Living near this big city (4-5 hours drive or 30 minutes flight) gives me the desire to go visit the “big city” several times per year. I usually go about every quarter and make a reason to go like shopping at specialty stores not available here in Puerto Vallarta or going to the theater for a concert at the Teatro Degollado located right in the center of the city historical district. The theater is located in a large pedestrian area behind the cathedral that stretches all the way down to the San Juan De Dios Mercado. Located along this pedestrian zone are many government buildings, churches, the Cathedral Guadalajara, restaurants, and so much more.
I usually book my room at the Executive Dali Hotel located 2 blocks away from the Cathedral with a parking garage and nice updated executive type of rooms with great rates. I have stayed at several others in the area, but I always seem to return to this hotel as my favorite. The hotel is also surrounded by lots of pedestrian only streets and stores for anything imaginable and is a very busy area for shopping for the local residents. Open 7 days a week, this is always a busy area during the day, but just a few blocks away you enter the historical promenade of Guadalajara with the first site being the majestic Cathedral of Guadalajara built in 1618. A large fountain and plaza in front provides a nice area to sit and relax and my favorite place to do this is the Las Sombrillas Restaurant (The Umbrella Restaurant) where you can sit and people watch in front of the cathedral.
Walking around to the left of the front of the cathedral across the street is a block sized park featuring busts of the most famous people sharing the country of Mexico. There is even one of Ignacio I. Vallarta for whom Puerto Vallarta is named. Going around the right of the cathedral provides you another square with a bandstand and the City Hall with a clock that no longer works. Why? It was hit by a bullet during the Revolutionary War and stopped working, so take a close look and you can see the broken glass where the bullet entered the clock. Keeping on the promenade behind the Cathedral you will see 2 more large fountains and the Teatro Degollado at the end of this square. The recently opened first Starbucks in the centro area is to the right of the theater. Many times during the year this area is filled with tents and canopies for different artisan markets.
Fountains, fountains, and more fountains add to the ambiance of the promenade area making it a pleasant area leaving all the way down to the Plaza de la Liberacion where there is a fountain about this historic event all the way along the back wall of the theater. Then along several more routes that combine at the next Plaza de Tapatia with a majestic sculpture inside another fountain. You are almost to the famous San Juan de Dios Mercado just to the right side of the large jewelry center. The nickname Tapatio or Tapatia is used for the people who originate from Guadalajara and are of light skin and complexion, making them unique to most parts of Mexico.
The San Juan de Dios Mercado is definitely a worthwhile experience to see because you can buy just about anything there from leather goods, produce, meats, vegetables, flowers, trinkets, souvenirs, perfumes, birds, etc. etc. During the Christmas holidays it is loaded with those types items as well. And remember bargaining is a part of the game! Upstairs are many restaurants serving your favorite Mexican dishes.
Just to the right of San Juan de Dios is the famous Plaza de Los Mariachis. Unfortunately, the previous operator that provided lots of entertain and food services has lost his license, so the area is pretty much vacant right now. However, it is still the meeting point for anyone looking to hire a Mariachi Band for their event. They are always available for the next gig!
As I said before, this area can be strolled with confidence and security night or day and I have been there many times. It is the history of the Guadalajara and the State of Jalisco where Mariachis and Tequila originated.
Such a large city such as Guadalajara has many parts that are worthwhile as well to enjoy and I will write about those in other blogs; Lake Chapala, Tlaquepaque, Tonala, Guadalajara Zoo, and Zapopan just to name a few.