The narrow yet busy streets of Puerto Vallarta, sloping down gently from the hills towards the sparkling Banderas Bay, is as vibrant in the daytime as it is at night when the city lights up for another long exciting night ahead. On the Malecon (boardwalk), the city’s famous nightlife seem to go on forever, but with the rising sun comes a slew of kid-friendly activities and attractions that draw families to this destination.
Spend an incredible three-day weekend in this charming part of Mexico’s Pacific side and discover an energetic city that proudly celebrates its cultural traditions.
Day 1: Swimming, Shopping at the Malecon & A Serenade
Morning: Begin your Puerto Vallarta weekend at the family-friendly, all-inclusive Velas Vallarta. Nestled in an exclusive neighborhood just a short drive away from downtown Puerto Vallarta, the tropical, hacienda-style resort offers families affordable luxury with beautiful views of the bay, and enough activities and amenities to keep the kids happy and occupied. An easy morning with the kids is necessary after your flight so take a dip in the pool or wade along the lazy river, then sample some of the a la carte dishes at the waterfront La Ribera Steakhouse for poolside dining. Remember to take in the beautiful tropical garden and its koi ponds, and keep your eyes peeled for the resort’s elusive white peacocks.
Afternoon: Take a cab down to the Malecon and indulge in some shopping with the kids. While touristy, the boardwalk has a number of stores that sell locally made products to take home after your visit. At sundown, head back to the resort for a lovely dinner at Andrea Restaurant, and let a brilliant mariachi band serenade you.
Day 2: Snorkeling, Kayaking, and Exploring a Small Remote Village
Morning: Start your day early with a hearty, Mexican breakfast on your bougainvillea-decorated balcony as you take in the beautiful view of the Pacific. And then get ready for an unforgettable boat tour around the bay with tour operator Vallarta Adventures. Snorkel and kayak in a stunning clear blue cove where a chance encounter with a wild stingray or an indigenous eel is possible.
Afternoon: Visit the truly authentic village of Yelapa, accessible only by boat, and breathe it all in. Hike up to the waterfalls and wade in the refreshingly cool pool, explore its streets to see the brightly painted houses and meet the curious locals, and then head down to the beach to try some paragliding if you’re feeling brave. Later, grab chairs and an umbrella, and just watch the world go by.
Evening: Evening entertainment at Velas Vallarta is a good way to cap the night so whether its Circus Night or a Mime Show or Mexican Fiesta, make sure to take the kids to the resort lobby after dinner for drinks and a show.
Day 3: Yoga on the Beach and the Marina
Morning: Stretch your weary muscles with morning yoga on the jetty at the beach, and then have the soothing signature massage at the SPA at Velas Vallarta, also right there on the jetty, as you fall asleep to the sounds of the ocean. Then get the kids ready for a morning exploration of downtown Puerto Vallarta. Visit Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, take notice of the surreal statues, and walk the cobbled streets to find a good, local restaurant that serves brunch and offers a scenic view of the water and the boardwalk.
Afternoon: Explore Marina Vallarta in the afternoon, where not just shops and restaurants await. A waterpark and the El Faro (the lighthouse) are also highlights, as is the 18-hole championship golf course. Indulge in seafood dishes, do more shopping (your tween and teen girls will love the locally made hammocks) and, if there’s time, splash around in the large waterpark’s slides and wave pool for an ideal, kid-friendly ending to your perfect Puerto Vallarta weekend.
Michelle Rae Uy contributed this to MiniTime. She is a travel writer based in Los Angeles and MiniTime’s Head of Content, who spends her free time on adventures and film photography.