Discovering a Change of Scenery in Puerto Vallarta

Downtown Puerto Vallarta is filled with beautiful churches, architecture, shopping, and more

Downtown Puerto Vallarta is filled with beautiful churches, architecture, shopping, and more

“Wow, it’s a bit hot here,” I said under my breath as I walked through the un-conditioned air in the outer reaches of Gustavo Diaz Ordaz International Airport in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. It was an early June afternoon and as I stepped into the hot sun, I knew I had arrived in Mexico for the first time.

I’m from Memphis, Tennessee, where we have our own heat and humidity. But that didn’t keep me from being caught off guard by the heat here. After a short drive to the CasaMagna Marriott Resort, which would be my base for the next five days, I set foot into a tropical playground that was more than I had imagined.

Birds singing, lush foliage dotting the landscape, and the Pacific Ocean gently lapping the beach in the distance made me realize that, despite the heat, I had arrived in another place. And as the Jimmy Buffett song “Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes” reminds me, a change in scenery, specifically to a more tropical spot, can be just the medicine needed for a recharge.

The CasaMagna Marriott provided plenty of ways to enjoy Mexico

After enjoying the views of Banderas Bay from my balcony I hustled down to the resort’s beachfront restaurant, where I enjoyed an order of fresh fish tacos and a Mexican beer. It was a simple meal but one that helped welcome me to this land south of the border where the scenery is beautiful, the people are wonderful, and the food is out of this world.

Puerto Vallarta is a destination that combines the best of outdoor adventure with a relaxed beach vibe in a city with world-class art and food.

The waterfront in Downtown Puerto Vallarta includes the new Los Muertos Pier

Puerto Vallarta provides inspiration to artists; its setting where the Sierra Madre Mountains meet the Pacific Ocean provides an abundance of natural landscapes. The city’s downtown has plenty of art galleries and boutiques, and the Malecón boardwalk stretching along the waterfront is a festive atmosphere filled with shops, bars, restaurants, and people strolling by day and night. Puerto Vallarta’s location on the ocean makes it an obvious seafood destination. But the foodie scene stretches beyond local fish—whether it’s world-class restaurants or a collection of street taco stands that have been in operation for decades.

Two of my favorite experiences in Puerto Vallarta were walking the neighborhoods around the Saturday market and a Friday night walking taco tour through downtown. The evening taco tour with Vallarta Food Tours saw us visit eight taco stands and some of the city’s best family-owned restaurants, where we had a taste of the real food of Puerto Vallarta.

Experiencing downtown Puerto Vallarta’s food and shopping, strolling the Malecón, and playing in the surf would make a pretty fantastic vacation. But to completely get into a Vallarta state of mind, head into the rainforest and out on the water.

Getting into the Sierra Madre Mountains adds plenty of adventure to the fun

Plenty of destinations offer zip lining, from cruise ships to Downtown Las Vegas, but zip lining through the rainforest, even dropping into a mountain river? Yeah, that’s living.

There are plenty of options for experiencing adventures in the mountains, but I enjoyed an afternoon flying through the trees, rappelling down cliffs, and dipping into the River Caule with Canopy River.

I had never been zip lining before. As a teen, I had a rappelling experience that for the longest time made me think I was scared of heights. By the time I finished this adventure in the rainforest, though, I had forgotten about that. Zip lining hundreds of yards across the river below and always being the first of the group to step off the ledge to rappel down a cliff, I realized how much fun adventure travel could be.

And to top it all off, rain came down on us as we floated down the river toward the end of our journey.

A cruise to the peaceful fishing village of Yelapa presents beautiful beaches and a waterfall just 15 minutes from the dock

If time allows, take a cruise out to Yelapa and its beautiful hidden beach. Hike to the waterfall above the fishing village or just relax on the secluded beach for a few hours.

Our Yelapa day trip with Vallarta Adventures began with some time snorkeling in the water and ended with a long cruise across the bay with beverages in hand.

It was the great end to a relaxing yet adventurous getaway to Puerto Vallarta.