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!

5 Foods You Have To Try On Your Next Trip To Vallarta

Your heading to Mexico so we will assume that street tacos and Tequila are on your list of things to do, but you might be wondering what other foods you should try while you are here? Below is a list of 5 regional and classic Mexican foods that even if you’ve had outside of Mexico—you must try in Puerto Vallarta!

Seafood Restaurants In Pitillal

Ceviche

If raw fish isn’t your thing we urge you to have at least one bite of a freshly caught ceviche. Marinated in each restaurants signature blend you simply can’t go wrong. An excellent option for first timers is to head to our food tour partner Joe Jack’s Fish Shack for their ceviche sampler. They serve traditional regional Corvina bass, shrimp aguachile, shrimp and octopus, and tuna poke. If not, ceviche give fresh shucked oysters or clams a try.

5 Foods You Have To Try On Your Next Trip To Vallarta-Birria

Birria

Other than tortilla soup, soups and stews might not really come to mind when you think of Mexican food—but you must try at least one or two while you’re here. What I love is that Mexican soups are so different than soup back home giving you a whole new culinary experience. One of the regional specialties is birria, which is a spicy meat stew made with goat, lamb, or sometimes beef. What makes this slow-braised stew so special is each restaurant’s signature spice blend. Like most Mexican soup, it can be topped with onions, cilantro, and lime juice. While common as a stew our food tour partner Robles Birria Tacos serves it in delicious tacos. A must-visit taco stand you may not have found on your own.

5 Foods You Have To Try On Your Next Trip To Vallarta-Mole

Mole

You may have had mole before but if you have never tried it in Mexico then it must be at the top of your list. Mole can be served for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Every restaurant has a family recipe that has been passed down through the generations with some containing upward of 100 ingredients. While similar each recipe is unique so it’s worth trying a couple of different restaurants.

5 Foods You Have To Try On Your Next Trip To Vallarta-Corn

Corn Many Different Ways

You’ve certainly had corn many times before but there are a few corn dishes you must try while in Vallarta. Corn tortillas will be served with your tacos but give the corn dishes below a try too.

Huitlacoche: this is a delicacy sometimes referred to as corn mushrooms or the Mexican truffle. It is a fungus that grows on corn, which is often turned into an enchilada sauce or soup you will be daydreaming about. Don’t think fungus sounds good? Trust me. Besides we eat cheese and mushroom without second thought.

Pozole: a simple but delicious corn hominy soup made with chicken or pork. Clear pozole is not spicy, red pozole has a bit of kick. Top with lettuce, radishes, lime juice, onion, and cilantro.

Corn On The Cob: you must try a fresh grilled corn on the cob while you are here, seasoned with lime and salt. If not corn on the cob give elotes a try—which is fresh grilled corn with crema (a Mexican sour cream) and cotija a crumbly cheese. It is then topped with your choice in spices—lime juice, salt, and a spice blend. Both will be found by street vendors.

Atole: this hot corn beverage is often served during festivals to celebrate. Made by toasting masa and adding cinnamon, vanilla, and local fruit juice like coconut or pineapple. It’s more of a dessert than a beverage.

5 Foods You Have To Try On Your Next Trip To Vallarta-Mexican Coffee5 Foods You Have To Try On Your Next Trip To Vallarta-Jamaica Agua Fresca

To Drink

There is a long list of drinks to choose from both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. Here are just a few to prioritize:

Non-Alcoholic:

Agua Fresca: a fresh fruit-infused water with Jamaica (hibiscus flowers) being a favorite.

Coconut water: fresh right out of the coconut.

Limonada: fresh lime juice with a local sparkling mineral water. Can also be made with orange juice as a naranjada.

Coffee: if you are a coffee lover skip Starbucks and head to the local coffee shops, most of which sell the beans they brew.

Alcoholic:

Tequila: a tequila tasting is a must, preferably one that includes the difference between Tequila, Mezcal and Raicilla. Or head to the town of Tequila which is only about 4 hours away.

Margaritas: if straight tequila is not your thing do a margarita instead. Since you’re on vacation upgrade to a top-shelf tequila.

Micheladas: a spicy beer-like Bloody Mary often topped with shrimp, carrots, and jimica.

One of the easiest ways to try most of the food on this list is to book a 3-hour tour with Vallarta Food Tours. Book on the first day or two of your trip so that you can head back to the restaurants you enjoyed most.

Things To Do On Your Extended Stay In Puerto Vallarta

If you are a snowbird, retiree, or digital nomad who will be staying in Puerto Vallarta for more than a week or two—you need to find a way to fill your days. Certainly, cycle through the tourist attractions you want to see but also consider a few of the ideas below.

Things To Do On Your Extended Stay In Puerto Vallarta-Facebook Groups

Join A Facebook Group Or Two

The local Facebook groups can help to answer many of your pressing questions, as well as help you meet other international travelers, and find out what is going on in and around town. Two of the most popular are Expats in Puerto Vallarta and Expats Living in Mexico. There are also multiple Facebook groups for those looking for real estate or rentals.

Things To Do On Your Extended Stay In Puerto Vallarta-Take A Class

 

Take A Class

Keep your eyes open for classes that interest you. Stop by the Vallarta Cultural Center or Vallarta Art to check for classes in painting, sculpting, lithography, photography, pottery, guitar, piano, violin, drums, dance, and more.  Take belly dancing at Studio Alika, an authentic Mexican cooking class, and check the lectures and discussions at The Boutique Theater—where you can also find some great shows. There are many yoga studios in town, some of which offer beachfront yoga.

Things To Do On Your Extended Stay In Puerto Vallarta-Learn Spanish

 

Learn Español

If you aren’t already fluent in Spanish, your extended stay in Puerto Vallarta is the perfect time to learn—or expand your vocabulary. With tourism being the city’s largest stream of revenue you will find that it is easy to get away without speaking much Spanish, but you will also find locals to be patient and helpful as you practice. Look for private tutors, take classes online, or sign up for group lessons. Be sure to download a translation app.

The Best Seafood In Puerto Vallarta

Make A List Of Restaurants You Want To Try

There are hundreds of restaurants to choose from and you are sure to quickly find a few favorites. However, don’t get stuck in the trap of repetition when there is so much amazing regional cuisine to enjoy. One easy way to sample several of our best restaurants at once is to take one of Vallarta Food Tours guided food tours. We currently have 7 food tours to choose with a seafood tour coming soon!

Things To Do On Your Extended Stay In Puerto Vallarta-Day Trip

 

Take A Weekly Day Trip

Why not do a bit of exploring while you’re here? There are several quaint little cities you can explore that are between 30 to 90 minutes from Vallarta or hop on a plane and fly somewhere close. This includes:

  • Yelapa
  • Los Animas
  • Bucerías
  • Nuevo Vallarta
  • Sayulita
  • Los Ayala
  • Mascota
  • San Sebastian
  • Guadalajara
  • San Miguel de Allende
  • Mexico City
  • And More!

Even if you will be working remotely while you’re here you want to make the best of your extended stay—this tips will help!

Top 10 Romantic Hotspots In Puerto Vallarta

Whether you are here for a weekend getaway, honeymoon, or family vacation you must take advantage of the romantic hotspots in Puerto Vallarta. Here are our top picks!

Romantic Hotspots In Puerto Vallarta - Boutique Hotel

Your Hotel Or Accommodations

If romance is the goal, then be sure to book a beachfront hotel or Airbnb. This will ensure you have fantastic views and can enjoy the sound of the sea. If not beachfront, try to get somewhere with a view of the bay. And why not have a swimming pool too?

Gay Pride Puerto Vallarta 2018

Watch The Sunrise

If you are an early morning riser or you were out late the night before stay up and head to the Malecon to watch the sunrise. That is unless you watch from your hotel window or balcony.

Romantic Hotspots In Puerto Vallarta - Couple's Massage

Couple’s Massage

Whether massage is part of your monthly routine or something you reserve as a treat, a massage is an excellent way to help you relax and unwind—and it’s romantic if you have a massage as a couple. If your hotel doesn’t have a spa, walk-ins are welcome at almost every massage parlor in town.

Romantic Hotspots In Puerto Vallarta - Fresh Oysters

Eat Fresh-Caught Oysters

Oysters are a natural aphrodisiac so if you and your number one love oysters take advantage of the fresh-caught local oysters. You’ll find beachfront vendors and many restaurants in town serve oysters in the shell. Just add some hot sauce and a bit of lime.

Romantic Hotspots In Puerto Vallarta - Rhythms of the Night

Rhythms Of The Night

How about a sunset cruise to a mystical amphitheater in the middle of the rainforest where you watch a world-class show while eating dinner under a starlit sky. If that’s not romantic I’m not sure what is!

Day Excursions In Puerto Vallarta

Charter A Boat

Don’t think chartering a boat is in your budget? Think again. Head down to Bocca by bus or taxi and negotiate a price to be dropped off and picked up at one of the nearby, minimally populated beaches—or rent the boat (with a driver) for the day and go beach hopping by boat.

The Best Chile Relleno In Puerto Vallarta

Treat Yourself To Fine Dining

There is no shortage of restaurants to choose from so take advantage. And Mexican cuisine isn’t your only option! Yes, you want to take advantage of your access to authentic Mexican cuisine—but you may want to mix things up a bit. You’ll find all sorts of fine dining in Puerto Vallarta: Indian, Thai, Sushi, Italian, American classics, Canadian classics, and more!

Romantic Hotspots In Puerto Vallarta - Cooking Class

Take a Cooking Class

If you and your other half love to cook taking an authentic Mexican cooking class is perfect. And you can cook the dishes you learn together when you return home! Most classes include visiting the local markets to buy fresh ingredients and then learning to prepare the dishes. Cookin Vallarta is a great choice near the Marina. Miriam’s Mexican Kitchen is another solid choice in el Centro. Essence of Cuisine Cooking School is a great choice in old town. For Mexican seafood, with a modern twist, choose the traveling spoon. Professional Chef Manu teaches small groups in his kitchen in his home in el centro.

The Best Outdoor Activities In Puerto Vallarta

An Outdoor Adventure

If you and your better half find adventures romantic you have plenty to choose from! Consider a bike food tour with Vallarta Food Tours, hiking in the jungle, deep sea fishing, an ATV ride, zip lining, snorkeling, scuba diving, surfing and more!

Romantic Hotspots In Puerto Vallarta - Sunset

Watch The Sunset

The sunsets in Puerto Vallarta are spectacular. Sit on the Malecon to watch, or head to one of the upper restaurants on the Malecon or up in the hills to watch. Casa Isabell is an excellent choice. If it’s a holiday you will need reservations.

If romance is on your agenda you won’t have to try very hard to find it in PV!

Looking For An Adventure? The Best Outdoor Activities In Puerto Vallarta

There’s nothing wrong with lounging on the beach but you might be looking for an adventure on your next trip to Puerto Vallarta, something more than just the usual tourist attractions. Here’s what to do in-between your rest and relaxation!

Excursions In Puerto Vallarta

Explore the Jungle- Zip the Canopy

Puerto Vallarta is famous for our beautiful beaches. However, amazing adventures also lie behind the beach, up in the jungle, in the Sierra Madre Mountains. Vallarta’s mountain jungle is a semi-tropical rain-forest where birds and butterflies abound. A garden of Eden, with over 7000 indigenous plants (including over 170 species wild orchids) and over 1000 species of tropical birds. Take a zip line tour and fly through the hidden, wild, and wonderful world of a jungle canopy. Lots of great choices for zip lining. Our favorite is Canopy River. Or just go hiking!

Outdoor Activities In Puerto Vallarta - Los Arcos

Snorkel or Dive at Los Arcos or Islas Marietas National Park

Known as the aquarium, Los Arcos marine park is a federal marine reserve not too far from shore, where you can dive or snorkel with tropical fish, rays and sea turtles. You will see angelfish, sergeant major, damsel fish, parrot fish, triggerfish, manta rays, green turtles, dolphins, and more! Also, consider a full a day excursion with a 2-hour boat ride to and from the Islas Marietas National Park. Once you arrive you can snorkel, paddle board, and kayak. Also, one of the two places in the world where you can view the rare blue footed booby bird!

The Best Outdoor Activities In Puerto Vallarta - Whale Watching

Whale Watch

Vallarta’s Bay of Banderas enjoys a humpback whale migration from December through March. The whales can be seen from the beach as they occasionally swim close to the shore. A better way to see the whales is by boat, on a whale watch tour. It’s an amazing experience to see and admire these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat. If you have never seen humpback whales in the wild, take the tour!

The Best Outdoor Activities In Puerto Vallarta

Take a Bike Tour

You like adventure but you also want to explore the best our city has to offer. Enjoy the best of both worlds by taking the Vallarta Food Tours Bikes and Bites tour. This guided 3-hour outdoor activity features eight tasting locations carefully chosen to highlight the best regional flavors Vallarta has to offer. An easy and fun pedal around town and a culinary adventure!

Outdoor Activities In Puerto Vallarta

Visit the Botanical Gardens

The Vallarta Botanical Gardens is located about 40 minutes south of Old Town Vallarta. You can take a cab, Uber or the Tuito Bus which departs from the corner of Carranza Street and Aguacate Street in Old Town. It will say Tuito and Botanical Gardens on the windshield and it’s a beautiful bus ride out the south shore. The gardens sprawl across the jungle hilltops and down a river valley in a set of hiking trails that descend to the Tomatlan River.

Bring your bathing suit as the river has lush gorgeous clear blue water swimming holes along the way! The plants are marked for identification. Even if you are not a plant person, the food at the restaurant there is absolutely fabulous and the gift shop is amazing. Blown glass from Tonala, Jalisco and stylish unique hand-crafts and pots from all over the Republic of Mexico. You can buy exotic plants there too.

The Best Outdoor Activities In Puerto Vallarta

Hike up the Cuale River and Lunch at Mauros Paraiso

From Old Town, you can walk up Cardenas Street, east toward the mountains, and follow along the river Cuale, under the highway and through the neighborhood of Buenos Aires. Keep walking and following along the river. You will find the little berg of Paso Ancho. Keep walking on the road and along the river. After Paso Ancho, and 10 minutes of walking you will find the restaurant on the river called Mauros Paraiso.  (Mauros paradise) Coldest beer In the state of Jalisco (order the Victoria Beer with lime) and the food is incredible there.

Mauro is a genius on the barbecue. Order a brochette of chicken, or seafood, or the filet of fish on the barbecue. The setting is fabulous, perched right on the River Cuale. Where you can watch the parrots soar above the river and lush green hillsides.  If you don’t want to hike, just take a cab and tell them Restaurant Mauros Paraiso, en el Rio Cuale, Paseo de Guayaba (arriba de paso ancho).

The Best Outdoor Activities In Puerto Vallarta

Tour the Jungle on ATVs or Dune Buggies

Another fun way to explore Vallarta is to take a jungle tour on ATVs or Dune Buggies. This is a wild and bumpy ride, perfect for anyone who loves tooff-roadd. Be sure to bring sunglasses with a strap so they don’t fall off, and at least one bandana with you to help keep the dust out of your face.

There are certainly more fun outdoor activities to enjoy in Puerto Vallarta, but these are our top pics!

Insider’s Guide to Street Tacos in Puerto Vallarta

The taco dates back to the days when Montezuma and the Aztecs ruled Mexico. Tacos’ history is long, rich and a shining bright light in global culinary history.  Aztecs would use corn tortillas as a makeshift spoon, scooping up their food in a delicious rolled up tortilla. For pragmatic reasons, they began wrapping their food in tortillas and tacos -to the delight of billions of people since- were born.

As cities grew and the Spanish invaded, people migrated to find work. Mexico City was the largest city in the world – and is still one of the largest – and attracted people from all over the country. With this massive migration came foods from the different regions. Stands started popping up in street corners, offering speciality tacos from every corner of Mexico. Street carts eventually came about, making it easier for people to enjoy muy rico tacos at affordable prices.

The possibilities are endless, but in the interest of brevity here are some of our favorite classics and fantastic places where you can delight in the all mighty taco.  Some of these are on our Street Taco Tour, Downtown and Taste of Pitillal tours and some others are further north.

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Tacos Asada– the most identifiable and common taco.  Carne Asada is specifically beef, usually skirt steak, flank steak or flap steak, typically topped with grilled onions, beans, and delectable salsas.  Our favorite is Cuñados in Olas Altas by the Pier.  Opening at 10am, this revered stand is also one of the city’s oldest. A close second is Memo Tacos in Aguacate and Basilio Badillo opening at night around 6pm. If you end up in La Cruz, Tacos of the Street are among the best in the bay!

Birria Tacos– Birria is a popular stew hailing from Guadalajara made with marinated goat meat and typically served with cilantro, onions and corn tortillas. The best, and we have tried a bunch, has to be Robles stand in Romantic Zone on Constitution and Cardenas. A favorite in our Original Downtown Tour. Get there before noon because they will sell out!

http://vallartafoodtours.com/calendars/puerto-vallarta-walking-tour/

Fish Tacos– Originally from Ensenada in Baja California, fish tacos have become a staple on any taco list. Our favorite is El Guero on 292 Madero Street in the Romantic Zone. All tacos are freshly made to order.  For those hankering for more fish tacos, don’t miss Joe Jack’s Fish Shack, incredible fish tacos washed down perfectly with a freshly muddled mojito.

Shrimp Tacos– also originated in Baja California in Mexico. Grilled or fried shrimp are used, usually with the same accompaniments as fish tacos: lettuce or cabbage, pico de gallo, avocado and a sour cream or citrus/mayonnaise sauce, all placed on top of a corn or flour tortilla. The best in PV can be found at Mariscos Cisneros on Aguacate and Carranza and Marisma also in the Romantic Zone.

Tacos de Cabeza or head tacos,  are made with a flat punctured metal plate from which steam emerges to cook the head of the cow. One of our favorite vendors on our Street Taco Food Tour is Tacos Don Juan on Aguacate located at 400 Cardenas across from another aforementioned favorite Cisneros. They also serve savory tacos de lengua or tongue tacos.

Barbacoa Tacos is a form of cooking meat that originated in the state of Hidalgo. It generally refers to meats or whole sheep slow-cooked over an open fire, or more traditionally, in a hole dug in the ground covered with maguey leaves. Although the interpretation is loose, and in the present day (and in some cases) may refer to meat steamed until tender. The best in Vallarta has to be Texcoco by the Stadium on Ecuador and Brasilla. They will be sell out by noon as well.roble-taco

Carnitas Tacos– Carnitas, literally “little meats”, is a dish of Mexican cuisine originating from the state of Michoacán. Carnitas are made by braising or simmering pork in oil or preferably lard until tender.  There are numerous great ones but the most tender has to be Netos Carnitas in the Pitillal located at 219 Juarez about a block from the square.

Al Pastor – Al Pastor is, in our opinion, the King of the Street Tacos. Pastor is meat cooked on a vertical rotisserie. This was adopted after Lebanese immigrants moved to Mexico and is an adaptation of shawarma. It is only served at night and is especially delicious after a night out on the town. Our favorite on our Street Taco Tour in Vallarta is Carboncito, chiefly because of his use of coal instead of gas. He is located off Avenida Mexico and Paraguay and opens Tues-Sunday 6pm to 3am. Another  one to try is Takos Pakos on Basilio Badillo in Olas Altas.20131020-img_0430

So, let’s rejoice in the birth and subsequent expansion of one of the greatest culinary delights man has known – THE TACO!!!! Provecho!!!