Ahhh, Mexico. Beautiful beaches, friendly people, and tacos tacos tacos. What more can you ask for? We shared the Sayulita portion of our trip a while back but I couldn’t leave out Puerto Vallarta! We always take a trip somewhere for our anniversary, and this year we chose Puerto because we kind of just wanted to post up in a beautiful resort and… chill. And while we definitely did do that, you know that the adventurer in me ended up wanting to wander a bit. So here’s our travel guide to Puerto Vallarta — the lazy, kid-friendly, easy-breezy travel guide. 😉 xoxo
Get In and Around
Puerto Vallarta has a pretty decent airport — it’s easy to fly into and has lots of direct flights from major cities. (Coming from LA it’s only a 2 1/2 hour flight!) Most people fly in and get a cab or shuttle to their resort or hotel. We chose to rent a car because we were taking some day trips and we had the kiddos with us. FYI, Herz rentals provided really nice, brand new carseats for a daily fee, if you’re looking for a place that’s kid-friendly. If you don’t rent a car, you can pretty much take cabs everywhere.
If you’re staying in the hotel zone, it’s a little bit of a hike to get to any restaurants or shopping that’s nearby. So just keep that in mind as you’re looking at places to stay. There are about a zillion beautiful resorts and hotels, and even more VRBO-type places to rent. We rented a condo in Velas Vallarta, which is a super kid-friendly resort. The grounds are so lush and beautiful, and the plant life on the resort is insane. It has three pools, one of which is two feet deep and perfect for kiddos. The other pools have swim-up bars, waterfalls, loungers, and more adult-type stuff. There was a kids’ club with lots of activities, animal shows, craft projects, and more. It’s right on the beach with plenty of shade umbrellas and lounge chairs, so you can stay comfortable while you enjoy the sand and surf.
Especially if you’re staying at a resort, don’t pack much. A couple of swimsuits, a few coverups, and maybe some breezy dresses for going out. Don’t forget your sunnies (the ones I’m wearing below are from Smart Buy Glasses).
The food scene in Puerto was surprisingly fun! We tried everything from hole-in-the-wall local spots to fine dining, and had a great time exploring it all. Here are a few faves.
La Leche This was our anniversary meal, kids and all! La Leche is a cavernous, all-white space with a menu that changes nightly. The servers will come to your table and explain each dish to help you choose. Get the Pollito Amarillo for sure.
Yogi Bar I loved this spot; it was a little “rabbit-food-y” for Ryan. Think smoothie bowls, matcha waffles, avocado toast, and the like. It’s attached to a yoga studio too, so you can take a class and then grab a snack.
La Federal A great spot if you want really good Mexican food but are a little wary of the local spots. They have two-for-one beers on happy hour and the best enchiladas suizas I’ve ever had.
Pie in the Sky Just down the block from La Federal, stop at Pie in the Sky to take home some cake for dessert.
Lunch at the pool! One of my favorite things to do ended up being just ordering food while we were in the pool and eating poolside. Our resort had a pretty basic lunch menu (burgers, quesadillas, nachos, salads), but sometimes it hit the spot and if you’ve got kids with you it’s just so easy.
Shop and Do
I’ll be the first to admit we didn’t get too adventurous during our stay in Puerto. I mean, you can really go all out — zoo, botanical gardens, sea turtle releases, swimming with dolphins, ziplining. But that just wasn’t our vibe this time. Here’s the stuff we did do and would recommend.
Stroll the Malecon and take in all the sights. There are bunches of really cool statues, touristy shops, and lots of good spots to stop and have a bite or a drink. Once you get to the end by the arches, stroll into the town square and wander into the cathedral.
Explore Old Town. If you wander up and away from the main street, Old Town has so many beautiful little twists and turns. Be ready to climb some stairs. We were there during the low season, so lots of the local restaurants we wanted to try were closed. But be sure to take a stroll down Basilio Badillo and go into the shops and restaurants.
Hit up the Isla Rio Cuale flea market. It’s an island in the middle of the river (you have to try getting there by walking over the rickety suspended bridges, it’ll give you a little thrill) with stalls and stalls of souvenirs. Lots of it is tacky and fun, but there’s also some really great stuff. Just like in , my favorites were the embroidered hearts and pompom garlands. There are quite a few things that are actually handmade and really great quality, so keep your eyes peeled. And be ready to bargain.
Go on a photo hunt! Puerto totally surprised me with its happening mural scene — wander around downtown and snap photos in front of your faves! Also, don’t miss taking a picture of at least one pink sunset.