Long a popular Mexican beach resort, and one of the nicest resort areas in Mexico, Puerto Vallarta is a sophisticated and beautiful city with a relaxed atmosphere.

Tourists have been coming to Puerto Vallarta since the 1930s, but it really became an “in” place after John Huston’s Night of the Iguana was filmed here in 1964. The film starred Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, who later bought homes there. Now some two million visitors a year come to PV, as it’s often called.

Puerto Vallarta has historic areas with cobblestone streets. Some say the shopping is the best of any resort town in Mexico, whether at the Mercado (market) downtown, or at any of the many little shops. There are numerous art galleries. On a vacation day, you can have a swim, work on your tan, do a little shopping and gallery-hopping, devote some time to doing nothing, try a fine restaurant, dance the night away — and repeat the process the next day with a different set of beaches, stores, restaurants, and nightspots! Puerto Vallarta is an excellent destination for a beach vacation that also gives you the flavor of modern Mexico. It’s very popular with Mexican tourists for that reason.

With a population somewhere above 300,000, Puerto Valllarta is a relatively intimate city. It’s never very far from the ocean, as the city runs along along between the mountains and the sea. It’s actually in a bay, Banderas Bay, which results in gorgeous views. Watching the sunset can become a daily ritual, perhaps at one of the many cafes near the beach, or perhaps from a hotel patio in the hills.

You can explore outside of the city with a boat ride across the bay to Yelapa, take an outing to Mismaloya, even doing a little kayaking along the coast. If you are traveling with children, there are many enjoyable and educational things to do and places to go: whale watching in season, for one. With over 20 miles of beaches, it’s easy to find your own favorites.

The weather is delicious in winter — you might want a light jacket or sweater in the evenings — and can be very hot in summertime. It’s on the humid side year round. A tropical haven!

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