The metropolitan area of Guadalajara consists of four urban districts – Guadalajara, Tlaquepaque, Tonala, and Zapopan – and three suburban districts, Tlajomulco, El Salto, and Tequila.
Tlaquepaque is best known for its craftsmanship and longtime tradition of mariachi performances. Local arts and crafts fill the showrooms and stores in this town, where travelers will find carved wood furniture, colorful ceramics, and hand-stitched clothing among other goods. Pedestrian malls and plazas are lined with more than 300 shops, many run by families with generations of experience. The downtown area has a pleasant square and many pedestrian-only streets, making this a good place to take a stroll. Tourists and locals also come to Tlaquepaque to catch the daily mariachi performances at the local restaurants and cantinas, some with outdoor seating perfect for people-watching.
Among the region's oldest pueblos is Tonalá, a unique place filled with artisan workshops small and large. Tonalá is one of the largest municipality’s within the metropolitan area of Guadalajara and is the fourth largest city in the state of Jalisco. With a greater focus on business than pleasure, many international companies have offices within the city limits. There is a concentration of stores in downtown Tonalá on Avenida Tonalá and Avenida de los Tonaltecas, and many more shops and factories can be found spread throughout Tonalá’s narrow streets. The best bargains can be found in Tonalá since most local goods—from furniture to glassware and ceramics—are made here. On Thursday and Sunday, bargain-priced merchandise is sold at a street market (Av. Tonaltecas at Calle Benito Juárez, 45400) packed with vendors from 9 am to 5 pm. Vendors set up ceramics, carved wood sculptures, candles, glassware, furniture, metal crafts, and more. Look for vajilla (ceramic place settings), but note that the more high-end ceramic offerings are sold at more formal stores.
Mexico's former corn-producing capital is now a municipality of wealthy neighborhoods, modern hotels, and malls surrounded by hills. Farther out, some farming communities remain. The central district of Zapopan is a 25-minute cab ride from downtown Guadalajara. Zapopan boasts some of the newest and oldest architecture in the area with the Palacio de la Culture y la Communicaion (PALCCO) and the aged Basilica de Zapopan that is home to the city's most revered religious icon. Near the Basilica is a pedestrian corridor filled with restaurants and bars popular with young patrons. The Auditorio Telmex, which seats up to 11,000 people, is a popular venue for performances from national and international artists. The Auditorio Telmex is part of the new Centro Cultural Universitario, comprised of five other buildings including museums and libraries built by the University of Guadalajara, and is the largest culture and arts district in Guadalajara. A favorite for locals and visitors is the new Andares Mall, filled with luxury brand retail stores and high end restaurants.
In the area around the town of Tequila, greenish blue fields of agave stretch out mile after mile over the rugged, hilly terrain. All of the tequila in the world is produced in this region, which includes parts of the states of Guanajuato, Nayarit, Michoacan and Tamaulipas. The fields of blue agave plants are so beautiful that they have been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Guadalajara’s southeast suburban district of Tlajomulco’s name originated from the words of “tlaxomúlli” and “co” which translate to “land in the corner.” In 1530, the area was conquered by Nuño de Guzmán and was later divided into the district of Nueva Galicia. The district was made up primarily of Tonalá Indians. In July of 1939 it got its name Tlajomulco de Zúñiga in honor of General Eugenio Zúñiga who was native to Tlajomulco. During that same year it was converted into a municipality. Today, it’s the only municipality in Mexico to have five cities of over 25,000 inhabitants.
El Salto is one of the two suburban districts that surround the Metropolitan area of Guadalajara. The district was established on December 22, 1943, when it broke off from the neighboring municipality of Juanacatlán. Today, El Salto has a population of over 110,000 residents. The municipality and the city within it that bears the same name, are located southeast of Guadalajara. It is surrounded, in a clockwise direction from the north, by the municipalities of Tlaquepaque, Tonalá, and Tlajomulco.