Puerto Vallarta Feature
Top Experiences in Puerto Vallarta
Canopy tours are action-packed rides, where, fastened to a zip line high off the ground, you fly from tree to tree—blue sky above, ribbons of river below and, in between, a forest of treetops and a healthy shot of adrenaline.
Spend a day on the bay. Dive the varied landscape of Las Marietas Islands, angle for billfish, or take a boat ride for the fun of it. Look for humpbacks in winter and dolphins year-round. Swim, snorkel, or learn to surf or sail. Perhaps just build a sand castle with your kids.
First-time travelers come for the sun and sea, but it's PV's wonderful restaurants that create long-term fans. Dozens of top toques have restaurants here, and each November sees the International Gourmet Festival, with guest chefs, recipes, and ideas from around the globe. Seaside family-owned eateries grill fish right off the boat, and tiny city cafés have great eats at bargain prices. And a number of street-side stalls are as hygienic as five-star-hotel restaurants.
Late Nights, Latino Style
Much of Vallarta is geared to the gringo palate; however, there's plenty of authentic spice for those who crave it. Enjoy a mojito at La Bodeguita del Medio, on the malecón. Dine on roast pork, black beans, and fried plantains before heading for the dance floor at around 9:30, when the house band comes to life. Thursday and Friday, take a taxi to J&B Dance Club, in the Hotel Zone, for $4 dance lessons from 8 to 9 pm. Otherwise hang at La Bodeguita until around 11, when the Latino crowds start to arrive at J&B for a late night of cumbia, salsa, and merengue.
After a day of activity, you deserve R, R, and R: rest, relaxation, and rewarding views. Sip a fancy cocktail to live music at busy Los Muertos Beach or indulge in dessert from the crow's nest at Bucerías's The Bar Above. For dramatic views from high above the sea head to Barcelona Tapas or Vista Guayabitos. All serve dinner and drinks.
Get away from the gringo trail 4,000 feet above sea level in the mountain towns east of PV. Admire the elegant simplicity of tiny San Sebastián; in Talpa, visit the diminutive Virgin of Talpa statue, revered throughout Mexico for petitions granted. Buy keepsakes and mountain-grown coffee in shops on the square. Road access is relatively easy, but you can still charter a plane to these towns or to Mascota, where you can sample homemade raicilla—second cousin of tequila. Hike into tapestry hills and deep green valleys where, on a good day, you can spy PV and a ribbon of the Pacific. For an unforgettable experience (at least until your thigh muscles recover), take a horseback expedition into forests. Rancho Charro and Rancho Ojo de Agua have full-day excursions. For those who prefer motorized horsepower, Wild Vallarta runs full-day ATV tours to San Sebastián.
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