Mexico Family Travel

The Best Guadalajara Itinerary: 10 Guadalajara Tour Ideas For Families

April 17, 2022

Guadalajara is an underrated gem of a city in Mexico. From beautiful historical architecture to rich cultural experiences, it’s a great place for a family vacation. Families will have plenty of Guadalajara tour options to pack into their Guadalajara itinerary. There are so many things to do in Guadalajara with kids!

Whether you’re visiting Guadalajara Mexico for just one day, three days, or staying for a couple of weeks, you won’t run out of things to do in Guadalajara with kids. Take a look at our top picks for Guadalajara tours and activities in this amazing city. 

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Arcos Vallarta in Guadalajara, a place to visit during a Guadalajara tour and a Guadalajara itinerary
Arcos Vallarta Guadalajara

Things to know about Guadalajara for your Guadalajara itinerary

The city of Guadalajara is the second largest city in Mexico. Located in the state of Jalisco, it’s a hub for food, music, and tequila. It's also a very historical city. Guadalajara has several interesting historical sites to include in a Guadalajara itinerary, such as the Instituto Cultural Cabañas.

Anyone who plans to visit Guadalajara with kids will enjoy the lively food scene that the city has to offer. And as the city is also the birthplace of Mariachi, traditional Mexican music groups composed of guitars, accordions, and horns, you’ll also most likely be treated to some good music while you’re there.

As you plan your Guadalajara itinerary, it’s helpful to brush up on a few basic Spanish phrases for travel to get you around the city. And also take some time to learn about Guadalajara’s history and its significance in Mexican culture. 

Here are a few books you can buy to prepare you for your Guadalajara tour experiences and gain some useful travel tips: 

Moon Guides Guadalajara

Lonely Planet Mexico

The Rough Guide To Mexico

DK Eyewitness Mexico

Guadalajara street during a Guadalajara itinerary, photo by Roman Lopez on Unsplash

Where is Guadalajara and how do you get there? 

Guadalajara is located in the inland part of Jalisco state. It’s situated just north of Lake Chapala. From anywhere in Mexico, you can get into Guadalajara via bus or airplane from major cities like Mexico City, San Luis Potosi, or Puerto Vallarta. 

The buses that travel into Guadalajara include Primera Plus and ETN Turistar. Tickets range from 600-1000 pesos (roughly $30-50 USD) per person, depending on the distance.

Guadalajara’s airport services domestic and international flights. Domestic airlines flying into Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla Guadalajara International Airport include Aeromexico, Aeromar, VivaAerobus, and Volaris. And international airlines include American Airlines, United Airlines, Delta and Alaska, flying from the United States.

Airplane flying over Mexico

Money matters for your Guadalajara tour

Like the rest of Mexico, businesses in Guadalajara use Mexican pesos as their currency. At the time of this writing, $1 USD is roughly the equivalent of 20 pesos.

If you’re booking your Guadalajara tours online in advance, you may be able to pay in your local currency. The same may be the case if you’re booking your hotel or car rental online in advance.

For withdrawing Mexican pesos, BBVA and Santander have ATMs that will allow travelers to withdraw money. Be mindful as these banks may charge a high fee for the withdrawals.

Mexican pesos for your Guadalajara itinerary

Best time to visit Guadalajara

When you visit Guadalajara, be sure to come in the winter or spring (November to May). This is the best time to travel to Guadalajara as it’s the dry season for the region and the most ideal time to plan your Guadalajara itinerary. 

The months of June to October are the wet season. While the temperature may be cooler during that time than the dry season, you’ll have to deal with the humidity. So it’s not an ideal time of year to plan your Guadalajara trips. Additionally, the rains can put a damper on your Guadalajar tour and sight-seeing plans.

Minerva statue in Guadalajara

Best places to stay in Guadalajara 

The Zona Centro, the city's historical center, is a great central location for staying in Guadalajara during your Guadalajara itinerary. This neighborhood is close to many restaurants, museums, and historic buildings, so it offers easy access to any Guadalajara tour you take.

Alternatively, you can find some of the best places to stay in Guadalajara in nearby San Juan de Dios and Colonia Americana. For a little more upscale neighborhood, located further away from Centro, consider Providencia.

Book one of these beautiful hotels during your Guadalajara itinerary:

Hotel Morales (located in Zona Centro)

Hotel Velvet Plaza (located east of Colonia Americana)

Hotel de Mendoza (located near San Juan de Dios)

Hilton Guadalajara Midtown (located in Providencia)

Use this map to find the perfect lodging for your stay in Guadalajara
Horse and carriage ride to enjoy during a Guadalajara itinerary, photo by Daryl.parada on Unsplash

How to get to your Guadalajara tour experiences

There are several options for getting around Guadalajara. The city is surprisingly walkable, which you’ll find when you visit Guadalajara. 

If you have tours in Guadalajara in or around Centro, you can ride the Guadalajara metro. There are metro stops all throughout the city. Fares cost roughly 10 pesos ($.50 USD) per ride for adults and 5 pesos ($.25 USD) for children.

Additionally, public buses are also available in Guadalajara. Routes are listed on the front of the bus. Fares cost roughly 6 pesos ($.30 USD) per ride.

If navigating the public transit system is too intimidating, you can take an Uber or a taxi to your Guadalajara tour. Basic fare is roughly 30 pesos ($1.5 USD), plus around 10 pesos ($.50 USD) per kilometer.

Alternatively, you can rent a car in Guadalajara. These cost between $39 to $250, depending on the rental company, the duration of the rental, and the size of car you will need. Mexican law requires you to have insurance on car rentals, so you’ll need to make sure either your credit card covers this or you purchase it through the car rental company.

Planning a trip to Mexico? Read these Mexico travel tips.

Cars passing by the Minerva statue

Family-friendly Guadalajara tour ideas for your Guadalajara itinerary

Despite being a large city, Guadalajara is pretty easy to visit for families. Like many cities in Mexico, such as Guanajuato and Mérida, Guadalajara has a fairly relaxed pace of life. Whether you are spending 2 days in Guadalajara, 3 days in Guadalajara, or a month, you’ll be able to enjoy your time in the city with your family.

There are so many things to do in Guadalajara with kids, and so many Guadalajara tour ideas, it may be hard to pick just a few. Here are some ideas for sightseeing tours and fun family-friendly things to include in your Guadalajara itinerary.

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    Guadalajara Cathedral, photo by Jose Juan on Unsplash

    1. Take a guided Guadalajara tour to see the highlights of the city

    The best way to get to know a new city is by taking a guided city tour. This is helpful if you only have 2 days in Guadalajara. A walking tour Guadalajara experience will let you see the sights, and give you a chance to adjust your Guadalajara itinerary if needed. Additionally, having a guide will provide you with all the unique historical and cultural information of Guadalajara. 

    Book an English speaking guided Guadalajara tour for your Guadalajara itinerary:

    Walk Guadalajara!

    Private Walking Tour of Guadalajara

    A street in Guadalajara

    2. Include a bike ride around the city in your Guadalajara itinerary

    A popular activity for local families is to rent bikes at Parque Metropolitano. Located in the Zapopan neighborhood, Parque Metropolitano is an expansive park, with plenty of trails for biking and running.

    At Parque Metropolitano, you can rent bikes by the hour for about 80 pesos per person. They have kids’ bikes with or without training wheels. You can also rent quadricycles.

    If you enjoy biking with kids and want to explore more of Guadalajara, you can also book a guided bicycle Guadalajara tour around the city’s historic center. They make stops at places like Guadalajara Cathedral, the Palacio del Gobierno del Estado de Jalisco, and the Templo Expiatorio del Santisimo Sacramento. 

    Book this bike tour for your Guadalajara itinerary:

    Bike Tour to the Historic Center

    Biking during a Guadalajara itinerary

    3. Book a Guadalajara tour exploring the markets

    Markets are a great way to get to know a new city. If you’re planning things to do in Guadalajara with kids, be sure to check out the city’s many markets, including Mercado Libertad San Juan de Dios. 

    The market is an enormous three story market, selling food, clothes, jewelry, household goods, and artisan goods. Since the city has a strong rodeo culture, you can also see specialty made saddles for sale at the market. Officially known as Mercado San Juan de Dios, this market is located just east of centro.

    Taking private tours of the market is a great way to learn more about market culture in Mexico. Book this private Guadalajara tour to experience the market during your Guadalajara itinerary:

    Guadalajara Private Mercado Food Tour

    Walking through the market in Guadalajara

    4. Sample street food and local drinks in Guadalajara

    Sampling Mexican food is a great way to get to know Mexican culture. This traditional cantinas tour introduces visitors to the local flavors of Guadalajara. This Guadalajara city tour also includes samples of local drinks.

    Book this cantinas tour to sample food and drinks in Guadalajara:

    Traditional Cantinas Tour

    Tacos in Mexico

    5. Learn about tequila making with a day trip to Tequila

    The city of Tequila, located 40 miles northwest of Guadalajara, is home to blue agave fields, the primary ingredient to the alcoholic drink, tequila. Because of this, the region surrounding the city of Tequila is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. In fact, tequila is the national drink of Mexico!

    The tequila brand, Jose Cuervo, actually has its roots in Jalisco state. Don José Cuervo first established his blue agave farm in the 1700's and since then, his descendants have been creating tequila. 

    This tequila tour takes visitors to a traditional hacienda where they can learn how tequila is made. Although children won’t be able to sample the tequila, they can still learn a lot about this important part of Mexican culture on this tequila trail tour.

    Book this Guadalajara tour exploring the tradition of tequila making:

    Tequila Day Experience at Haciendo San Jose del Refugio

    Blue agave farm in Jalisco, Mexico

    6. Experience street art on your Guadalajara itinerary

    As a sprawling metropolis of over 1 million people, the city of Guadalajara is home to amazing street art. Mural art has a long tradition in Mexico. Artists like Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, and David Alfaro Siqueiros made this art form popular in the 1920s.

    Families who visit Guadalajara can learn more about muralism and street art by taking a street art tour of the city. This tour gives visitors a chance to see Orozco and Siqueiros’ phenomenal work up close and personal.

    Book this street art tour of Guadalajara with your kids:

    Street Art Tour of Guadalajara

    Jose Clemente Orozco mural, photo credit ©albertoloyo/123RF.COM

    7. Take a walking tour of Centro

    Guadalajara’s Centro has plenty of historic buildings and cathedrals to visit. While you’re in Guadalajara with kids, take some time in your Guadalajara itinerary to include a visit to Guadalajara Cathedral and Templo Expiatoria del Santismo Sacramento.

    The Guadalajara Cathedral was completed in the 1600s. And the Templo Expiatoria del Santismo Sacramento was completed in the 1970s (though construction started nearly 100 years earlier)..

    You can book this Guadalajara tour to learn more about Guadalajara’s historic attractions:

    Guadalajara History and Muralism Walking Tour

    Plaza de Armas in Guadalajara

    8. Take an excursion to Lake Chapala

    If you have 3 days in Guadalajara you might want to include a day trip to Lake Chapala. Lake Chapala is the largest freshwater lake in Mexico, and is located 28 miles (45 kilometers) away from Guadalajara. The lake contains three small islands and is surrounded by mountains.

    Travel to Lake Chapala is popular due to its pleasant climate. The town of Ajijic, designated as a Pueblo Mágico by the Mexican government, is full of local artisans and hosts several festivals throughout the year. A Lake Chapala Ajijic tour is a fantastic getaway idea for families.

    Book this Guadalajara tour to Lake Chapala and Ajijic to experience a break from the bustle of the city:

    Chapala - Ajijic Area Tour

    Ajijic boardwalk along Lake Chapala

    9. Visit Guachimontones Archaeological Site

    If you have more than 3 days in Guadalajara, then you should definitely add a day trip to Guachimontones into your Guadalajara itinerary. Guachimontones is an archeological site located near the town of Teuchitlán. The site is about 64 km west of Guadalajara. 

    A UNESCO World Heritage site, Guachimontones was a settlement for the Teuchitlán people. The site consists of conical base and circular patio structures that served as bases for building. These structures surround a central pyramid. Some of the structures also have underground funerary crypts.

    A tour to Guachimontones archaeological site will help you learn more about this fascinating part of Mexican history. Plan a full day for this tour. You can book your Guachimontones tour for your Guadalajara itinerary here:

    Guachimontones Archaeological Tour

    Guachimontones archaeological site

    10. Enjoy some other day trips from Guadalajara

    Of course, no Guadalajara itinerary would be complete without some cultural day trips built into it. The towns of Tonalá and Tlaquepaque are known for their artisan crafts, such as pottery. Taking a tour will give you a behind the scenes look at the pottery, so you can learn how these beautiful pieces of ceramic art are crafted.

    Additionally, Tlaquepaque is designated as a Pueblo Mágico, not only for its ceramic art, but for its textiles and blown glass work as well. There are a number of museums and cultural centers you can stroll through while visiting Tlaquepaque during your day tour.

    Book one of these artisan village tours for your Guadalajara itinerary:

    Day Trip to Artisan Villages of Jalisco

    Tlaquepaque and Tonalá art and market private tour

    A street in Tlaquepaque, photo credit ©robertogalan1983/123RF.COM

    Other activities to include in your Guadalajara itinerary

    Besides taking a guided Guadalajara tour, there are a number of other activities you can do on your own with your family. It’s easy to tour Guadalajara on your own. Take a look at these suggestions and consider adding them to your Guadalajara itinerary.

    Jalisco rotunda, photo by Alejandro Barba on Unsplash

    Take a Guadalajara tour to sample pre-Hispanic dishes

    Guadalajara’s food culture is thriving! The city has many wonderful restaurants, including Cafe P’al Real, a great spot for Sunday brunch.

    But if you’re looking for some unique cuisine, head to Los Amores de Frida. This restaurant serves French cuisine, traditional Mexican cuisine, and pre-Hispanic cuisine. It’s a perfect place to sample pre-Hispanic cuisine during your Guadalajara itinerary.

    Pre-Hispanic cuisine are the dishes that are indigenous to Mexico, before the arrival of the Spanish. These dishes include gusano de maguey (the maguey worm). These worms are actually caterpillars, and are often found on the leaves of agave plants. The maguey worms are roasted with oil, and served with onions and cilantro, giving it a somewhat of a nutty flavor.

    Charpulines, roasted crickets, with onions and cilantro

    Walk (or ride) along Ignacio Vallarta and Chapultepec

    Another popular pastime for families in Guadalajara with kids was to walk along Avenida Ignacio Vallarta and Avenida Chapultepec. Every Sunday from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm, these two streets close down for cars, and are open for pedestrians and bikers. 

    Locals come to take advantage of the open streets, and ride their bikes or jog along the open avenues. You can take a walk along the streets, or rent a bike for an hour or two.

    Guadalajara street closed for pedestrians and bikers

    Visit the Zoologico Guadalajara

    One of the best things to do in Guadalajara with kids is the Guadalajara Zoo, also known as Zoologico Guadalajara. It’s a world-class zoo that rivals that of Singapore Zoo and San Diego Zoo. If you have animal lovers in your family, a visit to the zoo should definitely  be part of your Guadalajara itinerary. 

    The zoo offers many fun ways to see the animals, including a mini-safari experience and by riding a sky tram! Hours are Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm during the school year. During the school holidays, hours are Monday to Sunday from 9:30 am to 6 pm. And tickets range from 110-355 pesos ($5.50-17.50 USD) for adults and 70-270 pesos ($3.50-13.50 USD) for kids, depending on the package you purchase. 

    Zebras at the Guadalajara Zoo during a Guadalajara itinerary

    Listen to Mariachi music

    Since the city is the birthplace of Mariachi music, there are many places to listen to this type of music. Casa Bariachi is a popular place to enjoy mariachi music during your Guadalajara itinerary. Diners are serenaded by a Mariachi band while they eat. It’s quite a musical treat! 

    While you’re in Guadalajara with kids, be sure to check out its many music stores. You’ll find plenty of music stores along Calle Manuel Lopez Cotilla and Calle Francisco I. Madero.

    Explore other cities on Mexico’s Pacific coast here.

    Musicians performing mariachi music

    Creating your own Guadalajara itinerary with a family-friendly Guadalajara tour

    When you visit Guadalajara with kids, be sure to take some time to find your own things to do in Guadalajara with kids. Pick the Guadalajara tour (or tours) that will fit with the interests of your family. 

    The city of Guadalajara often gets overlooked by visitors to Mexico, but it’s a city that’s definitely worth exploring. With its beautiful architecture, unique music and food contributions to Mexican culture, and its thriving population, Guadalajara is a perfect family-friendly destination for your Mexico vacation.

    And don’t worry, if you don’t get through all these Guadalajara itinerary ideas this time around, you can always save it for future Guadalajara trips!

    Have you visited Guadalajara with kids? Share your favorite Guadalajara itinerary ideas on our Facebook page!

    Best Guadalajara Itinerary: 10 Guadalajara Tour Ideas For Families | Mexico Family Travel | Pinterest image of Guadalajara Cathedral behind a plaza, with text overlay

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