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As Mexico’s second largest city, Guadalajara can hold its own as a multi-faceted destination. It’s a cultural wonder, culinary enclave, sporting mecca and architectural marvel. In fact, there are some unique experiences you can only have in Guadalajara and its surrounding areas. Here are 10 of them, listed in no particular order.

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1. Visit a charreada

charreada.jpgFlickr CC: Dustin Ground

As a cowboy is to a rodeo, a charro is to a charreada. Every Sunday afternoon, at a stadium called Lienzo Charro de Jalisco, you can snag a ticket to a charreada and watch as traditional Mexican horsemen carry out a series of demonstrative events known as suertes. Suertes involve charros doing horse riding, roping and cattle handling. Women, too, put on a similar event called escaramuza.

2. Marvel at murals

Mexican muralist José Clemente Orozco unleashed his passions through paint. In Guadalajara, see his brushed thoughts in various venues. At Palacio de Gobierno, find two Orozco murals depicting Miguel Hidalgo, a crusader for Mexico’s Independence, above a main staircase and in a former congressional hall. Inside the chapel of Hospicio Cabañas, take in his 57 frescos, but pay particular attention to the fiery “El Hombre de Fuego.”

3. Hear mariachi music

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If your knowledge of mariachi music is limited, Guadalajara is where to learn more. It’s commonly understood that this sound stemmed from this region. Guadalajara hosts an annual International Mariachi Festival, where ensembles from all over the world come and perform at various locations. You can also listen to mariachi in Tlaquepaque, a municipality of Guadalajara; the best venue for it is El Parian.

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4. Visit the birthplace of tequila

Only one species of agave is legally permitted for making tequila—the Agave Tequilana Weber Azul (or blue agave). See bluish fields of this plant en route to Tequila. On Saturdays, the Jose Cuervo Express train treks from Guadalajara’s Ferromex Station to Tequila and includes a tour of the company’s distillery. Or go by helicopter via the Sauza Tequila Copter for a tour of the Sauza distillery.

5. Make a trek to Tlaquepaque

In addition to Mariachi, Tlaquepaque is also a place for finding fine craftsmanship. Calle Independencia is aligned with shops and stalls selling home furnishings, jewelry, art and ceramics. In a former mansion, the Museo Regional de la Cerámica promotes the ceramic arts and has an area for watching potters at work. As for mealtime, consider Casa Luna, its nature décor and fine cuisine are a feast for the senses.

6. Browse mercados and more

Guadalajara is a great place to find top souvenirs, local treats and one-of-a-kind items. The huge Mercado Libertad, also known as Mercado San Juan de Dios, has sections selling just about everything—groceries, handicrafts, clothing, you name it. Magno Centro Joyero is full bling with quality jewelry, and shoe lovers will have their day at Galeria del Calzado, a mall devoted to footwear.


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7. Cheer on a masked hero at a lucha libre match

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Flickr CC: ego2005

A style of professional wrestling originating in Mexico, lucha libre involves colorful and sometimes masked characters performing strong holds and aerial maneuvers in a squared circle. Watching the crowd reactions can be just as entertaining. While in Guadalajara, get tickets to lucha libre shows on Sunday and Tuesday nights at the Arena Coliseo de Guadalajara.

8. Taste innovative new culinary offerings

Guadalajara’s dining scene embraces culinary interpretations. Start off with breakfast at Trasfonda, and don’t forget a cup of traditional Mexican coffee. For dinner, check out the attention grabbing skeletal decor at Hueso’s as you nosh on the restaurant’s creative dishes. La Postrería bakes up desserts that are just too pretty to eat—but you can also opt for healthier fare.

9. Savor native cuisine

In Guadalajara, there are many native dishes to try. Start with the torta ahogada, a meaty sandwich stuffed with fried pork drenched in a spicy tomato chili sauce. Another dish is birria, a spicy, slowly cooked Mexican meat stew made with either goat or lamb and served with minced onions, cilantro and limes.

10. See a circular pyramid

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Flickr CC: Jesus Hinojosa

About an hour away from Guadalajara is Los Guachimontones, an archeological site that’s circular in shape and covered in grass. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this mound-looking pyramid near Teuchitlán dates back to about as early as 300 B.C. Learn more via a side trip that can be booked through a tour operator.

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Tagged: Mexico

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Michele Herrmann

Michele Herrmann

Michele writes about women's travel, destinations, culinary, and cultural topics for various outlets and has ventured as far as Fiji, to date. She also muses her tales on She Is Going Places.

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