This article originally appeared in Delta Air Lines’ 2012 Caribbean, Mexico and Latin America Travel Guide. It has been extracted from its original format. To read the full travel guide, visit the digital edition.

Fresh off a successful hosting of the XVI Pan American Games, the capital of Jalisco is one of Mexico’s most tradition-filled destinations. Its home state is the birthplace of mariachi music, which started out as street tunes and is now as emblematic as the beautifully outfitted trajes and hats its performers wear.

Guadalajara’s historic center, heavy with colonial-era structures, is the best place in which to get acquainted with local offerings, perhaps while aboard a local trolley. There’s the Governor’s Palace, rich in murals from local artist Jose Clemente Orozco, and the Rotunda of Illustrious Jaliscans, with bronze sculptures of some of Jalisco’s most famous. Here, also, you’ll find the Guadalajara Cathedral, famous for its mix of architectural styles, and the Plaza de los Mariachis where strolling bands provide local tunes for a small fee and where the Mexican Hat Dance or Jarabe Tapatio was born. The area has quite a few parks and plazas constantly bustling with activity, with food vendors at the ready. Another necessary stop is the Degollado Theater, inaugurated in 1866, which features beautiful frescoes and Corinthian-order columns.

The city has been dubbed “Mexico’s Silicon Valley” for its proliferation of high-tech industries, but because of its rich cultural roots, it’s also a great place for shopping for sombreros, tequila, handcrafted apparel and souvenirs. When not stopping at the huge Mercado Libertad, visitors often head to Tlaquepaque’s old-town district for great finds in ceramics, home furnishings, glass items and more.

Guadalajara also has its share of accommodations. An enchanting stay at La Perla, for instance, lets visitors stay in rooms that honor the stars of Mexican
cinema. The city is also as literary as it is beautiful—its famous International Book Fair, now in its 26th run, begins on Nov. 24.


  • Best time to go: 
    Year-round; it might get chillier during the winter months, especially in Mexico City and Monterrey, but it’s nothing a jacket won’t fix
  • Fun fact:
    Mariachi music and traditional Mexican cuisine now form part of UNESCO’s list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
  • Getting there:
    Delta flies from Atlanta to Acapulco, Cancun, Cozumel, Guadalajara, Mexico City, Monterrey, Puerto Vallarta and Los Cabos; Delta flies from New York (JFK) to Mexico City and Puerto Vallarta; Delta flies from Minneapolis to Cancun, Cozumel, Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo, Los Cabos, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta; Delta flies from Detroit to Cancun, Cozumel, Los Cabos, Monterrey and Puerto Vallarta; Delta flies from Los Angeles to Cancun, Guadalajara and Puerto Vallarta; Delta flies from Salt Lake City to Cancun, Guadalajara, Los Cabos, Mexico City and Puerto Vallarta; Delta flies from 12 additional gateways to Cancun
  • Entry documents:
    Valid passport
  • Currency:
    Mexican peso
  • Must-try local food:
    A few of the hundreds of varieties of thick moles; on the Pacific side, pescado zarandeado (grilled fish in a tangy tomato sauce); in Monterrey, try the cabrito a las brasas, barbecued kid goat
  • Best buys:
    Silver, indigenous original artwork, tequila—some of the best brands are not sold in the U.S.
  • Information please:
    Mexico Tourism Board’s website—