Lake Chapala is Mexico’s largest freshwater lake, located within a 1 hour drive of Guadalajara, in Central Mexico. It is a very popular place to retire among and American and Canadian retirees, and therefore has an eclectic mix of Mexican culture that manages to cater to Gringo peculiarities and demands. It is helpful if you can speak Spanish here, but you can certainly survive without it!
If you are thinking of visiting the Lake Chapala area, or perhaps you live on the lake and your grandchildren will be visiting soon (and you need to figure out how to keep them entertained!), here are some must-visit places to take the kids, within a reasonable distance!
They have simply the best and largest children’s play area I have ever seen (Mexico or not). It may not be A+ in quality, but it is a B+ in effort, and has heated pools, a number of large slides, and a lazy river. Pack some lunch for the day, put on some sunscreen, and enjoy a half of full day!
Adults/Children $100/$50 Pesos ($7.25/$3.50 USD)
Also the best children’s museum I have been to (and certainly the cheapest)!
Plan to spend hours upon hours here…letting your kids enjoy some pretend play (grocery store, doctor office, kitchen), among many other activities. Our favorite is their amazing bubble display (prepare to be wowed when they encase your whole body in a large bubble)! Older children and teenagers will appreciate areas that are geared towards them with more technology, etc. Fun for the whole family!
Adults/Children $35 pesos ($2.50 USD!)
Adults/Children are $60/$35 Pesos ($4.40/$2.50 USD)
4. Jocotepec Malecon
We have been watching the progress of this beautiful malecon in Jocotepec being completed, complete with a “Splash Pad” being built at the very end of the walkway. The playground has the most modern playground equipment we have seen in Mexico (literally), and we can’t wait until it is filled with a good 6 inches of water throughout, with all of the fountains running! Our last visit was just last weekend, January 2012, and they have not made progress with the water. Have they given up on it? Who knows! ¨Mañana¨is, of course, a popular word around here. However, when this is up and going fully…this cannot be missed! Not to mention…it’s free! (*p.s. I’ve recently decided it is likely not running with water because it is the “winter” and the locals think it is way too cold! I bet it will be flowing by early April! Bring it on!)
And if your kids have nearly as much energy as ours, they may also love the free outdoor workout equipment near the entrance to the Jocotepec Malecon. You might as well get a good workout, yourself, too!
5. Lake Chapala beach
Each small town along the North shore of Lake Chapala has its own little malecon (walking area on the water). Our favorites are the Chapala, Ajijic, and Jocotepec Malecons. The Jocotepec malecon was mentioned above, the Ajijic malecon has a fun simple little playground, and the Chapala malecon has the best sandy beach for playing in the water. We take our sun canopy and let the kids play for hours with their friends while the parents chat. Many locals are scared to play in the water(claiming it is contaminated) and may look at you funny, but a Gringo water specialist in the area has proved through independent testing that it is certainly clean enough for playing…so play away!
All malecons are perfect for bringing the bikes along and letting the kids ride up and down the smoothly paved walkways. It sure beats the cobblestone alternative!
And for goodness’ sake…if you are looking for entertainment in early September, DO NOT miss the Regata de Globos event in Ajijic!!
Lake Chapala is not just for retirees…kids love it, too!
Let the fun begin!
To read about some other great places throughout the world to visit with children, see the following blog posts by other “Families on the Move” who participated in this group project! They selected a favorite place, and their top 5 activities to do with children! Who says traveling with kids can’t be fun?
Ambergris Caye, Belize – A King’s Life –
New York City, USA – A Minor Diversion
London, UK — Travels with a Nine Year Old
The Netherlands – Act of Traveling
Antigua, Guatemala – Raising Miro
Seattle, WA, USA – Walkingon Travels
Sunset Coast, Michigan, USA – WanderingEducators.com
Vancouver, B.C. Canada – With 2 Kids In Tow
Kingston, Ontario, Canada – EdventureProject.com
Costa Rica – Bohemian Travelers
Central Australia – Wandering Photographer
South Australia – Livin On The Road
The Holy Land: Israel – The Nomadic Family
Washington, D.C. U.S.A. – Grow In Grace Life
Fethiye, Turkey – Ramblecrunch
Brisbane, Australia – OurTravelLifestyle
Boston, USA – Great Family Escape
Chiang Mai, northern Thailand – The Dropout Diaries