Travel & Outdoors
|Best Mexican Vacations: 2010 Puerto Vallarta is #1|
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September 28, 2010
Mexico is an exceptionally varied country. The reputation of its border towns often overshadows the attraction its thriving beach destinations and in-land cultural meccas offer.
|Surrounded by the charm of colorful, Old Mexico neighborhoods, Puerto Vallarta is the undisputed number one destination for Mexican vacations and American retirees. (video by Rivera Cuale)|
In a recent U.S. News Travel poll, Puerto Vallarta got more rave reviews than most other Mexican vacation spots. Offering an excellent blend of beautiful beaches, authentic regional cuisine and a quaint setting sets "PV" apart from Cancún, Cabo San Lucas and other package tourist centers, it is no wonder that Puerto Vallarta was ranked the #1 'Best Mexican Vacations for 2010' in the latest U.S. News Travel poll.
Why Puerto Vallarta?
For so many Mexican beach destinations, it's the same story: A sleepy coastal town undergoes a flurry of development and soon warps into a haven for cash-laden luxury travelers and party-loving Spring Breakers. Puerto Vallarta has a similar history, but despite its enormous development, writers say the "town" of more than 177,000 people is more than just a coastal resort getaway.
Somehow Puerto Vallarta - also known as "Vallarta" or just "PV" - has retained some of its small-town ambience and boasts one of the most impressive, luxurious and authentic beach destinations in Mexico.
Writers praise Puerto Vallarta's locally owned hotels and restaurants, and recommend strolling along the scenic Malecón (oceanside boardwalk), sipping a cocktail from one of many bars and - if you're traveling in the winter - hopping on an ecotour to glimpse the humpback whale migrations.
Puerto Vallarta lies along the Banderas Bay (Bahía de Banderas) in the state of Jalisco, located on the west coast of Mexico. The city proper sprawls along the coast, and contains the hotel zone, or Zona Hotelera to the north, the Zona Romantica (romantic zone) in the south and the Zona Centro (city center) in between. To the east you'll find the residential district and, further inland, the small towns of San Sebastian, Mascota and Talpa de Allende in the Sierra Madre Mountains.
Things to Do in Puerto Vallarta
Writers suggest you do nothing on the beach - all day. However, if you are looking for a little adventure, writers recommend taking an eco-tour of Puerto Vallarta's Banderas Bay. If you travel during the winter, you can tour the mating spots of humpback whales on their annual migration.
If you are looking for a land tour, there are many sightseeing excursions to choose from, and the jungles and mountains in Vallarta's vicinity are the perfect place to enjoy horseback riding, hiking, biking, jeep safaris, canopy tours, and many more activities and tours. (More info...)
Afterward, go back to the beach and do nothing all over again.
Cultural tours run the gamut from Mexican Fiestas and self-guided Art Walks to guided bus tours of the city and air expeditions to several quaint towns in outlying areas - including San Sebastian - that are open for exploration.
One of the more controversial aspects of Puerto Vallarta is its bullfighting scene, a popular attraction for locals and tourists alike. Bullfights typically begin at 5 pm in the Corrida del Toros, or bull ring near the cruise port, and are held between November and April.
Puerto Vallarta Restaurants
Puerto Vallarta's food options are abundant, writers say, with restaurants ranging from chain restaurants to regional cuisine. Travelers and writers alike highly recommend trying the local seafood at downtown's El Arrayán, which offers tasty, original and very affordable recipes that hail from throughout the state of Jalisco.
European cafés and restaurants are also scattered in the downtown district, including the popular Café des Artistes, a dinner-only, art-filled eatery known for its sophisticated and innovative French cuisine. Popular traveler-recommended restaurants in Puerto Vallarta include Casa Isabel, Madison South, which offers plates for less than $20, and No Way! Jose, which features classic Mexican cuisine. (More info...)
Puerto Vallarta Night Life
Puerto Vallarta isn't full of nightclubs and bars without reason. In fact, most writers consider Puerto Vallarta one of the top nightlife destinations in Mexico, as it boasts dozens of lively clubs in the downtown district. (More info...)
Writers also classify Puerto Vallarta as very gay friendly, with many thriving nightlife options for gay travelers in El Centro and throughout the Zona Romantica. But for all travelers, Puerto Vallarta offers dozens of beaches, extensive nightlife options and internationally renowned restaurants that are the envy of Mexico's tourism industry.
Puerto Vallarta's peak travel season occurs in the winter, when the mild temperatures allow for great beach weather. Writers say that morning temperatures can be chilly in the winter, so be sure to pack warm clothing in addition to beach gear. Puerto Vallarta, like many other Mexican beach cities, is a popular Spring Break destination in March.