Two enduring symbols of Guadalajara are the Arcos Vallarta and the Glorieta Minerva. The Arcos is a modest Romanesque double arch which once marked the city limits. A climb to the top reveals interesting city views and murals. Next to the Arcos is the Minerva, a statue of the Roman goddess surrounded by a fountain.
Some of the most exciting football (soccer) you’ll see in North America takes place in Guadalajara’s Estadio Jalisco, where local teams Atlas and Deportivo (Las Chivas) play. Local fans get incredibly enthusiastic for both teams – enough to make the upper decks shake when they cheer them on (consider yourself warned!). The biggest games are when Atlas and Chivas play each other or when Chivas plays América.
While you’re in the neighborhood, across the street is the Plaza de Toros where bullfights take place every Sunday afternoon. It’s a worth a visit if you’re into that.
An ancient (300 BC - 900 AD) archaeological area near the town of Teuchitlán; circular stepped pyramids located within a complex of over 100 acres, about an hour to the west of Guadalajara. Just one of around 950 archaeological sites under examination in Jalisco, it was rediscovered in 1970. Ancient Teuchitlán was a village within the Etzatlán lordship, inhabited by Tecos groups. The pyramids are believed to have been used for ceremonies honoring the wind God Ehecatl, during which a priest would climb a pole atop the structure. Archaeologists beieve it was designed and built as “political” - a structure complex intended to maintain unity and order, with 10 circular complexes, four rectangular plazas, and two ballcourts. Political or economic disputes of particular sensitivity might have been resolved on the court as an alternative to the battlefield. Ball games might also have ended with the winner being ceremonially beheaded - a strange reward from a modern perspective, but considered an honor by people of that culture; a portal to the spiritual realm of the gods. New Age practitioners believe pyramids of the Mesoamerican cultures to be energy points, places of instruction and inspiration for receptive souls who climb them. During the centuries after the complex was abondoned, stones taken from here were often used to build parts of what stands as Teuchitlán today. Since the arrival of the archaeologists it has been protected as a World Heritage site.
One of Mexico’s iconic images is the mariachi band and there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy mariachi music in the city. The easiest place to find them is in the aptly named Plaza de los Mariachis, a small plaza with several cafés and restaurants where mariachis will entertain you while you eat. It’s said that this plaza is where the famous Mexican Hat Dance was born.
The heart of Guadalajara is located among these four plazas arranged in the shape of a cross with the opulent 17th-century Guadalajara Cathedral at its center. Plaza Guadalajara in front of the Cathedral has a lovely fountain and outdoor restaurant in its center – either is a great place to sit and watch the parade of passersby. Plaza de Armas has a 19th-century bandstand used by marching bands and political demonstrations alike. Plaza de Liberación has a pair of large fountains flanking a monumental sculpture of Miguel Hidalgo, the man who signed the Mexican Declaration of Independence in the nearby Palacio de Gobierno (Governor’s Palace). This Plaza also fronts on the oldest standing theatre in the city, Teatro Degollado, and is a frequent spot for massive free outdoor concerts. Finally, Rotonda de los Jalicienses Ilustres is a bright and airy square that is also a mausoleum for important people who were born in the state of Jalisco.
In the heart of the Centro Historico, just a few blocks northeast of the core area of gay nightlife. Built in 1610 the building became the city's first hotel 400 years ago. A complete renovation took place in 1980; with other modern amenities since. Adding to the atmosphere, amidst the old columns, piano music can be heard each afternoon. Some guest reviews complain about "noise" from the next door disco club late into the night - hardly a problem if you're out on the town yourself.
The elevator, gorgeously ancient, is said to be "temperamental." But getting stuck might be okay for awhile if the operator on duty (do they have one?) is a hunk. If not, you might admire the wrought iron contraption from the outside, and get some exercise on the stairs. Room rates are low by US/Canadian/Euro standards, even for their penthouse suite. Breakfast buffets and traditional meals, platillos típicos mexicanos, are served in the Restaurante Molino Rojo. Cocktails may be enjoyed at their Lobby Bar.
The nearby town of Tequila makes for a great daytrip to explore the distilleries. You can drive or bus it, but the most memorable experience is the Tequila Express, a weekend train ride that comes complete with tequila shots and mariachi bands on board!
If you’re staying in Tequila, the Jose Cuervo distillery has a package tour that will pick you up at your hotel, show you an agave farm and the distillery, and give you samples.