Our family outing to Puerto Vallarta Mexico was a very special one for us. It was our first trip over seas with baby Lee and also our first trip with absolutely NO babysitters to tag along. Surprisingly I expected it to be tougher. But our little ladies went easy on us and we had one of the most memorable trips yet in Puerto Vallarta Mexico.
We spent half of our trip in the big resort area of Riviera Nayarit in Nuevo Vallarta and made our home base in Paradise Village Beach Resort. Puerto Vallarta is actually just a short twenty minute drive from Nuevo Vallarta, and although they are both neighboring towns, they are actually situated in the two completely separate Mexican states Jalisco and Nayarit.
We came to Puerto Vallarta specifically to spend some time in downtown Puerto Vallarta where all of the action is, and to immerse ourselves into the Mexican beach town. Although while traveling with a 2 year old toddler and 5 month old infant, we definitely wanted a sanctuary with all of the amenities that comes with a full service resort. Most of the full service resorts are located outside of the downtown area, so we opted to stay three days in a really great boutique hotel called Playa Los Arcos which is ideally located, right at the heart of the romantic zone. We had a timeshare at our sanctuary in Paradise Village for the entire week, so we had a place to retreat to in case staying downtown was too overwhelming.
When we arrived from our flight into Puerto Vallarta International Airport, we took a taxi straight to Paradise Village. Paradise Village is an extremely family friendly resort with numerous activities and fun for kids of all ages. They have a kids zone area, two large pools with slides and a rope bridge, numerous beachside palapas for mom and dad, 7 restaurants, a marina, a zoo and a shopping mall with a supermarket just 5 minutes away by foot. The food on-site was pretty bleh so we spent most nights taking a taxi for 30 pesos to many of the nearby restaurants.
The plan was to spend 3 days and 2 nights in the romantic zone/Old Vallarta and I have to say that it was definitely the highlight of our trip. There is really so much to do and so much beauty to digest. Just about every street is lined with cobblestone, with bright colorful flowers, vines and trees lining them. Most cafes and restaurants set up outdoor dining areas on the sidewalk which was great for dining and people watching.
You have dining options on the street, on the beach or on the beautiful mountainside overlooking the town. We spent one day eating with our toes in the sand and then the next on the mountainside overlooking the Bahia de Banderas. We chose two of the most popular restaurants for scenic dining to have sunset dinners while in Puerto Vallarta: Vista Grill and Casa Isabel. Both had beautiful vistas to enjoy at sunset, but if I can only choose one to go back to, it would hands down be Vista Grill. The food and service was far above expectation and the view was slightly better than Casa Isabel.The town itself is by no means stroller friendly. The cobblestone streets, narrow sidewalks and crowds of people make it almost impossible to navigate even a small stroller. Although the nearby Malecon and Rio Cuale markets have plenty of space and flat surface to comfortably stroll around in. We would spend half a day strolling the Malecon, going in and out of shops, and then use the Bjorn and Ergo carriers to later venture into town.
We felt completely safe at all times, although we did not venture out past the busy areas at night. During the day we were a bit more adventurous and ventured through the smaller, residential neighborhoods in the mountainside above the Rio Cuale river. I have to add that it was probably one of my favorite experiences while staying there.
It seems the populous of downtown Puerto Vallarta is largely consisted of retired expats and tourists, and the local Mexican population here are the nicest I’ve encountered in our trips to this beautiful country. Hopefully one day we can come back with babysitters and take part in the late night fun.
As I write this I am already missing Puerto Vallarta. There was so much we explored and yet so much we still have missed in the short time we got to spend there. Puerto Vallarta is definitely a “return to” destination for us…. Hopefully next time without a stroller.