Guadalajara Gay Travel
wolfyy’s Guadalajara gay travel guide to top hotels, restaurants, gay bars, clubs, safety & things to do.
The Gay Travel Experience: Guadalajara, Mexico
I never expected to fall in love with Guadalajara the way I did. While every city in Mexico offers something different, Guadalajara gives me a special kind of nostalgia.
In addition to being a popular gay friendly city, Guadalajara is one of the most authentic Mexican destinations you can visit. I mean, the fact that they have a gay taco stand speaks to how fantastic local gay life is!
If you’re a gay traveler making a trip to Mexico, you definitely shouldn’t skip Guadalajara. All the travelers who go directly from Mexico City to Puerto Vallarta end up missing an incredible opportunity. It’s quite rare to be able to travel to a place that has a huge gay culture, yet is largely undisturbed by tourism.
Here in Guadalajara, you won’t find many big brand stores or chain restaurants. You’ll instead enjoy a calm pace of life and a ton of friendly locals.
Plus, while largely undiscovered, Guadalajara’s gay nightlife is secretly amazing! I never expected to bar-hop from one packed gay club to the next.
Gay Guadalajara: Hotels & Where to Stay
Guadalajara is wonderfully gay-friendly, so LGBT travelers should feel comfortable booking any sort of accommodation. Hotel and apartment rental prices are quite reasonable since the overall volume of tourists in Guadalajara is relatively low.
I recommend generally staying in the central or eastern area of Zona Centro. These parts of the city will feel the safest. Most of central Guadalajara is walkable via adorable pedestrian-only streets.
For budget travelers, cheap VRBO rentals can be found just outside the city center (and some within the center too). Sometimes these parts of town are a bit grittier, but they’re generally safe for tourists.
The DoubleTree by Hilton Guadalajara Centro Historico has beautiful modern interiors. The rooms and suites here are perfect. Check them out in the video below.
For the safest options, stay at any of the hotels near the Guadalajara Cathedral, which is in the beautiful Historic Center.
Note that the downtown is not the same as the Historic Center. Downtown Guadalajara is toward the south of the city and is not nearly as beautiful.
The Guadalajara Gay Area
The Guadalajara gay area is located southwest of the historic city center in the southern part of Zona Centro. The gay district hovers along Avenida Juarez, east of Calzada Federalismo.
During the day, this part of town is very alive. It’s a nice destination to browse storefronts. By night, things get very quiet.
Additionally, you’ll likely travel by taxi to the nightlife venues anyway. Since you’ll already be traveling by car, you might as well stay closer to the Historic Center.
Is Guadalajara Safe?
Questions about where to stay in Guadalajara usually focus on safety. Depending on 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 are used to. You won’t experience the rougher parts of Guadalajara if you stay relatively close to the city center.
If you choose accommodations along the farther outskirts of the center though, there’s a possibility you could feel unsafe. It really depends on what type of traveler you are and the level of comfort you’re used to.
When I stayed in the northern part of Zona Centro, it certainly felt desolate and a little eerie at night. But I never felt any imminent danger.
In my opinion, if you take some general safety 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 tell you about!
Parque Mirador Independencia
Parque Mirador Independencia is a lush green space with lovely walking paths. It’s a quick taxi ride from central Guadalajara, too.
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.
For the best experience, visit the park on a weekday morning. This will be your best chance to see the wonderful Mirador de Huentitán in complete solitude. After 12 PM on most days, you’ll probably encounter a few families. Weekends will be the busiest.
Uber drivers are widely available, including the area near the park. There’s no need to arrange transport in advance.
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. This park is huge, too! It’s the perfect place for a run.
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. You could also give one of those new guided workout apps (like Aaptiv) a try!
Walk through the Colinas de San Javier neighborhood after visiting Colomos Park if you like architecture or exploring residential areas.
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.
Guadalajara Historical Center Attractions
Guadalajara has a stunningly gorgeous historical center. Four ornate plazas surround the Cathedral of Guadalajara. There’s plenty of space to enjoy the outdoors and admire 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.
Parque Alcalde is another escape from urban life, a short ride from central Guadalajara. Park activities range from ziplines, boat rides on the lake, and picnicking in grassy fields. There’s even a new skate park inside!
Note that you can only enter Parque Alcalde through the southern gate. All the other gates around the perimeter seem to be closed off.
Guachimontones – Teuchitlán Pyramids
The historic town of Teuchitlán, famous for its ancient circular pyramids, is an hour west of Guadalajara. These stepped structures, now covered in lush green grass, were only discovered in 1969!
The Guachimontones site was nearly empty when I visited, a testament to how undiscovered Guadalajara truly is. I recommend going earlier in the day so you’ll have enough time to get back to Guadalajara before sunset.
To reach the pyramids, you’ll need to climb a steep paved roadway. The climb is about 15 minutes. Don’t forget your sunblock for the journey!
Getting to Guachimontones from Guadalajara
Plan your transport between Guachimontones and Guadalajara carefully. 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 three options for planning how to get there.
You can either rent your own car for a day trip to Teuchitlán, book a private tour with transport to Guachimontones or take public transport for the return trip. I opted to take the bus, but I honestly do not recommend it.
The Teuchitlán Central Bus Stop is a 30-minute walk from the pyramids. Then, the bus ride took almost 2 hours to get back to Guadalajara. Bus fare is also only payable in cash.
Bring cash for the ticket if you take the bus. The buses let out at Guadalajara’s central station in Las Conchas, but you can hop off the bus and grab an Uber once you get close to the city center.
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Here are some of the most memorable food spots I tried in Guadalajara.
La Chata: Authentic Mexican Food
La Chata is no-frills, authentic Mexican food at its finest. I left the restaurant smiling, not only from being happily stuffed, but also from interacting with such a sweet waiter. This adorable older gentleman kindly suggested the best and most popular entrées they serve.
Degollado Café Boutique
I recommend Degollado Café Boutique for an after-dinner cocktail. Enjoy an evening on the outdoor terrace in front of the theater. The service is top-notch, too. 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 deliciously flavored cappuccinos. Their location in Centro has covered outdoor seating.
Chai Café has another location adjacent to Jardín del Carmen. It’s called Café Chai Ex Convento. I enjoyed a few beers here one afternoon during happy hour admiring the tranquil park fountain.
Tacos in Mercado General Ramón Corona
Located in Guadalajara’s gay district, Tacos Gay is a short distance from most of the gay bars. Yes, this is actually a gay taco spot! It’s a staple for satisfying those post-drinking food cravings.
Keep in mind though, Tacos Gay is not much of an actual restaurant. It’s more like an embellished street food truck. Tacos gay is a great pit stop, but don’t expect sit-down dining.
Guadalajara Gay Bars
Guadalajara boasts nearly 15 gay bars and clubs! While many smaller Guadalajara gay bars have opened and subsequently closed down over the years, there are still many must-visit venues.
California’s Bar is one of my favorite Guadalajara gay bars. I was happily surprised at such an energetic crowd here. The colorful lights, fun dancers, and the eclectic crowd were so fun. I didn’t want to leave!
The entry fee at California’s is 80 pesos. Inside, expect an undeniably attractive bunch of men. I stopped by a little after midnight and the bar was quite full. Everyone was happily dancing to upbeat Latin music.
Babel Club Guadalajara
Each of the several floors at babel has 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 a Guadalajara gay club that’s “straight-friendly.” Entry is 150 pesos.
Expect shirtless men dancing to pulsating beats on the club’s second floor. The vibe here is more typical of a circuit party.
Climb up one more staircase to find even more entertainment on the club’s third floor. I saw a decently good drag show here. Definitely check it out.
Equilibrio Club offers another unique ambiance among the city’s gay bars. They have a more 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 stopped at Caudillos Disco Bar briefly, and I thought this gay bar’s interior lighting was super cool! It makes you feel like you’re inside a video game. The music at Caudillos was pretty loud, so it’s probably better for dancing rather than socializing.
I actually found the to be quite empty, so it’s very possible the weekend night I went was not the most popular.
Cabaret VIP is another hugely popular gay venue, although I didn’t manage to get inside due to high capacity. The shows here are in such high demand, that it’s best to make a reservation ahead of time (as I learned). This way you’ll already be on the list for guaranteed entry.
Guadalajara Gay Saunas & Cruising
With plentiful gay cruising options in Guadalajara, you’ll be able to choose among several gay saunas. While I didn’t visit any myself, the venues below are the top-rated options!
El Arenal Club is one of the popular Guadalajara gay cruising spots. They are both a gym and gay sauna, known for their clean facilities and a top-notch experience.
From dark rooms, video rooms, sauna, and steam facilities, El Arenal has it all. And on top of that, there’s a gym! While this gay sauna isn’t the most modern of the choices available, they’ve been around the longest.
Rillax Sauna offers some of the best massages you can find among the Guadalajara gay saunas. They’re also popular for their location directly in the city’s central Historic District.
Renacer Day Spa
Renacer Day Spa is a gay Guadalajara gay sauna that offers massages and hosts weekend pool parties. I’d definitely recommend Renacer to those open to meeting new friends and connecting with others at a sauna, as opposed to a venue strictly for sex.
Guadalajara Gay Pride
You might be surprised to learn that Guadalajara gay pride is among some of the largest LGBT pride festivals and parades in Central/South America! Known as “Desfile del Orgullo,” Guadalajara’s pride celebration is a huge deal.
The energy of the parade is incredible. And at least in my experience, it seems many international gay travelers don’t even know how awesome it is. See for yourself in the video above of the 2019 parade! Show your support with some fun pride clothing and accessories.
The week of events preceding the Guadalajara Pride Parade happens during the month of June. I’d personally love to attend one of these years.
Guadalajara Travel Tips
Keep in mind that Guadalajara has significant poverty, so you will likely encounter a few beggars. This tends to happen around restaurants that have outdoor seating.
For the most comfortable experience, choose places with indoor seating.
Expect to be thoroughly patted down upon entrance when entering any of the Guadalajara gay bars. They take security very seriously. You bags and pockets will definitely be searched.
You will definitely need personal identification. For some travelers, this might come as a surprise. But it’s actually pretty common in Mexico.
Next check out nearby Puerto Vallarta, a perfect for a long weekend getaway or a vacation with friends.
See wolfyy’s complete collection of gay travel guides for more gay destination ideas around the world.