Puerto Vallarta is one of the most common destinations on the west coast of Mexico. Not only does it offer fantastic food, beach and nightlife, but there are also a lot of things to do with kids.
Puerto Vallarta offers one of the most authentic Mexican experiences. The region has lots of cultural and adventure activities that kids will love. There are world-class resorts, but for families who prefer a bit more space and independence, it is easy to also find vacation rentals.
The best part? There is no bad time to visit Puerto Vallarta because it has 300 days of sun a year!
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If you’re traveling as a family to Puerto Vallarta, you don’t want to miss these fun activities for kids.
Spend a day at the beach
While there’s plenty of active opportunities for families in Puerto Vallarta, there’s no doubt that a great holiday needs some laid-back beach time.
The region has a good diversity of beaches. You’ll often find locals at Playa Destiladeras on Sundays. It can be crowded, but it’s a large sandy beach and there are lots of delicious restaurants serving local seafood dishes at reasonable prices.
Playa Bucerias is popular for its light caramel-coloured sand, but at times the waves can be high. While teenagers love it, it’s not great for toddlers. Playa Yelapa requires a quick 45-minute boat ride but that can be an adventure on its own. It is considered one of the most beautiful in the region and definitely off the beaten path.
Explore the Malecon
The 12-block stretch of seaside promenade is the best place to start when you arrive in Puerto Vallarta. It’s well-paved, stroller friendly and a great way to get acquainted with the city. There are lots of colourful shops, free entertainment and a great view of the sandcastles that the city is famous for.
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This zone is meant for families. There are art sculptures that can be climbed, creative street performers, ice cream nearby, and fun kid-friendly rentals including little cars that wee ones can be pushed around in.
Release sea turtles
Releasing sea turtles is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in Puerto Vallarta. In late summer through autumn, turtle eggs begin hatching along the West Coast of Mexico. Several conservation groups also help maintain the safety of these creatures by releasing them into the water. In some cases, visitors may be permitted to release one of the turtles and watch it race toward the ocean. This is better suited for older children who understand the fragility of the baby turtles and who can follow instructions.
Become a pirate
One of the most popular things to do in Puerto Vallarta is the pirate shop tour. It lasts seven hours and includes food and drink, a treasure hunt on the ship as well as a show where the cast battles it out on the boat with acrobatic ease. Seven hours on a ship may sound too long, but there’s a stop to swim at a local beach with great snorkeling. Kayaks are also available.
Go ziplining or take a canopy tour
Best for older children, there are a number of canopy tours in Puerto Vallarta. You can zip along high up in the forest. In many cases, there are only 2 children per guide for safety reasons. Older children may be able to zipline on their own, whereas younger children may be assigned a guide to tour with.
It’s best to call ahead and ask about opportunities for children: How long is the average tour? Is there an opportunity to leave mid-tour if the child does not want to continue? How many children are assigned to a guide?
Take a street food tour
Puerto Vallarta has fantastic food. You can take a formal street food tour or simply do it on your own. Kids love the street food scene because they can watch locals prepare their food in front of their eyes.
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Don’t forget to leave room for something sweet afterward, churros dipped in chocolate are always a favourite.
Visit the Vallarta Botanical Gardens
Easily reached by bus, this is one of the best things to do in Puerto Vallarta for families with children of varying ages. While there are guides on site, it is possible to do a self-guided tour of the gardens.
There are several walking paths, well marked to indicate which are more difficult to walk than others. The paths identify the common and scientific names of local plants. This is a great second-day activity as kids love to continue identifying plants throughout the holiday in Puerto Vallarta.
The botanical gardens were made with children in mind, so there is lots of space for kids to play and run around without imposing on other guests. Afterward, take a swim in the Horcones River and eat at the on-site restaurant, which features a kids’ menu.
Meet locals at the market
The Old Town Farmers Market is an authentic Mexican market, where only local producers are allowed to sell goods. Held each Saturday, the produce comes within a 75-kilometer range, as do local handicrafts. There are lots of family-friendly activities with local musicians and crafting demonstrations. It’s a great way to spend the day and it’s the perfect place for picking up souvenirs.
Find your inner animal
While the welfare of animals at the local zoo is questionable, there are plenty of other activities where kids can interact with local animals. For example, there are several crocodile farms that have been created to protect the local population that has declined over recent years.
Call ahead to find out their feeding schedule so you can arrive at the right time. On occasion, guides may have young crocodiles that guests can visit up close.
With all of these fantastic activities, rest assured that you and your family won’t be bored in Puerto Vallarta!
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