Tucked within the striking Sierra Madre Mountain range on Lake Chapala, the town of Ajijic is at once charmingly reminiscent of decades past and quickly becoming a sought-after vacation getaway. Between the beautiful mountain peaks, the clear waters of Lake Chapala, and the mild temperatures from the town’s high elevation, those who travel to this Mexican paradise will want for nothing.
“It’s hard to imagine that in the ‘60s, this now lively little town had only one main unpaved road and a single shared telephone,” said Austin-based photographer Nicole Mlakar. “While you’ll still see horses being ridden on in the cobblestone streets, today Ajijic is home to over 10,000 people, a quarter of whom are retired expats from the U.S. and Canada.”
Once an undiscovered refuge for artists and bohemians, this charming Mexican town 34 miles from Guadalajara has risen into its own authentic cultural moment. The town’s center plaza and colorful streets offer countless galleries, boutiques, and restaurants that have drawn travelers from around the world—the town has even become a popular choice for retirees, who have made the stunning remodeled adobe dwellings their new homes.
On Wednesdays, locals flock to town for the Tianguis shopping market, where locally sourced foods and gifts can be purchased. And for those who love the outdoors, there is no shortage of hiking in the surrounding mountains or enjoy waterfront adventure by the lake.
While many may think to first travel to one of Mexico’s lively cities when visiting the country, this lakeside town is well deserving of a spot on any Mexico itinerary.
Left: A resort style backyard at an assisted living facility in Lake Chapala. Right: An ornate staircase with a mountain view in Lake Chapala. With an elevation of 5000 feet the climate is near perfect.
Left: Walking amongst the colorful and decorative gravesites in Panteon Municipal De Ajijic. Where celebrating life is just as important as memorializing death. Right: The Malecón on Lake Chapala is a favorite spot to spend the day and take in the lake and mountain views.