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Why you should go to Guadalajara !

Guadalajara is a sprawling and sophisticated urban area with one of the gayest scenes in Mexico. Nicknamed "Pearl of the West," "Mexico's Silicon Valley" and "Digital Creative City," it is the country's second largest city, really a confederation of three cities - Guadalajara, Tiaquepaque (upscale art center) and Zapopan (Guadalajara's Beverly Hills). Several thousand Internet startups and blue-chip multinationals like IBM, Intel, Hewlett Packard and BMW call it home as does Corona beer. It is also the birthplace of mariachi music and in the heart of hot sauce and tequila land. Residents are called "tapatíos," and almost all of them have a relative living in Chicago or California.

It is a city of superlatives: the largest public market in the Americas, the most shopping centers in the country, the most avid football (soccer) city in Mexico, the nation's second largest public university, the biggest Hispano-American book fair and Mexico's greatest concentration of "criollos," people of Spanish or French descent. It's also said that tapatíos are the best-looking people in Mexico, but you'll have to judge that for yourself. Two of its most important events are Gay Pride in June and the international mariachi convention in September.

Winter lows are in the upper 60s, summer highs in the low 90s, encouraging golf and tennis. The historic center - laid out like a cross connecting four plazas and the cathedral - has most of the attractions and top-flight nightlife and restaurants within walking distance. Its micro-breweries lead Mexico's craft beer revolution, drawing crowds of over 30,000 to the annual beer festival featuring more than 100 domestic and imported brews each October. Restaurants feature local specialties like tender stews and torta ahogada or "drowned" sandwiches, served submerged in a dried chili pepper sauce.

Money-laundering and cartel violence are the dark side of Guadalajara and Jalisco state, but they have little impact on visitors to the city. The US Department of State assesses that wrong-place/wrong-time violence is the greatest risk. As in any large city, tourists need to be on guard of pickpockets and purse-snatchers on public transit.

Hemisphere's Jewelry Capital?

Shop for baubles where 70 percent of Mexico's gold and silver jewelry is produced. There's even a shopping mall where...

Puerto Vallarta Side Trip

Take a five-hour, first-class bus ride to the coast. Several lines provide service with multiple departures daily. ENT...

No Hangover?

Tequila lovers swear you won't suffer mornings after if you stick to the Silver (clear) and avoid sugary mixes and...

General impression
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