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!

1. Tobolandia Water Park in Ajijic

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!  Tobolandia Waterpark in Ajijic, mexico

 Adults/Children $100/$50 Pesos ($7.25/$3.50 USD)

2. Trompo Magico Children’s Museum in Guadalajara

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! Trompo Magico Guadalajara

Adults/Children $35 pesos  ($2.50 USD!)

3. Guadalajara Zoo

While we haven’t been to it yet, ourselves (we’re waiting to go with some friends), but our friends RAVE about this zoo.  They said they could go over and over and over again! Can’t wait!
Guadalajara Zoo

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!)

Jocotepec Malecon Water Play Park

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!

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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

21 Responses to “5 Great Activities for Kids in Lake Chapala, Mexico”

  1. Terrific list of activities! We’re in the process of moving down (waiting (im)patiently for house to sell) so posts like this keep me looking forward.

    PS: I think we’ve connected on the Chapala board so it was fun to find your blog!

    Best,
    Jennifer

  2. We loved walking the Ajijic Malecon. Hope to do it again someday!

  3. We are coming early 2013. I show my kids that water park and playground and it’s a done deal! Thanks!

  4. what great fun – i had no idea that all these activities were available!

  5. Wow–love the Children’s Museum as well as all the great affordable activites on offer for the kiddies! Thanks for sharing!

    • It was a total find! We had no idea it was there until we met another Gringo gal visiting Guadalajara with her Mexican husband and kids, and she told us that her hotel had mentioned the Children´s Museum. We went together and had a ball!

  6. That water park looks great. I’m not familiar with Lake Chapala, but now I’m curious.

  7. Wow Sid from the Lake Chapala Club referred me to this website and it is reassuring to know that there are activities for the children in the Lake Chapala area. I am wanting to move to the area with my children and hoping to connect with other parents who live in the area.
    Thanks,
    Norma in Texas

    • Hi Norma! Thanks for the note! That was nice of Sid to refer you, and I hope you do try moving to this area. There are quite a few young families in the area, and I’d love to hear more about you guys. I will email you!

  8. Alejandra says:

    My family and I are in the process of moving out there in the spring, and although I have been there many times.. Never had I come across many of the attractions you mentioned. But after reading your blog I’m enjoying the idea of living out there. My 5yr old daughter and I will definitely be going and enjoying all these wonderful places mentioned. Ty for such a good blog

    • Thanks Alejandra! Good luck with the move, and hopefully we will see you down here in the Spring! The Lake Chapala area (anywhere) is great for kids…and I’m sure you’ll discover many more jewels than just the ones I’ve shared!

  9. Wow that really looks like one of the most kid/family friendly destinations I’ve ever seen. Those playgrounds, museum and pools look wonderful. I’m pretty sure my kids would be asking to go to one every day.

    • I have to admit…Mexico IS a very family-friendly country!! Have you been?

    • Thanks so much for all the info you provide!!! its exactly what i was looking for!!
      And congratulations for choosing such a wonderful life!!
      Many blessings for all of you !!
      Ivette

    • Shan Conshue says:

      As of today, its official! We are moving to lake Chapala. Signed the contract today on a house in mirasol! We will be here full time as of july2013 with our daughters 14 and 7 and our 12 year old son.
      We’d love to network with other families in the area!

      • christine burger says:

        My fiance and I have been talking about moving to the area. we are coming soon ( March 2014)with 6 year old daughter. Any chance of meeting up with you? Or any other English speaking families in the area?

        • Hi Christine! so nice to hear from you, and congrats on your pending arrival in the area! We love it there, but moved away in summer 2012 to do some further travels. You will find many gringo retirees who will happily befriend you, and hopefully they can point you toward some young English-speaking families! The best way to start getting to know families in the area is to be bold in talking to people, involve yourself in extracurricular activities for young kids (ballet, gymnastics, etc), and if you’re interested–consider putting your daughter in a local bilingual school. Even part time would be great–and it provides a great social opportunity for all of you (as well as her Spanish will be fantastic in no time)!!

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