Guadalajara Gay Travel
Guadalajara gay travel is as authentic as it gets. Stunning parks, a wild gay nightlife scene and the only circular pyramids on earth.
The Gay Travel Experience: Guadalajara, Mexico
While every city in Mexico offers something different, Guadalajara gives me a special kind of nostalgia. Not only is Guadalajara gay friendly, but it’s the most authentic of all the Mexico travel destinations I’ve been to so far. It’s a city that’s much less traveled, yet offers just as much action as any prominent gay travel destination.
You won’t find any big brand retail stores in Guadalajara. Instead, streets of the city center are instead lined with local taquerias, flea markets and low-rise apartments. Locals are found everywhere and pace of life is relatively calm.
I strongly recommend Guadalajara gay travel, primarily because you won’t find droves of tourists here. The existing culture is undisturbed. Plus, while you may have never heard anything about this city’s nightlife, Guadalajara gay bars are secretly amazing! I never expected to end up gay bar-hopping as much as I did.
Gay Guadalajara: Where to Stay
Since the overall volume of tourists to Guadalajara is on the lower end of the spectrum, hotel prices are quite reasonable. They’re definitely more affordable than what you would pay in Mexico City.
I recommend that Guadalajara gay travelers stay in the central or eastern area of Zona Centro. These parts of the city will feel the safest. Most of central Guadalajara is walkable with many pedestrian-only streets. You can find cheap Airbnb rentals just outside the city center, and some within the center too. Note that sometimes the parts of town outside the center are a bit grittier.
Although I didn’t stay there myself, I must say that Hotel One Centro Historico looked marvelous, completely surrounded by beautiful plazas. They’re full of exciting local life. In my opinion, staying anywhere adjacent to the Guadalajara Cathedral is a great bet in terms of location and safety.
The Guadalajara Gay Area
The Guadalajara gay area is just southwest of the historic city center in the southern part of the city’s Zona Centro neighborhood. The gay area hovers along Avenida Juarez, east of Calzada Federalismo. During the day, this area is very alive, a nice destination to browse storefronts. By night, things get very quiet.
Additionally, you’ll likely travel by taxi to the nightlife venues in this area. Since you’ll already be traveling by car, you might as well stay closer to the centrally located Catedral de Guadalajara.
Is Guadalajara Safe?
Questions about where to stay in Guadalajara usually focus on safety. Depending who you ask, you may find that people tell you that Guadalajara is not safe. Others will tell you it’s just as safe as any other medium or large city, or similar to the type of crime you’d expect in Mexico City.
As a seasoned traveler, I loved Guadalajara. However, I will say that this city is probably a lot grittier than what most travelers might be used to. You likely won’t experience the rougher parts of Guadalajara that much if you stay in the immediate center of the city.
If you choose accommodations a on the outskirts of the center though, you might feel a bit unsafe. This is especially the case while walking alone at night. Personally, I booked an Airbnb in the northern part of Zona Centro. While it easily felt desolate and eerie at night, I never felt any imminent danger.
In my opinion, if you take some general precautions and you avoid obviously risky situations, Guadalajara is perfectly safe. I recommend always taking Uber rides at night and keeping your belongings in sight at all times. You can never be too careful.
Guadalajara Gay Travel Experiences
Guadalajara might not be the biggest tourist destination in Mexico, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a wealth of cultural experiences to embrace. Make sure you’re ready for a jam-packed Guadalajara gay adventure!
Parque Mirador Independencia
Standing in this park’s amphitheater, you might feel like you’re in Rome! Well, that is unless you look out onto the rolling mountain backdrop of Barranca de Huentitán National Park. Parque Mirador Independencia is a lush greenspace with lovely walking paths. It’s a quick taxi ride from central Guadalajara, too.
Plan a visit to this park during a weekday, in the morning if you can. This will be your best chance to see the wonderful Mirador de Huentitán in complete solitude. After 12pm on most days, you’ll probably encounter a few families. Weekends will be busiest.
Some other travel sites will tell you to ask a local taxi driver to come pick you up later to get a ride home from Parque Mirador Independencia. This is not necessary at all. Uber drivers are widely available.
Colomos Park (Bosque Los Colomos)
Visiting Colomos Park was one of my favorite experiences in Guadalajara. It was beautiful to wander the well-kept trails, especially after a few days of exploring the city. Colomos Park is pretty big, too. There’s definitely enough wooded land to go on a long run or nature walk without retracing any of your steps.
Colomos Park also has a convenient workout area toward the north entrance. There are some pull-up bars and other basic equipment for a resistance workout in addition to the vast running trails.
If you like architecture or exploring residential areas, take a walk through the Colinas de San Javier neighborhood after visiting Colomos Park. This area of Guadalajara is quite luxurious, and many of the city’s nicest homes are here. It’s an interesting and safe place to walk through.
Stroll the Historical Center
Guadalajara has a stunningly gorgeous historical center. Four ornate plazas are clustered together around the Cathedral of Guadalajara. There’s plenty of space to enjoy the outdoors and take in views of the cathedral.
Plaza Guadalajara has a lovely fountain that people sit around in the afternoons. It’s a great place to watch the sunset too. Across Plaza de la Liberación, the ornate Teatro Degollado will light up after dark. Also quite pretty after dark is the Rotonda de los Jaliscienses Ilustres, which is around the corner.
A short ride from central Guadalajara, Parque Alcalde offers a dynamic escape from urban life. Park activities range from ziplining, taking a boat ride along the lake, picnicking in grassy fields and skateboarding in a modern skate park area. I took an evening run through Parque Alcalde and was once amazed at the beauty of Guadalajara’s parkland.
If you’re planning to visit, take note that the only entrance to the park is at the southern gate. All the other gates around the perimeter are closed off. Check out more information on Guadalajara’s parks on the Bosques Urbanos Guadalajara Website.
Guachimontones – Teuchitlán Pyramids
To the west of Guadalajara is the town of Teuchitlán, famous for their ancient circular pyramids. These stepped structures, now covered in lush green grass, were only discovered in 1969! While they’re not nearly as grand as ancient Egyptian pyramids, they’ll leave you in just as much awe.
The Guachimontones site was nearly empty when I visited, a testament to how undiscovered Guadalajara truly is. To get to this site, you’ll need to climb a steep paved roadway, which takes about 15 minutes. I recommend going earlier in the day so you’ll have enough time to get back to Guadalajara before sunset.
How to Get to Guachimontones
Most importantly, you must carefully plan how you’ll get to Guachimontones. Note that while you can easily get an Uber ride from central Guadalajara to Teuchitlán, the return trip is not as simple. Once you arrive at the Guachimontones, you will be outside the available pickup zone for ride sharing apps like Uber.
This leaves you with two options. You can either rent your own car/driver for a day trip to Teuchitlán, or you can take public transport for the return trip. I opted to try taking the bus, and it honestly was not an easy feat! The bus station is a 30-minute walk from the pyramids and the bus ride took almost 2 hours to get back to Guadalajara.
I recommend renting a car if you can. Otherwise, get the bus at the Teuchitlán Central Bus Stop. Make sure to bring enough pesos to pay for the bus ticket. Busses let out at the central station in Las Conchas, but you can hop off the bus and grab an Uber once you get close to central Guadalajara.
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Here are some of the most memorable food spots I tried in Guadalajara!
La Chata: Authentic Mexican Food
No-frills, authentic Mexican food at its finest. I left La Chata smiling, not only from being happily stuffes, but also from interacting with such a sweet waiter. This adorable older gentleman kindly suggested the best and most popular entrees they serve. I visited the location in Zona Centro, but La Chata also has a location in La Perla.
Degollado Café Boutique
I recommend Degollado Café Boutique for an after-dinner cocktail. Enjoy an evening on the outdoor terrace in front of the theatre. This bar and restaurant has some pretty fantastic cocktails, not to mention fabulous service. It’s exactly what you would expect of a high-end cocktail bar.
Open late into the evening, Chai Café has lots of standard food options and some delicious flavored cappuccinos. Their location in Centro has cozy covered outdoor seating. They also have a location adjacent to the Jardín del Carmen, a lovely small plaza. It’s called Café Chai Ex Convento. I enjoyed a few beers here one afternoon during happy hour.
Chai Cafés have fast, reliable Wi-Fi connections. I frequently stopped by the Centro location later in the evening to relax and upload photos of the day to social media.
Tacos in Mercado General Ramón Corona
Super informal and probably the most inexpensive spot in town, top by Mercado General Ramón Corona and hit the food court for some tacos. The total comes out to about $0.75 USD per taco! They’re small, delicious and perfect for a midday snack. Here is the market’s location. After you’re full and happy, browse some of the store fronts.
Yes, this Guadalajara staple is actually a gay taco spot! Tacos Gay is located in Guadalajara’s gay district, a short distance from most of the gay bars and clubs. Essential for satisfying that post-drinking craving, gay-friendly tacos may be just what you need.
Keep in mind though, this eatery is not much of an actual restaurant, but more like an embellished street food truck. If you’re in the area after bar-hopping, make a put-stop on the way home. Don’t go out of your way though.
Guadalajara Gay Bars & Clubs
Guadalajara boasts nearly fifteen gay bars and clubs! While it’s common to see turnover for smaller venues, there are some main gay nightlife staples you definitely won’t forget.
The gay bars below are a few of the most popular, but there will definitely be a bunch more to seek out once you arrive in Guadalajara.
California’s Bar: Classic Guadalajara Gay Bar
I was happily surprised at such an energetic crowd here at California’s Bar. This spot is one of my favorite Guadalajara gay bars. The colorful lights, fun dancers and an eclectic crowd were so fun that I didn’t want to leave!
California’s Gay Bar has an entry fee of 80 pesos. I would say it’s 80 pesos well-spent, as the crowd inside was undeniably an attractive bunch. I stopped by a little after midnight and the bar was quite full, dancing away to upbeat Latin music.
Babel Club: Enormous Guadalajara Gay Venue
Babel has several floors, each with a completely different vibe. The ground floor attracts more of a mixed crowd. If you prefer non-traditional gay bars, Babel Club may be your best bet. It’s definitely the top Guadalajara gay club that’s “straight-friendly.”
On the second floor, you’ll find shirtless men dancing to pulsating beats, typical of a circuit party. Laser lights flash to the music played by a live DJ. Head up yet another staircase to the club’s third floor. I enjoyed a thoroughly entertaining drag show here. There are tables to sit near the stage, as well as space to stand near the bar.
You absolutely have to have a night out at Babel if you’re traveling to Guadalajara. The club is stylish and attracts such a diverse crowd. Entry is 150 pesos.
Equilibrio Discotheque Club offers another unique ambiance among the gay bars in Guadalajara. This bar has more of an intimate feel, with a mixture of bar-height tables and a small dance floor. Equilibrio seems to be the most popular lesbian bar in Guadalajara. The crowd was roughly half women. I saw the last bit of a drag show here, loving the elegantly dressed queen!
Caudillos Disco Bar
I made a brief stop into Caudillos Disco Bar. I must say the interior lighting makes you feel like you’re inside of a video game! The music here was extremely loud, so I’s not the best spot for socializing. I actually found it to be quite empty, so it’s very possible the weekend night I went was not the most popular. They’re open until 6 AM every morning.
While I didn’t manage to get inside due to high capacity, Cabaret VIP is another hugely popular gay venue. The shows here are in such high demand, that it’s best to make a reservation ahead of time. This way you’ll already be on the list for guaranteed entry. Check out the Cabaret VIP Facebook Page for scheduled events.
Guadalajara Gay Travel Tips
Keep in mind that Guadalajara has significant poverty, so you will likely encounter a few beggars now and then. This sometimes happens around restaurants that have outdoor seating. I had dinner at a restaurant outside of which a woman brashly sang for change in the street. I’d recommend sticking to places where seating is more isolated from the sidewalk.
While going out the Guadalajara gay bars and clubs, expect to be thoroughly patted down upon entrance. You will definitely need identification, which for many travelers will come as a surprise. When you think of Mexico, being carded doesn’t usually come to mind! These establishments take security very seriously, so be prepared to have all bags and pockets searched.
Explore More Mexico Gay Destinations
Looking for another great gay party destination like Guadalajara? Check out wolfyy’s Mexico City Gay Travel Guide and learn about gay travel to the country’s capital city.
Mexico’s gayest destination also packs a nightlife punch. Puerto Vallarta is perfect for a long weekend getaway or vacation with a group of friends.
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