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Puerto Vallarta News NetworkTravel & Outdoors 

Say 'Sí' to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

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September 16, 2013
Along with its stunning beaches and lush Sierra Madre Mountains, Puerto Vallarta boasts exceptional resorts, gourmet restaurants, 8 golf courses, and a vibrant culture to satisfy even the most sophisticated traveler.

Chicago, Illinois - Known as a resort city, Puerto Vallarta is located on the Pacific Coast of Mexico, and is the sixth largest city in the state of Jalisco. It makes a worthy tourist destination with direct flights from Chicago on airlines like AeroMexico.

When booking through a service like Apple Vacations, much of the work is done for you. Upon arriving in foreign countries, it is much less stressful to have a driver planned to transport you to your lodgings. Be wary of pirate taxi drivers or being overcharged for the amount of travel.

Located 15 minutes away from the airport is Secrets Vallarta Bay. This property has more than 270 suites with marble floors and amenities such as a private Jacuzzi right on the balcony or a forest rain shower. The service was top-notch, with buffets at every turn and bartenders making Piña Coladas to keep guests cool.

There are several restaurants in the resort to suit any craving, from the French cuisine of Bordeaux to seafood at Oceana. In the afternoon, the Barefoot Grill provides snacks pool side — or people just swim up to the bar for frozen drinks. Most employees speak some English, and classes are even offered to help them improve on the resort property itself.

Pamper yourself in the spa with a massage, then take an acupressure shower afterwards.

Secrets is adults-only, so there are no little ones screaming or disturbing the peace. They are kept secluded to a separate resort next door — now that's a secret I can keep!

Head over to Dreams Puerto Vallarta Resort for a Mexican Fiesta dinner that is jaw-dropping. This traditional cuisine has made-to-order ceviche, tacos, and traditional tres leches cake, while a Mariachi band entertains in the background. Outside on the beach, guests have the opportunity to release baby turtles out in the wild. Don't use flash photography, though, or the little turtles may be blinded before they make a break for a new life in the ocean!

There are so many nearby neighborhoods to explore, such as Sayulita, where gift shops and restaurants abound. One European artist set up shop in a store called Revolución del Sueño, mixing Mexican history with different mediums such as T-shirts and paintings. Artists craft jewelry on the streets, with a range of prices to serve any budget.

There is an Art Walk every Wednesday from October through May featuring creations in glass and ceramic. Beware when buying silver because sometimes it's only silver-plated. No one likes spending hard-earned green on green skin! Speaking of dinero, while pesos are everywhere most places accept U.S. cash or credit cards.

There are eight golf courses in the region if that's your sport. With 80-degree weather almost year round, the only thing to look out for is an occasional afternoon rain.

The more adventurous person might swing over and try a canopy tour. One of several to try is River Expedition over the Rio Cuale. Arrive at Canopy River and then explore swinging down on lines across the trees for breathtaking views. Be prepared for shimmying across wires and diving into water on a zip line, even free-falling off a cliff if you dare. Inner tubing and burros transport you back to the beginning to sample tequila, learn history and have lunch at the restaurant on the property.

There are almost too many beaches to explore in the afternoons. Some are only accessed by boat, like Majahuitas.

Find the heart of rock and roll at the Hard Rock Hotel, with spacious quarters complete with private balconies and a Brazilian grill at the restaurant downstairs. For entertainment, visit a comedic show in the bar. While you are there, bring on some Sammy Hagar's tequila and margaritas!

Downtown Puerto Vallarta is the place to be at night with bars, restaurants and cafes. The Parish Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe sits in the middle of the square forming a rich history to the area. Street performers are at every turn. After walking up and down the Malecón, stop off at Roo Night Club for retro music and strong drinks.

The gay area at the end of the touristy area is called Zona Romantica. Start off the night with La Noche and a martini to chill and meet locals. For dancing, C.C. Slaughters is the place to be, with Paco's Ranch a close second with its drag shows and country-western vibe. If you are looking for a shower show, visit Wet Dreams — however, no girls are allowed.

There is really something for every taste and walk of life in this part of Mexico. Some regions of this foreign land can be dangerous but, in Puerto Vallarta, there is plenty of security and police patrolling to keep visitors safe.

The next morning Frontier Airlines flew us home, turning into a party plane packed full of Apple Vacationers. Thanks to a lively crew, movies and drinks, the trip back home was a breeze.

Puerto Vallarta is on central time, so there is no jet lag when traveling from Chicago, making it the perfect escape from the winter blues. With Apple Vacations keeping things easy and simple, why not book your getaway today?