18 Things to do in Puerto Vallartas Romantic Zone

Discover the true colors and flavors of Mexico in Puerto Vallarta’s Zona Romantica – “The Romantic Zone”! Just south of downtown Puerto Vallarta and the Cuale River, the Romantic Zone (aka: Old Vallarta, Old Town, South Side or Zona Romantica) is a blend of authentic Old Mexico charm, cosmopolitan comforts and small village ambiance. An idyllic vacation destination where jungle covered mountains meet the soft white sands and sparkling blue waters of Banderas Bay. Quaint cobblestone streets lined with galleries, restaurants, chic vintage shops and colorful cafes weave through authentic colonial buildings, Our Lady of Guadalupe dominates the skyline as the church bells ring throughout the day and visitors bask in the beauty of nature that surrounds.

1. The Malecon Boardwalk spans over a mile of the Pacific Coast, from Old Vallarta to the millennium statue, with amazing views of Banderas Bay and true Mexican flavor along the way. The Malecon is one of Puerto Vallarta’s top attractions, the heart and soul of this tropical vacation destination. The boardwalk’s endless bars, restaurants, coffee shops and nightclubs are abuzz with locals and tourists and Manuel Lepe’s famous mosaic mural “Fish Vendors” welcomes you to the Naval Museum (Museo Histórico Naval) next to the open-air amphitheater. Catch a show at the amphitheater, have your caricature sketched by a street artist, learn the stories of the beautiful sculptures and artwork on a walking art tour or simply immerse yourself in the colorful tradition that surrounds you.

2. Rest on the benches of the main square as you watch the world go by. Main Square (El Zócalo) is in the heart of it all, one block from the stunning Our Lady of Guadalupe Church and the bustling Malecon.

3. It’s time for sun on your shoulders and sand between your toes and Los Muertos Beach is the place to be. The sky is blue, the waves are gentle, the sand is golden and the beach is abuzz with all kinds of water activities, vendors, restaurants and bars. Parasail through the skies, get a massage, snack on fine seafood or even go shopping! All on the beach! Blue Chairs, a popular LGBT-friendly stretch of sand lies at the southern end of the beach.

4. Take a stroll along the Los Muertos Pier with great views of the city and the ocean to get a good view of all the action. All the activities, water taxis, whale watching and boat tours are all available here. The pier resembles a soaring sail that projects 320 feet into the ocean that lights up beautifully at night for perfection photo opportunities.

5. At the south end of the Malecon a bridge crosses the Rio Cuale River leading to the tiny Isla Rio Cuale. Stroll the cobbled passages of the famous Rio Cuale Flea Market with unique artisan treasures and souvenirs, walk among the trees on the Rio Cuale River Walk, visit the pre-Hispanic Museo del Cuale and dine alfresco as you listen to live jazz and watch life pass you by. A must-do in Puerto Vallarta.

6. Walk the winding cobblestone streets of nearby Gringo Gulch, a historical and picturesque part of downtown. Nestled in the steep hillside above and behind the town church, Gringo Gulch is home to Casa Kimberly, the love nest of Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor's that put Puerto Vallarta on the map as one of the world’s top romantic vacation destinations.

7. If you are looking to enjoy the best of eating out in Puerto Vallarta, look no further than Basilio Badillo Street aka “Restaurant Row”. Enjoy flavors from around the world and entertainment from jazz nights to drag shows. If it’s Friday, you are likely to get caught up in the Southside Shuffle, where locals and tourists come together to shuffle between the galleries and boutiques!

8. From Restaurant Row to Café Street where the sidewalks are lined with intimate and eclectic coffee shops and the aroma of freshly ground coffee beans and decadent pastries fills the air.

9. If you are looking for a night in with a tasty home cooked meal, The Old Town Farmers’ Market is the place to start! One of Puerto Vallarta’s top weekend attractions, the market is where you will find the best local produce for dinner and desert, along with some great gifts and souvenirs to take back home.

10. Ready to tee off? The Banderas Bay Area is home to 7 world-class golf courses designed by the likes of Jack Nicklaus, Tom Weiskopf and Robert von Hagge with accolades such as “The Most Beautiful Golf Course in the World” and “The Best Hidden Link in the World”. Tee off on breathtaking oceanfront holes along the rocky coastline with breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean here in Puerto Vallarta.

11. Venture off the beaten path to explore the hidden gems of Puerto Vallarta. Las Animas is a lovely 2-mile stretch of sandy beach just a short bus ride from downtown or the first stop on the water taxi. Get active at the Beach Adventure Park offering canopy tours, hanging bridges, rock climbing and a tequila tour or quietly settle under a beach umbrella with a sombrero and a sundowner!

12. Tucked below the surface of the Marieta Islands is Playa del Amor, also known as the Hidden Beach! An hour’s boat trip from downtown Puerto Vallarta and a swim through a short undersea tunnel takes you to the invisible stretch of sand, crystal clear waters and a tropical paradise of sea life.

13. Los Arcos Marine Park is known as “Paradise within Paradise”, a network of caves, tunnels and reefs home to penguins, pelicans and parrots. Accessible by water taxi from the Los Muertos Pier, Los Arcos is a National Marine Park made up of 5 small granite islets teeming with sealife and birdlife, a snorkelers’ paradise and the perfect place to enjoy the wonders of the ocean in whale and dolphin migration season.

14.  Hop on the bus downtown and head to the Vallarta Zoo near Mismaloya Beach, a fun interactive tropical jungle where the kids can pet and feed the animals.

15. Discover true Mexican traditions on a tour of a tequila distillery. Take in the sights and aromas, learn the history of Mexico’s national spirit and taste the finest of tequila!

16. Take a trip to Peninsula Plaza, Puerto Vallarta’s newest shopping mall for the ultimate shopping, dining and entertainment experience, surrounded by scenic views of the mountains, ocean and river.

17.  Visit the isolated fishing village of Yelapa and Majahuitas Cove on a boat tour. Cruise the reef filled coastline, hike to the Cola de Caballo waterfalls and discover the hidden treasures of Banderas Bay.

18. There is nothing more spectacular than a Puerto Vallarta sunset. As evening wanes, find your space beneath a canopy of perfect skies painted with brilliant glowing hues of red as the sun slips away into the horizon. Whether you are trotting along the sands on horseback, taking a sunset cruise, having a sundowner on the beach or soaking in the infinity pool on your rooftop terrace, it’s a picture-perfect moment!