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Part of what makes traveling to a foriegn country such a valuable experience is the chance to experience how people around the world live their daily lives, and Puerto Vallarta is one of the top destinations in Mexico that still retains its local charm and traditions. During your Puerto Vallarta travel experience, take advantage of every opportunity to dive into the local culture. From musical performances to nature treks, there are activities in Puerto Vallarta for every type of traveler. With this travel guide to Puerto Vallarta, you’ll know how to experience the city like a local.


Take in the Sights on the Malecon Boardwalk

The Malecon boardwalk is filled with local things to do in Puerto Vallarta. As you stroll along, you’ll pass by several of the downtown Puerto Vallarta beaches, and you can spot several of the iconic locations mentioned in any travel guide to Puerto Vallarta. In the center of the boardwalk is the Parish of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the famed crowned cathedral that stands out in the skyline. After stopping by the church, head down to the Rio Cuale island under the bridge. Part of the island is home to a local market, and browsing the stalls and shopping for souvenirs here is a part of the local Puerto Vallarta travel experience. Before heading back up to the boardwalk, relax in the quiet and tranquil shade of the island. One of the best things to do in Puerto Vallarta along the Malecon is watching a live performance. Musicians regularly stroll along the sea and through the plazas at night, and all day long, you can witness the Papantla Flying Men enact a traditional ceremony along the shore. 


Visit the Vallarta Botanical Gardens

Some of the best activities in Puerto Vallarta are off the beaten track, and with a short bus or taxi ride up into the mountains, you’ll reach the lush Vallarta Botanical Gardens. There are several formal gardens with beautifully cultivated flora, a tranquil peace chapel, and trails that take you through the jungle to a cool river. For locals, hiking is one of the most popular things to do in Puerto Vallarta, and the trails here are simply spectacular. After exploring the grounds, head to the hacienda where you can sink your teeth into authentic Mexican dishes prepared freshly for you. While the gardens are open all year long, the best time to visit Puerto Vallarta and see the lush jungles is between November and April, when the rainy season has watered the mountains and the weather is mild for exploring. 

Take a Food Tour

For a truly local experience, the best Vallarta tours to book are the culinary ones. These Vallarta tours take you to the local spots that serve authentic Mexican food. However, not all the food tours are just about tacos. Some showcase the local breweries, mixologists, or chocolatiers. Along the way, you’ll learn more about the city and culinary scene, and afterwards, you’ll know where to return to for the best food in Vallarta, many of which aren’t in the usual travel guide to Puerto Vallarta


Try a Surfing Class

While most tourists visit the Puerto Vallarta beaches, there are several hidden surf breaks only the locals know about. To explore the secret Puerto Vallarta beaches, schedule a surfing class into your trip. All year long, the surf here is great, but the best time to visit Puerto Vallarta if you’re looking for serious swells is December-April. During these Vallarta tours, you’ll get away from the crowds and experience one of the most popular local activities in Puerto Vallarta. 

Adding in these unique adventures makes your Puerto Vallarta travel experience more enriching as you get off the beaten path and see the city like a local. Whether you hang ten and catch some waves or hike through the jungle, there are always local experiences waiting for you, making each day the best time to visit Puerto Vallarta.

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