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To get to know Guadalajara is to discover the heart of both traditional and modern Mexico.

The city’s storied past, from its founding in 1542 as an outpost for the Spanish to protect their conquests to its role in the Mexican War of Independence, is a quintessentially Mexican story. It is a story told vividly not only in the city’s museums but also in the fabulous murals that adorn the many of the city’s public buildings, including José Clemente Orozco’s awe-inspiring frescoes at the UNESCO World Heritage site Instituto Cultural Cabañas.

The city’s gifts to Mexican culture also take on special significance in Guadalajara. Watch Jalisco cowboys show off their horse riding and roping skills in charreria, Mexico’s national sport and another Guadalajara creation. Soak in the exuberant sound of mariachi music at the Plaza de los Mariachis in the city’s historic downtown and at El Parian in Tlaquepaque. Taste barrel-aged 100 percent blue agave tequila in the town that gave Mexico its national drink. The character of Mexico will become palpable.

Experiencing Mexico is not just about the past. Here is where Guadalajara epitomizes the sophisticated, yet characteristically laid-back side of contemporary Mexico. Wander through Tlaquepaque’s upscale arts and crafts galleries or check out what Guadalajara’s fine arts spaces. Savor local specialties like mouthwatering torta ahogada (“drowned” pork sandwich) or dine at one of the city’s cutting-edge restaurants. Watch a soccer match at Estadio Chivas or take in an indie film during the Guadalajara International Film Festival. The joys of modern Guadalajara come without the traffic jams and dense population of some of Mexico’s other cities.

Outside of the city, the state of Jalisco is just as quintessentially Mexican. Visit Guachimontones and discover the western Mexico’s largest archaeological site and Mexico’s only circular-stepped pyramids. Go birdwatching on Lake Chapala, Mexico’s largest lake, and explore its charming lakeside towns. Trace the Tequila Route to find the source of so much Mexican music and poetry. To experience Guadalajara and the beautiful state of Jalisco is get to know the heart of Mexico.

Reviews & Recommendations
Previously focused on other Mexican hotspots, travel aficionados are discovering Guadalajara’s irresistible combination of the traditional and contemporary.

The city’s burgeoning food scene, which is as good as one would expect being so close to the birthplace of tequila, enticed Condé Nast Traveler to name Guadalajara the magazine’s “Next It City 2015.” But the kitchen isn’t the only place where Guadalajara is causing a stir—and as The New York Times Style Magazine pointed out in a recent feature: “Thanks to a new arts and crafts movement, the galleries there are as cutting-edge as the food.”

Guadalajara’s wider art scene is getting attention, too, with its “ebullient” jazz scene, international book fair, prestigious film festival, and growing artist community landing it second on Travel + Leisure’s “Best Places to Travel in 2016” list.

The common thread in all of these magazine accolades is admiration for Guadalajara’s newest star, Casa Fayette, an Art Deco mansion transformed into the city’s most fashionable hotel by design firm Dimore Studio. The hotel joins other historic favorites like five-star, AAA Four Diamond NH Collection Guadalajara Centro Historico and AAA Four Diamond Villa Ganz Boutique Hotel to make Guadalajara the perfect place to experience the vibrant culture of Mexico.

Return to Historic Hotels Worldwide's Guadalajara Guide