The ultimate gay Mexican road trip

From the stunning agave fields in Tequila Jalisco to the charming tropical beaches in San Pancho Nayarit and all the way to the modern non-sleep urban city of Guadalajara Jalisco- Mexico is truly a unique travel experience with lots of culture, delicious food, and an outstanding, welcoming gay-friendly vibe along the way. Even though Mexico used to be considered a macho, conservative country, it is now widely seen as one of the most welcoming, inclusive, and accepting places in Latin America. Today, it has a thriving LGBTQ community, and same-sex marriage is legal. Mexico has paved the way for many other countries in Latin America when it comes to LGBTQ+ initiatives and, of course, it also offers lots of beautiful travel destinations. We will make multiple stops on this gay road trip to provide something for every taste, style, and vibe.

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Guadalajara, Jalisco

Guadalajaraaaa, Guadalajaraaaa is known as the mecca of the LGBTQ+ community in Mexico and home of some of the hottest gay guys in the country. The city offers a combination of traditional colonial buildings, including spectacular churches, plazas, and beautiful monuments full of history. It boasts a pretty active gay scene throughout its colourful streets, as well as mild to wild gay nightlife in the Americana neighbourhood after dawn. Guadalajara is well known as one of Mexico’s most representative cities since many of its most revered exports originate from here: Tequila, Mariachi bands, and Mexican Charros, among others. In recent years, Guadalajara has positioned itself as extremely open, inclusive, and one of the queer-est cities in Mexico.

Guadalajara, Mexico | Photo: Douglas Nassar

Guadalajara, Mexico | Photo: Douglas Nassar

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Gay nightlife in Guadalajara is excellent, not only because of the cute gay Tapatio boys but also because of the variety of venues, the queer vibe, and the glamorous drag shows

Guadalajara is divided into several areas, and some of the most well-known are Americana, City Center, and Tlaquepaque. Each of these neighbourhoods has its own personality, vibe, and something special on offer. Americana, formerly known as La Francesa, is where most of the fashionable restaurants, hipster bars, cocktail lounges, and some of the most popular gay hangouts are to be found. Tlaquepaque used to be a small town on the outskirts of Guadalajara but has since become part of it. Here you can find a more traditional type of party with mariachi bands on the central plaza and tasty street food. Gay nightlife here is not abundant, but you will be able to spot cute “Tapatio” (nickname used for men from Guadalajara) gay boys around the area. City Center is at its most enjoyable during the day. Take a stroll and admire the sculptures, plazas, and churches it has to offer and find the perfect spot to enjoy a “Torta Ahogada” (Traditional spicy sandwich with pork meat).

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Casa Habita, Casa Lupe or Demetria Hotel are some of the best hotels with beautiful locations that provide an inclusive atmosphere

Gay nightlife in Guadalajara is excellent, not only because of the cute gay Tapatio boys but also because of the variety of venues, the queer vibe, and the glamorous drag shows. Sin Fin Cantina is a solid choice to start the evening. Next, head over to Guilty. This venue offers a variety of small plates and fabulous drinks. It is a low key cocktail bar with special drinks and a welcoming environment, especially for gay travellers. If clubbing tickles your fancy, Envy is the place where both locals and visitors meet to dance the night away and potentially hook up.

There are no dedicated gay hotels in Guadalajara. However, Casa Habita, Casa Lupe or Demetria Hotel are some of the best hotels with beautiful locations that provide an inclusive atmosphere. They are small boutique hotels that offer on-point service and amenities to make your stay in Guadalajara unforgettable.

Tequila, Mexico | Photo: Douglas Nassar

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A small town where popular Tequila houses such as Jose Cuervo and Herradura are located and where most tequila is made today

Tequila, Jalisco

Next up is Tequila, about a one hour’s drive from Guadalajara. And yes, Tequila, as in the alcoholic drink that is the main ingredient of Margaritas. It is a small town where popular Tequila houses such as Jose Cuervo and Herradura are located and where most tequila is made today. Avoid drinking and driving and take the Jose Cuervo Express instead, a train service from Guadalajara to Tequila. The train makes several stops along the way at various tequila houses including, you guessed it, Jose Cuervo Tequila and features a mariachi band on board. It is also possible to get there by car, which is best if you want to visit the smaller, more boutique tequila houses that are not included in the train tour. It allows for quick stops to take snaps of the beautiful tequila fields and to grab some Tequila “jarritos” alongside the highway. Tequila is perfect for a day trip filled with delicious drinks, music, and traditional Mexican food.

Tequila, Mexico | Photo: Douglas Nassar

Tequila, Mexico | Photo: Douglas Nassar

San Pancho, Nayarit

As we continue our journey towards Mexico’s Pacific west coast, and after a 3-hours drive, we arrive at San Francisco, Nayarit or San Pancho as the locals know it. San Pancho is a small beach town with a uniquely Mexican vibe. It is becoming increasingly popular with visitors and Canadian and American digital nomads, who choose to work remotely from Mexico during the pandemic. San Pancho doesn’t have a large LGBTQ community or gay scene, but because of its proximity to Puerto Vallarta, it is becoming more and more attractive to gay travellers searching for a quieter, more relaxing location to spend their vacation.

A string of chic hotels makes an excellent base to explore San Pancho from. One of our favourites is Pal.Mar a tropical boutique stay with beautiful rooms, each with a different name and exceptional decorations. Pal.Mar offers rooftop yoga classes in English, combined with impressive views and a tranquil atmosphere perfect for meditation. Alternative options are Marii Hotel and Maraica both in unbeatable locations and with outstanding views of the beach.

San Pancho, Mexico | Photo: Douglas Nassar

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A growing community of expats has also brought more gay people who prefer working from this chilled place instead of their crowded home cities

Mexican cuisine is one of the country’s top draws, and there is no better place to tuck in than restaurant El Gallo on El Pancho’s main street. It’s ideal for breakfast or lunch with their delectable handmade tortillas and traditional Mexican sauces. Don’t forget to try their squash blossom quesadilla – it will be the best experience of the entire trip. A few local restaurants by the beach offer traditional Mexican seafood, which is also highly recommended. For a couple of refreshing beers stop by Cerveceria Artesanal, a popular gathering spot where tourists and locals come together and mingle.

San Pancho doesn’t have any dedicated gay venues, but a growing community of expats has also brought more gay people who prefer working from this chilled place instead of their crowded home cities and have started to gather in local bars and restaurant. If you’re after something more lively, then look no further than Sayulita, which is only a 15-minute drive from San Pancho.

San Pancho, Mexico | Photo: Douglas Nassar

Photo: Oliver Sjostrom

Sayulita, Nayarit

Sayulita’s vibrant small-town vibe attracts hipsters, yogis and gays in equal measure. Its open atmosphere makes everyone feel welcome here, and it’s full of hot suffers that come to Mexico looking for big waves and good times. Like San Pancho many expats have settled here during the pandemic which has created an ecosystem brimming with places to eat, sleep and mingle. Sayulita’s LGBTQ+ community is active with lots of same-sex weddings and gay events happening here every year. Many visitors combine two to three nights in Sayulita for its splendid, relaxed beach experience with a drive down to Puerto Vallarta to party.

Sayulita boasts endless choices to rest your head in style, depending on your trip’s mood and occasion. Popular with the gay and lesbian crowd and a veritable minimalist modern haven is Don Bonito. Designed for the global citizen, Don Bonito Hotel was curated, designed, and brought to life by Sayulita local Rodrigo Peña. OZ Sayulita and Avela Hotel Boutique represent convincing alternatives, both providing a unique, laid-back experience and generous amenities.

Sayulita, Mexico | Photo: Devon Hawkins

The town has become a popular day-trip destination for travellers staying in Puerto Vallarta, so the beach and local restaurants are buzzing during the day. One of the top things to do here is sample the restaurants along the beach to feast on delicious seafood while enjoying the ocean view. Give the local street food vendors a try and browse the local arts and craft stores for a unique souvenir. Sayulita has breath-taking sunsets that make it the perfect place for a romantic date or proposing to your boyfriend.

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Compared to San Pancho, Sayulita has a more prominent gay scene even though there is no “official” gay bar per se several venues that have become quite popular among the LGBTQ+ community

As we make our way around Sayulita, there are plenty of restaurant and bar picks. Still, perennial favourites include Miscelanea or The Pancake Makers, both excellent options for breakfast or lunch with tons of healthy (and not so healthy) menu items, such as delicious churros. La Rustica, a terrific spot for a late lunch or dinner that could extend into cocktail hour before hitting on of the local bars. Compared to San Pancho, Sayulita has a more prominent gay scene even though there is no “official” gay bar per se several venues that have become quite popular among the LGBTQ+ community. Escondido is the most popular pick for gay and lesbian visitors. This chic cocktail bar offers a fab music vibe and is perfect for al fresco people-watching. Stop by CAVA for unique mezcal and tequila drinks and a dive-bar feel. Recently Selina Sayulita has been hosting local DJ sessions that have turned out to be a big hit with the local LGBTQ boys and gals.

Sayulita, Mexico | Photo: Eric Anderson

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