Things to Do in Guadalajara
||The average temperature from November to February is of 15º C, rising to 21º C between March and October. There are sporadic downpours in summer (June to September) usually in the afternoon, although the frequency of these rainfalls increases between July and August.
A little less than 250 miles north-west of Mexico's capital stands Mexico's second largest city, Guadalajara, in the state of Jalisco. With 5 million inhabitants, it's less than a quarter of the size of its neighbouring megalopolis, but nevertheless Guadalajara is an important city; colourful and vibrant, and is also one of Mexico's colonial gems.
Guadalajara is often described as the most Mexican of all cities in Mexico; partly because the culture here is traditionally Mexican in so many ways, and also because several products firmly associated with Mexico were started here.
Mariachis are the traditional Mexican musicians with their black velvet dress, and unmistakable large Mariachi hats. Where their name derived from is a bit of mystery; various theories abound, but it was in Guadalajara that Mariachis first appeared. Mariachis play melodies and sing traditional Mexican folk songs, usually in plazas, at parties, restaurants, weddings, birthday celebrations, and so on. The original 'orthodox' Mariachis play only stringed instruments and sing only traditional Jalisco folk music. Today, many Mariachi groups also incorporate a trumpet in their music, (an English import, which actually sounds really great when properly combined with the strings) and sing a variety of Mexican folk songs from across the country's regions.
Another great Mexican product, and one of its greatest exports - Tequila - also began life in Guadalajara. Tequila is made from the Blue Maguey plant (connect to the Mexican Bar on Mexperience for more information about this wonderful liquid pastime!) and not surprisingly, Guadalajara is still one of the main Tequila producing areas in Mexico today.
Guadalajara also gave Mexico its famous wide-rimmed hat (the infamous Mexican Sombrero), introduced the Mexican Hat Dance, and pioneered Charreadas - today more commonly known as The Rodeo. Many of the big images associated with Mexico were given to the nation by one city - Guadalajara.
Guadalajara, like many cities of its size, offers all of the benefits that come with being a large, cosmopolitan city, but without the nuisances and stresses that are often part and parcel of a huge megalopolis - often a capital city - and the distinction between Mexico City and Guadalajara is a textbook example of this.
Guadalajara has all the amenities you would want from a large city in Mexico: Colonial centre, great art and culture, good shopping, great restaurants serving a huge variety and choice of delicious food, excellent choice of accommodation options, and a vibrant nightlife - without the pollution, severe traffic headaches and other associated side-effects of Mexico City. In fact, if you want big-city life, but don't want to visit Mexico City, then Guadalajara can offer you a worthwhile alternative.
If you're on the Pacific Coast, especially in Puerto Vallarta or Manzanillo - Guadalajara can make a convenient and very worthwhile day-trip which will enable you to experience inland Mexico and one its great cities!
Just south of Guadalajara is Chapala, and its large lake (Lake Chapala) which is Mexico's largest natural lake. This area has been adopted by many expatriate retirees from the USA and Canada especially. They have come here looking for a slower pace of life, good facilities, nice people and excellent food. The area is pleasant and makes a nice side trip from Guadalajara, being just over 20 miles south of the city.
As one of Mexico's Major Cities, Guadalajara has a lot to offer you when you make a visit here. If you're on a tour of Colonial Cities, you should include Guadalajara, especially given that it is relatively close to other colonial attractions such as Morelia, Zacatecas and Aguascalientes. As a city attraction, you'll find that Guadalajara will give you some great experiences; whether you chose to come for a day or two, or get to know the city and its surrounds better and stay for a week; you won't be left disappointed.
Guadalajara's colonial centre has five main Plazas, the main one in the middle of the city hosts the city's amazing twin-tower Cathedral, with the other four plazas surrounding it in all directions. There are several historical buildings that centre around the five plazas, and Calzada Independencia, which is the main road that runs north-south through the city.
The two main Plazas are the Plaza de las Armas (the most attractive) and Plaza Tapatia. The Palacio de Gobierno (Government Palace) is the seat of Government here, at times in Mexico's history, like Queretaro, served as the nation's capital when Mexico City was under siege.
North of the Cathedral is one of Guadalajara's big landmarks: Rotunda de los Hombres Ilustres - (Monument to the Illustrious Men) which include a writer, a composer a poet and an architect among others.
On the north side of the Plaza de los Laureles (directly in front of the Cathedral) is the Presidencia Municipal - or City Hall.
Other attractions in Guadalajara's Colonial Centre include Palacio de la Justicia (Palace of Justice, or State Court House), Instituto Cultural de la Cabañas, on Plaza Tapatia which is one Gudalajara's greatest colonial buildings. Plaza de los Mariachis offers you the opportunity to eat and drink while Mariachis play and serenade you (for a small fee per song, of course!)
Look up Guadalajara in the mainstream Guidebooks for more information about these museums, or consult the local Tourist Information Office.
Just 7km southeast of Guadalajara's city centre is Tlaquepaque - an old craft centre and colonial village.
Guadalajara is home to some of Mexico's most attractive colonial churches, in addition to the City's Cathedral. Some notable ones include Templo de la Merced, near the Cathedral, which was built around 1650; Santuario de Nuestra Señora del Carmen, which includes gold decoration and some nice murals in its dome; Templo de Aranzazu, which was completed around 1752.
Parque Agua Azul
This is Guadalajara's main park, and offers green serenity and relaxation away from the hustle and bustle of Guadalajara's city life. There's a children's play area here as well as a train ride. The park also hosts an aviary and nearby is the city's Anthropology Museum. Open 10am to 6pm daily, except Mondays. There is a very small admission fee.
Plaza del Sol Area
This area of the city hosts all of the city's fine restaurants, glossy shopping areas and malls, luxury hotels, and is the main commercial area in downtown Guadalajara.
Museums & Art
Museo Regional de Guadalajara - (Regional Museum of Guadalajara) is hosted by the a former seminary of San Jose, built in the 17th century. The architecture alone is worth a visit. The museum itself hosts a collection of work depicting the history of western Mexico, from pre-historical times, through to the Spanish invasion and conquest. The museum is open daily, except Mondays; it opens around 10am: get there before 2:45pm if you want to see all of the rooms.
Museo de Arqueologia del Occidente de Mexico (Museum of Archaeology of Western Mexico) houses a selection of pre-Hispanic pottery.
Museo de la Ciudad - (City Museum) Covers the city's past, from its origins in Zacatecas (where Guadalajara was to be in the first place - but later moved... once again) to the invasion and conquest by the Spanish.
Museo de las Artes de la Universidad de Guadalajara (Guadalajara's University Art Museum) Has a permanent collection from the University, and also hosts many major travelling exhibitions.
Lake Chapala & Environs
Because of the stunning scenery, great climate and attractive ambience at Lake Chapala and its picturesque lakeside towns of Ajijic, Jacotepec and (of course) Chapala, many foreigners, especially from the USA and Canada decide to sell up and move to this great area for a complete change of lifestyle, to retire, or both!
When you visit here, it's not hard to see why they do. The climate is absolutely great all year-round; the lake is wonderful and flanked by majestic mountains in the background, the people here are friendly and inviting, and the whole place is just over 20 miles away from Guadalajara, making the area accessible and convenient for amenities when you need them.
Chapala is the main commercial centre, you can change money, buy things and generally get in touch with the world from here. If you want to stay in the area, then nearby Ajijic is the best place to find a hotel. Ajijic also has some good crafts shops in which to browse and buy.
Much of the area's prosperity derives from the expatriates living here - you're likely to see quite a few of them, and they're really friendly, so don't be shy if you want to meet and chat with them about the area. English is spoken in most places, and many of the local signs in commercial areas are also in English.
Being so close to Guadalajara, Lake Chapala is an excellent opportunity to leave the hustle and swing of the city and experience some of Mexico's most serene and attractive western rural life!
Learn Spanish in Guadalajara
As "the most Mexican of cities", Guadalajara is an excellent venue for people who want to attend a Spanish School in Mexico. Take the opportunity to mix learning and pleasure when you visit this cosmopolitan city by attending one of the Spanish Schools here.
Good Health Spas are available in and around Guadalajara; For more information about Health Spas, and how to get access to a magnificent health experience in Mexico, connect to the Mexperience Section about Health Spas.
Golf in Guadalajara
Not only is the climate in Guadalajara ideal for Golf, the sport is a major pastime with the locals here.
Guadalajara has a selection of good night spots to suit those looking for culture and those looking for a party!
Locally Hosted Parties - Check with yours and other Local Hotels about public parties they may be hosting during your stay. Traditional Mexican theme night parties are popular with the locals, and there's a chance you could join a really special night out - the real Mexican way, and certainly on the eve of September 16th - Mexico's Independence Day! Hosted parties usually include dinner, dancing, a show and / or live music (as well as authentic Mexican Mariachis) plus all drinks for a fixed fee and are always excellent value for money! Ask at your hotel to find out what is happening locally.
Nightclub Scene: Mexico's Cities do have lots of young people living in them, so just because they are steeped in history does not mean that you won't find an all-night club party happening somewhere in town! Some night clubs charge an all inclusive cover fee; some a smaller cover and drinks on top. Drinks are served all night - don't even consider going to a nightclub before 11pm. Nightclubs keep going all morning and most people will start to leave between 5 and 7 am.
Night Bars / Restaurants - There's a good variety of Late Night Entertainment in Guadalajara to keep you happy and entertained into the early hours.