Traveling with kids to Puerto Vallarta is so much fun, there are so many kid-friendly activities there! We went to Puerto Vallarta with kids during Andrew’s parental leave when he was about 7 weeks old for 11 days. We not only hung out at our resort, but we ventured out to town, went to the botanical gardens, and went on a boat ride! We share our favorites and not-so-favorites in this post!
We are usually not the all-inclusive type of travelers, but with a newborn and never traveled with 2 kids, we wanted to stay at a place where we didn’t have to go anywhere if things got crazy. Best decision ever! Daily room cleaning service, room service 24 hours/day, on-site entertainment and food to eat without having to do dishes every day? Yes, please! The best part is, Puerto Vallarta had so much to do with kids so when we decided to go outside the resort, we were able to. This vacation actually gave us the confidence to travel with kids – 2 of them! After this trip, we were comfortable enough to go to Iceland a few weeks after. (Check out this page for how that went.)
Must Do Activities in Puerto Vallarta with Kids
Go to the Beach and Pool
We stayed at the Buenaventura Grand Hotel and we will go back there in a heartbeat. Nightly entertainment (fire dancers!), amazing food (we liked their food more than half of the time we went out to eat), the best staff, beautiful facilities, and perfect beach! It was also very close, walking distance to the downtown/boardwalk area where we spent almost every day or night walking around. We did take a look at other hotels in Puerto Vallarta, but this one could not be beaten. We played in the pools (cute baby pool), hung around the beach (watched parasailers and horseback riders), ate, ate & ate. 🙂 So much fun!
(Going to Cabo in the near future? Check out this post about the Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos by Travel + Family before you go for tips on where to stay!)
El Malecón Boardwalk
We walked back and forth to this place almost daily while we were there. It was so much fun! Loved all the shops, and the colorful Puerto Vallarta sign. Henry could not get enough of going in and out of the letters. “ABCs!!!” is what he kept saying every time he saw it. They have mini-cars you can push your kids around for rent. The one sponsored by the city is free, you just have to provide your ID for security. This place was super stroller friendly.
We took a bus here (Henry loved this activity by itself) and took about an hour from the hotel. Leave your strollers at home and carry your baby! Also, don’t forget to bring bug spray. I had Andrew in a carrier and covered him up with a breathable nursing cover.
It was gorgeous, and this place has a restaurant which serves delicious food and drinks! Definitely worth the trip.
We would have missed this place if it wasn’t for a sign by the road. We are so glad we didn’t miss this! This gem was one of our favorite activities while we were there. El Salado is an estuary located in the middle of the municipality of Puerto Vallarta, surrounded by urban area. This is a protected area for now, with threats to close. We got to go on a boat ride through mangroves to a viewpoint where there were lots of vultures. Henry loved that he got to see a real-life vulture! (He knew and was kind of obsessed about vultures because it was the “V” for his favorite animal train puzzle.)
At the end, they showed us baby crocodiles (they are different than alligators – did you know that!?) and we got to pet them. Henry was a little shy about it, but he had a blast.
You can make reservations online, and pay in cash when you get there. Do not miss this! Also, by coming here, you are doing your part in preserving this estuary.
This is a cute little harbor with restaurants and shops. Just the walk itself may only take about 15-30 minutes (depends on how fast your kid walks), but we were able to see sailboats and iguanas!
The main reason we went was for Victor’s Place Cafe Tacuba. This place was super kid-friendly with outdoor seating and overall amazing staff. Did I tell you? You get a shot of tequila with every drink you get! That’s not the only reason we had so much fun at this place but it’s definitely a perk. 🙂 The food was fantastic too!
When we ventured towards the boardwalk at night on Thursdays and on the weekends, we saw night markets in the squares. There were food stands (our favorite – check out our post about Japanese ones) and staged entertainment. Kids were running around, and Henry got to make some friends. It was such a perfect way to get the after nap, before bed ants out of his pants. 🙂
River Walk – Isla Cuale
Between the downtown shops and the boardwalk, there is a shaded riverwalk with markets. Such a cute place! Henry was napping when we went (maybe a blessing) but they have fun little souvenirs and toys. Perfect place to escape the sun.
Proceed with Caution – Possibly Skip These Activities in Puerto Vallarta with Kids
The Puerto Vallarta Zoo
I read so many reviews for this zoo because we were looking for one more thing to do in Puerto Vallarta with kids. After reading the reviews, we decided that it wasn’t worth the risk. Although you can pet baby tigers (an experience I really wanted Henry to have), it seems like the animals were not treated properly and the overall condition of the zoo was “depressing” and “unkept”. I didn’t want Henry to see that on this trip. We would love to hear reviews otherwise, so we can visit next time we go! Let us know if you have any insights.
The Restaurant – The Zoo
We didn’t expect much from this restaurant/bar, but we had to go in here because of all the animals! Henry wouldn’t take no for an answer. The first time we went, we didn’t get any food and we weren’t too impressed with the service. But not bad enough to go back again when Henry insisted. The second time around, the food and service were both terrible. They seemed to not be too excited about having kids at the restaurant. (It’s more of a nightclub at night.) So, maybe worth it for a quick drink and only if your kid absolutely insists. Otherwise, I would skip this place or just look at the animals from the street.
Taking the Water Taxi to Yelapa
Don’t let this happy drawing fool you. It was quite the choppy ride. It was pretty scary to go on this water taxi for over 45 minutes on the super choppy water with a newborn. A kind lady suggested I should take Andrew out of the car seat and wear him. That should have been the first sign that this wasn’t the perfect activity for kids. I was so afraid he was getting banged around too much. When we got to Yelapa, which is indeed a beautiful place, we wondered why we went through all of that to go to another beach (we had a perfect one at the resort), to sit and drink beer that we had to pay for (free at the hotel). We also only had about 2 hours there too. It may be worth it if you are going to be there longer, but for us, it just wasn’t worth all the worry. Great day trip for maybe older kids – not so much for younger ones.
Have you been to Puerto Vallarta with kids? What did you enjoy doing the most?
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