Old Town, Puerto Vallarta
Old Town is definitely the place to be. You will feel like you are really in Mexico, unlike some the places with walled off beach areas to the north. Why go to Mexico if you don't want to experience anything Mexican? Our favorite places to hang out on the beach are Epoca and Cuates y Cuetas. At Epoca, you can sit under a palapa in the sand and have your every need catered to. At Cuates y Cuetas, sit at the plank bar and talk to whoever joins you there. It's a great way to meet some ex-pats, tourists, and locals. If you're a beer drinker, order a cubeta (bucket) of beer in ice for a better price. Both places offer two for one Margueritas beginning at 4 PM.
Old Town offers a multitude of great places to eat. We love Olla's, the Fajita Republic, and the Italian restaurant on Olas Altas for dinner. The Andale is great for breakfast and, of course, is just fun, fun, fun after dark. The little beach restaurant tucked next to the north side of the Playa Los Arcos hotel is also an excellent place for breakfast. Freddy's Tucan is a not to be missed breakfast place, too.
Don't be afraid to wander the town. Walk up the hill away from the beach. The number of English speakers decline, but these people are wonderful and patient as they try to communicate, and they really appreciate any business you give them. If you want 5 t-shirts for 100 pesos, walk up the hill. There are great rotisserie chicken and potato stalls where you can buy dinner early and take it back to your room in thermal bags for dinner later. There are small fish and shrimp taco restaurants. If you have never had a fish taco, you have to try one. Just be careful of the hot sauce. It can be really hot!!
After dark, go to the Andale. If you're lucky, they will bring in Alice the donkey, and you can take a ride if you've had enough to drink. LOL Wander toward the south end of the beach along Olas Altas, plop yourself down on a white sofa, and sample a martini in a bar near the "gay section" of the beach.
We just love Old Town and can't imagine staying anywhere else!
I unfortunately didn't make it to the Old Town part of Puerta Vallarta. Some people I was traveling with were to hung over to make it any further.
But if you are downtown and make it as far as the flea market area. You'll know, just cross the bridge and continue on into this beautiful part of the city.
I am still kicking myself for going exploring it myself.
It is famous for its art. There is a new art walk now as well. Put on your comfortable shoes and head down to Basilio Badillo and follow the crowds to the first Old Town Art Walk of the season. Brochures available at many of the restaurants and galleries in the area. The art walks are a fantastic way to see some of the local and world reknowned artists, as well as sample some cocktails and wine. Keep your credit card handy, Vallarta is known for its abunadance of world class art in multiple mediums.
This is one museum that is worth stopping by while visiting the old town. You will learn a lot about the history of Puerto Vallarta during your visit (a whole section of the museum is dedicated to the city of Puerto Vallarta).
I was really impressed with the permanent collection of cartography (you will see a drawing of the first whole world map and also of Puerto Vallarta; both of them go back to the 16th century), documents, images, navigation instruments, etc.
If you do not speak Spanish (as in our case!), they will hand you a book in English that will help you a lot during your visit. I was really impressed to see a drawing of the
You can not take pictures inside the museum, except out in the hallway and upstairs, where they host temporary exhibits.
There is also a small cafeteria upstairs where you can eat a sandwich and drink something if you want to.
They do not charge admission and the staff is very friendly! The museum is closed on Monday.
You will know you reached one of the ends of the island when you see the Centro Cultural Cuale in front of you. They organize some cool art classes here, so if you feel like attending one, check out their schedule. If my Spanish would have been a little bit better, I would have give it a try, just for fun. After you are done taking pictures here, walk past the building and enjoy the panorama!
He is the one that put Puerto Vallarta on the map, so you have to stop by and take a picture with the guy!
Our first walk on the island was very early in the morning (around 8am), therefore we were the only ones there. This allowed us to really enjoy the island, its sights and to take great pictures!
I would say that no trip to Puerto Vallarta is complete without a walk to Isla Rio Cuale. It is a very nice place to go to for a stroll or for shopping, especially early in the morning (you will have the island pretty much to yourself until 10am) or in the evening (it is one of the coolest spots in town and this comes in as a blessing especially when it's hot and humid outside!).
One fun thing to do is to walk at least on one of the swinging suspension bridges that cross over the river.
Here is a photo of Liz Taylor's old getaway.
She ran of to visit Richard Burton, who was filming the 1964 Tennesse Williams movie, Night of the Iguana. Back then, Liz Taylor was married to Eddie Fisher, who had an affair and left Debbie Reynolds. Fisher and the Reynolds are the parents of Jolie Fisher, who was in the tv show Ellen....and also the parents of Carrie Fisher.....whom everyone knows was Princess Leia from Star Wars.
On the Playa de Los Muertos, there are several thatch hut style restaurants. The one I ate at I believe was called El Burro or something like that. I am not sure of the name. They were having a two for one special on Margarita's when I was there on Saturday afternoon. I also had an enchilada plate that was good but nothing special.
I ended up having 4 margaritas and chatted with a nice couple from Colorado who were staying for a month and gave me some tips on things to see.
The waitresses were rather cute and could be rather persuasive in getting you to get a second round. I had only planned on having 2, but after the waitress told me, "Your a big strong guy, you can handle 2 more", what could I do. I was on vacation afterall, so why not : )
There are loads of opportunities to take a short or long pony trek. The missus and I took anb hour's trek just outside of the main area and along a bit of countryside.
We picked up our "cowboy" and his ponies actually in the Old Town area of PV, where a number of them are available and waiting for tourist who want to play cowboy for a half hour or more.
The trek was enjoyable but BEWARE - the saddles are made of wood!
My favorite thing was to go to the Malecon area and just hang out. The first three nights I was there, there were musical performers, comedians ( I don't speak spanish, but judging by the laughter of those who do they must have been good ), dancers, food and drink vendors and so on.
Everyone there is very laid back and friendly, dancing, eating, socializing, drinking, and so on. After a couple of beers I even joined in a little in the dancing. I am sure they thought, " Oh my goodness, look at the clumsy gringo with 2 left feet" HA!!
If you go a couple of blocks inland from the beach, you are in the midst of the local neighborhoods. I really enjoyed just strolling around them and seeing folks going about their everyday life.
One fascinating thing is the social aspect of their living arrangements. As you walk down the sidewalk, people will have their living quarters opened up to the street, as they hang out, socialize, play cards, whatever. It seems to be very inviting for the neighbors to drop by, chat, join the card game whatever.
These folks seem to generally pretty poor, but seem to make the most of what they have and to enjoy the simple pleasures in life.
This picture is a great example. These girls are chasing one another with a fallen tree limb and seemed to be having a great time.
We went to the beach daily while in Vallarta and every day we went to the same spot on la Playa de los Muertos, 'the Beach'. This place is actually a beach restaurant/bar, but by ordering a couple drinks throughout the day you could lounge in their chairs or under their umbrellas for free and be within feet of the ocean. The Beach is located towards the southern end of la Playa de los Muertos and feels a little more private. The Beach and its neighbor, the Blue Chairs, are gay-friendly establishments.
I would say that the Plaza Principal is the heart of Vallarta. Look towards the ocean and you will see the outdoor ampitheatre and a picturesque row of arches. The Malecon, a broad pedestrian pathway, stretches north from here along the beach and is fringed by clubs, restaurants, and shops. To the east is el Templo de Guadalupe church with its ornate crown topped spire. During the first part of December, processions for the Virgen take place daily to this church leading up the the festival of the Virgen de Guadalupe on the 12th. All of this makes the Plaza a great place for people watching and a good place to begin exploring Vallarta.
Here is one of Puerto Vallarta's most famous landmark, the church of the lady Guadalupe.
It is said that people travelled many miles carrying stones , that was added for the construction of this magnificant church.
I enjoyed just walking around town, both by myself and with part of a tour group, looking at the city which was obviously not originally built to accommodate motor vehicles.
I enjoyed the juxtaposition of the old and the modern, the things that spoke of real life to someone who felt too much of a "tourist". Next time I return I want to stay closer to the heart of Puerta Vallerta.