The Free and Cheap Stuff:
Malecon and the Church of our Lady Guadalupe: If you visit Vallarta and don’t walk up and down the Malecon at least once, then you haven’t really visited Vallarta. It’s a landmark, and generally speaking, the place to be. While you’re there, the church is located just off of the plaza one block over.
Sunset Boat Trip on the Water: Grab a water taxi, any water taxi. They are everywhere and they are cheap. Take a bottle of wine and you’ve got a perfect start to a romantic evening. When you return, there are a ton of beachfront restaurants to continue ‘date night’ (I've listed a few suggestions below).
Day Trip to a Different Beach: Sayulita, Mismaloya, Boca de Tomatlan, Yelapa, Las Animas and several more beaches are located within an hour’s drive of downtown Puerto Vallarta. Sayulita is a popular surftown. Mismaloya and Boca de Tomatlan are small fishing villages, great for true local culture. Yelapa is only accessible by boat (any water taxi will take you). Las Animas is accessible by boat or a 90 minute hiking trail from Boca de Tomatlan.
Pre-Package Trips and Tours:
Vallarta Food Tours: This tour is great for first-timers or frequent visitors. There are about 10 stops, where guests can try all kinds of local food from mole sauce to tacos to ceviche. For frequent visitors, the restaurants are a bit off the beaten path, so doubtful places you’ve been before. The 3 hour walking tour gives first-timers a great opportunity to learn the lay of the land and offers a little history about Puerto Vallarta along the way.
Vallarta Adventures: From zip-lining to snorkeling tours, Vallarta Adventures offers up a little bit of everything for everyone. For those looking for a little more activity, try zip-lining or the Outdoor Adventure. If you’re looking for something different in the evening, you should do the Rhythms of the Night tour. They also offer some great snorkeling trips to Las Marietas and Las Caletas. They crew at Vallarta Adventures has proved to be very entertaining, great for adults or the whole family.
Restaurants and Bars:
One of the best things about Vallarta is that there are countless restaurants and bars, offering any type of food you could possibly crave. The food is fantastic at all of these places, so I’ve just noted other tidbits. Some of the locals’ favorites:
Hacienda San Angel: This place was put on the map by Elizabeth Taylor & Richard Burton. The atmosphere is true Mexican hacienda-style and the views are spectacular.
La Palapa: This one of Puerto Vallarta’s oldest restaurants. It’s beachfront, so stick your toes in the sand & have a little fresh seafood.
Café des Artistes: True gourmet, Café des Artistes has been honored with numerous awards over the years. This is your “get dressed up and go out for a fancy dinner” place.
Sea Monkey: The complete opposite of the restaurants listed above, Sea Monkey is a super casual beachfront bar that has become a favorite of locals and tourists alike. This is the place for happy hour. A bucket of Pacifico is only about $5.
Joe Jack’s Fish Shack: Located just a block off of the beach, Joe Jack’s is a popular spot. Grab a rooftop table and a killer mojito. It’s “All You Can Eat Fish & Chips” every Friday and the fish is fresh daily.
Of course, there are a number of other things to see and do here in Puerto Vallarta, but this is a just a list of some of the highlights. See you at Sea Monkey at 5pm!
-Stephanie Watts, Destination Expert