Puerto Vallarta has everything you need for a perfect beach vacation including great food and lively nightlife. We have put together a list of our personal favorite things to do for fun and entertainment plus our choice for best restaurants in Puerto Vallarta.
We had the opportunity to live in Puerto Vallarta for three months which gave us time to really explore and experience this fabulous coastal city. Of course, we couldn’t possibly sample all that PV has to offer but we certainly did our best…it’s a tough job but it’s what we do. Now we can share our picks for best restaurants, bars, sightseeing, excursions and even ways to stay fit in and around Puerto Vallarta.
Best Restaurant in Puerto Vallarta for Pizza
La Piazzetta @ Olas Altos and Rodolfo Gomez #143, Romantica Zone
- Nice setting in the heart of Old Town and very delicious brick oven pizza at a reasonable price. This is also one of our top choices for pasta.
Coco’s Kitchen @ Pulpito 122, Amapas
- Not the cheapest place in town for breakfast but worth the splurge at least once. The food is wonderful and so is the setting. Sit in a shady bar-side garden and enjoy some traditonal chilaquiles.
Best Romantic Beachside Restaurant in Puerto Vallarta
La Palapa @ Pulpito 103 (right on the beach just past the pier)
- Our first choice for a special occassion or romantice dinner. The menu is five start and the setting can’t be beat. Ask for a table on the beach lit only by torches and candlelight.
Cuale Paradise Riverside Dining @ somewhere on a river in the jungle?? The address is Manatial #372, Buenos Aires but that won’t help much. You will need to take a taxi and try to have a map or directions from the website as even most taxi drivers don’t know how to get there.
- A somewhat hidden gem in PV as it is way out of the tourista area and far from the beach. It’s situated on a river in a jungle setting and is quite simply amazing. Try to get the table on a little strip of sand in the middle of the river. Be prepared to pay a bit more at Cuale but its well worth it!
Best Place in Puerto Vallarta for Live Rock Music
The Roxy @ Ignacio L Vallarta, Old Town
- What is it with bars named The Roxy? They all seem to be the best places for live music and good times.
Best Puerto Vallarta Destination Restaurant
Vallarta Botanical Gardens Restaurant In the middle of the Botanical Gardens is a lovely Hacienda which houses a shop, art gallery and amazing restaurant overlooking the jungle. The service, food and view make it well worth the journey. Be sure to try the traditional chismole salsa made right at your table. You can read about our experience here.
Best Bar in Puerto Vallarta for a Quiet Cocktail & View
Faro Lighthouse Bar Timon Paseo de la Marina
- At the top of a faux lighthouse is a classy bar with a 360’ view. Worth the trip to Marina Vallarta even if you’re not staying near there.
Best Live Blues in Puerto Vallarta
Nacho Daddy at Basilo Badillo #287
- Aside from the creative and hilarious name, Nacho Daddy is also a favorite for good Mex Tex food and great live Blues music.
Best Cheap Drinks on the Malecon in Puerto Vallarta
Cheeky Monkey @ 556 Paseo Diaz Ordaz (right on the Malecon)
- Great spot to watch the parade of people on the Malecon from an upper balcony but the best part is they offer happy hour prices all day!
Comida Corrida’s are restaurants which offer meals which usually include a drink and maybe a soup or salad at very reasonable prices. They often won’t have a consistent set menu but rather a choice of 3 or 4 entrees which may changes daily. Theses specials are usually only available from 1-3pm.
Best Free Event in Puerto Vallarta
Southside Shuffle at Basilo Badillo
- Every other Friday evening from 6pm-10pm from October to May many of the shops, restaurants and art galleries open their doors and offer up free drinks and a chance to browse and mingle. There’s also live music on the street. You can read more about it here.
Agustin Flores Contreras Municipal Stadium at Francisco Medina Asencio across from the Sheraton
- This park and stadium has a great running track, soccer fields, exercise equipment and even a boxing area…and it’s all free to use!
Best Place in Puerto Vallarta for Partiers of a Certain Age
Andale at Olas Altas across from Los Arcos Hotel, Old Town
- Always a party at Andale with the kind atmosphere and music that gets both college kids and Grandma up dancing on the bar.
Joe Jack’s Fish Shack at Basilo Badillo #212, Old Town
- A Puerto Vallarta fave for eight years with delicious fish tacos and fish and chips.
Best Puerto Vallarta Hike
- A really great way to see some beautiful beaches not accessible by road. We enjoyed it so much we hiked it 3 times! Click here to get all the details and directions so that you can do it yourself.
Take the bus from Puerto Vallarta 20 miles north and you will find the hippy-esque surfing town of Sayulita. It’s a great day trip where you can chill on the beach, go surfing or paddle boarding and enjoy some of the best fish tacos and margeritas.
Best Evening Excursion from Puerto Vallarta
- An amazing evening which includes a boat ride, a great live show and a romantic dinner by candle and torchlight on the beach of a private island. As with all the Vallarta Adventure tours it’s a bit pricey but it’s worth it and was one of our most memorable experiences. See details here.
SPCA PV dog sanctuary a secret location
- The people who volunteer and work at this sanctuary are amazing and the dogs they care for are so very happy and grateful. I just can’t say enough about this place. Please take the time to visit or donate in some way to this amazing place. For info on how to get there you can go to the FB page or look for them at the Saturday market in Old Town.
Best Restaurant View in Puerto Vallarta
Hacienda San Angel at Miramar #336, El Centro
- We never actually ate here but we heard the food was very good. We just went to see the view of Puerto Vallarta.
We are always looking for the best view to take photos and this one is a definite winner. It’s a bit of a workout to climb the steep steps up Calle Galeana but at the top you will be rewarded with a stunning view of Puerto Vallarta. Try to go at sunrise or sunset for the best photo ops.
Best Puerto Vallarta Adventure
If you have a group of people you can have a great, more budget friendly day by organizing your own tour. Just start chatting with the many boat owners and fishermen along the beach and strike a deal to hire them and their boat for the day to take you snorkeling, whale watching and beach exploring.
Best Puerto Vallarta Waterfall for Swimming
- You have to take a boat to Quimixto and then it’s about a 20 minute hike to the waterfall but it’s worth it. Most people go to the waterfall at Yelapa which is really pretty but Quimixto has a great swimming hole and a natural waterslide. You can see a video of our trip here.
Stroll the Malecon
- Sunday evenings are when the locals stroll along the Malecon. Join them and try some treats from the street vendors, watch a performance at Los Arcos Amphitheatre and join in the traditional dancing at the square in front of Our Lady of Guadalupe. It’s a great evening of free entertainment!
Best Street Tacos in Puerto Vallarta
Unfortunately our favorite street taco stand is no longer there. The good news is that there are dozens of great one still to choose from. Some people may be cautious of street food but we ate it all the time in Puerto Vallarta and had no problems. One tip we can offer is to go to the more popular street stands since the higher turnover means the food will be fresher.
As you can see we have good reason to love Puerto Vallarta. However, we have spent even longer in PV’s Caribbean sibling, Playa del Carmen, and love it there as well. If you are trying to decied which beautiful Mexican beach town to pick for your next vacation you may want to read our article which compares Puerta Vallarta to Playa del Carmen.
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Popular Tours in Puerto Vallarta
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