Guadalajara's Mercado Libertad (Liberty Market), also known as the Mercado San Juan de Diós, is one of the largest public markets in the world. Covering four square blocks, it offers just about everything from clothing to food to arts and crafts — even medicinal herbs. Housed in a huge modern building with over 1,000 stalls on three levels, each of them privately owned, it offers you good prices if you're willing to bargain and is open daily. The Casa de las Artesanías, within Parque Agua Azul, shows the vast range of Jalisco handicrafts, which are also for sale. (Open weekdays from 10 A.M. to 6 P.M.; weekends from 10 A.M. to 5 P.M.)
For a real Mexican treat, go upstairs in the Mercado de la Libertad and make the rounds of the fondas (food stalls), the Mexican version of a food court.
If you like glass, head for the Fabrica Cristal (Glass Factory), where you can watch handmade glass being blown, and then purchase it as cheaply as anywhere else. If you're going to be in Guadalajara long enough, you can have the artisans custom-make glassware for you in whatever color and design you want. They'll even ship it for you.
American-style malls have come to Guadalajara — the Plazas Patria, Mexico, Universidad, Bonita, and the sleek La Gran Plaza. Be on the lookout for children's clothing stores filled with embroidered clothing and handknit sweaters.
And for a flea-market experience of a lifetime, head to El Baratillo, the world's largest flea market. Here, on Sundays from 6 A.M. to 2 P.M., you'll find thirty blocks of everything and anything, especially antiques.
San Pedro Tlaquepaque lies five miles east of Guadalajara. Once a separate town, it is now part of the city. Tlaquepaque is famous for its hand-blown glass and painted ceramics, but the main reason you'll want to come here is to shop. Over 300 stores line the pedestrian-only Calle Independencía and other streets in the center of town, where you can find a wide variety of quality arts and crafts items including fine pottery,
Take a break from shopping and have lunch under the circular roof of the nineteenth-century El Parián, a series of linked restaurants and bars. As you eat, listen to music being played in the bandstand in the Jardín Hidalgo, the town's main square, diagonally across the pedestrian thoroughfare.
Tonalá, one of the oldest pueblos in Mexico, lies seven miles beyond Tlaquepaque. Noted for its fine pottery, many of the artisans who sell their wares in Tlaquepaque have their studios there. Be sure to stop at the free Museo Naciónal de la Cerámica (National Ceramic Museum) and the Museo Regional de Tonalá. (Both are open weekdays, 9 A.M. to 3 P.M.) Tonalá holds a huge pottery market every Thursday and Sunday. Come ready to bargain.