With three free days, you can see much of Guadalajara—the second biggest city in the Republic—with an enviable cultural and recreational offering, at a great price. Guadalajara is located in the state of Jalisco, Mexico.
From San Diego, use the Cross Border Xpress to take advantage of great rates from Tijuana (TIJ) airport to Guadalajara (GDL). My round-trip ticket on AeroMexico cost around $120 USD, booked approximately 1 month in advance.
Because I had some work business to do on the Friday of my arrival, I decided to stay in Zapopan, a sister municipality to Guadalajara. Although not ideal if dependent on public transportation, Zapopan is very accessible and affordable via Uber MX (average trip is 90-110MXN or less than $6). Airbnb options are around $22 USD/night.
In Zapopan, we enjoyed dinner at La Chata– highly recommend the enchiladas surtidas and the enormous Cazuelas—a tequila based punch.
Downtown Guadalajara has wonderful eats and bustling streets. At night, eating around Avenida Chapultepec is recommended, because the night is abuzz with vendors and pedestrian traffic until about 1am. For great Italian food, try Osteria 10 with meals around 300 pesos ($17) each, including a glass of wine and a shared appetizer. For breakfast, try Piggy Back—with several options of chilaquiles, several available off the menu as well.
Saturday is a great day to visit nearby Tequila. Check out my other post for more details about that quick, affordable and well-worth it adventure.
On a Sunday, walk down Avenida Juarez which is closed to motorized traffic most of the day and thus full of bikers, skateboarders, pedestrians, hula hoopers, jump ropers, and a plethora of art and activity booths for kids. Stop by Jardin Americana to peruse this lifestyle startup and craft boutique.
Once arriving to the Centro, try a pastry from Alfredos. The chocolate croissants are more full than expected with nutella-like chocolate. Eat it like a burrito: squeezing up the insides and eating from one end only to avoid a messy ending. At lunch, get a Torta Ahogada—a sandwich made with carnitas meat that is smothered in tomato sauce of varying spiciness. The more spicy you want it, the more “ahogada” you ask for. This is a Jalisco speciality, created (supposedly) because the people of this state love to drench their food with sauce.
Try out some of the old cantinas, all with fun stories. One was the first to let priests, women and dogs in as patrons and now includes hundreds of bras behind the bar as a sign of liberation. Another has a bicycle that was allegedly left as collateral by a patron who could not pay his drinking bill and who never came back.
Visit some museums, (mostly free or else $4-ish USD), many of them claiming a ceiling fresco by Orozco, one of the top 5 most famous Mexican artists from the turn of the century muralist movement. These frescos look just as impressive from every angle and trick the eye into thinking they were painted on a flat surface. Museo Cabanas (70 peso entrance fee) is recommended; its curator is a talented woman with an eye of expressing the human experience and highlighting Mexican artists, many from the state of Jalisco. It is also a good place to stealthily leave your bags for a few hours if (like me) you’re carrying your luggage on the way back to the airport.
Three days in Guadalajara will leave you wanting more of metropolitan Mexico, fuller than when you came, and only a little lighter in the pocket.
Rachel is a San Diego-Tijuana borderlander who spends lots of weekends and work trips in Mexico. During the workweek, she spends her time helping social entrepreneurs get started. When she’s not doing that, she eats good food with good friends in good places. Follow her on instagram @transfronterista.