Though its initial lures are sun and sand, Puerto Vallarta has much to offer in terms of authentic cultural experiences. Here are some of our favorites.
- The Taco Tour: As filling as it sounds, this tour is led by charming, erudite guides who not only take you to the best taquerias in town (carts and sit-down restaurants, where you'll try a variety of salsas and fillings), but also a tortilla factory, a bakery, and a produce market. When you're not eating, you'll be learning about the culture of the city from locals who know how to keep their audience's full attention. For information, contact Vallarta Eats Food Tours.
- Seeing Huichol Art: Vibrant, intricately crafted, and filled with centuries-old symbols, the art of the indigenous peoples of Jalisco, Nayarit, and Durango is moving to see (and usually not too expensive to buy). We highly recommend stopping by Peyote People—and now you know where some of the inspiration for the art comes from—to see the artworks for yourself and chat with the expert staff.
- Strolling the Malecón: Locals and visitors alike come out each afternoon and evening to promenade along this seaside walkway. It runs by the beach for roughly 11 blocks in downtown Puerto Vallarta, is lined with works of public art, and, in high season, is bustling with vendors and street performers.
- Exploring Old Town Puerto Vallarta: Originally a small fishing and pearl-diving village, Puerto Vallarta only grew into a major port city in the 19th century. The centerpiece of the older part of the city is Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, a handsome structure with a crown on its tower designed to look like one worn by Queen Carlotta of Mexico. You'll find cute little boutiques, cafes, restaurants, and B&Bs throughout this pedestrian-friendly neighborhood.
- Taking a Cooking Class: Shopping at the open market (an experience in and of itself) is followed by a hands-on cooking class, during which participants make a range of specialties from Jalisco and elsewhere in Mexico. A tequila tasting is included, so the experience is not only educational but a heckuva lot of fun. More information at Cookin' Vallarta.