The Five Magical Towns of Jalisco

Jalisco has the third-richest economy in the Mexican Republic. Over 30 of Mexico’s largest companies are based in the state, which ranks first in agribusiness, computers and jewelry manufacturing. Chief agricultural products include peanuts and agave (used for distilling tequila). The state manufactures 60 percent of all computers produced in Mexico, and Guadalajara is the country’s main software producer.

Guadalajara hosts an annual May Cultural Festival, featuring musical concerts, theatrical performances, art exhibits and games. Each September brings the International Mariachi Encounter, which draws mariachi bands and their fans from all over the world.

Jalisco’s diversity, beautiful landscapes and cultural traditions make it one of Mexico’s most popular tourist destinations. The state has introduced the world to the traditions of mariachis, tequila, the Ballet Folklórico, the Mexican Hat Dance, charros and sombreros.

Due to Jalisco’s diversity, five of its cities have received the honors of “Pueblos Mágicos” (Magical Towns) by the Mexico Secretariat of Tourism (SECTUR).

Pueblos Mágicos is an initiative led by Mexico’s Secretariat of Tourism (SECTUR), in conjunction with other federal and state agencies, to promote a series of towns around the country that offer visitors a “magical” experience – by reason of their natural beauty, cultural riches, or historical relevance.

The honored cities in the State of Jalisco are Tequila, Tapalpa, San Sebastián del Oeste, Lagos de Moreno, and Mazamitla.

Tequila

In Tequila a ring of clouds form around the hill’s peak: the ancients say that it is angels that come down to drink from the agave plant. What you will be certain of is after visiting this Magical Town is that this liquor will no longer be the same for you. You will drink tequila very slowly, tasting the history that went into each and every one of its distinct flavors.

Taste the “alambre agavero”, in which an agave stalk is placed on a plate of rice with banana, soaked in melted cheese and served with chicken or beef. Enter the local “cantina” bars and ask for a Cofradia tequila or, if you prefer, a mango margarita. Delight in some chilaquiles with refried beans, to be followed by a delicious white coffee and traditional regional “birote”. There are accommodation options to suit all budgets, as well as packages with tours that explore the whole surrounding tourist trail. Consult the local tourist office and ask for the packages on offer.

Discover the old distilleries, where the heart of the agave plant is made into a drink by using artisan methods and rudimentary tools in its distillation. Let yourself be amazed by the agave fields, where the “Jimador” sows, looks after and chops the plant so that you can enjoy a crisp margarita. Despite being famous for the drink of the same name, Tequila is also an important producer of opal, and you can find this stone in different tones that are incorporated to make lovely garments.

Tapalpa

Tapalpa gets your attention with its mountain feel, the surrounding nature, and the selection of activities available both in town and out. Its name means ‘land of color’ in Nahuatl, christened as such due to the earth’s tonalities in the area. Its blue skies, green forests, and red soils come together to create astonishing scenery.

Tapalpa, Jalisco, is a quiet town that is best enjoyed on foot. The first place to see is the delightful main square, which is also the site of two temples: the stone-built Templo Viejo (Old Temple), and the red-brick Templo Nuevo (New Temple). The Templo de San Antonio (Saint Anthony’s Temple), which is only a few yards away, is also worth a visit. If you want to go for a stroll, your best option is undoubtedly the Andador Obregon (Obregon Walkway), a cobbled street full of bougainvilleas, white-fronted houses and red tiled roofs. Later in the afternoon, we recommend a visit to the Casa del Artesano (Artisan’s House), where you can find fruit preserves and beautiful wooden creations.

You can’t leave Tapalpa without trying the typical dish par excellence: borrego al pastor (grilled lamb). Restaurants and smaller eateries will also serve “frijoles charros” (refried beans cooked with chorizo and coriander), chard tamales, birria and cuts of meat. Nights here are calm and cool, inviting you to get comfortable with a cup of hot chocolate or a tasty pomegranate punch. You can spend the night in the cozy small hotels of the town center, which have traditional décor and friendly service, or in the neighboring mountain clubs.

San Sebastian del Oeste

Just the name of the town makes you want to go there: located at the foot of the Western Sierra Madre in West Jalisco, San Sebastian del Oeste (‘Saint Sebastian of the West) made us dream about the Wild West and its cowboys. In reality, this Magical Town was an important mining city with over 20,000 residents, a number that is currently reduced to just 600. San Sebastian del Oeste preserves the memories of good times pasts, the charms of tranquility, and many natural destinations for the curious adventurer.

Its cobbled streets take you done tree-lined paths flanked by mossy walls and vines, all hypnotically set to music by the sound of a stream passing underneath old stone bridges. Discover its most intimate secrets, such as the factory that produces handicrafts to be exported for foreign consumption, or the distillery that produces mezcal from the “agave lechuguilla” plant.

Enjoy the culinary tradition of this destination, offering treats such as huitlacoche stewed with onions and spices, or mixed platters that include a stuffed chili pepper, gordita, machaca and nance flavoured aguas frescas. And you can’t ignore the “chocorraiz”, a chocolate drink with “Raicilla” (a local moonshine) and, for desert, enjoy peaches with rompope and cinnamon, or the so-called “cajeta”, a kind of jelly made with fruits. Above all, take advantage of nature’s generosity, offering guavas, lemons, plantains, oranges, peaches and “faisan” berries.

Lagos de Moreno

Lagos de Moreno is a city in the state of Jalisco. It is a vast area of great natural beauty and many valuable communities for its history, tradition and culture. Located in the northeast of Jalisco, the municipal capital of Lagos de Moreno is one of the famous Magic Towns for its many and varied attractions.
A succession of small squares with old trees and gardens, connected by shaded streets, gives it a cultured university air. At every turn there are beautifully kept old buildings to be enjoyed and it is absolutely fitting that the town, in its entirety, should have been declared a national monument.

Lagos de Moreno is Jalisco’s fifth Magic Town. Boasting more than 380 cultural and historic sites, its peak coincided with the governments of President Porfirio Díaz in the late 1800s when local haciendas produced both an aristocratic elite and plenty of money enabling them to enjoy what they considered to be the better things in life.

Lagos was founded as Santa María de los Lagos in 1563 on the west bank of the broad Lagos River. It assumed its modern name in 1827. In early colonial times, its inhabitants had to withstand repeated attacks from the Chichimecas. When silver was discovered in large quantities near Zacatecas, further north, the town became a natural staging-post on the mule route to Mexico City, where all colonial silver was taken for assaying. At the same time, the main contraband route across Mexico, between Tampico, on the Atlantic, and San Blas, on the Pacific, passed through the town. As a result of this strategic location, the city was fortified with walls, some of which still remain. There are few examples in Mexico of colonial walled cities. Lagos is one of the best preserved.

Mazamitla

Mazamitla is a Jaliscan town enclosed in the forested Sierra del Tigre; it’s ideal for ecotourism and freely satisfying each and every last one of your stomach’s whims while breathing in the pine-scented fresh air. The town’s cool climate stimulates the senses and provokes sweet temptations, contented by the unbeatable traditional Mazamitla-style jellies and jams.

What better way to protect yourself from the mountain chill than to have a hot dish of menudo with freshly made tortillas, or share a crunchy artisan pizza just out of the oven? If you’re a meat lover, you definitely have to try the “Bote”, a traditional soup made with beef, chicken and pork, and round it off with a delicious dessert made of preserved fruit. To end an action packed day, this destination offers you the best options in accommodation, with an extensive variety of comfortable hotels that range from two to four stars.

The Flower Festival takes place every weekend of October in Mazamitla, Jalisco. In this show, the wild poppy is both queen and emblem. In February, put on your hat and boots and get set for the bull festival season, where you can attend the traditional cowboy fair with rodeos, dancing and variety shows. Don’t miss the serenades in the main gardens, fairground rides, fireworks and Mexican food. Try the delicious cheeses produced in the region, or visit a ranch to try “pajarete”, a drink made with fresh cows’ milk, cocoa powder and alcohol.

Explore this Jalisco town situated in the middle of the Sierra del Tigre mountain range. If you are an ecotourism enthusiast, come and fill your lungs with the pine-scented forest air. A walk in the mountains is ideal for hikers, and if it is adrenaline you’re after, try climbing the rock faces of almost one thousand meters in length. Enjoy the town’s colonial attractions, including the Parroquia de San Cristobal, with its colorful stained-glass windows. Also, taste the traditional “menudo” or the “Bote”, a soup made with three kinds of meat.

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