Being the capital city of the Mexican state of Jalisco, and the second most populated city in Mexico, you’ll never run out of things to do in Guadalajara. It is also considered to be one of the country’s main cultural centers. Whereas Mexico City can be frenetic and fast-paced, Guadalajara is typically more relaxed and laid back. One of the more interesting Guadalajara facts is that many distinctly Mexican traditions, such as mariachi and charreadas, have their roots here. If you’re interested in taking a uniquely Mexican vacation, then this is the place to go.
At this point, you might be wondering what to do in Guadalajara. There are many Guadalajara, Mexico points of interest that can keep a person busy for their entire vacation. From museums to zoos to cathedrals, there’s always a myriad of things to do in Guadalajara on offer. So let’s get started.
1. Spirit of Jalisco Tequila Tour
Of course, tequila has its roots in Guadalajara, making this the perfect time to go on a tequila distillery tour. You’ll learn more about the histories and distilling processes of your favorite brands, such as Espolòn Tequila. If you love tequila, then you won’t be disappointed.
2. Guadalajara Historic Downtown Tour
Taking a tour of the Guadalajara downtown is one of the best ways to get acquainted with the city. In this way, you’ll some of the city’s old, colonial-style buildings, historical monuments, and beautiful fountains. Going on a tour such as this will also give you a better idea of what to do in Guadalajara.
3. Guadalajara Zoo
If you’re an animal lover, then this should be one of the first places to visit in Guadalajara. The Guadalajara Zoo is considered by many to be among the most important zoos in Latin America. A few of its main attractions include Bengal tigers, lowland gorillas, and polar bears. There are over 2000 animals to be seen overall, and a person can easily spend the entire day seeing everything it has to offer.
4. Guadalajara Cathedral
For those of you looking to visit a beautiful cathedral, Guadalajara has you covered. This is a truly gorgeous building with gothic towers, stained-glass windows, and incredible oil paintings. It also has a fascinating history behind it, having been destroyed and rebuilt a number of times in its past.
5. San Juan de Dios Market
Shops abound all around Guadalajara, but place to go if you want to do some Guadalajara souvenir shopping (or just regular shopping too) is the San Juan de Dios Market. It holds the title of the single largest indoor market in Latin America, and has everything from clothes, music, movies, video games, and more. Many of the vendors allow haggling, making it a great place to find some deals.
6. Rotonda de Los Jaliscienses de Ilustres
This is a neoclassical style monument that honors the memories of great people who came from Jalisco. These include people who’ve made significant contributions to the arts, sciences, politics, and human rights. It’s a beautiful landmark, and a great place to stop and have a picnic with your family while learning more about Jalisco’s history.
7. Selva Magica
Hang on to your hats — literally — because this is among the more exciting Guadalajara attractions. Selva Magica is one of the largest amusement parks in Mexico. It contains over 35 attractions and is one of the many wonderful places to go in Guadalajara with kids. Or if you’re really looking for a thrill, try some of the more extreme rides there such as the Bullet roller coaster.
8. Parque Agua Azul
This is the perfect place to go if you want to get away from the city. Parque Agua Azul is the city’s oldest and largest park. It has walking trails, an aviary, an orchid house, and a butterfly sanctuary. You can often find some entertainment happening here as well, such as concerts and outdoor theater.
9. Los Colomos
Los Colomos is another beautiful park for those of you who love to be in nature. This one in particular is popular among bird watchers, and it features a traditional Japanese garden. There is also a section specifically reserved for camping if you’d like to spend your vacation in the great outdoors.
10. Regional Museum of Guadalajara
The Regional Museum of Guadalajara is a must see for anyone who loves both art and history. This museum contains many works and artifacts that document the history of western Mexico. The building itself is a work of art in its own right, featuring an open plaza and several gorgeous courtyards.
11. Museum of Arts University of Guadalajara
This is another one of the fantastic museums in Guadalajara. It’s the place to go if you really want to experience Mexican art at its finest. It contains works by some of the most famous artists in Jalisco’s history, such as Carmen Bordes, Javier Arévalo, and Martha Pacheco.
12. Museum of Paleontology Guadalajara
If you have an interest in paleontology, then this is one of the best places to visit in Guadalajara. It houses fossils that were discovered in the Jalisco region, including woolly mammoths and saber tooth tigers. There’s even an exhibit known as The Bridge where visitors are challenged to identify the bones of different animals.
13. Museo de la Ciudad
This is one of Guadalajara’s newest museums, and it’s dedicated to chronicling the city’s history. This encompasses its colonial times starting in 1542 all the way up to its modern day. It also frequently holds activities in its courtyard, such as music and book readings.
14. Instituto Cultural Cabanas
Also known as Hospicio Cabanas, this is one of the oldest and largest hospital complexes in Latin America. These days, it is dedicated to the politically charged murals of famous Mexican artist Jose Clemente Orozco. These murals helped establish the Mexican Mural Renaissance, and therefore had a very strong influence on the history of Mexican art.
15. Ex Convento del Carmen
Ex Convento del Carmen is an old church from the 17th century that is now being used as an art gallery. It features five exhibitions that are dedicated to painting, sculpture, and photography. It also holds different activities throughout the week such as Musical Tuesdays and Literary Wednesdays.
16. Museum of the Incredible
This is the museum to visit if you’re looking for something a little more quirky and unique. Instead of paintings and sculptures, you’ll see wax figures of famous historical figures. It’s a very popular tourist destination, and is one of the most unusual things to see in Guadalajara.
17. Casa Museo López Portillo
This 18th century neoclassical building was once the home of the López Portillo family. Today, it features antique furniture and artwork from all around the world. The building itself is incredibly beautiful and often holds events like concerts and art exhibitions. It’s definitely something you should check if you’re wondering what to do in Guadalajara.
18. Pub Crawl Guadalajara
This is a great option for those who want to experience the Guadalajara nightlife. You’ll explore all the best bars and pubs of Colonia Americana while having some drinks and meeting new people. It’s a fun way to unwind and make new friends while you’re on vacation.
19. Templo Expiatorio del Santisimo Sacramento
This Catholic church is widely considered to be the greatest neo-Gothic style building in all of Mexico. It features giant stone pillars and incredible stained glass windows. It’s an absolute must see if you’re a fan of beautiful architecture.
20. Barranca de Oblatos
This is where you go if you want to do some Guadalajara sightseeing. Barranca de Oblatos is a massive canyon carved by the Rio Grande de Santiago, and is considered by some to be the Mexican version of the Grand Canyon. It’s a gorgeous natural wonder, and was also the site of many important moments in Mexican history.
21. Plaza Tapatia
Another happening place to go if you want to do some shopping while you’re in the city, The Plaza Tapatia is a large plaza that’s full of local vendors. You can often find street performers here along with a sculpture dedicated to the immolation of the Aztec deity Quetzalcoatl.
22. Guadalajara Metropolitan Park
In Guadalajara, what to do if you want to get away from the busy city is visit the Guadalajara Metropolitan Park. This park consists of over a hundred hectares, as well as bike trails and secluded seating areas. It’s something you have to see if you love being outdoors.
23. Centro Cultural El Refugio
This is a former orphanage that now serves two distinct purposes. By day, it’s an art gallery featuring plastic arts, ceramics, and other works of art. By night, you get a dimly lit guided tour of the building while actors reenact its spooky history. Perfect for those who love a good scare.
24. Acuario Michin
The Acuario Michin is the largest aquarium in Latin America. The tanks are huge and contain numerous kinds of fish, sharks, rays, chameleons, and more. You’ll also learn more about the various aquatic ecosystems throughout Mexico. This is a great activity to check out for those of you that have kids.
25 Plaza de los Mariachis
Of course, Guadalajara is the birthplace of mariachi music, and this plaza is where it all started. It’s recommended you visit the Plaza de los Mariachis at night, which is when the music really gets going. You have to see at least one mariachi performance to get the full Guadalajara experience, so make sure you check it out before you leave.
26. Trompo Magico Museum
If you’re looking for what to do with kids in Guadalajara, this museum is an ideal place to visit with your children. Trompo Magico Museum is a kid-friendly museum with several educational exhibits and play areas. The museum is often visited by groups of school children, which gives your kids a great opportunity to play with the local children as well.
27. Huichol Wixarica Art Museum
The Huichol Wixarica Art Museum is a museum dedicated to the Native American Wixarican people who originally lived in Jalisco. This is an opportunity to learn more about their culture and religion, as well as view their colorful artwork and artifacts. It’s perfect for those who would like to learn more about this fascinating culture.
28. Paseo Chapultepec
Paseo Chapultepec is an art walk on Chapultepec Avenue, and is one of the most creative areas in Guadalajara. In this place, you’ll find musicians, booksellers, painters, and artists of all kinds. It also features many beautiful sculptures and fountains. It’s the place to go to experience Guadalajara’s more creative side.
29. Plaza Andares
Plaza Andares is a massive shopping mall located in the Guadalajara metropolitan area. It’s one of the largest malls in the country and contains many brands that will be familiar to American visitors. If you’re in the market for great shopping opportunities in Guadalajara, then this is the place to check out during your stay.
30. Teatro Degollado
This is an old, neoclassical theater that was originally inaugurated in 1866. A gorgeous monument to Guadalajara’s culture, this theater frequently hosts ballets, operas, traditional Mexican dances, and many other kinds of performances. Make sure to see if there’s anything interesting happening here when you visit.
31. Palacio de Gobierno
This 18th century palace houses the government offices of Jalisco. It’s worth visiting for the magnificent murals painted by Jose Clemente Orozco and Miguel Hidalgo. There’s also multimedia museum about the history of Jalisco located on the ground floor of the palace.
Among the many very exciting day trips from Guadalajara for fans of archaeological sites is Guachimontones. Located about an hour from Guadalajara, this site is known for its pyramid-like ruins which consist of concentric circles. This is something that’s not seen anywhere else in Mexico, making it a truly unique attraction in its own right.
33. Coronilla Street
This is the perfect place to go if you’ve been to a few museums, but you still want to experience Guadalajara’s more creative side. It features several small cafes and art shops, as well as a massive, colorful mural of Frida Kahlo. This is Guadalajaran culture at its best.
34. Nuestros Dulces
The name may mean “Our Sweets” but the big draw here is actually tequila. This little candy shop that could made it into the Guinness Book of World Records for most different tequila bottles in one place. There are currently 1799 different tequila bottles available in the shop in Tlaquepaque. If tequila is not your thing, there is plenty of candy of course as well to keep you satisfied. Tequila and candy — what more could you want?
Tlaquepaque itself is a must-see in Guadalajara. Lined with colourful shops and the aromas of tasty appetizers and mains wafting from its myriad of restaurants, there is something to see and do for everyone in this upscale neighbourhood.
In Guadalajara, things to do are never in short supply. As you can see, it’s a magnificent city full of art, culture, music, and history. There’s nowhere else in the world quite like it, and it’s a place that everyone should visit at least once. So what are you waiting for? Get yourself to Guadalajara.
What are some of your favourite things to do in Guadalajara? Let me know in the comments section below.