Sometimes when I visit a tropical location, the trip tends to be all about the beach, seafood and relaxation. There are plenty of opportunities for all of that in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. But there is also opportunities for adventures of the city variety. In fact, my afternoon of exploring Downtown Puerto Vallarta culture and history was a highlight of my time in Mexico.
Downtown Puerto Vallarta is almost like a different world from the community that is centered on water and rainforest fun. The city seems fairly compact, with many of the beachfront hotels along the Malecon and in the Romantic Zone being within walking distance of Downtown Puerto Vallarta.
After days of walking the beach, snorkeling, playing in a waterfall and zip lining in the rainforests high above the city, I found spending time in Downtown Puerto Vallarta to be a different experience.
My first taste of Downtown Puerto Vallarta came during an evening taco tour that saw us walk the city streets.
What stood out to me, other than the sight of taco stands spread around the city, was the beautiful buildings, cobbled streets and peacefulness of it all.
When I returned the next afternoon, things were completely different. It was a Saturday, and we decided to check out the city market.
The market was pretty typical as far as having an abundance of stalls selling everything from dresses, toys and soccer balls to tacky souvenirs, spices and food.
With it being just the week before the start of the World Cup, I was pleased to come across a Mexico jersey for my son.
One of the fun things about shopping in markets outside the United States is the art of haggling for the best price. I bargained the price down a bit, only I think my bargain was lost in translation. They didn’t accept credit cards and I was a few pesos short of the agreed-to price. But I did have American dollars and in asking what the price would be, I think I was quickly quoted a price a couple dollars more than what we had agreed to. But considering I still managed to get a football jersey for $19, I was pleased.
A quick note on money in Mexico. American dollars are accepted everywhere. Yes, the peso is the official currency. But it almost seems like the dollar is currency 1B. It’s accepted everywhere.
Back to the market. If you are with friends or have children in tow, keep an eye on them. This market isn’t huge but it does have endless little hallways that could be easy to lose track of your shopping partners.
The second level of the market has more stands selling clothing and souvenirs, as well as an abundance of food stalls.
After walking around the market a bit we headed across the wackiest swinging bridge I’ve been on, at least in a city, to get to the little island in the middle of the Rio Caule, Isla del Rio Cuale, where more Saturday afternoon shopping awaits.
A quick stroll along the island and we found our way toward El Malecon, the wide boardwalk that stretches along the beach.
But before we got there, I saw these two little guys in the window above the street.
I’m usually not one to photograph random animals or people on the street, but these dogs were too cool to pass up.
This is where a lot of the action seems to be, as people are walking the large pedestrian walkway and relaxing on the beach below.
The new Los Muertos Pier is a beautiful piece of art, and seems to be a centerpiece of the Malecon.
All around the pier, locals were crowded around on the beach and in the water cooling off on a scorching afternoon.
The Malecon is a mile-long boulevard filled with public art, shops, restaurants and bars. I didn’t get the chance to experience it at night, but I hear it’s a fun spot to be at sunset and later.
There are several large pieces of art, but I was only able to capture a couple of them.