Tequila, Mexico, located 37 miles northwest of Guadalajara, is a World Heritage site and the birthplace of—what else?—tequila. This “pueblo magico,” recognized by the Mexican government for its cultural significance, offers more than just the renowned spirit. With bougainvillea-lined cobblestone streets and colorful colonial architecture, this friendly destination immerses visitors in a rich history. From the famous tequila to the vibrant surroundings, Tequila captivates with its cultural charm and historical allure.
Where to Stay
Tequila is eminently walkable, and Hotel Solar de Las Ánimas, located next to the 18th-century town church, is right in the heart of the action. The hotel design beautifully embodies Mexican architecture from the 17th and 18th centuries. Service and food both show exceptional attention to detail. Enjoy chilaquiles for breakfast in one of the many lush courtyards, or go for a dip. The ground floor pool has a spectacular tile backdrop, or head upstairs to the roof pool to soak in the mountain views while catching some sun.
On the picture-perfect grounds by La Guarreña distillery at the foot of the Rio Grande Canyon, you’ll find the charming Casa Salles. The namesake Salles family used the property for their celebrations for 60 years before turning it into a destination-worthy hotel with 25 intimate rooms in 2020. Guests can gather in numerous outdoor and indoor spaces, and the hotel’s Reposado Spa can wash away any incidents of excessive tequila with a soothing massage.
Where to Eat
Any traveler knows that going where the locals go is a good rule of thumb. You’ll have to head 15 minutes out of town to get to Cantaritos El Güero #1, but you’ll be in good company at this uber-popular restaurant and watering hole where things are always rowdy. An efficient staff keeps crowds under control while giant (and TikTok-famous) drinks and food portions meant for sharing make this a great choice to go with a group.
The Hotel Solar de Las Ánimas restaurant is an elegant dinner choice. The ceviche is light and zippy, and watch out for the addictively crunchy fried shrimp. It’s also a great place to try flavorful moles of all kinds and colors.
Where to Drink
Speaking of cantaritos, for a lively bar experience, make time to visit Che Che’s. Live music and line dancing get everyone moving, especially when sombrero-wearing men pour tequila straight from the bottle into their mouths.
Or try something different at La Capilla, the oldest bar in Tequila. The owner invented the popular batanga—a mixed drink of tequila, lime, and Coca-Cola—in 1961.
Where to Visit
Getting to Tequila is half the fun. After landing in Guadalajara, hop aboard the Jose Cuervo Express, which is Mexico’s most popular train, to take you on the two-hour trip to Tequila. Watch the beautiful mountain ranges and agave fields of the Jalisco region whiz by out the window while entertaining and knowledgeable servers bring you a lavish breakfast spread and Reserva de la Familia, both neat and in cocktails. Yes, it’s a party.
Plaza Principal de Tequila
No matter what time of the day or night, the lively town square is filled with market vendors selling vibrant handmade goods, costumed street performers, and of course, taco stands. Friendly stray dogs wag their tails hoping for a scrap or snooze in the sun. This is the perfect place to pick up gifts for your friends back home, grab a hat for some sun protection, or try an unforgettable al-pastor.
Explore the birthplace of tequila with a tour showcasing renowned brands like Jose Cuervo, Latin America’s oldest active distillery, offering a fascinating glimpse into the process. Witness the cutting of blue agave plants into “pinas,” the heart of tequila production, emitting a tempting brown sugar caramel aroma. La Guarreña, established in 1959, is another top-rated distillery specializing in El Tequileño tequila. For a journey back in time, visit Destilería Cascahuín to experience traditional ancestral tequila production. Immerse yourself in tequila’s rich history and flavors on these captivating tours that accommodate both enthusiasts and history buffs alike. Or take a trip a bit further back in time and see how tequila is made the ancestral way at Destilería Cascahuín.
Juan Beckmann Gallardo Cultural Center
There’s no end of ancient or modern wonders at the Cultural Center, where you can see abstract art exhibits alongside an extensive collection of pre-Hispanic artifacts and 18th and 19th-century carriages.