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First Time in Puerto Vallarta

Destination(s): Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta is one of Mexico's top tourist destinations, but it retains much of its individuality with the bustling art scene and the friendly, laidback atmosphere. There are also some historic locations and incredible natural sights within a short distance of the city. read more about First Time in Puerto Vallarta

Malecón (El)

Malecón (El)

  • Paseo Díaz Ordaz
  • Centro
  • Puerto Vallarta, 48300

Returning visitors to Puerto Vallarta long for two things – that first margarita and a visit to the magnificent El Malecón (boardwalk). This beautiful, mile long oceanfront walkway, an easy walk or short car ride from most of the city's hotels, traces the beach, running parallel to the main street. The Malecon offers stunning, unobstructed views of sand and surf and is the perfect place to watch Vallarta's magical sunsets. In 2005 the Malecon was extended to link downtown with the popular Romantic Zone, giving all visitors easier access to enjoying it. Whether you are looking for shopping, dining or music – you won't be disappointed with a visit to the Malen. Don't miss the famous permanent sculptures by local artists. On Saturday nights, you are likely to see the customary Mexican "courting" ritual as teenagers walk hand-in-hand along the boardwalk, their entire family trailing two feet behind. Restaurants, bars and boutiques selling trendy clothing, silver, folk art, Cuban Cigars and tequila abound near the Malecon. If you want to dance the night away, head for the Malecon where the music begins at 11 pm and can continue to 6 a.m. the next morning read more about Malecón (El)

Wild Dolphins and Snorkeling Day Tour from Puerto Vallarta

Wild Dolphins and Snorkeling Day Tour from Puerto Vallarta

  • MIRAMAR 336 COL. CENTRO
  • PUERTO VALLARTA MX 48300
  • Visit website
  • Puerto Vallarta
Cuale Waterfalls

Cuale Waterfalls

  • Aquiles Serán
  • (next to Hotel Molino del Agua)
  • Puerto Vallarta, 48300
Palomas (Las)

Palomas (Las)

  • Paseo Diaz Ordaz No. 610
  • tel:52 322 222 3675
  • Visit website
  • Puerto Vallarta, 48300
San Sebastian Expeditions

San Sebastian Expeditions

  • A top the Sierra Madre
  • San Sebastian del Oeste, 46990

Just a short two hour drive from Puerto Vallarta lies San Sebastian, a tiny mountain village dating back to the 17th century, when it was a prosperous silver mining town. The mines closed over one hundred years ago, but the town retains its colonial heritage and provides visitors an opportunity to experience the traditional ways of living and working in a remote Mexican village. San Sebastian remains largely unspoiled because until recently it was nearly impossible to get there on roads that were treacherous at best, and little more than donkey trails and washed out bridges at worst. In 2004 a modern highway was completed, linking San Sebastian to the Pacific coast of Mexico. Today San Sebastian is one of the most popular day trips from Puerto Vallarta. If you don't want to drive, there are many tours that will get you there safely, including a light plane excursion. As an emerging tourist destination, you will find hotels built in old haciendas, on-going festivals, great restaurants, a town square and, of course, the obligatory church for you to explore. read more about San Sebastian Expeditions

Arcos (Los)

Arcos (Los)

  • Highway 200 Sur Km 12
  • Near Mismaloya
  • tel:+52 322 223 2500
  • Puerto Vallarta, 48300

This is a federal underwater park that offers people the opportunity to snorkel and scuba dive in a rare environment. Many tours come out to this location and there are several spots that make it an easy dive for novice scuba divers. There are several more advanced dives in the area as well. Whether you are watching from the safety of a glass-bottomed boat or in the water snorkeling or diving, you will see hundreds of gorgeous tropical fish. They are trained to come to the surface when they hear the boat engines, hoping to get fed.

You can also great some great pictures of the local sea birds as they perch on the rocks, including the Blue-Footed Booby. On the way out, you may even run into a pack of wild dolphins. It's a magical spot and everyone should take the time to see it.
read more about Arcos (Los)

Bodeguita del Medio (La)

Bodeguita del Medio (La)

  • Paseo Diaz Ordaz 858
  • tel:52 322 223 1585
  • Visit website
  • Puerto Vallarta, 48380

If you love Cuban food, be sure to stop into La Bodeguita del Medio right on the malecon of Puerto Vallarta. You'll get an authentic ambiance with stucco walls, written on by many years worth of patrons and fantastic view. You can watch the people stroll by or view the Pacific sunset.
You can get all of your Cuban favorites here; tender shredded pork, fried plantains, rice and beans and of course, rum-laden mojitos. At night the pace picks up with salsa dancing, particularly on the weekends. You'll see some of the best dancers in Vallarta on a Saturday night.
This is the place to go when you are in a hurry, however. The waitstaff dawdle and linger, often causing people to walk out before their drinks arrive. If you can get into the leisurely pace of Mexico and relax for a while, the food is worth it. Just kick back (maybe pick up a drink at the bar on your way upstairs) and enjoy the sights and sounds around you.
read more about Bodeguita del Medio (La)

Playa Mismaloya

Playa Mismaloya

  • Highway 200 Sur Km 11.5
  • Puerto Vallarta, 48300

Mismaloya deserves the credit (although some say they deserve the blame) for the tourism boom in Puerto Vallarta. In 1963, John Huston chose this almost inaccessible, deserted beach as the set for his award winning film, The Night of the Iguana. The movie made Vallarta famous, but the set, sadly, was soon forgotten. However, Mismaloya is still worth the 6-mile drive from downtown. Not only is it a sweet little beach perfect for chilling out, it has a killer view of the famous Los Arcos sea rocks (a favorite destination for snorkelers and scuba divers). If you want to go to Los Arcos, there are plenty of boats available for hire. But before you board a boat and get too far away from the mango margaritas, consider snorkeling right off the beach where the crystal clear water is teeming with gaily painted tropical fish. There are also plenty of good restaurants competing for your business, many of them offering beach chairs and umbrellas. read more about Playa Mismaloya

Playa Conchas Chinas

Playa Conchas Chinas

  • Highway 200 Km 3.2
  • Puerto Vallarta, 48300

Spreading out at the foot of the Conchas China, a neighborhood often referred to as the Beverly Hills of Puerto Vallarta, is one of the most dramatic beaches adorning Banderas Bay. Conchas Chinas is a fifteen-minute cab ride from Puerto Vallarta's "old town", just enough distance to keep away the thundering crowds and the beach vendors who follow them. A jungle of tropical plants and ancient trees embraces the beach and the beach is home to a variety of bird species. The solitude, the natural beauty of the jungle, the aqua sky and the clear, sparkling sea, makes Playa Conchas Chinas a perfect spot for a romantic picnic, or a long afternoon with a good book and a bottle of wine. Unlike the long stretch of sand and gentle surf at other Puerto Vallarta beaches, Conchas Chinas is a jigsaw puzzle of white sand patches separated by looming rock formations and intriguing tide pools full of teeming marine life. read more about Playa Conchas Chinas

Plaza Neptuno (Plaza)

Plaza Neptuno (Plaza)

  • Boulevard Francisco Medina Ascencio Km 7.5
  • Entrance to Marina Vallarta
  • tel:+52 322 223 2500
  • Puerto Vallarta, 48314
Art Walks Downtown

Art Walks Downtown

Puerto Vallarta is on its way to becoming one of Mexico's most important artist enclaves, representing some of Mexico's finest artists as well as international artists who now call this seaside paradise home. Already, Puerto Vallarta can claim bragging rights for having more galleries than any other Mexican seaside destination, and each year the numbers increase. The Old Town Art Walk kicks off the "Art Season" at the end of October, and runs through the end of May each year. This event, which began in 1996 with only a handful galleries, has become a much-anticipated favorite for both tourists and locals. Every season brings a few changes, but typically, fifteen to twenty galleries throw open their doors one evening each week, inviting art lovers to visit for free cocktail art expositions. Most of the galleries are located in the historic center, and within easy walking distance from each other and the main plaza. There is no fee for this event and free Art Walk brochures and gallery maps are available in most hotels, tourist information booths and restaurants. read more about Art Walks Downtown

Cafe des Artistes

Cafe des Artistes

  • Guadalupe Sanchez 740
  • Centro
  • tel:52 322 22 2 3228
  • Visit website
  • Puerto Vallarta, 48300

Chef Thierry Blouet is a bit of a local celebrity and well-known for his successful restaurant endeavors. Cafe des Artistes is extremely popular, especially for special events and celebrations. The atmosphere is lovely, with beautiful decor and a romantic garden patio for dining. There's also the upscale bar area which is great for wine tastings and cocktails before dinner. This is not a casual restaurant so be prepared to dress up if you want to fit in and not stand out.

The service is as impeccable as the food. The waiters are attentive without hovering. One of the best times to visit is during Restaurant Week when you can enjoy the prix fixe menu and a selection of menu items, including sumptuous desserts.  The menu does change seasonally and you should always consider the specials. The upscale atmosphere and creative, eclectic menu are reflected in the prices. Located across the street from the Galerie des Artistes. This is a "don't miss" for a birthday, engagement or honeymoon dinner.
read more about Cafe des Artistes

Trio Restaurante

Trio Restaurante

  • Guerrero 264 Col. Centro
  • tel:52 322 22 2 2196
  • Visit website
  • Puerto Vallarta, 48330
Pibes (Los)

Pibes (Los)

  • Basilio Badillo 261
  • Romantic Zone
  • tel:52 322 3 1557
  • Visit website
  • Puerto Vallarta, 48380
Red Cabbage Cafe (The)

Red Cabbage Cafe (The)

  • Calle Rivera del Rio 204A
  • Across from Río Cuale
  • tel:52 322 3 0411
  • Visit website
  • Puerto Vallarta, 48350

Set back from the main Romantic Zone restaurants and art galleries, you will find the lovely Red Cabbage Cafe. This is an absolute favorite among the expats, locals and people in the know of Vallarta. The decor is a brightly colored homage to artist Frida Kahlo and her husband Diego Rivera, an ongoing theme throughout the restaurant. You can even order their actual wedding menu for your party's dining pleasure.

The chiles en nogada and chicken mole are just two of the most popular of the authentic Mexican dishes on the menu, but really, there's no way to go wrong with anything you order. The food is carefully prepared with quality fresh ingredients. Once you dine at the Red Cabbage Cafe, you will enter it into your steady Puerto Vallarta restaurant rotation. This is a non-smoking restaurant and cash only.

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Los Xitomates

Los Xitomates

  • Morelos 601
  • Corner with Aldama
  • tel:52 322 222-1694
  • Visit website
  • Puerto Vallarta, 48300
Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe

  • Calle Hidalgo
  • (One block east of Zocalo)
  • tel:+52 322 222 1326
  • Puerto Vallarta, 48310

The stunning Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe that dominates the Puerto Vallarta skyline, is the subject of millions of photographs, and Puerto Vallarta's best known and most treasured landmark, is a must-see attraction. Each year it receives thousands of visitors, particularly during the 12-day festival celebrating the Feast of Guadalupe in December. There are guided tours daily. The original church was built over a 12 year period (1929-1941) but it was expanded and modified several times over the next 45 years.. From outside you will be enchanted by the majestic structure that is topped with a crown that is said to be a replica of a tiara once worn by the mistress of the Emperor Maxmillian. A little known fact among tourists is that the crown you see today is actually a replica of the replica. The original concrete crown was destroyed by a 7.5 earthquake in 1985. A fiberglass replacement was quickly commissioned but the material could not withstand its own weight and the crown you see today is slightly distorted. On-going fund raising efforts are in the works to restore the crown to its original state. Although you are welcome to tour the church yourself, nformation about guided tours can be found at the church or at information booths around Vallarta. read more about Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Rio Grande

Rio Grande

  • Avenue Mexico 1775
  • tel:52 322 2 0095
  • Visit website
  • Puerto Vallarta, 48330
Hacienda San Angel

Hacienda San Angel

  • MIRAMAR 336 COL. CENTRO
  • PUERTO VALLARTA MX 48300
  • tel:52 322 222 2692
  • Visit website
  • PUERTO VALLARTA, 48300

If you are looking for a unique and pampered experience and don't mind not having access to the beach, Hacienda San Angel will not disappoint. Once the home of Richard Burton, it's just behind the famed cathedral and a short walk to the Malecon. While it doesn't have a beach nearby, there is a rooftop pool for sunbathing.

This five-star property consists of several suites, each decorated with gorgeous antiques and art. The beds are fluffy and soft, made with fine linens. The on-site restaurant is open to non-guests and is a popular fine-dining choice in the city. If you have the misfortune of driving in Puerto Vallarta, know that parking is scarce and it can be difficult to navigate the very narrow streets near the hotel.

read more about Hacienda San Angel