Puerto Vallarta, Mexico - Summer is just around the corner and with that comes planning great vacation getaways. Those who choose to vacation in Puerto Vallarta this summer will not only find discounted rates on some of the city's most popular tours, but also many fun - and free! - activities that are sure to keep everyone entertained.
Beautiful beaches, history, art and culture... with so much on offer for all ages, Puerto Vallarta is one of Mexico's top family vacation destinations. Especially during the summer months, when lower prices and fewer tourists make this city by the sea the perfect playground for families.
If you are looking to explore on your own, the city's downtown area is a great place to begin, and taking in the sights on foot is the best way to see some of the marvelous things Puerto Vallarta has to offer, such as:
A first stop for all visitors is Puerto Vallarta's world-famous Malecón, the boardwalk that hugs the historic downtown and the coastline of the Bay of Banderas. It is a must-visit location where visitors and locals alike can immerse themselves in the flavor, color, and 24/7 activity that embodies the Puerto Vallarta vibe. The north side of the Malecón starts off at Hotel Rosita and ends by the Amphitheater beside the Plaza de Armas. Attractions include local artwork, statues, seaside artists, shopping, restaurants, bars, and the perfect vantage point from which to view the legendary Pacific Coast sunsets. After 10 pm, the Malecón also becomes the heart of Puerto Vallarta nightlife, as entertainment spills out into the streets for all to enjoy. The South side of the Malecón includes the Rio Cuale crafts market, and the colorful Los Muertos Pier, which make the perfect backdrop for a selfie.
Visiting the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe
If you've seen any picture of Puerto Vallarta, then you are sure to recognize this iconic landmark. Dominating Vallarta's downtown skyline, this gorgeous red brick cathedral is best-known for the golden crown that sits atop. Not only is it great for souvenirs photos, but visitors will get an inside (and free) glimpse into one of the most important monuments of the city and the spiritual center of the Catholics in town. Surrounding the church is always a frenetic hum of activity. Vendors selling foods, sweets, souvenirs and more can be found on nearby streets and across from the church in the city's main square.
Taking a DIY Centro Historico Art Walk
Puerto Vallarta has established itself as a center of the creation, exhibition, and promotion of art. An important contribution to the city's art scene is the weekly ArtWalk, which is held every Wednesday from 6 to 10 pm during the winter months. Summertime offers visitors the opportunity to do the tour on their own and visit nearby galleries that are not included in the regular ArtWalk schedule. Most all of the art galleries in the city's Historic Center exhibit works by important national and international artists.
Hiking to the Cerro de La Cruz Mirador
Get a bird's eye view of Puerto Vallarta's historic downtown, the Church, the Hotel Zone, and sweeping views of the Bay of Banderas from this cliff top perch. The locals know of it as a place for recreation, relaxation, and meditation, and visitors love it for its perfect photography vantage point. Getting to the top is not for the faint of heart, but it is completely worth the trek. Follow Josefa Ortiz de Dominguez Street, a straight uphill route to reach the top. Another route is following Abasolo Street, which starts from the Malecón and works its way up.
Exploring the Zona Romantica
One of the most beautiful and best-preserved sections of Puerto Vallarta is its historic Zona Romantica. Here visitors will find the iconic cobblestone streets, terra-cotta roofs, historic buildings, and winding roads that lead up into the lush, jungled hillsides. The state of Jalisco has named Puerto Vallarta's historic center a protected Cultural Heritage area, as well. The best part? Wandering is free and every vantage point provides a picture perfect Instagrammable moment.
Discovering Vallarta's Many Beaches
The majority of beaches in Mexico are public and, therefore, free. While it might cost money to rent a beach chair at one of the various beach clubs, visitors can BYO-anything and camp out on an empty stretch of sand for an afternoon soaking up the sun and enjoying gorgeous views of Banderas Bay, or splashing around in its calm, cool water. Some of the best beaches in Puerto Vallarta are Playa Los Muertos, Playa Las Gemelas, and Playa Mismaloya.