Guadalajara, in the Mexican state of Jalisco, has always held a special place in my heart. Ever since I can remember, springtime and summer vacations meant heading to Guadalajara to spend time with my dear grandma Esperanza, aunts Irma and Elsa, and my favorite "older" cousins, Ana and Laura. I have many fond memories of hot summer days, camping trips and childhood dreams set with this colorful part of central Mexico as the backdrop.
Going back for a few days with my 6-year-old daughter was an opportunity to reconnect with family and introduce her to this beloved city. For this trip, we also got to bring along my 6-year-old nephew, effectively turning our spring break holiday into a "Have Kid, Will Travel X2" experience!
Lucky for us, being the second largest city in Mexico, Guadalajara has plenty of kid-friendly activities to choose from. The only thing we lacked were a few extra days to hit them all!
Here are some highlights of the places we had a chance to check out.
Av. Central Guillermo Gonzalez Camarena 750, Poniente, Zapopan
This interactive children’s museum is a great place to kill a few hours, offering kids different science-focused exhibits and activities to explore their creativity and scientific interests. We particularly enjoyed the bubble area with life-sized bubbles that encapsulate kids inside. The kids also had their first VR experience: an exciting space odyssey to explore our solar system. It was fun to hear them express wonder and fascination as they got up-close-and-personal with the sun and planets! Sensory activities and experiments, art, an outdoor playground and plenty of green areas to run and burn energy, all make this place one worth visiting.
Hours: Tuesdays to Fridays, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Cost: Free on Thursdays. Otherwise, $40 Mexican pesos per person. Children under 2 years old are free. There's secured parking for $35 per car.
Av. Mariano de la Bárcena 990, Zona Centro, Guadalajara
This modern, spacious aquarium is easy to visit and fun for both kids and adults. Organized in different pavilions representing the diverse ecosystems found in Mexico, each section is a nice exploration of the area’s natural life forms. We enjoyed interacting with the aquarium’s playful sea otters, petting rays and feeding the colorful Australian king parrots. The children also liked tracing and coloring marine animals in between exhibits.
Hours: Monday to Sunday, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Cost: $199 Mexican pesos for adults / $140 Mexican pesos for kids. You can get discounted tickets ($150 Mexican pesos for adults / $105 Mexican pesos for kids) if you start your visit after 5 p.m. on weekdays and between 9 and 11 a.m. on weekends.
Centro Comercial Plaza Patria, Planta Alta, Col. Jacarandas, Zapopan
With different locations throughout Guadalajara (and in other cities like CDMX and Morelia), Mockocity is a godsend for parents needing to get work done while letting the kids blow off some steam in a safe indoor place. Here they can play alone or in groups, climb structures, go down on slides, dress up in costumes, scream and otherwise have fun under someone else’s supervision. Adults have access to a separate area to observe from a distance (free WiFi included). Or you may opt for dropping the kids off and running some errands while they play. It’s a win-win for everyone. Yay for Mockocity!
Hours: They vary depending on the location, but usually from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., every day of the week.
Cost: $99 Mexican pesos per hour
*Bring socks and water for your children.
Other places that we didn’t get to visit this time but that were on our list:
Calle Paseo del Zoológico 600, Col. Huentitán El Alto, 44390, Guadalajara
Guadalajara's Zoo is one of the largest and most important zoos in Mexico and Latin America, and deserves a full-day visit to truly experience everything it has to offer. Some of the most popular attractions include a Safari that takes visitors on an African excursion to interact with giraffes and appreciate rhinos, zebras and other exotic animals from very close. There's also the SkyZoo, a sky tram that offers fantastic views of the zoo's wildlife from above; Monkeyland, where curious primates aren't shy about approaching people; a large aquarium, an aviary, an Australian exhibit with kangaroos and koalas, and much more. We really wanted to visit but ran out of time on this trip!
Hours: Wednesday to Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Cost: Basic entrance fees are $90 Mexican pesos for adults and $55 Mexican pesos for children. However, there are different packages that include specific activities (like the Safari and SkyZoo) and/or access to the aquarium, train rides, etc. Follow this link for a description of the different ticket options (in Spanish). Entrance for children under 2 years old is free.
Paseo de Zoologico 600, Col. Huentitán El Bajo, C.P. 44390, Guadalajara
Next to Guadalajara's zoo, this Sesame Street-inspired amusement park for children and teens features age-specific attractions and rides for young kids, plus zip lines and other extreme types of entertainment for older kids.
Hours: Tuesdays to Sundays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Cost: Park fees range from $134 Mexican pesos for a Magic Pass, offering 23 attractions (perfect if you're visiting with small children); $221 Mexican pesos for a Platinum Pass with access to 36 attractions); and $441 Mexican pesos for a VIP Pass, granting you access to all 47 attractions + a meal combo. Purchase your tickets online for the best deals. Entrance is free for children under 4 years.
Centro Comercial Plaza Patria, Planta Alta, Col. Jacarandas, Zapopan, Jalisco
Kidzania is an interactive city for children that combines entertainment and learning activities through role play. Kids get to explore different professions and pretend to be adults for a day. Take a look at this video to get the whole idea.
Hours: Monday to Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Cost: $299 Mexican pesos for children (1-16 years old) / $179 Mexican pesos for adults (17 years old and over).
Have you been to Guadalajara? What were your favorite kid-friendly spots?