara, and walk for several days to reach Talpa de Allende.

The other massive event is the pilgrimage to San Juan de Los Lagos. In the Highlands of Jalisco, not too far from Aguascalientes and Guanajuato, is the small town of San Juan de Los Lagos. There are pilgrimages to see the image of the Virgen throughout the year but the big one is for the Candelaria on February 2nd. As you drive through Los Altos de Jalisco it is common to see pilgrims walking along the freeway during much of the year.

26. Archeological Sites

Camino a Guachimontones, s/n, Teuchitlán, Jalisco // Facebook

Guachimontones pyramids in Teuchitlan, Jalisco

There are two important archeological sites in the Guadalajara area. Guachimontones is the most popular and is locates about an hour outside of town at the base of the Tequila Volcano. The second and much smaller archelogical site is the Ixtépete Park. This park is located in the Zapopan Municipality on the corner of Av. Mariano Otero and Periférico.

Guachimontones Archeological Site

If you only have time to visit one archeological site then I recommend visiting the Guachimontones. There is a deposit of obsidian at the base of the volcano that the original people used to make tools like knives and traded all over the region. This was a large settlement with a chinampa agricultural system that supported close to 40,000 people. The pyramids at Guachimontones are unique in their conical shape. I recommend going in or after the rainy season because the area is bright green and oh so photogenic.

Just a few minutes away from Guachimontones there is a wonderful Hacienda nearby that is the perfect place to get lunch after exploring the ruins. Hacienda El Carmen is a luxurious boutique hotel that will take you back in time. The restaurant is lovely.

27. Panteon de Belen

Calle Belén 684, El Retiro, Guadalajara, Jalisco // Facebook

Panteon de Belen cemetary in Guadalajara, Jalisco

The Panteon de Belen is a 19th-century cemetery built on the orchard grounds of the 18th century Alcalde Hospital. Today the cemetery is maintained as a museum of funeral architecture. It was designed by Martin Gomez Ibarra, the same architect who designed and rebuilt the towers on the Guadalajara Cathedral when they were damaged by an earthquake in the early 19th century. You will see a lot of gothic-style towers similar to the ones on the cathedral and some that resemble the towers on the Expiatorio Temple.

The old cemetery is a who’s who of 19th-century Guadalajara society and there are plenty of ghost stories to scare your friends with. The nighttime tours are a favorite activity in the month of October but probably not recommended for kids under 12 years old.

Prior to the pandemic, the Panteon de Belen was open year-round but the most popular time to visit is during the month of October leading up to Day of the Dead. Check their Facebook Page to get updated schedules.

28. Festivals and Events

Book signing with Chef Nico Mejia at the Guadalajara Book Festival
Book signing with Chef Nico Mejia at the Guadalajara Book Festival

GDL Luz

Guadalajara was founded on February 14, 1542, and every year around Valentine’s day the Plaza de la Liberación hosts a pretty massive light show. The 14th is the best day but the decorations last about a week. This is a very Instagram-friendly event.

Festival Roxy GDL

Combination music and food festival that attracts some decent bands and Mexican chefs. Usually held towards the end of February. In 2019 the headliners were Stone Temple Pilots, Caifanes, Bush, and 311.

Festival Internacional de Cine en Guadalajara (FICG)

Usually held in early March, the Guadalajara Film Festival is arguably the most important film festival in Latin America. The new films that are screened, the industry leaders, and the massive public viewing parties make this a really fun event.

Corona Capital Guadalajara

The Corona Capital music festival has been a huge success in Mexico City and in 2018 the festival made its debut in Guadalajara to some serious fanfare. The festival is held in May and you can find tickets on ticketmaster.com.mx.

Encuentro Internacional del Mariachi & Charrería

The last couple weeks of August host a massive amount of mariachi music and Mexican cowboys. The cowboys down from the ranches to compete in equestrian competitions and the mariachis come from all over the world. This is a huge party and part of what makes Jalisco famous throughout the world.

Coordenada Music Festival

I mid-October the Tecate Coordenada music festival makes its way to Guadalajara. This is the longest-running music festival and a local favorite. It is usually held in the Parque Trasloma near the Plaza del Sol Mall.

De La Viña a la Copa

This is Guadalajara’s longest-running and largest wine festival. The interest in wine has absolutely exploded in the last couple of years and events like this one are part of the reason why. For about $700 pesos you can taste hundreds of different wines from across the globe. The event is held in an event space on the second floor of Plaza Andares. You will run into a lot of the wine industry personalities of Guadalajara at this event.

Expo Ganadera

Most of the month of October hosts the farm animal festival. Ranching is big business in the State of Jalisco and this fair brings ranchers from all over the country. Obviously, the food is spectacular and I find it interesting to see what kind of animals are being raised in Mexico. During the day the atmosphere is family-oriented with petting zoos and games but at night there is a lot of alcohol and banda music.

Fiestas de Octubre

October is when the fair comes to town. The Fiestas de Octubre run concurrently with the Expo Ganadera but in different locations. The fair is rides, games of skill and concerts. There is also a huge section of vendors selling junk made in China.

Festival de la Cerveza Guadalajara

Billed as the most important beer festival, the Guadalajara beer festival has grown into a massive event. There are over 200 brands from all over the world.

Dia de Muertos en Tlaquepaque

From the 1st to the 4th of November downtown Tlaquepaque is decorated for Day of the Dead. There are altars, face painting, parades, concerts and lots of art. This is one of the more family-friendly events.

Fevino El Festival del Vino Mexicano

Mexican wine is really hot right now. There is a massive sense of pride in the Mexican wine industry. The Fevino Wine Festival is all about Mexican wine. Usually held in the Parque Trasloma near the Plaza del Sol Mall. Look for the festival in mid to late November.

Feria Internacional del Libro (FIL)

In late November and early December, Latin America’s most important book festival happens in Guadalajara. The used to be more for publishers but the University of Guadalajara has turned this into one of Guadalajara’s most treasured events. There are massive crowds every day to see author talks, concerts and of course buy lots of books.

29. Getaways From Guadalajara

One of the best parts of living in Guadalajara is the proximity of really cool destinations that are very different from the city. Within just a few hours, you can be in the tropics or on top of a snow-covered volcano. The State of Jalisco is amazing but there are a lot of neighboring states with unique experiences. The hardest part is trying to decide between the beach and a magical colonial town.

These are some of my favorite quick getaways from Guadalajara.

30. The Ultimate Guadalajara Travel Guide

Conclusion

This turned into a little bit more than I had originally planned. I have been updating the article for more than two years now and it reminds me of all the fun there is to be had in this town. I hope you find some cool ideas and have an absolute blast in Guadalajara, Jalisco.

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