Guadalajara, Mexico: Surroundings

Not long ago an independent village, Tlaquepaque is now incorporated into Guadalajara as a suburb. Tlaquepaque means “the place of clay hills” and the people living here have been dealing with pottery since the times of the Spanish Conquest. Traditional ceramics from Tlaquepaque are very fragile. Many shops sell these ceramics as well as glass figurines, jewelry and other locally crafted items. The suburb also offers some nice churches, restaurants, taverns and contemporary art galleries.

A few miles to the east is the city of Tonala, place of the rising sun in Nahuatl dialect. Similar to Tlaquepaque, the town is a major handcrafts center, mostly ceramics and glass objects. Between Thursdays and Sundays vendors line up along Avenida Tonaltecas and Calle Benito Juarez, to sell their crafts at a large street market. During weekdays handcrafts are sold in many shops surrounding the town’s main square. There’s also the option to visit the gothic styled Santuario del Sagrado Corazón, the 16th century Santiago Apostol Parish and Tonala regional museum.

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About 25 miles southeast of Guadalajara lays Lago de Chapala, Mexico’s largest lake. There is a half day guided, tour departing from Guadalajara, which takes visitors to the lovely town of Chapala, located on the shores of Chapala Lake. The tour offers a scenic boat ride to Scorpion Island, followed by a tour of the small town of Ajijic, famous for its horseback riders.

Northwest of Guadalajara is Mexico’s renowned tequila producing region and the city that bears the famous drink’s name. The tequila tour features a visit to Casa Herradura, one of the world’s most famous tequila distilleries, where visitors learn about the processes involved in making the alcoholic beverage, as well as get the opportunity to taste different types of tequila. The trip includes a visit to the city of Tequila and the agave azul (blue agave) fields, from which the beverage is made.

The historic colonial city of Guanajuato, where the first battle of the Mexican war of independence took place, is a good weekend retreat, from Guadalajara. The city has many great attractions, such as the Mummy Museum and the Festival Internacional Cervantino, which invites performers and artists from not only Mexico, but all over the world.