Tours of Puerto Vallarta
in the sights on foot is a great way to
see some of the marvelous things Puerto Vallarta
has to offer, from historical buildings to new
night clubs, cigars to sculptures. See luxury
yachts, sun-drenched beaches, and celebrity
hide a-ways; here are three walking tours that
can easily be done without a guide.
El Centro/Downtown Tour
A good starting point is the Hotel Rosita,
Vallarta's very first hotel that just celebrated
its 50th birthday. It is located on the very
north end of the Malecon, the mile long boardwalk
that borders the shoreline in the El Centro
or the downtown area, on the main street of
Paseo Diaz Ordaz. Follow this wide walkway past
the first of several famous sculptures, La Nostalgia.
For decades the Malecon is a favorite
place for local parents to bring their families,
especially on Sunday afternoons when they can
be seen taking in the excitement of the many
activities that happen there during the afternoon
and evening hours. Right across the street form
the Malecon you will find tons of shops and
restaurants with plenty of window seats to watch
the passerby's and enjoy the views.
As you progress down the Malecon you
will come to the collection of Colunga Sculptures.
This grouping of sculptures is one of the popular
stops along the Malecon. On weekend evenings
minstrels congregate there to play their instruments
and entertain the crowds, hoping for pesos to
be dropped into their baskets. Directly across
the street at Corona is Los Palomas Restaurant;
inside is a mural of local personalities that
is worth a look. Walking up Corona one block
to Morelos you will find an area full of shops,
art galleries and historic architecture. Follow
Corona three blocks and you will catch back
up to the Malecon. Notice the Lighthouse on
the corner where every evening Mariachi bands
delight visitors with their colorful music.
Back on the Malecon you will find yourself
at The Seahorse, another of Puerto Vallarta's
famous sculptures. Follow the Malecon to Los
Arcos, the outdoor theater located at the south
end where artists, vendors and performances
are given during the evening hours and a great
place to watch the dramatic sunsets over the
Bay of Banderas.
Right across the main street from Los
Arcos is the Plaza Principal. This is the cities
main square, which is bordered on one side by
the City Hall and the other by banks and shops.
This large plaza is Puerto Vallarta's hub and
is always humming with activity. It has a large
central gazebo with benches to sit and listen
to the traditional Mariachi musicians that frequent
the square. Plaza Principal is where all the
local holiday celebrations are held. The square
is decorated with elaborate decorations for
these festive occasions.
The beautiful Lady of Guadalupe Church
can be seen from the opposite side of the square.
Walk one block to Hildalgo to find the entrance
of this stunning Cathedral with its trade mark
crown of angels. After leaving the church, turn
left off of Hildago head for the hills onto
Zaragoza. Take the stairs to 446 Zaragoza, where
you will find "Casa Kimberley". This is the
home that Richard Burton bought in 1963 for
Elizabeth Taylor while he was filming "Night
of the Iguana" at Mismaloya Beach. After the
pair married they purchased the house directly
across the street and joined the two homes by
a pink bridge. The casa is now a bed and breakfast
and open for tours. The pretty bridge is favorite
place for couples to wed.
You are now in the neighborhood called
"Gringo Gulch". This area is famous for its
white stucco houses with bright red tile roofs
that cling to the mountainside, and for the
bougainvillea that spills from every window
and balcony, adding even more charm to this
very colorful community. Gringo Gulch is the
area where the first foreigners settled.
Keep following Zaragoza past the round
rock house on the left (you can't miss it) on
to the look out over the Cuale River Valley.
From there turn around and walk the two blocks
back to Miramar. Follow Miramar one block to
Libertad. The Mercado Municipal is across the
street. The Mercado Municipal or City Market
is also known as the 'flea market.' This huge
building is a maze of shops that offer everything
for the tourist. T-shirts, silver, handicrafts
and other souvenirs of every description can
be bargained for there.
Retrace your steps on Miramar to Guerrero.
Turn left, follow past the popular Trio Restaurant
and more shops, hang a left back onto Hildago.
Pass the church again and proceed on to The
Flautists; Vallarta's newest sculpture. The
street becomes Guadalupe Sanchez, which are
where several famous Vallarta landmarks are
located, Casa de la Torre, private residence,
and the castle by the hill, Café des Artistes
Restaurant, and Gallery, at Leona Vicario. Continue
on Guadalupe Sanchez two more blocks and turn
left at Allende. Follow Allende two blocks and
you are back where you started along the Malecon.
Olas Altas Tour
One of the most popular areas of Puerto
Vallarta Olas Altas is always exciting with
a variety of interesting sites. Here you will
see burros used to haul goods as was done a
century ago, street venders offering anything
and everything. You can even rent a horse here
and see how if feels to be a real Mexican Charro.
We begin this tour at Le Bistro Restaurant,
located off Insurgentes on the Isla Del Rio
Cuale. This island is where several tourist
shops and fine dining establishments can be
found nestled among the trees. A terrific place
to explore, it is home to the Cuale Museum of
Anthropology, a music school, an art center,
and the John Huston Plaza where a statue of
the famous director is located. There are also
small hanging footbridges located on the island
that act as shortcuts to the other side of town.
After wandering this quaint island walk
up the stairs on the opposite side of the island
to find the street, Ignacio Vallarta. Follow
this street for four blocks you will pass several
nightclubs, shops and cyber cafes. Turn right
at Venustiano Caranza and walk two blocks past
the Lazaro Cardenas Park (across the street
is where you can hire the horses) to the beach.
Follow the boardwalk along the beach past several
of Vallarta's older hotels, beachside restaurants,
and shops. Any manner of beach and water sport
activities can be found here as well as the
pier at the foot of Francisco Rodriguez. Here
water taxis and other types of charter boats
are available to take customers fishing or out
to the secluded south shore beaches. When the
boardwalk ends take a short walk in the sand
past La Palapa Restaurant and return to the
street at Pulpito. Be sure and take a minute
to admire yet another impressive Vallarta sculpture,
this one of a shark.
Walk up Pulpito, at the top of the street
take the 112 steps up to a lookout point in
the Amapas area over looking the entire Bay
of Banderas or turn left on Olas Altas. This
is one of several very colorful streets in the
area that are full of nightclubs, martini bars,
jazz joints, eateries, and shops. This is also
where many locals congregate for their morning
coffee at one of the coffee house-bookstores
or can be seen lunching at one of the many sidewalk
Turn right on Basilio Badillo and walk
the two blocks to the area known as restaurant
row. Along this street are several cozy, romantic
eateries and bars. The street is especially
pretty at night with the twinkling lights in
the trees. You will also find some very unique
boutiques located there.
Head left when you get to Insurgentes.
At the corner stop at a glass workshop and watch
blown glass being created. Now you are in an
area of Vallarta that is truly Mexican, street
venders abound and there is a bustle of activity
everywhere. Department stores, several music
stores and a movie theater are also found on
this street. Once you walk the 5 blocks to Caruso
Restaurant you are back where you began this
Marina Vallarta Tour
At the north end of town is Marina Vallarta.
This planned community's focal point is the
355-slip marina, the largest in all of Mexico.
Here fishing boats, sailboats and cabin cruisers
share the docks with world class yachts. Early
in the morning boat captains can be seen preparing
their boats for the days activities. Joggers,
race walkers, even dog walkers all take to the
Malecon in the early morning hours to exercise
as the sun comes up. To reach the Marina Malecon
walk past the large Whale sculpture that welcomes
visitors to Marina Vallarta and turn left, at
the end of the street is the boardwalk. Over
two dozen restaurants line the Marina Malecon.
Take a left to enjoy all the sites, sounds and
delicious smells of the Marina.
In the center of the marina is the landmark
El Faro, a 110-foot high lighthouse. At the
top is El Faro Bar a circular lounge that features
live contemporary music and a spectacular view
of the marina, the bay, and the hills and valleys
of the surrounding area. It is definitely one
of the best spots in Puerto Vallarta to watch
the sunset. There is also an aquarium at the
foot of the stairs that lead to the glass elevator
that scales the outside of the lighthouse.
Notice as you walk along the base of
the numerous condominium projects, where many
of PV's year- round residence live amongst the
tourists, the many shops and galleries. 'A browsers
paradise, you can find fine art at the Marinas
several galleries, the beautiful handiwork of
the Huichol Indians, shop for fine Mexican clothes,
and stop for a drink at a bar built over the
water. Stroll a few feet more and you will come
to a large patio just outside a popular local
eatery known for its tacos.
Walking further down the Malecon you
will encounter several more galleries, clothing
boutiques, restaurants and "local" bars, beauty
salons, and a therapeutic massage clinic. Marina
Vallarta Golf Club is located across the street
from the marina and is the most popular golf
course in Puerto Vallarta. The 18-hole golf
course sports a beautiful clubhouse with dining
facilities, lounge, golf carts, lessons, putting
green, driving range and a pro shop. During
the high season, from November to April, both
Marina Vallarta and El Centro artisans offer
art walks. Once a month both areas numerous
art gallery's host evening cocktail inaugurations.
These events are held to exhibit the latest
work of their honored artists. Maps are given
to attendees to find the galleries - all within
an easy walk from each other. These "Art Openings"
are the highlight of the season.
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