After a few weeks in Costa Rica, we are back in Mexico! We’ve been hanging out in Guadalajara and seeing all that the city has to offer. Just this week, we visited the market, tried out traditional pre-Hispanic food (lots of roasted bugs!), and even spent the day at the Guadalajara Zoo. In our typical travel fashion, we’re slow traveling. But we’re still taking advantage of some sight-seeing when we can.
It’s funny how, after five months of being here, Mexico is starting to feel like home. When we came here to Guadalajara, we instantly fell in love with the city. There are so many things to do in Guadalajara, Mexico, and yet it’s not overrun with tourists. It really feels like a city we could live in.
Guadalajara is located in the Mexican state of Jalisco. With a population of over 5 million people, Guadalajara is the second most populous city in Mexico. The city is bustling. You can see it in the cleanliness of the streets, the popularity of its food scene, and the nice neighborhoods. It’s also a fun city to get around. Visiting Guadalajara with kids is much easier than you think.
This post was updated on May 22, 2020.
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Visiting Guadalajara with kids
When you get to Guadalajara, take some time to orient yourself to the city. It’s not too hard to get around Guadalajara with kids. Avenida Ignacio Vallarta (which runs East to West) and Avenida Chapultepec (which runs North and South) are two popular streets with restaurants and shopping areas. You can refer to the Lonely Planet Mexico guide book to orient yourself with things to do in Guadalajara.
Safety can be a concern for a big city like Guadalajara. But we found that walking around Guadalajara with kids was very safe. The city is very walkable, especially during the day. And in the evenings, we mainly relied on Uber to get around. So we rarely felt unsafe while we were there.
Some of our favorite things to do in Guadalajara, Mexico was walking around the Centro. This is the historical part of town, and is full of great restaurants and Spanish colonial style buildings. We also enjoyed trying out some of Guadalajara’s many restaurants. The city has a pretty vibrant food scene. But by far, one of our favorite things to do in Guadalajara with kids was visit the Guadalajara Zoo.
Why you should visit the Guadalajara Zoo
Guadalajara Zoo, called Zoológico Guadalajara, is located in the north-eastern part of the city. The zoo has well-maintained facilities, and a variety of animals. We loved seeing the unique exhibits for the animals. The monkey exhibit had a series of mesh tunnels strung across the trees that the monkeys could walk through!
One reason why families will love the Guadalajara Zoo is that there are a few different ways to see the animals. Besides walking through the grounds of the zoo, visitors can take a train that circles through the zoo, past many of the exhibits. There is also a sky tram that traverses through the zoo, so you can see the animals from up above.
The zoo, itself, rivals famous zoos like San Diego Zoo or Singapore Zoo. We were very impressed by the Guadalajara Zoo, and were glad that we took the time to visit with our kids.
Tickets to the zoo come in a variety of packages, ranging from 95-315 pesos (roughly $5-$16) for adults, and 58-235 pesos (roughly $3-$12) for kids. The basic package includes just admission to the zoo. Other packages include access to the aquarium and the safari park. Additionally, there is a sky tram that is included in some of the more premier packages.
Our tips for visiting the Guadalajara Zoo
For families planning to visit Guadalajara with kids, a trip to the Guadalajara Zoo is a must-do! Here are a few of our tips to help you enjoy your trip to the zoo.
Tip #1: Set aside the whole day
The Guadalajara Zoo is massive! Covering 50 hectares, it would take the whole day to walk through the whole zoo, especially if you have young kids. If you’re planning a visit to the zoo, set aside the whole day for your visit. This will give you and your kids a chance to really see the exhibits, rather than rush through them.
Tip #2: Opt for the Premier or Diamond package
There are several ticket options for the Guadalajara Zoo, which may get a bit confusing for families. The base price for admission into the zoo is 95 pesos (roughly $5) for adults, and 58 pesos (roughly $3) for kids. This will get you into the basic exhibits. However, the zoo has several additional exhibits that cost a premium: the aquarium, the Antarctic exhibit, the train, the sky zoo, and the safari experience.
I suggest opting for the Diamond package, which covers all the additional exhibits for a total of 315 pesos (roughly $16) for adults, and 235 pesos (roughly $12) for kids. This gives you the most bang for your buck! Just to note, there’s a height restriction on the Sky Zoo (a sky tram that runs throughout the zoo). So if your kids aren’t tall enough, your next best option is to purchase the Premier package, which covers everything but the Sky Tram. The cost is 265 pesos (roughly $13) for adults and 180 pesos (roughly $9) for kids.
Tip #3: Follow the rules of the Guadalajara Zoo
If you’re planning a trip to the zoo during your visit to Guadalajara with kids, be sure to follow the rules of the zoo. Most of the rules are self-explanatory, and are in place to keep you and the animals safe. Aside from supervised zoo activities, do not feed the animals. And be sure to keep a safe distance from the animals to avoid either of you getting hurt.
Tip #4: Spend some time at the aquarium and the safari
We think the Guadalajara Zoo is a great option for families looking for things to do in Guadalajara, Mexico as there are so many different ways to experience the zoo. As I mentioned earlier, besides the basic exhibits, there is also an aquarium, with a domed tank where you can see sharks swimming above you! There’s also a safari experience where you can feed giraffes right from the palm of your hand.
These parts of the zoo cost extra, but we think the extra cost was absolutely worth it. We loved looking at the different types of fish at the aquarium. And my daughter was so thrilled that she had a chance to feed a giraffe!
Tip #5: Pick and choose the animals you want to see at the Guadalajara Zoo
Even though we set aside a good chunk of the day for our visit to Guadalajara Zoo, it was impossible for us to see everything! If you’re planning to visit the zoo, I recommend that you prioritize the animals that you want to see. That way, you can make sure you see the ones you truly want to see. And you won’t get disappointed if you miss out on the animals you weren’t too interested in seeing anyway.
Tip #6: Use the train to get around quickly
Our kids are still pretty young, and walking around a giant zoo like Guadalajara Zoo can get pretty tiring. One of the benefits of purchasing the packages is that you can ride the train around the zoo. This let us go from one end of the zoo to another. Another benefit was when our kids got tired, we used the train ride as an opportunity for them to rest their little feet.
Tip #7: Bring your own snacks to the Guadalajara Zoo
The food at Guadalajara Zoo is okay, as far as zoo food goes. During our visit, we had a lunch of pizza for the kids, and carne asada for the grown-ups. But the line was long, as it was a busy day, and we ended up waiting to order for over an hour!
If you don’t want to wait for food, I suggest bringing your own snacks to the zoo. Just be sure to discard of your garbage in the appropriate receptacles. Better yet, bring your food in collapsible containers. That way you can easily store the containers back in your bag after you eat.
Other things to do in Guadalajara, Mexico
We loved visiting Guadalajara Zoo, and we’re glad we took some time to visit there while we were in Guadalajara. But we also enjoyed exploring all the other things to do in Guadalajara, Mexico as well.
If you have some time to spend in Guadalajara with kids, take an afternoon exploring Centro. You can also visit the Mercado Libertad, or rent bikes at the Parque Metropolitano. All of these activities are great things to do in Guadalajara, Mexico to complement your visit to the zoo.
Have you spent time in Guadalajara Zoo, or Guadalajara in general? Share your thoughts about this city in the comments!
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