Downtown is considered the heart of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and Virgin de Guadalupe Cathedral is the soul
Welcome to the “What a Trip”blog. If you are visiting Puerto Vallarta for the first time, today is your lucky day. I’m going to share my “Insider Tips” for things to see and do in Vallarta with you.
This trip was my first visit to Puerto Vallarta so I had to check out the downtown. Considered the heart of Puerto Vallarta, the downtown is known for its nightlife, restaurants, bars and shopping. The downtown area is very walk-friendly with its quaint cobble stoned streets, white-walled houses, wrought-iron balconies and red-tiled roofs and home to most of Puerto Vallarta’s finest restaurants, arts and crafts markets, as well as designer boutiques. I visited during the rainy season, so the town’s famous malecón, lining the beach all along the area, was being renovated. The Arcos (Arches), across the street from the town’s main square, regularly holds open air concerts and performances.
If you decide to walk the cobble stone streets of downtown, I suggest you wear flat shoes. While exploring the area, so to appreciate los “Voladores de Papantla” and the local artists performing at the malecon.
Don’t miss Las Caletas children’s zipline if you are traveling with kids. Rhythms of the Night is the perfect option if you have romance in mind.
Dining in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
You might want to visit Barracuda, a small restaurant located in the heart of Puerto Vallarta. Specializing in seafood, el Barracuda also features non seafood lover’s specialties like bbq ribs and salads for vegetarians and also a variety of steak dishes. While it is not a gourmet place, you will find magnificent specialty dishes.
Looking for cheap food in Puerto Vallarta? Go to the flea market in the heart of the city. The “Mercado de Artesanías” is located at the Cuale River Island.
Cafe des Artists will be an expensive meal, but worth the money. It was recently named as the best restaurant in Mexico by Gourmand Magazine. Situated in an old house in downtown Puerto Vallarta, Café des Artistes, with 20 years of experience, offers exclusiveness, elegance and comfort in natural surroundings, with a menu created by Chef Thierry Blouet.
If you dine at El Arrayan restaurant, the best item on the menu is thechiles en nogada. The River Cafe offers great views of the local markets and live jazz music.
La Leche Restaurant is the place to be for late night dining. If you can make it on Thursday, get ready for some excellent drinks at “La Nata.” Thursday is ladies night!
Authentic Mexican cooking in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Pureto Vallarta Friendliest City in the World
Once you manage to pass the time share hucksters at the Puerto Vallarta International Airport you may breath a sigh of relief. I found the time share salesmen to be very intimidating and I had been warned to ignore them. I suggest you make your lodging transportation arrangements in advance.
Seeing a lot of smiling faces in Puerto Vallarta? This Mexican city is best known for its hospitality. In 2001 Puerto Vallarta was named as “The Friendliest City in the World” by Condé Nast magazine. Condé Nast quotes: “Friendliest of all, however, is Puerto Vallarta (92.5 out of 100 points.) The Mexican resort city marked its debut on the list in 2001, in part because of the remarkable amiability of the local folk.”
While you are visiting in Puerto Vallarta, take your picture with El Caballito, one of the many statues around the Malecon.
This friendly man from Las Palmas, near Puerto Vallarta, Mexico posed for a picture
Puerto Vallarta Outdoor Adventure
While visiting Puerto Vallarto there really is no excuse to be bored. In addition to hiking, biking, horseback riding and zip-lining, you can go on an ATV tour, whale watching, participate in a turtle release program or go swimming with dolphins. For the adventurous traveler, visit the sierra madre jungle on a zipline! Many canopy tours offer spectacular views of the entire Banderas Bay.
If you are looking for exercise while in Puerto Vallarta, walk along the Malecon to Playa de los Muertos and the romantic zone. End the day at the Palapa Restaurant with a lemonade or margarita and enjoy a Puerto Vallarta sunset.
Puerto Vallarta’s Navy Museum is located in front of the main square and complements gallery and cultural experiences around town. The annual art walk takes place from October to May.
The top night clubs are located in the downtown Puerto Vallarta; also look for some small clubs in the romantic zone.
Read Vallarta Today to keep you current on what’s happening in Puerto Vallarta. Vallarta Today is the only daily English newspaper in Puerto Vallarta.
Mercado de Artesanías is located at the Cuale River Island, downtown Puerto Vallarta
Puerto Vallarta Cultural and Ecological Events
Puerto Vallarta offers many unique cultural and ecological activities all year round, such as the annual releasing of the endangered sea turtles, the international gourmet festival and the promenades in honor of the Lady of Guadalupe.
If you visit Puerto Vallarta in the spring time, check out the botanical gardens. This is also a good time to practice snorkeling in the calm waters of the Banderas Bay.
I mentioned the sea turtle release program as a unique experience. Summer is the time of year for the sea turtle release programs that different hotels and tour operators offer, not only for visitors, but locals, too.
Did you know that Puerto Vallarta is known for Thanksgiving celebration? Plan a visit to Puerto Vallarta in the fall with your family.
November and December are full of events for everyone, cultural, gastronomical and sports events are held in town.
Insider Tip: Check out the often over-looked raicilla and traditional candy shops factories in Puerto Vallarta.
Go to one of the many cafes in the romantic zone for coffee and Mexican pastries;Freddy’s Tucan, The Pancake House and Amapa Sunset just for name a few.
Outside of Puerto Vallarta, visit Las Palmas for an authentic Mexican experience
Tucked away in the hills of the Sierra Madre lies the historic town of San Sebastian del Oeste, a small ghost town on the outskirts of Puerto Vallarta. Founded over 400 years ago as the mining capital of New Spain, this picturesque town is a living example of colonial México. San Sebastian, with its pines trees, 4,600 feet up in the Sierra, is considered a secluded paradise that has been preserved through the centuries.
Thanks to Aurora Ubeda of Casa Velas for assistance with this post. Article, photos and YouTube video by Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown. I was a guest of Casa Velas Hotel. Visit Puerto Vallarta for more information on this destination.
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