7 Best Places to Shop in El Centro, Puerto Vallarta

Peyote People

El Centro Fodor's choice

Here the Huichol are treated as a people, not a product. At their downtown Vallarta shop, the owners— a Mexican-Canadian couple—are happy to share with customers their wealth of info about Huichol art and culture. They work with just a few farming families, providing all the materials and then paying for the finished products, amazing and colorful handicrafts that represent the most sacred elements of their culture. Huichol imagery is so colorful because they actually see these images when they eat peyote, an hallucinogenic cactus, as part of their religious rituals.

Hikuri

Riviera Nayarit

Near the north end of Banderas Bay, Hikuri is run by a British couple who pay asking prices to their Huichol suppliers and employ indigenous workers in the adjoining carpentry and screen-printing shops. The workers initially have little or no experience, and the training and jobs here give them a leg up to move on to more profitable work. The excellent inventory includes large and small fine yarn paintings, beaded bowls and jewelry, and feathered prayer wands. An on-site patio restaurant called Abalón (closed Wednesday and 2–6 pm) is another good reason to visit, for its international dishes and sometimes live music.

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La Playa

Zona Hotelera

Yes, it has tequila, but it also has wines from Chile, California (Gallo), and Spain; imported vodka and other spirits; and the cheapest beer around. You'll find it across from IMSS (Mexican Social Security Agency).

La Playa

Zona Romántica

Olas Altas 246 at Calle Basilio Badillo, Puerto Vallarta, 48380, Mexico
322-222–5304

Plaza Caracol

This shopping mall is lively and full on weekends and evenings, even when others are dead. Its anchors are the Soriana supermarket and the second-floor casino. Surrounding these are tiny stores dispensing electronics, ice cream, fresh flowers, and more. This is also a good place for manicures and haircuts. Adding to the commercial center's appeal is the six-screen Cinemex movie theater.