(BPT) - Travelers in search of a destination rich in tradition with exciting culinary, art and nightlife experiences will fall in love with Guadalajara, Mexico. The second-largest city in Mexico is considered the country’s cultural capital as the birthplace of iconic mariachi, tequila and charreria (Mexican rodeo). Whether it's for a quick winter getaway or a longer stay, there's something for everyone.
Here are the many attractions that keep tourists coming to Guadalajara, year after year.
1. Immerse yourself in the culture
Guadalajara's historic city center allows travelers to walk back in time. The impressive buildings include the city's landmark Guadalajara Cathedral with its distinctive neo-Gothic towers and UNESCO World Heritage Museo Cabanas. Even further back in history is the pre-Hispanic archeological site of Guachimontones, where travelers can learn about the Teuchitlan society that existed as early as 300 B.C. The site is an easy day trip from Guadalajara and features one of the few circular pyramids in the world.
For an adrenaline rush, attend a charreria competition which is Mexico’s national sport and designated to UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage list. The sport is a way of life for charros and escaramuzas as an art form that has been passed down through the generations, demanding constant training and practice to master the skills needed to show off horsemanship.
To feel the passion of locals through music, enjoy mariachi performances at places like El Parian de Tlaquepaque. The roots of mariachi stem from Guadalajara’s working class in the 1900s, and today is recognized on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list. Guadalajara is also known for hosting the annual International Mariachi Festival every August/September, where the best mariachi bands from around the world gather for performances and a grand parade.
2. View classic and contemporary art
Visit Museo Cabanas, Museo de los Artes and Palacio de Gobierno to view stunning murals by Jose Clemente Orozco, one of Mexico's greatest muralists. Architecture buffs can visit creations from Guadalajara native Luis Barragan, Mexico’s Pritzker Prize-winning architect, in places such as Parque Revolucion and Jardines del Bosque. For those who want to gallery hop, Colonia Americana is one of the best areas for visiting numerous art galleries with an emphasis on contemporary work.
Tlaquepaque and Tonala are two great areas to find traditional arts and crafts like blown glass, ceramics and pottery. Handicrafts are also available for purchase at San Juan De Dios Mercado, one of the largest enclosed markets in Mexico — with approximately 2,800 stands featuring ceramic, silver, blown glass, leather and palm leaf crafts.
3. Get your mouth watering
Sample the large variety of Guadalajara's flavors and dishes — from one-of-a-kind street food and casual restaurants to innovative fine dining. Unique to the area is the torta ahogada ("drowned sandwich"), Guadalajara’s signature sandwich and most popular street food. Made with a bread called birote which can only be found in Jalisco due to climate and altitude, the torta ahogada traditionally includes pork and is covered in a red sauce made of tomatoes and chili peppers. Another popular Jalisco recipe is birria, a spicy stew made with goat or lamb, cooked slowly with spices and served with minced onions, cilantro and lime.
4. Embrace the nightlife
For local bars and nightclubs featuring cocktails, music and dancing, the Colonia Americana neighborhood is a local favorite. Guadalajara has become one of the most LGBTQ+-friendly tourist destinations in Mexico due to the many anti-discrimination laws and efforts, LGBTQ+ events and LGBTQ+ shows and performances. The city is recognized for its larger number of LGBTQ+ bars and nightclubs in the country, with the majority in Zona Centro along Avenida Prisciliano Sanchez where there's everything from cozy lounges to large dance clubs.
5. Explore Tequila
Jalisco is home to nine “Magical Towns” as designated by Mexico’s federal government. One of them is Tequila, the birthplace of the popular spirit. To explore the history and process of tequila making and agave harvesting, the town and its UNESCO World Heritage blue agave fields are the perfect day trip. Travelers can stop at the National Museum of Tequila or Centro Cultural Juan Beckmann Gallardo, enjoy distillery tours and tastings, observe a jimador (agave farmer) demonstration and view the blue ocean of agave via horseback or a tequila train.
Learn more about your next great vacation in Guadalajara at VisitGuadalajara.com.