Puerto Vallarta’s Malecon is one of the most popular, and walker friendly, spots in town. The Malecon is a picturesque walkway that sits between downtown Puerto Vallarta and the brilliant blue waters of Banderas Bay. Stroll along the Malecon and you’ll see fascinating sculptures, outdoor art galleries, and street vendors selling handcrafts and souvenirs. Restaurants, bars, and nightclubs also line the walkway, making the Malecon one of the best places to be regardless of the time of day. Recent renovations have made the Malecon an even better spot to spend some time. Along with other improvements, the walkway now extends to a new pier at Playa Los Muertos, which closely resembles the unfurled sail of a ship.
Small restaurants, bakeries, cafes, and fascinating shops line the Zona Romantica’s narrow cobblestone streets, giving it the feel of a traditional Mexican town. Similar to the Malecon, this is another ideal place to simply stroll around and take in the colorful flowers and adobe-walled buildings. There are a few spots in or near the Zona Romantica that you must visit, including the Rio Cuale Market, the gorgeous Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and Playa Los Muertos, the most popular beach in Puerto Vallarta.
Marina Vallarta is another great place to go for a casual stroll, especially since it’s within walking distance of Club Regina Puerto Vallarta and Villa Vera Puerto Vallarta. What sets the marina apart, however, is it offers a more modern and upscale experience than the Malecon or the Zona Romantica. Many of Puerto Vallarta’s high-end hotels and resorts are in the marina, which is also home to the Plaza Marina shopping center and an 18-hole golf course. While you’re here, stop in at El Faro Lighthouse Bar and sip on a cocktail while you watch the sun set over Banderas Bay.
Vallarta Botanical Gardens
Nature lovers will find plenty to like about the Vallarta Botanical Gardens, a 20-acre complex located about 30 minutes south of Puerto Vallarta. The garden, founded in 2004, is home to more than 6,000 blue agaves, 1,000 native tabebuia, mountain pine and mahogany trees, and Mexican orchids. You can see many of these trees and flowers by exploring the garden’s hiking trails or embarking on a guided tour. Once you build up your appetite, you can get a bite to eat and enjoy unparalleled views of nearby mountains at the gardens’ on-site restaurant, Hacienda de Oro.
San Sebastian del Oeste
San Sebastian del Oeste is a charming Mexican pueblo tucked into a rolling tree-covered valley surrounded by the Sierra Madre Mountains. The town’s cobblestone streets and adobe-walled buildings make it look as if it hasn’t changed since it was founded in the 1600s. As such, this is a great place to go to escape the hustle and bustle of Puerto Vallarta while admiring the stunning scenery. Hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, and bird watching are popular pastimes. Due to the high altitude (4,500 feet), you’ll also see some spectacular star-filled night skies.