Since we only had 6 weeks in Guadalajara and a ridiculous amount of Mexican and US holidays, we took advantage of all our free time to really explore as much as we could. We took our kids (3 and 1) to all these places, so they are family friendly.
Just an hour from Guadalajara is one of the largest community of US and Canadian expats living around Mexico’s largest freshwater lake, Lake Chapala. We took a day trip down to visit, enjoyed walking on the boardwalk, eating fish tacos, and exploring. It was a nice visit, but if you only have a limited time in Guadalajara, you might choose differently.
The Guadalajara Zoo
Compare that with the day we spent at the Zoo, which was awesome! Obviously our kids are the perfect age for zoos, but the Guadalajara Zoo is top notch. The exhibits are great, including one where we could walk with the monkeys. They have a large open “safari” area where we could drive through in open buses and feed the giraffes.
They also had sharks in their aquarium and a train you can ride from one end of the zoo to the other. They also have a “ski lift” overhead ride from one end of the zoo to the other, but unfortunately our kids were too tiny to do it. I definitely recommend it for anyone visiting with kids.
This is a nice, big park in western Guadalajara with miles of running trails. It has a nice little water feature in the middle, some playground areas for kids (unfortunately, the same one repeated about 10x throughout the park so the novelty wears off pretty quickly), and dog friendly. We took the kids and took turns running the trails.
Bosque Los Colomos
This park is a large, green area in the middle of Guadalajara. It has a beautiful Japanese style garden as one of the many features with huge koi fish and turtles (of course, my kids loved this). It’s a big attraction on the weekends, I think on Sundays they have volunteers come and set up games for kids right outside the Japanese garden. We loved the lifesize chutes and ladders and my kids had fun doing zumba with some senior citizens. They have arts, live music, and more. Again, the only disappointment here was that the playground equipment was so old and really not accessible for my little ones (a recurring theme in GDL’s parks!).
Guadalajara’s Historic Downtown
Of course, the best of all, Guadalajara’s beautiful historic downtown. We walked about 3 miles the day we explored almost all of it. Lots of yummy food, green parks, history, and open air markets.
I think our biggest regrets is that we didn’t get around to hiking Guadalajara’s “grand canyon” just north of the city. We did see it from the zoo, but it wouldn’t have been accessible for our littles, so we opted not to. We also didn’t make it to Tlaquepaque, the artisan center, which was probably better for me since I was dying to buy textiles and pottery, but we had no room in our shipment for it! 😦
We also would have loved to go to one of the beach towns – Puerto Vallarta is only a few hours away by car, but we just never had a long enough weekend to do it. Next time!