Things to do in Guadalajara, the cathedral

73 Things To Do In Guadalajara Mexico: Unique Attractions 2024

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Guadalajara is a majestic city beloved by Mexicans and international travelers alike. There are so many cool things to do in Guadalajara that you will not be able to see everything on one trip. There is nothing else like it in terms of size, culture, and history.

Known as a huge pueblo, or as the old mariachi song goes, Guadalajara has the soul of the provinces. Even though it is Mexico’s second most important city it is much smaller than Mexico City. Monterry may have a larger economy and a few more people but Guadalajara is more important to the national identity because of things like sports, gastronomy, and music.

The State of Jalisco and the capital Guadalajara, have always been known as a hub of traditional Mexican culture. Folkloric rodeo, tequila, and mariachi music help to define what Mexico is known for across the globe. That is almost cliche these days because there are so many modern accomplishments from tech to the World Cup and medicine.

I moved to Guadalajara in 2009 for grad school and have been in love with this town ever since. This is where I got married, my kids were born here, and I started a blog because I wanted a space where I could jot down some notes about the cool things I was doing. I have been building and updating this article for more than five years. I think it is the most complete article on the internet on things to do in Guadalajara.

If you happen to run out of things to do, take one of these Guadalajara tours, or hop in the car and head to one of the nearby towns.

An Overview Of Guadalajara, Jalisco

The Guadalajara Metropolitan Area includes Zapopan and Tlaquepaque and is the third largest in Mexico with more than 5 million people. Nine unique municipalities have grown into one well-connected metro area.

Even though the metro area is large, it is easy to get around Guadalajara with a little planning. Zapopan and Tonalá aren’t that far apart if you plan around peak traffic hours.

The first thing that people mention about Guadalajara is the traditional culture but the area is also famous for its excellent schools, the multinational technology industry, the movie production industry, World Cup soccer, and a massive services industry. There is a lot of history but Guadalajara is also a very modern city.

What makes Guadalajara a great place to travel and live is the juxtaposition of traditional and modern esthetics which creates a lot of style. The best part of living in Guadalajara is being pleasantly surprised on a regular basis.

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 across Oaxaca, wine from Baja California, and regional dishes from all over Mexico.

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 of the multinational organizations like the business climate and the educated labor market.

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 mágicos, birrierias, and beaches that I can’t wait to experience.

Read my articles about Guadalajara to learn how to safely move around and find great food.

Map of the Best Guadalajara Attractions

This has turned into a massive list. This latest update added a ton of things to do but shortened many of the descriptions because I have written complementary articles. Please feel free to click through or send me an email if you have other questions.

Without further ado, here are my favorite things to do in Guadalajara.

The Coolest Things To Do In Guadalajara

1. The Best Thing to do in Guadalajara is Explore the Art Scene

Guadalajara is a city that values the arts. There is a long history of Native arts. The Spanish brought their own artistic expressions. Mexico and specifically Guadalajara have over two hundred years as diverse, cosmopolitan destination for artists and creatives.

If you are interested in studying artists of record, Guadalajara is second only to Mexico City in the number of grand murals. José Clemente Orozco’s magnum opus is housed in the Cabañas Cultural Center (Hospico Cabañas) and that is just the beginning.

More importantly, Guadalajara is home to a thriving modern art scene. Big international galleries choose to open unique spaces because of the cool architecture and supportive community.

The Best Art Galleries & Museums in Guadalajara

This is just a quick summary of my top three museums in Guadalajara. Have a look at the full list to get a better idea of the depth tha Guadalajara has.

  • Centro Cultural Cabañas (AKA Hospicio Cabañas): UNESCO World Heritage Site with the best José Clement Orozco murals in Mexico
  • MUSA University of Guadalajara Museum of the Arts: A wonderful line up of revolving exhibitions with more José Clement Orozco murals
  • Juan Beckmann Gallardo Cultural Center in Tequila: The José Cuervo Family’s private museum is a must-see attraction

The contemporary art scene in Guadalajara is very exciting.

If you are interested in folk art, Tlaquepaque and Tonalá are full of galleries and workshops crafting museum-quality pieces and everyday earthenware.

The best sculptors and potters in Guadalajara

Architecture nerds love walking the streets of Guadalajara for inspiration. Luis Barragán, one of the world’s great architects, helped define the distinct regional style.

There is ballet, theater, music, folkloric rodeo among many more forms of the arts.

If you are looking for a tour guide that knows her way around all the best artist workshops, talk to Alexandra of Guadalajarte_mx.

Make it a point to explore the Guadalajara art scene in one form or another. There is inspiration around every corner.

Tour Downtown Guadalajara’s Centro Historico

Guadalajara was founded at its current location in 1542 and has not stopped evolving since. Walking through the main squares of this beautiful place is the best way to appreciate the history and local culture.

There is a contrast between 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.

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 an entire day to explore. There are Tapatíos (the name for people from Guadalajara) who have lived their entire lives 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 walking tours of downtown Guadalajara. I’ve lived here for fifteen years and I still love spending a Sunday museum hopping, enjoying a carriage ride, and 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.

2. Reflect in the Guadalajara Metropolitan Cathedral

The Guadalajara Cathedral illuminated at dusk

The Guadalajara Cathedral is one of the most easily identifiable Cathedrals in Mexico due to its yellow, gothic bell towers. The 16th-century cathedral is easily one of the best places to visit in Guadalajara.

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 neo-gothic style of the day.

The Guadalajara Cathedral is the final resting place 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. 

📍Cathedral Address: Avenida Fray Antonio Alcalde 10, Zona Centro, Guadalajara

3. Puente de las Damas

Model of the original Puente de las Damas bridge by Rodo Padilla

This little piece of Guadalajara history only reappeared in 2016 when construction unearthed some archeological finds downtown. An old bridge was used to connect the Spanish settlement of Guadalajara with the Indian community Mexicaltzingo.

The San Juan River used to create a pool where kids would swim in the summer and women would wash clothes.

The whole area was buried when the modern floodway system was built and forgotten for more than a hundred years. It is an interesting and photogenic look at local archeology.

This is a perfect place to start your tour of Downtown Guadalajara.

📍Address: Avenida Cristóbal Colón 570, Zona Centro, Guadalajara

4. 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 by 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.

📍Address: Calle Pedro Moreno, Zona Centro, Guadalajara, Jalisco

5. La Rotonda de los Jaliscienses Ilustres

Statue of Gerardo Murillo in the Rotonda de los Jalscienses Ilustres

On the north side of the cathedral sits the Rodonda de los Jaliscienses 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 houses 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.

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.

📍Address: Avenida Fray Antonio Alcalde 108, Zona Centro, Guadalajara, Jalisco

6. Take in a Show at the Teatro Degollado

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.

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.

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.

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.

📍Address:Calle Degollado s/n, Zona Centro, Guadalajara, Jalisco
🎟️Check Ticketmaster to see what is coming up.

7. Mercado San Juan de Dios (AKA Mercado Libertad)

Saint Johnny, Taiwan de Dios, the largest market (of its type) in Latin America; people come up with some great names for this place. It is huge. It is iconic and it is only 50 meters from the Hospicio Cabañas.

The current building was designed by celebrated modernist architect Alejandro Zohn and inaugurated in 1958. The market has both indoor and outdoor sections.

After walking all the way over from the Plaza de las 9 Esquinas, San Juan de Dios Market is a great place to get something to eat and drink. The tacos de tripa, caldo michi, and tortas locas are three of the famous dishes the market is known for.

They say that the market has a little bit of everything. It is easy to get turned around and lose your sense of dirction walking the long hallways.

I love looking at the saddlery and embroidered leather goods. There is a type of belt used by cowboys called a cinturon piteado that is embroidered with silver wire thread that I think is beautiful.

Watch out for pirated goods. You shouldn’t support that no matter how cheap the movies are. A lot of the time they don’t even work anyway or the audio only comes in Korean and Russian.

📍Address: Calle Dionisio Rodríguez 52, San Juan de Dios, Guadalajara, Jalisco

Best Museums In Guadalajara

This section is an extension of the best things to do in the Downtown Guadalajara section. The Cabañas Cultural Center is the crown jewel of the Downtown Guadalajara walking tour.

This is just a small sample of the Best Museums in Guadalajara Article.

8. Cabañas Cultural Center (AKA Hospicio Cabañas)

Hospicio Cabañas is the best museum to visit in Guadalajara
Hospicio Cabañas Guadalajara

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 painted 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.

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.

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.

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

📍Hospicio Cabañas Address: Calle Cabañas 8, Las Fresas, Guadalajara, Jalisco

9. University of Guadalajara Arts Museum MUSA

University of Guadalajara's Museo de las Artes

The University of Guadalajara Museum of the Arts is one of the most important museums in the region because of the Jose Clemente Orozco murals and revolving exhibitions.

The historic building was the original campus when the university reopened in the 20th century. It sits right next to the Templo Expiatorio and the current university administration building. This is a very cultured section of Guadalajara.

📍MUSA Address: Av Juárez 975, Colonia Americana, Guadalajara, Jalisco

10. Juan Beckmann Gallardo Cultural Center in Tequila

The Juan Bechmann Gallardo Cultural Center in Tequila, Jalisco is one of the finest museums in Mexico and totally off the radar.

The Bechmann Family is the custoden of the Jose Cuervo family fortune and legacy. They are one of the wealthiest families in Mexico and they wanted to build something grand.

Much of the allure of visiting Tequila, Jalisco is thanks to Mundo Cuervo projects.

The Juan Bechmann Gallardo Cultural Center has many collections but the history of the local cowboys, charros, was my favorite. Followed closely by the sculpture garden out back

Make sure to schedule a tour so you get access to the sculpture gardens. Access to the gardens does not come with the regular general admission ticket.

📍Address: Calle José Cuervo Labastida 124, La Villa, Tequila, Jalisco

Paul’s Top Ten Favorite Things To Do In Guadalajara

After cruising the Centro Histórico, these are my favorite things to do in Guadalajara.

11. Have Dinner in Punto São Paulo

After spending the morning in the historic core of Guadalajara, make your way over to the modern financial district. Punto São Paulo is a luxury mall in the financial district of Guadalajara. You might even consider staying here because of the nice hotels and ample restaurants.

Located between the Guadalajara Country Club and Providencia neighborhoods, Punto São Paulo Mall and Calle São Paulo Street are full of excellent restaurants in a posh setting with a distinctly Mexican style.

There are great hotels in the area like the Fiesta Americana that are within walking distance (one block away) from dozens of excellent restaurants.

The Casa de Los Platos property is like an old hacienda with six or seven different restaurants. I highly recommend walking around the property and looking at all the menus before deciding what to eat.

If you want to stay in this neighborhood, the Grand Fiesta Americana Guadalajara Country Club is a great option.

📍Address: Calle São Paulo 1912, Providencia, Guadalajara, Jalisco

12. Cheer On Club Deportivo Chivas at Estadio Akron

Chivas game at Estadio Akron in Guadalajara

I am really excited that Guadalajara and Estadio Akron were selected to host World Cup matches in 2026. I can’t think of a better city to travel to for the event.

Chivas Football Club is one of Mexico’s top teams and Guadalajara is one of the top destinations within Mexico to see a soccer (futbol) match because of the Akron Stadium. People come from across the country to watch big games here.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the atmosphere at Estadio Akron is more family-friendly than the Estadio Jalisco. The security is much better and hooligans are quickly thrown out. I am a fan of a rival team from Tijuana and I am not worried about wearing my team’s jersey like I am at the Estadio Jalisco where you have to sneak out hiding your colors.

13. Eat Birria in the Plaza de las 9 Esquinas

There is amazing birria all over Guadalajara but the Plaza de las 9 Esquinas is one of the more traditional and enjoyable places to try the dish for the first time. It is a fantastic place to start a walking tour of Downtown Guadalajara.

There are 5 traditional-style restaurants situated around a historic fountain and plaza. El Pilón de Los Arrieros and Birrieria de las 9 Esquinas are two of my favorites.

Birria in Jalisco is usually made with goat or beef slow-braised for a long time at low heat. If not prepared properly, goat meat can be tough and fibrous.

I don’t know if there is a better place to try goat meat for the first time. This has to be some of the best in the world.

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.

14. Cruise the Colonia Americana

In 2022, Time Out Magazine named the Colonia Americana the coolest neighborhood in the world because of the restaurants, bars, galleries, 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 west side of Guadalajara first developed during the Porfiriato era but continuing all the way through the 20th century.

Originally, the Colonia Americana was just a few blocks between Avenida Chapultepec and Avenida Enrique Díaz de Leon. Today it is common to hear this term applied to the area from Av Federalizmo to the Glorieta Minerva.

After touring the downtown area, I highly recommend touring the Colonia Americana on foot or on a bicycle.

15. Go Shopping in Tlaquepaque

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.

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.

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. 

16. Tour The José Clemente Orozco Murals

José Clemente Orozco (1883-1949) was 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.

There are three buildings in Guadalajara with well-preserved José Clemente Orozco murals. Additionally, there is a house where he worked and a house he built with legendary architect, Luis Barragan. There is a whole “José Clement Orozco Trail” in Guadalajara.

The José Clemente Orozco murals in Guadalajara can be found in the Hospicio Cabañas, the Palacio del Gobierno, and the Museo de las Artes.

Taking a history and muralism tour of the Centro Historico is an enjoyable way to learn about Mexico.

17. Walk Around Downtown Zapopan and Seattle

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.

Line 3 of the metro now connects Downtown Zapopan, Downtown Guadalajara, Downtown Tlaquepaque, and gets close to Tonalá. It is easy and cheap to visit the neighboring municipalities.

This is one of my favorite neighborhoods in Guadalajara that is still under the radar. Check out the Cerveza Zorra Bistro Pub and Salón Candela for a great time.

18. Ride the Via Recreactiva Car-Free Sundays

Ride a bike on car-free Sundays in Guadalajara

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 easily 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. 

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.

19. Listen to Mariachi Music

Mariachi in the Parian de Tlaquepaque is one of the best things to do in Guadalajara

They say that Mariachi music was born in the town of Cocula, Jalisco just 70 km southwest of Guadalajara. Even though it is difficult to ascertain the exact origins of this iconic musical style, it is very easy to find excellent mariachis in Guadalajara.

The Parián de Tlaquepaque is a 19th-century drinking hall that has evolved into a large collection of restaurants and bars with entertainment. The building takes up one city block and there is a large bandstand in the center with mariachi and folkloric dance shows performed every day.

I really enjoy drinking in the old cantinas but have just gotten average food at the restaurants that I have visited (though I haven’t hit every restaurant in the food court yet).

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.

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.

Lots of people recommend Plaza de los Mariachis to find a group for parties or a serenade, 24 hours a day. The neighborhood is sketchy after dark so I wouldn’t recommend heading down there unless you know your way around Oblatos.

20. Experience The Tequila Valley

There are a lot of different experiences in Tequila. Yes, there are a lot of tourist traps but there are also authentic, traditional, and cultural tours of the Tequila Valley.

The Tequila Valley Region is less than an hour away from Guadalajara and is easily one of the best things you can do in the area. First and foremost, the agave fields are spectacularly beautiful but there is a lot of small-town, ranching culture to experience.

This is the heart of tequila country and here are cult favorite distilleries making the best tequila to buy in Mexico. After tasting different types of tequilas that are free of artificial flavoring and coloring it is hard to go back to drinking the old commodity tequila.

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.

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

If you are looking for a gourmet, luxury experience check out Mickey Marantes Tours. They go to the best distilleries and the coolest restaurants in the area.

The Best Churches In Guadalajara

You don’t have to be religious to appreciate the architecture of these epic buildings. I highly recommend reading Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet to get an idea about what it was like to build large temples without modern technology.

This is just a small excerpt of the full article on Guadalajara’s churches and religious architecture.

21. Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Zapopan

The Basilica de Zapopan is a 17th-century Franciscan temple and one of the most visited churches in Mexico.

The church is home to a wooden relic called the Virgin of Zapopan that makes a pilgramage every year from the Guadalajara Cathedral to the Basilica de Zapopan. In 2023 more than 2 million faithful attended the pilgrmage.

22. Templo Expiatorio del Santísimo Sacramento

Things to do in Guadalajara Templo Expiatorio

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

The project was originally designed by Adamo Boari, an Italian architect who also designed the Palacio de Bellas Artes and the Palacio de Correos in Mexico City. The mosaics were imported from the Vatican, the stained-glass windows were imported from France, and there is a carillon imported from Germany. It is a fine example of Italian neo-gothic religious architecture.

In addition to the church itself, there is a plaza in front that has some great street food on Saturdays.

Outdoorsy Things To Do In Guadalajara

While Guadalajara is known as a massive metropolitan area, there are still some great opportunities to get outdoors. Some within the city limits and some just outside of the city.

23. Bosque Los Colomos

Things to do in Guadalajara | Bosque Colomo

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, such as the Japanese garden, 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.

24. Mountain Biking in Bosque De La Primavera

Hiking the Bosque de la Primavera is one of the best things to do in 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 Mariano Otero entrance has access to some of the best mountain biking in the region. There are a number of tour companies that will supply gear and a guide to show you around.

The Interstate 15 entrance is popular with families looking to picnic, camp, hike, and visit the hot springs. There is still a lot of wildlife in the area so tread lightly.

25. Hike La Barranca de Huentitán

Hiking the Barranca de Huentitan is one of the best things to do in Guadalajara

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.

26. Skate Parque Montenegro

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.

There are a bunch of skate parks in Guadalajara but nothing as large as the Montenegro park. Glorieta La Normal has a super fun pump track. La Curva Skatepark in Zapopan has some sick bowls.

27. Nighttime Bike Ride: Paseo Ciclista Nocturno

Nighttime bicycle ride in the Glorieta Minerva

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.

28. The Surrealist Sculpture Gardens of Alejandro Colunga

There is a collection of brass sculptures by the renowned local artist Alejandro Colunga in front of the Hospicio Cabañas. This is one of the most photographed areas downtown for the surrealism of these pieces. Alejandro Calunga has similar works on the boardwalk in downtown Puerto Vallarta. Click here to see more about Alejandro Colunga.

The Best Markets In Guadalajara

This is where I fell in love with Mexico. I used to live a few blocks away from the regional wholesale market in Guadalajara. It was like taking a class on the regional foods from Jalisco.

As Pablo Neruda said, “Mexico is found in her markets.”

Again, this is just an excerpt from the complete article on the best markets in Guadalajara.

29. Central de Abastos

Tortilla vendors laughing in Mercado de Abastos

I am a huge fan of Mercado de Abastos. This is my favorite place to go shopping in Guadalajara.

More than just a market, Abastos is a wholesale neighborhood. There are a few blocks of retail sales close to Calzada Lázaro Cárdenas but warehouses are more common.

I often run into famous chefs at the market buying produce for their restaurants and getting something to eat. The food in the market is some of the best in the city.

30. Tianguis Tonalá Craft Market

Tonalá is a municipality in the Guadalajara metropolitan area famous for a craft market and craft workshops. There are both retail and wholesale vendors in the neighborhood. You can find trinkets made in Tonalá in tourist shops across the country from airports to Avenida Revolución in Tijuana.

There are some good, country-style restaurants and lots of street vendors near the church and the town square.

Serious art lovers will go crazy for the ceramics in Tonalá. The area has a long history of making ceramics, going back to before the Spanish arrived.

Make it a point to look up the Bernabe Family workshop and gallery on Av. Hidalgo 81 in Downtown Tonalá. Just down the street is Mexicanía which is one of the most beautiful gift shops selling Mexican folk art. Not just local art but art from Oaxaca, Guanajuato, and Michoacan.

Tonalá and Tlaquepaque are often compared because of the craft markets and galleries. Downtown Tlaquepaque has more high-end boutiques, better pedestrian streets, and more restaurants. Tonalá has better deals.

  • Schedule: Market days are Thursday and Sunday.

31. San Nicolas de Bari Nightmarket

Monday nights are about going to the nighttime food market in front of the San Nicolas de Bari church. They have really good garnachas, or snacks. They are more than snacks. There are tacos, tortas, and cup noodles with nachos.

The place is packed every week and parking can be tough but it is safe overall. The pork leg sandwiches from Lonches Rafa are to die for.

32. Tianguis Cultural in 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 an alternative flea market on Saturdays selling heavy metal music and clothing. There are often concerts by local bands.

33. Tianguis de Chapultepec

Avenida Chapultepec in the Colonia Americana, Guadalajara

Avenida Chapultepec is the main drag in the bar district of Guadalajara. There are three lanes of traffic in each direction with a lovely park running down the middle of the street. On the weekend during the dry season, an open-air market tianguis is set up in the park section of Avenida Chapultepec.

The Chapultepec Tianguis is part indigenous art, part counter-culture, and hipster. There are always a lot of people out and about on the weekends in Chapultepec. The people watching is excellent.

What To Eat & Where To Eat In Guadalajara

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

Guadalajara is an underrated yet world-class foodie destination. The combination of traditional eateries and fine dining establishments means there is a lot to choose from. I recommend eating at both a high-end local restaurant and sampling food from the many exquisite street vendors

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. Personally, I love the combination of liver and onion tacos, ox tail soup, and with a bottle of Rioja wine (Federico Paternina Banda Azul, Hemingway’s favorite) 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.

34. The Best Restaurants in Guadalajara

Recently, a list of exceptional chefs including Francisco Ruano (Alcalde), Fabian Delgado (palReal), Tomás Bermúdez (La Docena), Oscar Segundo and Xrysw Rules (Xokol) has modernized the culinary scene. They all operate local restaurants that have turned Guadalajara into a destination for the epicurean set. These chefs are forging relationships with 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. Don’t settle for average. These are my suggestions for finding great restaurants in Guadalajara.

35. The Best Street Food in Guadalajara

Eating street food is one of the best things to do in Guadalajara

Don’t be afraid to try the street food in Guadalajara. Some of the best culinary experiences in the region are sold out of mobile kitchens. The chances of getting ill after eating at a busy street food stand are very slim

I like to follow the big-name food Instagrammers for taco recommendations. I talk to everyone I cross paths with about tacos and ask for recommendations. Everyone wants to talk about their favorite food.

36. Taco Tour of Guadalajara

Tacos Juan is some of the best street food in Guadalajara

Be willing to get in the car or the Uber to search for the best tacos in Guadalajara. The metropolitan area is huge and there are more tacos than you could taste in a lifetime.

Don’t settle for average either. Get recommendations for the best tacos in each style. Try something new and order the tripe tacos.

37. Market Food

Eating menudo is one of the best things to do in Guadalajara

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.

38. Torta Ahogada

Best streetfood in Guadalajara El Profe Jimenez

The torta ahogada is a quick summary of the comfort foods in Guadalajara. The birote sourdough bread is thought to be unique to this area and has a history going back to 19th-century French immigration.

Tapatios love sauce. It is not uncommon to see other foods drowned in sauce. The torta ahogada sauce is a cooked tomato sauce. The sandwich is filled with pork. The best torta ahogada restaurants will have a selection from loin to buche stomach lining, and everything in between. I like a mixture surtido of pork belly, tongue, and buche. Lastly, the spicy sauce is made with a chile from the Jalisco Highlands town of Yahualica. It is considered to be the highest quality chile de arbol.

Give it a go and don’t worry about making a mess.

39. Breakfast

Sunday breakfast is a sacred institution in Guadalajara. You will see large groups of family and friends waiting for tables at the hottest breakfast restaurants in Guadalajara.

There are plenty of modern and cosmopolitan breakfast restaurants but the traditional restaurants are unique to this part of Mexico. Try something new. Order the birria, try the menudo, and taste something new for the first time. These experiences are not found anywhere else.

40. Get Coffee

Two flat white coffees at palReal

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 coffee roasters 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. Many of their ex-employees have gone on to open successful coffee shops with excellent coffee programs. Guadalajara is swimming in a sea of really good coffee.

41. Café palReal

Highly regarded as the best coffee in town, Café 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.

42. 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.

Alcalde Restaurant is the highest-rated restaurant in Guadalajara on the World’s Best list.

43. Xokol Tortilleria, Molino y Antojería

Green salad at Xokol Restaurant in Guadalajara

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.

Interesting Places to Visit in Guadalajara

There are a bunch of places that exist in Guadalajara and nowhere else. I love the people-watching around here because people have so much style.

44. Andares Shopping Mall

Plaza Andares is one of the best places to eat in Guadalajara

Andares is one of the best places to eat in Guadalajara. The high-end shopping mall has an impressive selection of restaurants by famous restaurant groups. There are more Mexican names than international restaurant brands.

People come from every state that neighbors Jalisco to shop and hang out at Andares. You will see beautiful local fresas (yuppies), rich cowboys from the countryside, and plenty of foreigners.

Honestly, it is a very well-thought-out mall. Compared to Fashion Valley and UTC in San Diego, I prefer Andares.

La Docena restaurant is listed on the best restaurants in Latin America. Cuerno is a high-end steakhouse concept by the fabulously popular Sonoran Restaurant group Grupo Costeño. I am obsessed with the Nayarit-style seafood from Campomar. Even the casual Pasteria is a great choice.

45. Stay at an Awesome Hotel

Staying at a historic hotel is one of the coolest experiences in Guadalajara
(photos: Expedia)

I have lived here for a long time and I still love staying in a new neighborhood in Guadalajara. We take mini staycations when the kids are out of school so that we can use the pool or just see something new.

There are some great hotels in Guadalajara for every budget. Personally, I like hotels with some kind of historic or unique architecture.

46. Panteon de Belen

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

Panteon de Belen is one of the weirdest things to do in Guadalajara

The Panteón de Belén 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 are 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 the Day of the Dead. Check their Facebook Page to get updated schedules.

47. Study the Architecture of Luis Barragán

Luis Barragán is the most famous architect to come out of Mexico and the only Mexican to win a Pritzker Architecture Prize. While his most famous works are located in Mexico City, Barragán was born in Guadalajara and learned his trade here.

There are excellent examples of Luis Barragán’s early works in Guadalajara:

  • Casa González Luna AKA ITESO Casa Clavigero
  • Casa Cristo
  • Casa Franco
  • Casa Robles Castillo

Check out the Revisiones GDL article on the best Luis Barragán tour in Guadalajara.

Things to do in Guadalajara with Kids

Guadalajara may not have as many world-class amusement parks as Mexico City but there are still plenty of things to do for the little ones.

48. Ride The Caroucels

Jalisco Caroucel in Downtown Guadalajara

Guadalajara has two beautiful carousels in very different parts of town.

The Carrucel Monumental de Guadalajara is the large caroucel in Downtown Guadalajara. It is free to ride and beautifully decorated with images from the state of Jalisco like agaves and Puerto Vallarta beaches.

Look for the carousel in the Plaza de la Reforma on Av. Antonio Alcalde and Calle San Felipe.

There is another carousel on the second floor of the Liverpool department store in Plaza Andares in the kid’s section. This is a much smaller carousel than the one downtown but it is still incredibly beautiful. This carousel does have a cost

49. Guadalajara Zoo

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. 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.

50. Acuario Michin

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. 

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.

51. Jalisco Paseo Interactivo JAPI (formerly Trompo Mágico)

Things to do in Guadalajara | Museo Trompo Mágico

Kids are going to love the Trompo Mágico Museum. There are more activities and science experiments that children will be able to finish in a weekend. It is worth checking out the website because some of the classes are small and require making a reservation the morning of. The cooking class is one that tends to fill up early.

We loved the bubble station, the playground, and the reading teepees with books in Spanish, English, and Huichol.

My oldest son is four years old and some of the building activities were for kids older than he is.

I, personally, loved the exhibit on Mexican muralists like Diego Rivera and José Clemente Orozco. I think there is one whole wind of a huge building dedicated to different sorts of experiments with electricity and physics.

The best part is that it is children sized so they can touch everything and experiment.

52. Selva Mágica

Things to do in Guadalajara | Selva Mágica

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

53. Calaverandia

Calaverandia is a Day of the Dead theme park that runs for around four weeks from late October to mid-November. It is a celebration of life and traditional Mexican culture.

The creators of Calaverandia use light, darkness, and technology to create experiences that connect with your emotions.

The tickets to Calaverandia are highly coveted and sell out quickly. Don’t wait until the last minute to buy tickets if you want to go on the first weekend or the last weekend.

📍Address: Av. Manuel Ávila Camacho S/N, Lomas del Country, Guadalajara
🎟️Check the Facebook Page for ticket information

54. Cinema Live

Things to do in Guadalajara | Cinema live outdoor movies

Cinema Live is an outdoor movie series throughout Guadalajara. While not exclusively for kids, the children’s movies on Saturday night are wildly popular.

Movies are shown at the Parque Metropolitano, Parque Montenegro, Parque de las Niñas y los Niños in Zapopan, and Parque Mirador.

We usually go to the Parque Metropolitano on Saturdays but the view from Parque Mirador looking down to the Barranca de Huentitan is really spectacular.

Check out the Cinema Live calendar to see what is playing in the near future.

Things to do in Guadalajara
Parque Mirador overlooking the Barranca de Huentitan

Guadalajara Sporting Events

Soccer may be the most popular sport in Mexico but there are more events to choose from. Baseball, rodeo, wrestling, and much more can be found in the metro region.

55. See an Atlas or Leones Negros Game in Estadio Jalisco

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 game you choose, it will be a winner.

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 Fútbol Club 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 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.

56. Catch a Baseball Game at the Charros Stadium

Baseball at the Charros Stadium 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. 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.

57. Lucha Libre Mexican Wrestling

Lucha libre tour in 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 inaugurated 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 spill 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 Camina GDL. 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.

58. Charrería Mexican Rodeo

Federación Mexicana de Charrería A.C.

Charrería is the official national sport in Mexico and the sport is so iconic the local Guadalajara baseball team is named after the men who practice that sport, charros. Escarramuza Charra is the name for women who practice this style of folkloric equestrian competitions.

There is a mariachi and charrería festival in August that is held throughout the Guadalajara Metropolitan Region. The charrería portion of the celebration is held at Vicente Fernandez’s old ranch off the freeway to Chapala called Rancho los Tres Portrillos.

There are competitions held all over the country but the Bajío region of central Mexico hosts many of those competitions.

There is a Charro for a day tour near Downtown Guadalajara that lets guests get up and personal with the sport. They learn rope handling, and how to ride a horse, and it is all taught by professional Charros.

59. Bullfights in the Plaza de Toros Nuevo Progreso

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

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 into the plaza. Just be prepared to watch six animals meet a violent death.

60. Race Go-Carts at Kartódromo Checo Perez

Sergio “Checo” Perez is a Formula One driver who races for Red Bull. Originally from Guadalajara, Checo got his start driving go-karts around Guadalajara before being discovered.

Today, this guy is an absolute legend. He got together with some investors to build the type of track that he enjoys driving.

You will see Checo’s picture all over Guadalajara. He is sponsored by Oracle, Red Bull, and TelMex among others. Karting is a lot of fun. You should check it out.

61. Take a tour

The best tours in Guadalajara

Since I 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.

Camina GDL offers a free walking tour of the city’s historic center covering architecture, history, and legends. Tours are offered every morning at 10:30 am in the Plaza Liberación near the big Guadalajara Guadalajara sign. Look for the people with the yellow umbrellas.

The tour last approximately two hours and makes the short walk to finish at Mercado San Juan de Dios. No need to reserve, just show up. Tours happen seven days a week in both English and Spanish.

62. Guadalajara Art Crawl and Studio Visits

Art studio tour with Alexandria Duncan

Guadalajara is a cultured town 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 sides of the Guadalajara art scene will leave you impressed.

Coolest Places To Get A Drink in Guadalajara

Guadalajara is a big city and a percentage likes to go out and get a drink. There are all sorts of historic cantinas, modern bars, and everything in between.

63. Nightclubs and Anthros: Things to do in Guadalajara at Night

Mexicans know how to have fun and Guadalajara is such a large city that there are nightclubs 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.

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.

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

64. Cantina La Fuente

Cantina La Fuente is one of the coolest places to get a drink in Guadalajara

Cantina La Fuente is one of the oldest drinking establishments in Guadalajara and a perfect place to make a pitstop along your walking tour. The cantina is located 25 meters behind the Miguel Hidalgo statue and the Guadalajara letters in the Plaza de la Liberación.

There are a number of great cantina tours of Guadalajara that tell stories and legends while drinking in the most historic parts of town.

65. Historic Cantina Tour

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. The Traditional Cantinas Tour by Jalisco Tours tells stories about the oldest neighborhoods of Guadalajara while walking from cantina to cantina.

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.

There is probably a couple of guys playing the marimba on the sidewalk out front. It’s an absolute classic.

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 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. The food specials too like raw scallops and smoked oysters are excellent.

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.

66. Agave Tastings: Tequila, Mezcal, and Raicilla

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 agave 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

67. Craft Beer in Guadalajara

It is really cool to see how the microbrewery and craft beer scene has absolutely blown up over the last ten years. There was a time when nobody could compete with the multinational brands. And it isn’t just Guadalajara but all of Mexico is making craft beer that they want to drink. Today, you can learn the geography of Mexico through microbrews. Check these ones out.

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

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

Cerveza Zorra Bistro & Pub Zapopan | Calle 5 de Mayo 272, Zapopan Centro

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

Patan Ale House | Calle Morelos 1281, Americana, Guadalajara

68. Wine Tastings

The successful growth of the Valle de Guadalupe wine region in Baja California has helped to promote a new generation of Mexican wine drinkers.

There are plenty of classicly trained sommeliers but my favorite local wine personalities run an Instagram handle called @vinosenlacalle. They bring interesting wines and proper glassware to their favorite traditional food vendors.

Wine in Guadalajara is different from what I learned in California. There are different trade agreements and currency exchanges. The Mexican peso is strong against the Argentine peso so there is a lot of malbec and bonarda in Guadalajara.

Keep an eye out for the newest wine growing regions near Lake Chapala and in the state of Querétaro. Things are looking up.

Shelter | Calle Mar Báltico 2240, Country Club, Guadalajara

Turbio Natural Wines | Calle Pedro Moreno 1103, Colonia Americana, Guadalajara

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

69. Cocktail Bars

This is another category that is blowing up. You can find some cool speakeasies in more neighborhoods but the center of the cocktail world in Guadalajara is the Colonia Americana.

Farmacia Rita Pérez | Calle Colonias y Calle Pedro Moreno, Colonia Americana, Guadalajara

Peter Brown Bar | Calle José María Morelos 1454, Colonia Americana, Guadalajara

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

Pigalle | Calle Emeterio Robles Gil, Americana, Guadalajara

Day Trips from Guadalajara

While I make day trips to the beach to surf big swells on a regular basis I would not recommend it. For me, a day trip is about an hour away from Guadalajara depending on the traffic. I like to have at least a weekend to travel to the different towns more than an hour away from Guadalajara.

This is just a short sample of the complete article on the best day trips and weekend getaways from Guadalajara.

70. Lake Chapala

Lake Chapala Jalisco Mexico

Lake Chapala is the largest body of fresh water in Mexico and a favorite international vacation destination going back more than a hundred years. President Porfirio Díaz had a ranch on the lake in the late 1800s and there are still some interesting mansions from that era that have been preserved.

The area is famous for great sunsets, lovely weather, and lots of English-speaking retirees. There are dozens of pueblos to visit on both the Jalisco and Michoacan side of the large lake. The town of Ajijic was designated a Pueblo Magico by the Mexican Secretay of Tourism.

Chapala, Ajijic, and Jocotepec are an easy day trip from Guadalajara. This tour visits a tequila distillery on the freeway to Chapala before visiting three pueblos and going for a quick boat ride.

71. José Cuervo Express Tequila Train

Grupo Cuervo has created one of the finest tourist products in Mexico. The tequila 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 Centro Cultural Juan Beckmann Gallarda is world-class. It’s like Disney World for adults.

72. Guachimontones Archeological Site

Guachimontones pyramids in Teuchitlan, Jalisco

The Guachimontones archeological site is located about an hour outside of Guadalajara at the base of the Tequila Volcano near the town of Teuchitlan. The site is somewhat newly rediscovered and has only been partially excavated.

The pyramids at Guachimontones are unique in their conical shape.

This was a large settlement with a chinampa agricultural system that supported close to 40,000 people. 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.

I recommend going just after the rainy season because the area is bright green and oh-so photogenic.

The easiest way to get to Guachimontones is by renting a car and driving. There are also a number of great tours that combine the archeological site with a tequila distillery tour. I think that is the best way to see the valley in one day.

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.

73. Hacienda El Carmen Boutique Hotel & Spa

⭐️ Rating: 9.6 /10 | Neighborhood: Ahualulco de Mercado | View on Expedia.com

I have been watching the Netflix series Monarca about a wealthy Mexican family that is partially set in Tequila. They filmed a number of scenes at the Hacienda El Carmen. This is a special place.

Hacienda El Carmen is not in Guadalajara. It is located an hour outside of the city at the base of the Tequila Volcano, very close to the Guachimontones pyramids. Jalisco is famous for its country culture. It would be a great experience to see both the big city and the nearby ranches.

The luxury hotel haciendas in Mexico are spectacular.

Best Weekend Getaways From Guadalajara

One of the best parts of living in Guadalajara is the proximity to 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.

Visiting Guadalajara: FAQs

Contrary to popular belief, Guadalajara is not Mexico’s second-largest city nor the second-largest metropolitan region. [1][2] It is the capital of the state of Jalisco and is considered the second most important city in Mexico because of its contributions to Mexican culture.

Many of the things that come to mind when people talk about Mexico have their origins in the state of Jalisco and its capital, Guadalajara.

When Is The Best Time To Visit Guadalajara?

Any time of year is a great time to visit, but fall is the best time to visit Guadalajara.

By October, the rainy season has ended and the weather is mild. There are lots of events and festivals such as the Guadalajara International Book Fair, Day of the Dead, the Fiestas de Octubre, Calaverlandía, and the Mariachi & Charrería Festival.

Is Guadalajara Safe?

Guadalajara is not considered to be one of the safest places in Mexico by the people who live there. It is a large metropolitan area with both safe and unsafe sections, much like Los Angeles or San Francisco.

If you leave luggage in your vehicle while parked on the street it is not likely that it will be there when you return, just like in San Francisco.

Guadalajara has a sensational problem with motorcycle thieves stealing cell phones out of the hands of unsuspecting tourists. It is akin to the brazen holdups in wealthy districts of Los Angeles. With a little forewarning, it is easy to avoid these sorts of crimes.

Read the complete article on safety in Guadalajara. Safety is about preparation and knowing how to avoid dangerous situations.

What is Guadalajara Known For?

The cliché answer is that Guadalajara is known for Mariachi, tequila, and rodeo. Today, Guadalajara is known as a tech hub with close ties to both India and the United States.

Luis Barragán, one of the world’s most celebrated modernist architects was from Guadalajara and left an important food print.

Club Deportivo Guadalajara, more commonly known as Chivas, is one of Latin America’s favorite soccer teams. The stadium where Chivas plays is slotted to host some World Cup 2026 games so a lot more people are talking about them these days.

Birria has absolutely taken over social media and most people will admit that birria is from Guadalajara.

There is a lot more to Guadalajara than just tequila, mariachi, and rodeo, but those are pretty cool too.

Where is Guadalajara?

Guadalajara is in the western state of Jalisco, the westernmost point of the Bajío Region. It is west of Mexico City, east of Puerto Vallarta, and north of Colima.

The Guadalajara International Airport (GDL) is one of the busiest airports in Mexico with direct flights to many locations in Mexico and North America.

Where To Stay In Guadalajara

Guadalajara is a large metropolitan area with lots of unique experiences. I recommend reading up on where to stay in Guadalajara for first-timers, having a look at the list of best hotels, and checking out the residential neighborhoods of Guadalajara to get an idea about what is available.

If you are looking for the short answer, I love Casa Habita. I love the neighborhood, the architecture, and the amenities. It has some of the best coffee in Mexico on the ground floor, bomb street food all around, and lots of treelined streets to walk.

Casa Habita is one of the nicest places to stay in Guadalajara, without a doubt.

Final Thoughts On The Coolest Things To Do In Guadalajara

This turned into a little bit more than I had originally planned. I have been updating the article for more than five years now and it reminds me of all the fun there is to be had in this town.

Considering there is so much to do, I recommend making a plan ahead of time so you can start making reservations for tequila tours or getting tickets for soccer matches. The Jose Cuervo Tequila Train is almost always sold out for at least a month in advance.

Thanks for reading. I hope you find some cool ideas and have an absolute blast in Guadalajara, Jalisco.

Send me a message if you find something cool.

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