December 21, 2012 by

Free Things to Do, Sightseeing, Things To Do

Catedral de Guadajara. Photo courtesy of bryce_edwards via Flickr.

Catedral de Guadajara. Photo courtesy of bryce_edwards via Flickr.

The largest city in Mexico’s western central highlands, Guadalajara is the capital city of the Mexican state of Jalisco and a top tourist destination for visitors to the region. Originally founded in 1542, colonial Guadalajara is rich in history and culture, and best-known for its many contributions to the Mexican lifestyle, namely mariachi music, tequila, the sombrero and the Mexican rodeo.

Guadalajara’s Centro Histórico (Historic Center) is home to the majority of the city’s important sights and monuments. Here you’ll find the twin-towered cathedral, numerous plazas and government buildings as well as the regional history museum, state university and theater. Most of the attractions in the historic center of Guadalajara are within walking distance of one another and the downtown area can be easily explored on foot.

Also worth exploring are the city suburbs of Zapopan, Tlaquepaque and Tonalá, where you’ll find several interesting historical sites and museums including an art museum and ceramic museum. Wander the narrow cobblestone streets of Tlaquepaque and Tonalá and visit the workshops and showrooms of local artisans, many of which are housed in colonial mansions. The city suburbs are also where you’ll find many of Guadalajara’s best restaurants, cafés and markets.

Guadalajara is a great place to sample some of the regional cuisine and you’re almost guaranteed a great meal at the restaurants and street food stands throughout the city. A favorite local dish is the torta ahogada (drowned sandwich), that originated in Guadalajara. This famous sandwich is prepared using thick bolillo bread that’s filled with fried pork or chicken, beans and cheese, then submerged in spicy sauce and served with avocado, onions and chilli peppers.

Some of the nearby towns make excellent day trips from Guadalajara including the lovely lakefront towns of Chapala and Ajijic; the religious pilgrimage site of San Juan de los Lagos; and the small town of Tequila, home to several well-known tequila distilleries, the national tequila museum and a popular destination for tequila tastings and tours on the Tequila Express.

- Laura Nazimiec

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