The name Guadalajara comes from an Arab word, Wadi-al-Hajara which means the ‘Valley of Stones’. The city was named after the hometown of the Spanish conqueror who founded it in 1531. Jalisco is the birthplace of tequila, the famous Mexican spirit made from the blue agave plant, and visiting Guadalajara without spending a day in Tequila is unthinkable. Guadalajara is a top tourist destination in Jalisco, a state in Western Mexico famous for its beautiful beaches and coastal town of Puerto Vallarta. There are several tour companies that run trips to this small and vibrant town, including the Tequila Express. Mexico's second largest city and capital of the state of Jalisco Guadalajara enjoys a mild subtropical climate and has managed to preserve the independent character of a town conscious of its own traditions. The city exudes a distinct European atmosphere, and the Tapatíos, as the people of Guadalajara call themselves, have left their own distinctive mark on its broad avenues, carefully tended parks, and attractive light-colored buildings. As well as being famous as a center of mariachi music, Guadalajara is also a stronghold of Charreadas, the Mexican version of the rodeo, along with the popular folk dance known as Jarabe Tapatío - three things that to travellers express the very essence of Mexican folk traditions. It's also an easy city to explore thanks to the city center's four magnificent squares, handily connected and arranged in the form of a cross with the city's principal tourist attractions set around them.
There are countless plazas, which are shadowed by grand architecture and peppered with colourful vendors hawking their wares. But along with touring historic buildings, such as the Guadalajara Cathedral and the Instituto Cultural de Cabanas, visitors can take a picturesque walk through the Parque Agua Azul or embark on a safari through the expansive Guadalajara Zoo. Perusing the goods at the enormous San Juan de Dios Market is another must-do. So think not twice, backpack and get going!