The state of Jalisco is often referred to as Mexico's heartland. This is the region responsible for tequila, Mariachi music, and the Tapatio culture. It also contains the next largest Mexican city after the capital, which is Guadalajara.
Jalisco is a very irregularly shaped state, bordered on one side by the Pacific Ocean. The states which border on Jalisco are: Nayarit, Zacatecas, Aguascalientes, Guanajuato, Colima, and Michoacan. Jalisco contains some worthwhile geographic wonders, including a magnificent coastline south of the city of Puerto Vallarta, the Huentitán Canyon to the north of Guadalajara, and Lake Chapala, the largest freshwater lake in Mexico.
Guadalajara is the largest city in Jalisco and the second largest city in Mexico, with a metropolitan area population of over 4 million people. It is composed of several municipalities which have grown together, the largest of which are Guadalajara itself, Tlaquepaque, Tonalá, Tlajomulco, El Salto, and Zapopan. The city rests at an elevation of about 5,000 feet (about 1,650 metres).
Long a popular vacation destination for Jalisco residents and foreigners alike, Puerto Vallarta is a built-up city with many beach hotels and resorts. The municipality is home to approximately 200,000 people.
Other cities in Jalisco include Ciudad Guzman, Tequila, Ameca, Tala, and Chapala. These are all relatively small municipalities.
There are many beaches worthy of a visit in Jalisco. Puerto Vallarta is very near the Jalisco-Nayarit border. South from here, the coastline is rocky and lined with inlets and points. Tenacatita is a well-known, undeveloped Jalisco beach which has some of the best snorkeling in Jalisco over a nearshore reef. Barra de Navidad is a vibrant Mexican town on the coast at the southern border of Jalisco with Colima. Chamela, La Manzanilla, and Melaque are other popular beach spots.
The Guachimontones in the town of Teuchitlán have been registered as a UNESCO World Heritage site. These are Pre-Colombian structures erected in round, stepped pyramid form.
The Ixtepete archaeological site in Zapopan is one of the only remaining Pre-Hispanic ruins within the Guadalajara metropolitan area.
The Huentitán Canyon to the north of Guadalajara can be viewed from several locations in Guadalajara, either in the colonia (district) of Huentitán or from the Parque Mirador. A path in Huentitán leads down to the bottom of the canyon.
Lake Chapala is the largest freshwater lake in Mexico, and can be viewed from the town of Chapala. Several other small towns line the lake, and some house hotels and resorts. Boats can be rented for excursions on the lake.
The area near the town of Tequila holds several active and extinct volcanos, including the Tequila volcano, some of which can be hiked up.
The downtown areas of Guadalajara, Zapopan, and Tlaquepaque all show examples of colonial architecture. Tlaquepaque and Tonala are centers for artisan work including ceramics, iron-work, and textiles. In addition, a museum at the Basilica of Zapopan shows off indigenous art of the region, called Huichol. Huichol people generally reside in the Jaliscan countryside, many in the northern fingers of the state. The city of Tequila houses several distilleries, many of which can be visited, including that of Jose Cuervo.
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