5 Reasons To Spend Christmas In Puerto Vallarta

Let’s face it, the holidays can be stressful. One way to escape the stress and immerse yourself in the joy of the holiday season is to head to Puerto Vallarta for a tropical Christmas getaway.

 

The Perfect Place To Christmas Shop

Skip Black Friday and Cyber Monday this year and wait to do your holiday shopping in PV. Look beyond the average vacation chochkies and bring back gifts of tequila, coffee, candy, cigars, pottery, textiles, clothing, jewelry, and more. As an added bonus you are likely to spend a bit less on your gift budget, but you may need to check an extra bag on your return flight home.

Christmas In Puerto Vallarta-Mexican Vacation

 

A True Vacation

Most of us have time off for Christmas and New Year’s so why not use them to travel? It’s not that spending time with or traveling to visit family isn’t important, but if it’s been a while since you’ve had a real vacation—a holiday away can be a nice change of pace. Spend part of your time on the beach resting and relaxing but be sure to schedule in some fun-filled excursions and activities.

Warm Weather

Whether it’s just you and your partner, your immediate family, or a full family vacation—you will enjoy at least a few days away from the cold. Even if you live in a fairly warm climate where winter blues are a non-issue spending Christmas in Mexico is a nice change of pace.

Warm Weather

Whether it’s just you and your partner, your immediate family, or a full family vacation—you will enjoy at least a few days away from the cold. Even if you live in a fairly warm climate where winter blues are a non-issue spending Christmas in Mexico is a nice change of pace.

Christmas In Puerto Vallarta-Delicious Food

Delicious Food

While you certainly want to enjoy as much regional cuisine as you can during your holiday vacation, you still want Christmas to feel like Christmas—and there’s no better way than with a traditional turkey dinner. Many hotels and resorts host holiday dinners, with a fan favorite being Casa Isabel. Several restaurants in town such as Daiquiri Dicks and River Café also have prefix holiday menus. Reservations are required and be sure to confirm that it is a turkey dinner or a special Christmas menu.

Christmas in Vallarta-New Year's Fireworks

 

Christmas Pilgrimage

If you are Catholic or Christian or have always wanted to experience a religious pilgrimage firsthand, you can while in Vallarta. There are daily pilgrimages from December 1 to December 12, celebrating Día de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe—the Festival of Guadalupe. Guadalupe is the patron saint of Mexico. The final pilgrimage to the Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe is the largest pilgrimage. There are fireworks, music, and fiestas downtown and throughout the city on the 12.

Las Posadas begins on December 16 and ends on Christmas Eve. This includes a reenactment of the journey of Mary and Joseph as they search for an inn. The Noche Bueno on Christmas Eve is the final mass, a midnight mass.

While there’s no chance of a White Christmas in Mexico you can create holiday memories you will cherish for years to come. Feliz Navidad!

Where Should You Stay On Your Next Puerto Vallarta Vacation?

Puerto Vallarta and the nearby Nuevo Vallarta have something for travelers of every age, interest, and budget. One of the first things you must consider is where to stay during your Mexican getaway. Here’s what to consider when deciding where to stay.

Where Should You Stay On Your Puerto Vallarta Vacation-Resorts And All-Inclusive

Resorts And All-Inclusives

The great thing about all-inclusives is that you don’t have to do much in terms of planning. You can genuinely spend all of your time at your resort lounging at the pool, swimming at their private beachfront, enjoying 5-star meals, and leaving only to go on their add-on excursions. This is perfect for anyone who is stressed to the max and doesn’t want to think much about where to go and what to do. While you may enjoy the rest and relaxation, the downside is that you may spend your entire vacation at your resort without experiencing the unique culture that makes our region so special. At the very least take an Uber or taxi downtown at least once.

Where Should You Stay On Your Puerto Vallarta Vacation-Airbnb and Vacation Rentals

Airbnb And Vacation Rentals

Living like a local is one of the immersive travel benefits of booking an Airbnb, but most Airbnb’s in PV are in buildings that cater to tourists. Not all, but most. You can find an excellent mix of options some as low as $20 per night for travelers on a budget. This would include studio apartments and renting out spare rooms in a local’s home. You can also find luxury rentals of every kind on Airbnb, with the average price being around $75 per night for condos and small homes—some exceed $1,000 per night. If you are in town during low season expect to find luxury rentals at rock bottom prices. That being said, the cheaper the accommodations don’t forget to confirm if there is hot water, Wi-Fi, AC, towels, linens, and other basic amenities. Be sure to read the reviews and ask a few essential questions before you book.

Most vacation rental companies are geared toward luxury travel but are more likely to have the full range of amenities you desire—like a swimming pool or view of the bay. If you are staying for more than a week or two this is usually the way to go.

For super low budget there are plenty of hostels in the area.

Where Should You Stay On Your Puerto Vallarta Vacation-Mid-Range Hotels

 

Mid-Range Hotels

There is a long list of mid-range hotels, some global brands you know and love—others locally owned gems. These are an excellent choice for travelers who have yet to branch out to individual rentals but want a more immersive experience than a resort. You will find that many of the high-rated boutique hotels in town are only 3-star. This is because you may not find all of the amenities that come standard in most 4 and 5-star hotels. For example, no designated parking, no elevator, no restaurant or bar, no room service, or no fitness room. That being said, I can think of 20+ luxurious 3-star hotels with pools, Wi-Fi, and AC right on or just a few blocks from the beach. Just be sure to inquire if they have the amenities you prefer. Be sure to ask if they have private cabanas. 

 

Last but not least, with the high volume of snowbirds Puerto Vallarta is a pet-friendly city so it is easier to find hotels and accommodations that accept pets than in most cities you travel to. Just be sure to ask before you book.

Gay Pride Puerto Vallarta 2018—What You Need To Know!

It’s exciting enough booking your tickets to an international Pride but even more exciting this year as Gay Pride Puerto Vallarta 2018 falls during Restaurant Week and the 100th Anniversary of our great city—which is why this year’s Pride theme is “100 Reasons to Celebrate”. A city put on the map by Elizabeth Taylor herself after filming the 1964 movie Night of the Iguana, PV has much to offer. Here’s what you need to know!

Where To Stay?

It’s up to you as there is no shortage of boutique hotels, LGBT-friendly resorts, and Airbnb’s in Zona Romantica (The Romantic Zone) which is the equivalent of a Chicago-esq Boystown. Amazing restaurants, shopping, and just 1 block from the beach. There are also some excellent resorts in nearby Conchas Chinas which is just a short cab or Uber ride away, but rethink staying in Nuevo Vallarta. While the resorts there are amazing, you will be pretty far from the action—unless that is what you prefer.

Gay Pride Puerto Vallarta 2018--What To Do In PV

What To Do In Puerto Vallarta?

Puerto Vallarta 2018 Pride runs from May 20th to May 27th. The full calendar of Pride events can be found here. But what about when you aren’t enjoying the festivities? Here are a few ideas:

  • Book an LGBT excursion. There are many to choose from.
  • Take a taxi to Boca and hop on the water taxi to Yelapa.
  • Or also from Boca, get a group and rent a Grumpy Old Men-esq boat (but bigger) for the day, just $10 to $20 USD per person for a drop-off and pick-up at one of the small nearby beaches.
  • Do a guided or self-guided Art Walk, which is an official Pride event on May 23rd.
  • Book an excursion at Bucket List-worthy Islas Marietas Island this is a full 8 hour day.
  • Take a day trip, maybe to Tequila—the Champagne of Mexico, the only place where authentic tequila can be made.
  • If you aren’t staying at a resort purchase a day pass to lounge at the pool of almost any resort or spend the day at the Mantamar Beach Club.
  • Book a guided food tour with Vallarta Food Tours. We are an LGBT-friendly tour company who offers tours of authentic Mexican cuisine. We’ll take you to the hidden gems you probably won’t find on your own. Our 3 hours tours can be done on foot, in a van, or on bicycles. Check out our tour calendar, or book a private tour with a group of friends!

How To Get Around? PV Has Uber!

That’s right if you came to PV Pride last year there was no Uber—but this year there is! That being said, as in many tourist towns, taxi drivers have not embraced Uber. This has led to designated Uber “pickup spots” throughout downtown Vallarta. These pick-up spots are not always convenient. For example, your Uber may be 3 minutes away, but your pickup spot a 5-minute walk away. If you are at your hotel you should be fine—but when out and about a cab may be easier. And due to the taxi/Uber driver tension, there will not be an Uber sticker in the window so look for the license plate number instead.

Before you hop in your cab, be sure to confirm the fare or you may arrive at your destination changed with a steep “gringo tax”.

No need to rent a car in PV.

What To Tip?

Taxis and Ubers don’t need tips unless they have gone above and beyond—helped with your luggage, made an extra stop, or held your hair back when you’ve had too much to drink. At casual dining local spots or street taco stands 10% is fine, but restaurants geared toward tourists 15 or 20 percent is expected. This guide will help with other tipping scenarios.

Can I Drink The Water?

PV has some of the most impressive plumbing and water treatment systems in Mexico but it’s wise to purchase your bottled water. In resorts and almost every restaurant, even the ice will be made from filtered or bottled water. When out and about there are convenience stores everywhere for when you need water on the go.

Drink Too Much?

I know, the last thing you want to do when hungover is eat—but aguachiles is the local hangover cure. Or fight fire with fire and order a Michelada, which is a Mexican Bloody Mary but made with beer.

Can I Use My Phone?

If you are from the US or Canada your phone is likely to work, but make sure you are clear on your international calling rates—or consider upgrading to an international plan for the time you will be here. If you don’t have an international plan learn how to turn off roaming while still accessing your Wi-Fi. Your hotel and most restaurants have Wi-Fi so download What’s App before you leave your home country so that you can call and message friends back home. You can also call and message on Facebook Messenger and Skype.

Gay Pride Puerto Vallarta 2018

Is Puerto Vallarta LGBT Friendly?

Tourism is the primary source of economic income and ongoing growth in Puerto Vallarta. It’s a year-round international LGBT vacation destination, with a growing digital nomad presence, and PV is a popular place for US and Canadian residents to retire or snowbird. So, you will find a mix of everyone. The Romantic Zone (PS I’m from Chicago) is very much like any other LGBT-friendly big city neighborhood—but more vacation-centered. Will you run into the occasional ignorant local or tourists? Yes, just like anywhere in the world. But you can be out and proud in PV. One of the exciting things that gay tourism in Vallarta has created is an LGBT-haven for nationals. For gay Mexicans, Vallarta is an early San Francisco.  For locals, it often begins with a vacation to see if it’s too good to be true, then a move to the city.

Don’t see what you were looking for? Just ask! Shoot us a message on Facebook or call or email.

Happy Pride!

 

 

The Great Holiday of “Day of the Dead”

day of the dead 1
Mexico’s Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is cause for celebration, a time when families pay tribute to beloved members of their families that have passed away.  Taking place over two days – November 1st and 2nd – families congregate, create altars in homage and make ofrendas, or offerings to their deceased. It is not spooky or macabre, but rather reverential – a time when the spirit of the deceased is thought to pay visit to those family members that have been left behind.


Anticipating the Day of the Dead, families clear a section of their home to install an altar comprising of appropriate offerings that reflect both the tradition and the deceased’s individual likes. Offerings could include candles to help light the path, soap to aid the traveling spirit’s clean-up, photos, a favorite beverage such as tequila or beer, food and welcoming flowers.


Among the most popular ofrendas are sugar skulls – colorful sugar skulls hailing from Central and Southern Mexico. The skulls are prepared from a sugar mixture that is pressed into molds and later dried. After the drying, they are decorated with both edible and non-edible decorations.


Pan de Muertos, Bread of the Dead, is a sugary, sweet bread that is eaten by the families of the deceased and sometimes placed on the altar. The bread is molded into a loaf with the top being twisted to resemble bones. The bread is then baked, glazed and covered with colorful sugar.


Another dish, is candied pumpkins made from fresh pumpkin slices that are glazed with piloncillo, made from pure, unrefined sugar that is similar to brown sugar with a molasses flavor. All of this sweetness pairs up perfectly with atole, a warm cup of corn and masa that is meant to nourish and warm the living and the dead.


The festivities continue outside of the families’ homes with a pilgrimage to the cemetery to decorate and clean up gravesites.  Day of the Dead is a fitting celebration of their loved ones that have passed on- a wonderful tribute.
Here in Puerto Vallarta, you will find some of these dishes in the main square by Guadalupe church and  El Arrayan is having a special Dia de los Muertos menu from now until November 3.  Also, Happy Halloween!!

Celebrate Mexican Independence in Puerto Vallarta

September 16th, Mexican Independence Day, is a day of celebration, cultural pride and overall revelry.  The celebration officially kicks off a bit before midnight on September 15th with the grito, or cry, ushering in the festivities.  Meant to symbolize the moment in 1810 that Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, a Catholic priest, declared independence from Spain in Dolores, Guanajuato (now Dolores de Hidalgo), the grito is now reenacted by municipal, state or federal officials throughout Mexico.  President Peña Nieto will do the honors at the Zócalo in Mexico City.

Mexican Independece September 16

Mexican Independence September 16

Here in Puerto Vallarta, the festivities begin on the 15th with various events taking place at the main plaza, including an morning salute of the flag.  The traditional grito takes place before midnight in the main plaza and is followed by fireworks and a street party enjoyed by all!  The following day, the 16th, a civic parade takes place with military and local school bands participating in the patriotic display. 

chiles en nogadaOne of Vallarta Food Tours’s favorite ways to celebrate is do our own Vallarta city walking food tour and hit one of the many local restaurants featuring Mexico’s exquisite cuisine.

We can start with The Red Cabbage for its menu inspired by Frida Kahlo for some delicious chiles en nogada. Then off for some amazing tortilla soup at Gaby’s Restaurant and No Way José for some one-of-a-kind tamales. We can finish it off with one of our favorites, El Arrayán, for some delicious duck carnitas and enjoy a jalapeño margarita. Happy Independence to everyone and VIVA MEXICO! 

Fourth of July in Puerto Vallarta!

Don’t get us wrong, we here at Vallarta Food Tours are absolutely head over heels with Mexico and her exquisite cuisine (none better, if you ask us!), but when American Independence Day rolls around our taste buds start hankering for something a bit more “red, white and blue”. In the United States, July 4th marks not only the country’s hard-fought freedom but a time for families and friends to get together and feast. For us that have the pleasure to live in Puerto Vallarta, we get together with fellow compatriots and head over to some of our favorite spots.

joe jacksWhat could be more American than a juicy burger and mac-and-cheese? Few do it as well as Joe Jack’s Fish Shack. We would be happy with the gravity-defying burger and the creamy, cheesy goodness of their mac-and-cheese, but as if to say “we love you more than all the stars in the sky”, Joe Jack’s offers up a 50% discount, only on July 4th, to all who are privy to two special words: “Tio Sam”. With those two code words, your check is cut in half!

 

 

 

 

Los Muertos Brewing Company, Puerto Vallarta’s only brew pub, is owned by a lovely American couple who know how to celebrate the 4th in style. Not only do they boast one of the area’s best pizzas, but they brew their own beers to great success. Their pizza is wood-fired and deliciously crispy. Their burger is another favorite that you should give a try. This Friday, July 4th, they welcome us and all their esteemed customers to partake in some amazing food and good times. With a hat tip to 1776, year of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Los Muertos offers specials including $17 peso pints! And $76 peso house favorites!
muertos 2

Cinco de Mayo in Vallarta

In the minds of many non-Mexicans, Cinco de Mayo (5th of May) signals a day to bust out the sombreros, head out to your local Mexican joint and enjoy some “adult beverages”, namely tequila and cerveza.  Why not? Celebrating Mexican Independence is important and signals to this warm country that they respect and honor their sovereignty.  One small problem… Cinco de Mayo is not Mexican Independence, the September 16th is. Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Battle of Puebla.  In this battle, an overmatched Mexican army defeated the French, who had invaded the country.  Though its strategic value in terms of war is arguable, the Battle of Puebla symbolized a David vs Goliath moment in the Mexican consciousness.  It became a rallying cry of the strength and ganas (chutzpah) of the Mexican people.
Who doesn’t love it when the underdog wins?  We know we will be celebrating this example of prowess and determination.  We may have a well-crafted Margarita or Mexito (Mojito with tequila) at Fish Shack. Maybe we will saunter beach-front to enjoy a mezcal cucumber concoction at Barracuda’s.  Or maybe we’ll have a frosty Pacífico or the Agave Maria at Los Muertos Brewing.   For some of the best Mexican food head, over to El Arrayán. With this much to celebrate, the possibilities are plentiful in our beautiful Puerto Vallarta. If you decide to celebrate in your home why not do some margaritas popsicles? So many things to do, and too many reasons to celebrate!

margarita 2

 

St. Patrick’s in Puerto Vallarta

With St. Patrick’s Day approaching and the inevitable hankering for Guinness and corned beef and cabbage, we got to thinking of our plans, things to do in Puerto Vallarta on St. Patty’s Day.  Living in Puerto Vallarta, it may not seem like the obvious place to celebrate but then again, how fun is obvious?

My father is of Irish descent and my mother is Mexican. These two cultures certainly don’t seem similar at a glance, but a closer look shows that Irish and Mexicans may have more in common than we thought.  Of course, both are traditionally Catholic countries, have tightly-knit families, are passionate about regional music and let’s just say that maybe they enjoy their adult beverages. Surprisingly for many, they also share a war.

In the Mexican-American War of 1846-48, there was an infantry and artillery unit of Irishmen, headed by John Riley, also know by the Mexican Army as Juan Reley.  Riley formed the Saint Patrick’s Battalion, known to Mexican soldiers as Los Colorados Valientes (The Valiant Reds) and later, Los San Patricios (The Saint Patricks).  Initially, Los San Patricios was made up of 175 soldiers, chiefly Irish, German, English, French immigrants and escaped African slaves.  Soon, the brigade swelled to over 700 men, mostly from Ireland who grew disatisfied with the United States Army.  It is speculated that among the factors leading toward desertion were the mistreatment of immigrant soldiers, a bias against the practice of Catholicism, overall alienation and the lure of higher wages and promise of land.  They also saw their mistreatment mirrored in the behavior of factions of the US occupying forces, including some commanding officers of the Texas Rangers who robbed, raped and murdered.  In addition, they were offended by the Rangers’ desecration of Catholic Churches in Mexico.

San Patricios

Riley held firm that the U.S. reason for war was one of conquest, while Mexico’s was one of defense against foreign intrusion.  Los San Patricios were viewed as traitors by the US and treated as such.  Upon their capture, 72 soldiers were court-martialed and though they were never given representation, were sentenced to death by hanging.  In Mexico, Los San Patricios were and are looked on as heroes and still honored in places like Mexico City that has a street named Martires Irlandeses (Irish Martyrs), Monterrey that has a street named Batallon de San Patricio (Battalion of Saint Patrick) and even a town bearing the name San Patricio, Jalisco.

This St. Patrick’s Day, we may raise a glass to Riley and his battalion for their service to Mexico. We will saunter up to Murphy’s Irish Pub on the Malecón, ask the owner Jon Murphy for a pint, look across our beautiful bay and toast.  Later, we will continue the revelry at the always-hopping St. Patrick’s Day party at Shamrocks in Bucerías.  This event is always packed, always fun and shouldn’t be missed.  In keeping with mixing the two cultures, we will ask for a delicious baked potato at Carboncito with pastor toppings, of course.