Guadalajara, Mexico’s pearl of the west, is an incredibly diverse and stately city with amazing qualities, both modern and historic, that embrace all who visit. For a city that is not a resort, Guadalajara offers a very pleasant surprise to the unsuspecting tourist. Guadalajara is an ideal vacation destination for the traveler who is seeking a change of pace from the, sometimes overwhelming, resort scene.
As the second largest city in Mexico and boasting a population of over 3 million, you are constantly reminded that Guadalajara is a busy metropolis, and a major Mexican business center. Although this city beats to a busy pace, things here have a way of seeming to always remain serene. There are many places in Guadalajara where you will feel like you have stepped back in time to a different era.
A must on any visitors list of things to do in Guadalajara is the historic center. Guadalajara’s historic center is a great place to get acquainted with some of this areas history and also an get a taste of the incredible colonial architecture that has made Guadalajara the envy of other Mexican cities. The landscape of the historic center is dominated by the colonial cathedral. The cathedral is a great starting point for a leisurely stroll through this city’s cultural center.
Guadalajara has plenty of attractions to keep it’s visitors busy other than looking at old buildings and churches. There is a wonderful zoo. Connected to the zoo is a separate children’s amusement park (“Selva Mágica”) with over thirty five rides and other attractions just for the kids, including it’s own marine park with dolphin, seal shows. Selva Mágica also has regularly scheduled shows featuring performing toucans, hawks and macaws.
There are bullfights at Plaza de Toros Nuevo Progreso (most Sundays, October to March), rodeos at Lienzo charro de Jalisco, every Sunday at noon. The charros (cowboys) compete in 10 events, mariachis perform during breaks, and food and beverages are available. You can possibly catch a professional soccer match (varied schedules) at Estadio Jalisco. For the racers in your family there is a great go-kart track called, appropriately, Go Kartmanía featuring 4 different tracks An abundance of modern multi-cinemas show (almost) current movies all over the city and in all of the malls. Scattered throughout the countryside surrounding Guadalajara are numerous water parks and natural hot springs.
There are cultural activities of different types in different venues being presented almost every day all year long. A good place to get information and up to date schedules is the state tourism office in the historic center.
Two city parks stand out as excellent places to spend some leisure time. Los Colomos Park is located in a forest within the city. This park is an excellent place stroll or to get some active exercise. Jogging and walking around the various unique areas within the park is an activity in itself. “The Castle” is a small cultural center and there are paths that lead to other special areas including areas set aside for picnics and family outings. The Japanese Gardens, donated by Guadalajara’s sister city of Kyoto, Japan, are an incredibly peaceful sanctuary within the park. Horseback riding is available for children of all ages, on some very mellow horses.
Parque Agua Azul, a Guadalajara tradition, is located in the southern section of the city. This park is divided into two parts, connected by a bridge, and it is huge. There are large green areas, a butterfly house, bird house, orchid house and various entertainment venues, some especially for the kids. The large outdoor auditorium is known as “La Concha Acustica” where different cultural shows are preformed regularly. There are usually local musicians performing along an area known as “Musicians Boulevard”. All in all a great place to relax and escape the city, for a while. Adjacent to the park is the Archaeological Museum of Western México, housing exhibits of pottery and other artifacts used by the ancient peoples of the surrounding area. A state run crafts store, which sells only high quality merchandise, is located within the park and is well worth a visit.