For anyone who has traveled within Latin America, you will know…well, while there is always a gay scene to be found, it is not frequently loud, proud, and with rainbow flags flying from the windows.
This is why the LGBT scene in Guadalajara caught me by surprise, and why I fell in love with Mexico’s second-biggest city almost instantly! Also known as the ‘San Francisco of Mexico’ queer life thrives here far more than anywhere else in Mexico – though you should also check out the gay scene of Puebla and Gay Monterrey!
Gay Guadalajara is seen everywhere but is most vibrant in the slightly gritty but utterly beautiful historic center of Guadalajara to the up-scale and hipster gay area of Guadalajara, Zona Rosa.
While the secret of gay Guadalajara has not yet made it out (it’s often called ‘the most Mexican of Mexican cities’), the local Tapatios/Jaliscienses have clearly embraced it with over 30 gay bars and clubs in Guadalajara’s historic center alone!
Cleaner, friendlier, safer, and more beautiful than Mexico City, with a warm Los Angeles-esque climate and many famously great tourist attractions such as the nearby unmissable town of Tequila and the gay beach resort town of Puerto Vallarta.
Not to mention all the mariachi music, colorful sombreros, charreadas (rodeos), and the legendary culinary scene that has Guadalajara rivaling Taipei, Kuala Lumpur, and Porto as underrated world food capitals.
Given all this, it’s truly no wonder that Guadalajara is the undisputed center of gay life in Mexico (and it probably doesn’t hurt that Guadalajara has a reputation for the best looking men in all of Mexico!).
Read on to find out more about why you should visit LGBT Guadalajara, which gay Guadalajara hotels to stay in, what to do during that day, where to eat in Guadalajara – and most importantly, where to find all the best gay bars in Guadalajara.
The Ultimate Guide To Gay Guadalajara: Bars, Clubs, Hotels & More! 🏳️🌈
- Is Guadalajara The Most LGBT-Friendly City In Latin America? Is Guadalajara The Most LGBT-Friendly City In Latin America?
- What Are The Best Gay-Friendly Attractions In Guadalajara?
- What Are The Best Gay-Friendly Restaurants In Guadalajara?
- What Are The Best Gay-Friendly Hotels In Guadalajara?
- Where Are The Best Gay Bars And Clubs In Gay Guadalajara?
- Where Are The Best Bathhouses & Gay Saunas In Guadalajara?
- The Best Time to Visit Guadalajara And Discovering The Guadalajara Gay Pride!
- Gay Life in Guadalajara: A Weekend Trip To Puerto Vallarta
Is Guadalajara The Most LGBT-Friendly City In Latin America? Is Guadalajara The Most LGBT-Friendly City In Latin America?
To be clear – Guadalajara is most vibrant, loud, and open after dark, but during the day, it still does not approach the level of queer as, say, the Gay Village of Montreal or basically all of Palm Springs.
Yet, despite a conservative president and mayor, Guadalajara has become one of the most significant gay hot spots in Mexico and Latin America.
LGBT Guadalajara offer’s one of the world’s biggest gay pride parades, numerous hip art galleries and districts, inspiring cultural institutions, nightlife – and of course, all the necessary magazines, publications, and events for a vibrant LGBT community. There is always something on here
There is a ridiculous amount of gay-owned and operated accommodation and restaurants in Guadalajara, but as a whole many of the locally owned businesses, especially in the historic center and the Zona Rosa gay area, are very friendly and open-minded with gay travelers.
It probably doesn’t hurt that the value of the ‘pink dollar’ is being recognized more and more and gay tourism to Guadalajara increases!
Nor does the normalization of LGBT relations with the passing of same-sex marriage in Mexico – though to be explicit, a lot still needs to be done here (as in many places in the world) it’s a giant step in the right direction!
During the day, LGBT life here may be somewhat subdued. Still, at night the gay Guadalajara nightlife explodes throughout the ‘gay ghetto’ in the historic center and numerous upscale suburbs, spilling out onto the street as pop music blares, drag queens roam, and go-go boys gyrate the night away.
So, is Guadalajara the most LGBT-Friendly City In Latin America? It’s hard to say – but it most certainly is up there, and based on everything I have seen and heard, it is the most friendly in Mexico.
As with anywhere in the world, however, pay attention to your surrounds – at night it is often not safe to walk on quiet streets so be sure to take an rideshare or taxi at night – and know your limits…or at least have someone you trust watching out for you!
What Are The Best Gay-Friendly Attractions In Guadalajara?
As Mexico’s second-biggest city – home to almost 7 million people – Guadalajara has an incredible amount of things to do and see. However, for most queer travelers, the top sights can be found in the Historical Center, filled with museums and colonial architecture, and the beautiful Tlaquepaque and Tonala suburbs with hip markets, boutique shops, and innovative restaurants.
While the attractions in the city center are far, far too many to list one thing everyone has to see in the Hospicio Cabañas. This former orphanage is now an icon of Guadalajara. It has even been made a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The Hospicio Cabañas now houses a progressive cultural arts center and exposition. Also within is the famous and mammoth ceiling murals by Mexican artist Jose Clemente Orozco which will genuinely make your jaw drop.
Tlaquepaque is another smaller city that has now been absorbed by the Guadalajara metropolis. It is now heavily gentrified, filled with hip restaurants, boutique shops, art galleries, pedestrian-only streets, and plenty of colors! Take your credit card for this one – it’s practically a guarantee you won’t be able to leave empty-handed.
El Parián, a famous open-air cantina with incredible regional food and the temptation of roving mariachis who will attempt to convince you their sound is worth parting with $10!
The margaritas here are divine, and when it’s busy, there is no place better in the entire city (well, except possibly the gay nightlife in Guadalajara, but we will get there!)
For a more authentic and cheaper experience, you should consider visiting Tonala, home to the world-famous Tonala artisan street market, which is held every Thursday and Sunday. While less organized and more spread out, people come from all over to experience Tonala and to hunt for a bargain, and prices are far lower than anywhere in the city.
From clothes to home furnishings, you can find everything under the sun here – all complete with those funky Mexican designs and colors which are oh-so-trendy right not!
If you are short on time and looking for something special, I highly recommend checking out these renown and gay-friendly gay shops in Guadalajara: Zodoma for leather goods, El Charro for more traditional Mexican outfits and Alberto Rodríguez – a top local designer!
Finally, if you want to pamper yourself a bit with a gorgeous gay spa in Guadalajara, I highly recommend Dulce Spa Medicio – with great rates on facials, laser hair removal, nutritional consultation, and massages it was a no-brainer for me. And the fact it’s so close to Guadalajara’s famous Plaza Del Sol mall makes it even more accessible, and perfect for either before or after a big night out!
What Are The Best Gay-Friendly Restaurants In Guadalajara?
As the most Mexican city in Mexico, there is quite the foodie scene going on here currently, and it’s all incredible, with a fusion of Asian, European, and Latino tastes. Think Hoi An and Lisbon comes to Mexico. It’s hard to walk much more than a block anywhere in the city without finding somewhere tempting and delicious!
If you are looking for something more traditional, you have to try tacos al pastor (a delicious lamb, pork, or goat tacos found in street carts or cafes throughout the city) or try the ubiquitous ice desserts of vanilla and walnut (though the best are in Tlaquepaque).
As far as gay-friendly cafes and restaurants in Guadalajara, you can’t go past Queer Nation for a vibing cafe great for people watching, Chez Chouchou for a unique fine French meal or Gay Tacos, the city’s informal gay meeting place before or after a night out.
I also absolutely loved Rompicapo and the owners, a group of young straight and gay women. They are serving up unbelievably good wood-fired pizzas and traditional Mexican fare with an upscale flair.
They also happen to be a pretty good information source for all the happening events, clubs, and places in town on any given night. They are happy to chat (in Spanish or English), and the surrounding neighborhood is full of exciting local life, hipster shops, and street art!
Update: A new cat-themed coffee shop, Kissa Cafe, has opened up in Rompicapo, offering delightfully puny delicious coffee options. Omaly – the cute, funny, loving owner with a slight cat obsession – speaks fluent English and will happily share will you the best local tips / hidden secrets and LGBT spots in Guadalajara over some of the best coffee in Mexico.
Let him know I sent you. He’s adorably cute and will be thrilled that your visiting, give you all the inside tips for the city, and help you will basically anything you need. Just don’t get him started on Eurovision unless you have hours to kill!
What Are The Best Gay-Friendly Hotels In Guadalajara?
While almost all hotels in Guadalajara will be open and accepting, this is one destination where you will get more joy if you take advantage of the many, many LGBT friendly-hotels, or even gay exclusive hotels, in Guadalajara. From beautiful colonial B&B’s, high-end 5-star accommodations to not only stylish but cheap hostels, there is an option for anyone.
The gay-friendly hotels in Guadalajara tend to focus, of course, around the gay areas: high-end Zona Road or the more affordable but slightly less polished Historical Center. I have put together a list of the top gay-friendly hotels in Guadalajara so you can check out prices and compare, but be sure to book early as they are highly popular and may sell out months in advance at peak times.
This is the gayest city in Mexico, after all!
- Casa Alebrijes Hotel ☆☆ – Colourful adobe boutique hotel in the historic center of gay nightlife.
- Hostel LIT ☆☆ – A young and hip budget hostel catering to price-savvy travelers, which even includes a sauna. Many places list as a gay hostel, but it is open to everyone. Still, it’s in the heart of the Guadalajara gay scene and a great price!
- Hotel San Francisco Plaza ☆☆ – Beautiful European charm in a great local for gays and their friends.
- Dickinson Guest House ☆☆☆ – A small and comfortable home-style accommodation offering real elegance in a central location.
- Villa Ganz ☆☆☆☆ – A beautiful, elegant colonial mansion and one of the first luxury boutique hotels in the city.
- InterContinental Presidente Guadalajara ☆☆☆☆☆ – A 5-star luxury hotel located in a prime location. Extremely gay-popular and the most frequently booked gay hotel in Guadalajara through this site!
Where Are The Best Gay Bars And Clubs In Gay Guadalajara?
With over 30 gay bars and clubs in Guadalajara, it can be really, really hard to choose – especially when they keep closing and opening!
With all recommendations on this list, people be sure to click through and check they are open before visiting. They may well close or rebrand (as has the long-term institution Circus or Black Cherry). But trust me, they are worth your time to seek out. Not only are the boys ridiculously good looking and friendly, but the drag shows are some of the best we have seen in the world — up there with Providence, Washington DC, and Stockholm.
Guadalajara’s queer nightlife focuses on the main gay ghetto/drag of Avenida Prisciliano Sanchez in this historical center area downtown area, and in the nearby Zona Rosa area with a slightly more upscale feel to it.
With so many vibrant and wildly energetic gay nightclubs in Guadalajara I have chosen to list a few of the best as recommended by locals, there are of course more but for a few nights out there should be the must-hit for a guaranteed good time (and as you will soon see, there is no party quite like a Latino party!)
Gay Bars And Clubs Guadalajara’s Historic Centro
- Milk Night Couture – When it’s good, it’s good – a large dance floor and a place to be seen, if there is an event (check before you pay the high cover!)
- La Prisciliana – A quiet bar for conversations and to meet a special someone special
- Babel – Attracts the slightly upper-class crowd, but with three stories, a light show, and go-go boys aplenty, its a guaranteed good time.
- 7 Sins – Loud music, no conversation, and a dark room. What more could you want!
- Voltio – Men only, a clean and polished club well known for its leather, underwear and nude parties!
- Ruta Claudillos – High energy pulsing nightclub with three dance floors with a good mix of gay guys and gay girls.
- California’s – A trendy local bar with everybody from cowboys to students!
Gay Bars And Clubs Guadalajara’s Zona Rosa
- Cosmo Martini Factory Lounge – A venture into the suburbs famed for their singles nights and mimosa drink specials.
- Maskara’s – A large dance floor and drag shows aplenty! Great for both girls and guys.
- Envy Trendy – Pop Top 40 with young boys and the men who lust after them.
- Angels Club – Eurotrash with the very young and beautiful and an after-party that often goes the latest in town.
- El Ciervo – The oldest gay bar in Guadalajara popular with older locals. A great place to get to know the people of the city, but the area is not somewhere you want to be walking around after dark.
Where Are The Best Bathhouses & Gay Saunas In Guadalajara?
If you are looking for something a little bit extra, there are also plenty of gay bathhouses and saunas in Guadalajara to keep you…entertained. So here are some of the best saunas in Guadalajara!
- Banos La Fuento: Bare-bones basic with lockers, two steam rooms, and, of course, a back room. Popular with mostly older Latin men.
- Banos Galeana: Full-service bar and a very active steam-room. Great prices and an amiable owner.
- Riilax: Clean and open; you won’t feel dirty entering here. Even with the lights on, plenty of things are still guaranteed to happen.
The Best Time to Visit Guadalajara And Discovering The Guadalajara Gay Pride!
Given the great weather and year-round epic, local gay nightlife, there really isn’t a bad time to experience Gay Guadalajara. Still, if you can time it, I would have to say the best time to visit Guadalajara Mexico is during the famed annual Guadalajara Pride Parade.
One of the biggest pride parades in the world! Known locally as Desfile del Orgullo or the “Parade of the Pride,” it is the biggest event on the Gay Guadalajara social events calendar for the year.
While only in it’s 4th year, it already has over 250,000 attendees making it one of the biggest gay pride parades in the world — up there with other famous Latin American Pride Parades such as Sao Paulo, Buenos Aires, and Rio de Janeiro.
The Guadalajara Pride Parade is celebrated every year in late June and the week beforehand are many cultural events focused on the LGBT community and promotion of acceptance and free speech – called the week of diversity included the famed International LGBT Film Festival of Guadalajara, art expositions, concerts and many, many nightlife events meaning no traveler will be bored visiting Gay Guadalajara in this time.
Each year the Guadalajara Pride Parade starts at the Glorieta de la Minerva statue. It ends in Guadalajara’s main square called Plaza de la Liberación – An incredible experience, to say the least! For more information, you can check out the Guadalajara Pride Parade’s extensive website (in Spanish only) for all the information on events, dates, and times you could need.
Gay Life in Guadalajara: A Weekend Trip To Puerto Vallarta
Puerto Vallarta is easily one of the most popular weekend getaways from Guadalajara – with a great climate, mountains, and beaches backing onto tropical jungles.
Known as being very gay-friendly, Puerto Vallarta is one of Mexico’s most popular gay vacation spots, and the rainbow flags fly loud and proud here.
Popular with a wide mix of younger, older, and everyone from Mexicans to Europeans, Americans, and even Australians, it is this cosmopolitan mix that makes Puerto Vallarta such a great gay destination for travel in Mexico. Oogle gorgeous bodies on the beach all day and party in sophisticated nightlife spots …
This is the place to see and be seen! Even if you are not a beach person, the Puerto Vallarta downtown has a lot to offer!
So what do you think of this guide to Gay Guadalajara Mexico? One of the world’s most underrated gay destinations, right! I hope you find this guide to the gay hotel, eateries, activities, and nightlife of Guadalajara helpful and have inspired you to visit soon.
As always, if you think I have missed something, would like to add your comments of Gay Guadalajara or share your experiences, please let me know in the comments below!
Further Things To Consider Before Any Adventure
Now you're all set and prepared to explore our big wide world, why not sort out everything else out all in one go? If necessary for your travel plans make sure you have brought proper travel insurance, protected your privacy by getting a secure VPN, compared all the top hotel booking sites to find just what you're after, reserved an unbeatable rental car price and - of course - booked the best flight deals!
Many budget travelers (including me) indulge in worldwide airport lounge access, so we can experience luxury while still slumming it in economy. Naturally, we would never leave home without a more general travel guide since we couldn’t possibly cover everything here!
Just add an adventurous attitude and plenty of smiles - they go a long way - and that about covers it all! Now go out, find your own path and don't forget to share your best inspiration stories with me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram...I'd love to hear from you!