Lots of people, whether they are from the north of the border or from the city, come here to Chapala to walk on the Malecon, which is the boardwalk on the lake. People like to come here to have dinner because the restaurants here at the lakeside area of Chapala and Ajijic are second to none.
Coming from Chicago, and having visited other cities like New York, San Antonio, and Dallas, the food here in Chapala is second to none and it is very reasonably priced. A nice T-bone steak, for example, costs around US $9. People come here to do sightseeing, and walk around the area especially in Ajijic, where you would see picturesque and very nice homes and buildings.
Although Chapala is on a lake, there are not that many water activities here because the water is sort of murky. There aren’t any beaches in Chapala, either. The beaches have eroded. They tried to rehabilitate the beaches but the job wasn’t really done. There are some boat tours here in Chapala going to an island on the Lake Chapala called Isla de los Alacranes (Island of the Scorpions). They have little restaurants on the island, where people can get their own drinks if they want to; it’s a BYOB place, which is fairly good.
There is lots of live music here in Chapala. There are also little lakeside theater productions that go on here. There are a couple of movie theaters where people can go. This past weekend, we saw Star Wars and I saw people who are bragging about paying only $8 for two tickets. That’s one thing that is also really nice here.
Some of the best things to do here in Chapala are related to arts. The Ajijic area is more of the artistic area of the state. There are several art groups being led by retired writers, sculptors, etc. There is a lot of artists here.
If you want to experience some big city-type entertainment, you can easily go to Guadalajara, which is only 40 minutes away by car. Guadalajara has everything that you could expect from a major metropolitan city. To go to Guadalajara from Chapala, you can take one of two routes. One is on the south side and the other is on the north. You could take the route where you would end up at López Mateos in the south, which is a newly developed area. They have Sam’s Club, Costco, Walmart, and a couple of malls that are very chic. This area is nicer because it is closer to some residential areas, for example, Santa Anita and Ciudad Bugambilias. These residential areas look like US suburbs. Going through the airport there is Tlaquepaque. The nicest mall around there is called Plaza Forum, which has Cinépolis, which is a chain of movie theaters that are better than the ones that I have been to in the Chicago area. They have stadium seating, 3D and 4D movies, and they have a VIP area, where they would sit you down on big Lazy Boy chairs and they serve you beverages, food, cocktails, etc. that are served to you by waiters. That is really nice. There are also dance clubs and very nice restaurants.
The Guadalajara metropolitan area is made up of five cities: Guadalajara, Zapopan, Tlaquepaque, Tonala, and Tlajomulco. Tlajomulco is the largest growing metropolitan city in all of Mexico. If you go through Jocotepec and go south from Guadalajara, you will end up in Tlajomulco and see all the developing areas. Tlaquepaque, on the other hand is an older, colonial area where people tend to go shopping for high-end arts and crafts.
Tonala is very well known for its street markets called tianguis. People usually go to the tianguis on Thursdays and Saturdays. There, you will find lots of the manufacturers of local arts and crafts. You could get them a lot cheaper in Tonala than you would in Tlaquepaque. Tonala also exports these crafts to other countries. So a big activity that people usually do in Guadalajara is go shopping for furniture, home decorations, etc.