Puerto Vallarta is one of Mexico’s top tourism destination. Known for its 100-year-old historic center, the heart of the destination, it is alive with authentic culture, art, nightlife and a range of award-winning traditional and international restaurants.
Beyond the downtown area, Puerto Vallarta makes for a vacation full of activities that all can enjoy. From strolling along Puerto Vallarta’s lively Malecón (beach boardwalk) while relishing in free outdoor live entertainment like the nightly Papantla flying dancers, to riding zip lines across tree tops or swimming with dolphins and sea lions, taking a cooking class at one of the traditional restaurants or enjoying a guided tour of the local art galleries, visitors of all ages can share memorable moments during their fun-filled visit.
1. Dinner at Top Restaurants – Puerto Vallarta is home to over 300 restaurants ranging from internationally renowned establishments to mom-and-pap eateries offering dishes that go back generations. Dinner for two, including a three-course meal and a bottle of fine wine, at top iconic restaurants like La Palapa, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton favorite beach-front eatery, where they brought all their celebrity friends to party, El Arrayan, famous for its exquisite traditional Mexican cuisine, or Barcelona Tapas, with its grand view of the Bay of Banderas and the city’s Downtown area, will cost less than $120 USD.
2. Artisan Tequilas – Many ranches and haciendas around Puerto Vallarta offer half day and full day activities including horseback riding, hiking, quad bike excursions and a tour of the tequila plantation and distillery; including tasting of top artisan tequilas and the local raicilla, a spirit of pre-Hispanic origin made from the agave root. Top quality tequila and raicilla will set one back around $20 USD www.haciendadonaengracia.com / www.haciendaeldivisadero.com
3. VIP Beach Clubs – Enjoy the beach with plenty of pampering and luxury offered by one of Puerto Vallarta’s beach clubs. Mantamar Beach club has day passes for as low as $350 pesos ($20 USD), with $250 pesos (nearly $15 USD) counted as credit towards food and drinks.
4. Learn Spanish – Puerto Vallarta is a college town, home to international universities and private schools. A two-week Spanish immersion class at one of the many language centers located in Puerto Vallarta, which also offers the opportunity to learn about Mexican culture and traditions, costs as little as $150 USD a week. www.spanishexperiencecenter.com
5. Artworks for Collectors – From the many sculptures that line its Malecon (beach boardwalk) to the fine art galleries that house national and international works Puerto Vallarta is known for embracing the arts. Visitors can explore the town’s numerous arts offerings on the guided ArtWalk tour which operates daily from October to May, making stops at 15 local galleries in the historic downtown area. The ArtWalk is free and most galleries; like Galeria Colectika have not adjusted the prices on art pieces; providing visitors a great opportunity to acquire amazing works of art for a steal.
6. San Sebastian del Oeste – A 90-minute drive east of Puerto Vallarta sends visitors back in time to a 17th century silver mining village nestled in the Sierra Madre Mountains. This sleeping town of 600 inhabitants is a colonial gem, filled with historic sites and great places to eat. Stoll around town at leisure or take guided tour. A round-trip taxi ride from Puerto Vallarta and back costs around USD $90.
7. Your Own Private Beach – For travelers wishing to explore the natural oasis and warm Pacific Ocean waters in a secluded setting, Puerto Vallarta offers a variety of ways to enjoy their pristine secluded beaches. Take a round-trip water taxi ride out of Los Muertos Beach to secluded coves or isolated beaches like Colomitos, Las Animas, Boca de Tomatlan, Majahuitas, Quimixto, Playa El Caballo and many others. $20 USD per person.
8. Charter a Private Boat – Spend the day at sea, snorkeling, fishing, swimming, island hopping or just sun bathing on your own private boat. Prices start at $866 for 8 hours www.pvmikesfishing.com/fishing-boat-rental-rates
9. Boutique Hotels – Puerto Vallarta’s Downtown and Zona Romantica area is one of the most charming and authentic locations along Mexico’s Pacific Coast, teaming with enchanting boutique hotels, each with its own charm, unique personality and history; offering the warm and friendly personalized service Puerto Vallarta is reputed for. Rates are as low as $40 USD per night. www.visitpuertovallarta.com
10. Mex-Ology: Tequila, Tacos and Mexican Cocktails Tour – Enjoy authentic Puerto Vallarta culture and dining on a unique taco tour with Vallarta Food Tours. Also a fun way to see the Downtown area and a great start to a night of festivities. www.puertovallartafoodtours.com
11. Become a Taco Expert – There are a couple of signs visitors must look out for before buying a taco. 1. Is the location popular? If you see a line of locals waiting to eat at the establishment that’s generally a good sign. 2. When buying tacos from a local street vendor make sure the food is served in plates covered with a plastic for hygiene. 3. There should always be at least two people working the stand, one to serve food and the other to handle payments. Try Ceviches el Güero or Tacos el Cunado where a taco costs less than $1 USD.
12. Brunch at Canopy River – Take a ride to the middle of the Sierra Madre and enjoy a hearty Sunday Brunch amidst the varied and lush tropical flora and fauna of the rainforest surrounding Puerto Vallarta for less than $20 USD per person. www.canopytourspuertovallarta.com
13. Walk the Malecon – The Malecon is Puerto Vallarta’s heart and where everyone, both locals and tourists, gather for morning jogs, open air yoga classes and daytime or sunset strolls. It also has features some of the most delicious traditional street food, from tacos to corn on the cob with mayonnaise and chili, each for less than $1 USD.
14. Colorful Local Celebrations – Visiting Puerto Vallarta during any of its local festivals or celebrations that take place monthly, presents a culturally rewarding experience and a chance to see the city through the cultural traditions of its people. From the Day of the Dead to the Gourmet Festival, most celebrations have activities that are free of charge. www.visitpuertovallarta.com
15. Viva Tequila Tour – Enjoy a Tequila tour and a live performance of traditional colorful Mexican folklore for about $60 USD a person. www.viviatequila.mx
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