Guadalajara is the ideal base for enjoying authentic Mexican experiences. Among these are historic pueblo towns with artisan craft workshops in picturesque markets, lively plazas where the sound of mariachi bands reverberate from cafes and restaurants, abundant nature and birdlife at Mexico's largest freshwater lake and extensive fields of tequila-producing blue agave plants, a
Lake Chapala is Mexico's largest freshwater lake and is located a short one-hour drive from Guadalajara along the border between Jalisco and Michoacan states. The area offers visitors and residents alike a peaceful and quiet retreat from the hustle and bustle of Guadalajara. The lake is surrounded by mountains and the region is full of local charm.
The area is a paradise for bird watchers and nature lovers, as many migrating birds, including the white pelican, spend their winters on Lake Chapala. Visitors can hire a boat from the town of Mezcala de la Asuncio to venture to nearby small islands.
The tranquil atmosphere, temperate weather and high quality of life has turned the area around Lake Chapala into an oasis for retirees. The town of Ajijic, located on the northern shore of Lake Chapala, has been drawing expats from the United States and Canada since the 1950's. Today, the area around Lake Chapala has one of the highest concentrations of American citizens outside the United States. In Ajijic, Chapala and Jocotepec, English is commonly spoken and it's not unusual to find Mexican, American and Canadian flags in restaurants and local homes.
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.
When travelers visit Tequila they sightsee at the town's 18th century church, The National Museum of Tequila and generally tour a distillery or two where they learn about the tequila-making process and sample different varieties of the spirit. Another highlight is the Hacienda Herradura San Jose Refugio, the original tequila factory, which was built in 1870 and remained in production until 1963. Day and overnight tours of brand name and local tequila distilleries are available from Guadalajara.
Another option for exploring the tequila-producing region is aboard the Jose Cuervo Express tourist train or via the Sauza Tequilacopter. Both modes of transport bring visitors back and forth between Guadalajara and Tequila. The train includes a guided tour of the Jose Cuervo distillery, lunch at a Mexican hacienda, live mariachis, folk dancing and of course, tequila. The Tequilacopter includes transportation from Guadalajara to Tequila on a helicopter (roundtrip available), a tour of the Sauza distillery and tequila tasting. Packages for the train and helicopter tours vary by offers and price.
If you are looking for a guided experience, check out tour packages.