A rotunda alongside the Cathedral of Guadalajara

The “Rotunda of Illustrious Men of Guadalajara” sits beside the city’s main cathedral. It honors leaders of the city whose remains were buried there. Photo courtesy of Galfer.

Guadalajara, Mexico’s second biggest city, is known as “the San Francisco of Mexico.” It’s got a lot of character and seems to maintain a slower, friendlier pace of life, even as a huge metropolis. Guadalajara attracts tons of LGBT Mexicans, artists, performers, and the rest of the creative class.

Jalisco – the state of which Guadalajara is the capital – is one of Mexico’s most important. Birthplace to mariachi music and tequila, the region proudly leads the world in both traditions to this day. It’s also home to a huge number of artisans, who handcraft everything from leather to metalwork to tequila. I’ve even had one artisanal tequila pomegranate punch. It’s so good, I look for the artisan every time I go back so I can replenish my supply!

Guadalajara is also blessed with amazing weather. It’s warm, with highs in the 70’s and low 80’s year-round. You can get a suntan there in November! (or a sunburn, if you’re anything like me) And as a rule, even the rainy season isn’t all that wet. I’d recommend it as a destination at any time of year.

This is one of my favorite places in the world. When I needed Spanish language immersion at a couple points in my career, I kept going back to Guadalajara.

The work of a leather artisan for sale in Tonalá. This purse caught my eye because it looked like something my sister would love. I mean, I love it too, but she’s the one who would actually wear it. –Matt

Special Interests

Depending on your interests, you might be interested in:

I’m working on a special trip for tequila lovers. I typically choose which tequila distilleries to visit based on where I have friends. But on this trip, we’ll spend more time on tequila, visiting distilleries that have distinguished themselves and earned the esteem of tequila aficionados.

Guadalajara LGBT Pride:
Early June. Mexico’s second-biggest Pride celebration includes a parade to the city center, outdoor celebration with live performances, and of course special late-night festivities at local bars and clubs. Once a specific date is set, I’ll post that information here.

Festival of the Mariachi:
Late August/early September. Mariachi music originated in this area, and the Festival is one of Guadalajara’s biggest annual events. Among the activities you’ll enjoy are the kickoff parade, free open-air concerts at local plazas, and impromptu performances on street corners. There’s also a big horsemanship and rodeo competition. Guadalajara is amazing any time of the year, but this is a particularly lively and festive time to be there.

This tour includes:

Matt posed outside the Jose Cuervo factory

Jose Cuervo offers tours of their factory like clockwork, every hour on the hour. But I prefer a private visit to a small, artisanal distillery where I’m friendly with the owners and we’re the only ones there.

  • a day trip to Tequila, with visits to small private distilleries
  • a visit to a mole maker’s workshop followed by a lesson in cooking with mole
  • day trips to Tonala and Tlaquepaque, where artisans make and sell their wares
  • a day trip of relaxing at Lake Chapala
  • sampling foods unique to the area, such as birria (a stew) and tortas ahogadas (“drowned sandwiches” served on bread so hard, you use a tomato sauce to drown it into submission)
  • long walks/short rides to nearby attractions like the fruit market, my favorite bakeries, the three-story San Juan de Dios market, and the unforgettable “Tacos Gay’s” taco stand
  • airport pickup, 7 nights of accommodations, 2 breakfasts, and 10 lunches/dinners


  • The itinerary may change based on availability, weather, and seasonal holidays or events.
  • Mexico gets a bad rap among people who haven’t been there. They expect the whole country is like the nasty news stories they hear. That’s silly. Mexico’s a big place, and plenty of the country is safe. Based on my experience, what I hear from my friends there, and what the U.S. State Department has to say, I consider Guadalajara as safe as any big city in the U.S.

1 Comment

  1. The annual Festival of the Mariachi | Detour Travel
    May 27, 2012 - 1:25 pm