Puerto Vallarta is not one of Mexico’s top vacation destinations for nothing; it is a place where you can enjoy all the wonderful activities you may associate with any amazing beach resort destination, from para-sailing to paddle boarding to gourmet dining to art galleries. However, what makes Puerto Vallarta stand head and shoulders above other beach vacation destinations is its distinct character. Puerto Vallarta is no fake, fabricated vacation resort, rather it is a place where its local inhabitants form an integral part of its charm and shape the flavor of the city.
There are many wonderful places in Puerto Vallarta where you can mingle with locals enjoying the best the seaside city has to offer, many of which have become top local highlights of Puerto Vallarta.
Dancing Danzón in the Plaza
Sunday evenings offer tourists a fabulous treat as locals flock in couples to Puerto Vallarta’s main plaza just in front of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church to dance danzón, often to live music. This is a beautiful sight as young and old dance to traditional tunes in complete harmony in the open air. In fact, Sunday evenings are a popular time for Vallartenses (the name for people living in Puerto Vallarta) to walk the seafront boardwalk called the Malecón, buy an ice-cream or corn on the cob and watch the clown show at the Los Arcos amphitheater. If you want to see how locals enjoy Puerto Vallarta, Sunday night is definitely the night to take a leisurely walk downtown.
For those who like to dance (or at least make an attempt to dance) like a local, you will surely enjoy La Bodeguita del Medio located at the beginning of Puerto Vallarta’s Malecón. This is Cuban themed bar, restaurant and salsa venue, and you will find many locals as well as foreign tourists dancing salsa every night of the week. If you want more “hardcore” salsa and merengue in an even more local setting, try JB’s, which is located in the hotel zone. JB’s is a more typically Mexican venue for those set on dancing the night away.
Another place worth taking the time to visit during your time in Puerto Vallarta is either the farmers’ market in Puerto Vallarta’s Old Town on Saturday mornings or the market in La Cruz de Huanacaxlte an hour north of Puerto Vallarta on Sundays. At either market you will meet both locals who have lived their whole lives in Puerto Vallarta as well as those who have made the city their home more recently. You will also see lots of wonderful Mexican products.
Puerto Vallarta’s Marina is packed with excellent restaurants and is a great place to spend an evening. First take a moment to snap a photograph of the famed bronze whale by Mexican artist, Octavio Gonzalez at the entrance to the Marina and then walk the boardwalk before deciding where to dine. The Marina is very popular with Puerto Vallarta’s more affluent locals and is a wonderful mix of foreign tourism and Mexican visitors.