Puerto Vallarta is a popular Mexican destination for expatriates and tourists alike. This city is located on the Pacific Coast and it lies along the Banderas Bay. The bay measures 42 km from Punta Mita in the north and Cabo Corrientes in the south. This beautiful port city once provided a safe harbor to Spanish ships plying trade routes around the world. Now there are many things to do in Puerto Vallarta for all ages and physical abilities. From walking tours of the historic city to exploring the mountain ranges via bikes and horseback, you have several ways to be entertained. Let’s explore some of these enjoyable options.
Puerto Vallarta is a walkable city with its quaint cobblestone streets and historical architecture. Along the length of the downtown oceanfront, is a mile boardwalk known as the Malecon.
There are also several blocks of shops, galleries, and restaurants along the boardwalk. Residents and visitors alike often stroll along and explore their wares.
The nature of the Malecon changes with the time of day. In the morning, you can join the few joggers who run along the beach. You’ll also be treated to the sights of fishermen setting up the fish market at one end of the Malecon near Hotel Rosita (Puerto Vallarta’s first hotel).
At the other end of the Malecon, there’s an open-air theater called Los Arcos (The Arches). You will be able to enjoy a variety of free performances such as mariachis and puppet shows in the evenings. Local artists also paint scenes of Vallarta and display them for sale.
Once you’re in Puerto Vallarta, then you must see The Guadalupe Cathedral. This beautiful masterpiece is located in the center of downtown Puerto Vallarta. The building’s crown-shaped bell tower is its primary distinguishing feature and makes it a landmark. The Guadalupe Cathedral was built opening onto “La Plaza” or the town square. This square also hosts the Palacio Municipal (Municipal Center) which is often the site for art and cultural presentations.
After seeing The Guadalupe, simply continue your walk up the steep stairways to El Cerro (The Hill). This is where there are many luxurious homes owned by the “Norteamericanos” or “gringos” (Americans, Canadians, and others) as well as several residents. These red tile-roofed homes often have brilliantly red bougainvillea spilling from their balconies.
Within El Cerro, there’s also “Gringo Gulch”, where several Hollywood stars own elegant villas. Chief among these homes is Casa Kimberly, the former home of Elizabeth Taylor. Her husband Richard Burton’s former house is also directly across the street and the popular love bridge connects both homes.
Downtown Puerto Vallarta
You’ll love the lively nature of Downtown Puerto Vallarta. The city is divided down its center by the Rio Cuale (Cuale River). The Isla Cuale is a narrow sliver of an island that lies in the middle. This mini island offers botanical gardens, the Cuale Museum, and several shops and cafes for your exploration.
The most inland end of the island has the homes of native Mexican people. You’ll also see them going about their daily chores. The Isla Cuale also contains Mismaloya, a giant flea market building, with endless stalls of vividly beautiful hammocks, silver jewelry, leatherware, handcrafted clothing, and inexpensive souvenirs.
Take a walk to the south side of the river where you’ll find traditional shops, restaurants, and businesses. Here, you will discover much of the true flavor of the original Puerto Vallarta of old. You can buy fresh fish from street vendors, visit open-air markets, and get some authentic treats at one of the many taco stands.
The mountains surrounding Puerto Vallarta beckon you to explore them. There are several bike excursion tours available.
These tours vary according to different fitness levels. So there are trails that take you from up into the foothills of these mountains, or through tropical jungle areas, along rivers and over suspension bridges, to remote swimming areas with clear pools full of tropical fish.
You can choose to rent a motor-assisted mountain bike, as it will save your legs on those long up-hill climbs.
Horseback Riding Adventures
Want to know a unique way to explore the ranches of Puerto Vallarta? Horseback riding! These excursions are accessible to both seasoned horsemen and novices. Explore the beautiful mysteries of lush jungle paths, climb the mountain trails, ride along the ocean, take an ecological tour to learn more about local vegetation. You may also visit century-old haciendas along the trail. Plus, there are also overnight outings that provide a memorable night outdoors.
Golf and Tennis
If you need to play rounds of golf, then there are two 18-hole championship courses in Puerto Vallarta. There’s also another new championship course, designed by Jack Nicholas.
If you’re a tennis fan, then you’ll also love Puerto Vallarta. Choose from competition level grass, clay, or standard hard courts at the various tennis facilities around town. Some clubs also offer screen-covered courts that reduce the sun’s glare sun and wind flow. An 18-hole, par two mini-golf course provides a fun entertainment option for you and your family.
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There are many land-based things to do in Puerto Vallarta. You can expect your new city to offer a slower pace of life and many interesting sights, sounds, and tastes for you to explore. Moving to a new home can be hard, but it doesn’t have to be.
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