One of the most popular activities in Puerto Vallarta is a stroll down the city’s famed boardwalk, the Malecon. Lined with shops, restaurants and artwork, the Malecon provides great entertainment for all ages and budgets. The young and fashionable can shop during the day and hit the restaurants and clubs at night. Families can enjoy the scenery, find plenty of friendly people and activities and rest on any of the boardwalk’s many rustic benches. There is something for everyone down on the Malecon, one of Puerto Vallarta’s most popular attractions.
Most visitors begin their stroll on the north end of the Malecon outside the Hotel Rosita. Here you will find the first sculpture of Puerto Vallarta’s unique outdoor museum. “Los Milenios,” the work of Mathis Lidice, is one of the most popular and most photographed works on the boardwalk. Another of the Malecon’s most famous sculptures is the “Rotonda del Mar,” a quirky construction of chairs by local artist Alejandro Colunga. Lying at the midway point of the Malecon, this sculpture is surrounded by benches and offers a great place to rest and enjoy the view.
On Tuesday mornings, Gary Thompson – owner of the Galleria Pacifico – offers public sculpture tours along the Malecon. Thompson has been involved in the Puerto Vallarta art scene for over 30 years and offers an incredible perspective on both the sculptures and the artists behind them. Beginning outside the Hotel Rosita at 9:30 am, the tours end at Thompson’s gallery where visitors are offered refreshments and additional information on the city’s unique artwork. As an added bonus, Ramiz Barquet – one of Puerto Vallarta’s most recognized artists, whose sculpture “La Nostalgia” serves as an international symbol of the city – is often present to offer interested tourists a firsthand account of the Malecon’s artistic significance.
Recently, the Malecon was extended even further with the construction of a bridge over the Rio Cuale. Besides offering a beautiful place to stop and watch the sunset or just enjoy the water, the bridge connects the boardwalk to one of Puerto Vallarta’s most popular beaches – Playa de Los Muertos. A favorite of local families, Los Muertos is an excellent beach for relaxing or setting up a picnic. If you want to do a little shopping on the beach, the friendly vendors of Los Muertos sell everything from handmade souvenirs to fresh-cooked seafood.
Much like Los Muertos, there are plenty of vendors offering fresh cooked specialties on the boardwalk. However, you should definitely try some of the great food offered at the Malecon’s restaurants. Serving everything from adventurous European cuisine to traditional Mexican fare, the restaurants of the Malecon cater to everyone’s tastes. Many restaurants and cafes also offer patio seating on the boardwalk. Tourists and locals agree that a patio seat on the boardwalk might be the best way to enjoy a majestic sunset over Banderas Bay.
The Malecon offers plenty of shopping, too. Besides the souvenir shops, you will see boutiques selling handmade jewelry and leather goods. There are even some luxury shops offering couture clothing, fine jewelry and truly distinctive souvenirs.
The Malecon is also the best nightlife destination in Puerto Vallarta. From dance clubs open until the wee hours to relaxing lounges with live jazz, the Malecon caters to any mood. It is even possible to take an evening cruise in Banderas Bay along the Malecon. There are a number of ships catering to families and couples alike, each offering dinner and live entertainment. After the sun sets across the bay, you will be able to see the Malecon light up as fireworks shoot into the sky.
On Sunday nights, the Malecon is transformed into a family-friendly festival. While the crowd will consist of many tourists, local families also come to the Malecon to enjoy the vibrant atmosphere and fireworks displays. Los Arcos Amphitheatre, the end point of the Malecon, is known for free Sunday night concerts and performances. Out on the boardwalk, clowns and street performers also provide plenty of free entertainment. Most of the Malecon’s great restaurants will be open late and offer special menus for children. For desert, your family can enjoy cotton candy and fried bananas served by the boardwalk vendors.
Though anytime is perfect for a stroll on the Malecon, November is a particularly good time to visit Puerto Vallarta. Marking the beginning of the holiday travel season, Puerto Vallarta offers a large art festival with plenty of free events, all revolving around the Malecon.