Why All Ages Will Love a Puerto Vallarta Family Vacation

A Puerto Vallarta family vacation can work for all ages. Families can choose from a variety of activities, from cruising the Bay of Banderas to relaxing on the beach, or even fishing and whale watching. A welcoming and lively atmosphere makes Puerto Vallarta an easy place to spend a vacation, even if you only know a few words of Spanish. The city is also a great place to learn about Mexican cultural traditions, from music to dance, as well as food.

How to Plan a Family Vacation to Puerto Vallarta

*Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something that we have recommended. Please check out our disclosure policy for more details. Thank you for your support!

Puerto Vallarta’s boardwalk, known as the Malecon, is easy for travelers of all ages to stroll and explore. And the many restaurant options along the Malecon, as well as other parts of the city, are appealing to even the pickiest of eaters. The city of Puerto Vallarta is truly a family-friendly destination for all ages.

Where is Puerto Vallarta?

The main airport in Puerto Vallarta is Licenciado Gustavo Díaz Ordaz International Airport (PVR), which services local and international destinations. Airlines that fly into the Puerto Vallarta airport include American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Air Canada, Delta, Frontier, Southwest, and WestJet. Mexican airlines flying into Puerto Vallarta include Interjet, Aeromar, and Aeromexico. 

The nearest lodging to Puerto Vallarta airport is in Nuevo Vallarta, which is outside the city proper. For lodging within the city, you’ll need to drive around 8 km (around 5 miles). 

Puerto Vallarta airport transportation

Travelers have several options for getting into and out of Puerto Vallarta. Most independent travelers arrive by airplane at the airport. The airport is very easy to navigate, and official taxi stands are located just outside the baggage claim area. 

A taxi will cost between 340 to 1,160 pesos (roughly $17-$58), depending on the distance and size of the taxi. The public bus stop is located on the street right in front of the airport and is just a five-minute walk from the arrivals area.

Puerto Vallarta is also accessible by intercity bus. ETN and Premera Plus are the best bus companies that service this part of Mexico. The bus terminal is located in the northern part of the city, near Marina Vallarta.

Getting around Puerto Vallarta

For getting around Puerto Vallarta, taxis are the best option for families. However, they are not necessarily the cheapest transportation option. Taxi rates range from 80 to 180 pesos for a standard four-person taxi, depending on the distance, time of day, and the mood of the taxi driver. Larger taxis will often charge more. 

Public buses are a more affordable option for families. Most buses drive along the main highway, which travels into the city center, and are pretty frequent. Major stops along the route are listed on the front window of the bus. Getting around the city by bus, however, may not be ideal for travelers with mobility issues or travelers with young kids.

A final option for getting around Puerto Vallarta is to rent a car. The airport has several car rental options that travelers can choose from. Rental cars will cost between $4 and $16 per day for a five-seater car, depending on the size of the car. Seven-seater cars range from $22 to $100. 

American citizens won’t need an International Driver’s License, but citizens of other countries may need one. Take note that Mexican roads can be bumpy and narrow at times, especially in the historical centers. Cars drive on the right side of the road.

Puerto Vallarta cruise port

Puerto Vallarta is also a port destination for cruise ships, often docking one or two cruise ships per day. The main terminal is located in front of the Galerias Vallarta Mall, along the main road, on Route 200. It is about 6 km (roughly 3-4 miles) away from the city center. Travelers can take taxis or public buses into the city center during their port stops.

Beaches in Puerto Vallarta Mexico-Multigenerational Vacations
What’s not to love about this? Photo: Astrid Vinje

Puerto Vallarta – Know Before You Go

Traveling to Mexico may raise concerns for families due to the country’s high homicide rate from drug cartel activities. However, tourists who come to Mexico are not targets. Puerto Vallarta is safe for families to visit. 

The currency used in Mexico is the Mexican peso. Currently, the exchange rate is around 20 pesos per $1. Travelers can find money exchange bureaus throughout the city. Plus, there are also ATMs located throughout the city.

Weather in Puerto Vallarta ranges from a low of 60 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter to a high of 90 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer. 

Puerto Vallarta accessibility

Puerto Vallarta is a very walkable city. However, the city’s cobblestone streets may not make it ideal for strollers or wheelchairs. There are still parts of Puerto Vallarta that are accessible, such as the Malecon and Marina Vallarta. 

Healthcare in Puerto Vallarta

As with any kind of international travel, having travel insurance that covers medical care is highly recommended. With that said, healthcare in Mexico is relatively inexpensive, so if you do require minor medical attention and don’t have medical coverage, it’s likely you won’t have to spend a lot of money out of pocket.

Hospital San Javier Marina, Vallarta Medical Center, and CMQ Premiere Hospital are the three hospitals most recommended for travelers. These hospitals are located near the hotel zone and Zona Romantica and have equipment that can handle trauma care and CT scans.

Best Time to Visit Puerto Vallarta

The best time to visit Puerto Vallarta is from April to June when the weather is pleasant and not too hot. December through April is the busiest tourist season in Puerto Vallarta, so try to avoid visiting the city during those months if you don’t enjoy being around large groups of people. The city’s low season runs from July to September.

Puerto Vallarta family vacation beach-Multigenerational Vacations
A Puerto Vallarta family vacation is always a good idea!

What to Bring to Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta is a beach destination, so be sure to pack your swimsuit, along with sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat. If you plan to do any fishing while you’re in Puerto Vallarta, pack along a windbreaker. The wind can get very cold out on the Bay of Banderas, especially in the early morning. 

You can also pack flippers and snorkeling gear, if you have them, for dolphin-watching excursions. If you’re traveling to Puerto Vallarta between July and September, you may want to pack along an umbrella or a raincoat, as it is the rainiest time of year. Here’s our beach packing list to help with your Puerto Vallarta family vacation.

What to Do on a Puerto Vallarta family vacation

There are so many things to do in Puerto Vallarta. Families visiting Puerto Vallarta can take their pick of entertaining activities, from pirate-themed excursions to cooking traditional meals. There’s something for every member of the family in Puerto Vallarta.

Day cruise on a pirate ship

A popular activity for travelers is a day cruise on the Marigalante Pirate Ship. This pirate-themed cruise takes families around the Bay of Banderas, while entertaining them aboard with a fun pirate show. The tour takes them to Majahuitas Island, where kid-friendly activities like treasure hunts, games, and a banana boat ride are offered. Adults can enjoy beverages as they relax on the beach. GET TICKETS HERE

Puerto Vallarta Pirate Ship tour-Multigenerational Vacations
Photo: Astrid Vinje

Whale-watching or snorkeling tours

Families wanting a more laid-back experience can join the tours offered by Ecotours de Mexico. This company leads educational tours where you can learn about humpback whales and they offer snorkeling tours, too. They even offer a tour where families can swim with wild dolphins.

Families have a chance to see these animals in their natural environment. Young kids or older travelers who are not as agile in the water may not be able to do the swimming portion of these activities, but they can still enjoy whale and dolphin watching.

Sport fishing excursion

Puerto Vallarta also offers plenty of opportunities for sport fishing. Fishing enthusiasts can charter boats for a half-day, one-day, or multi-day outing. 

Costs for chartering a boat range from $350 to $800, depending on the length of the outing and the company. This activity may not be suitable for young kids or people who are prone to seasickness, as the water can get choppy at times.

Paddleboarding in Puerto Vallarta

Another fun water-based activity that families can do is paddle boarding. Companies like Xiutla Riders offer paddle-boarding lessons to beginners. This is a fun way for kids and parents to learn a new skill together. If your kids can stand up on their own, they’ll be able to share a paddle board with a parent and enjoy being out on the water.

Paddle boarding in Puerto Vallarta-Multignerational Vacations
Photo: Astrid Vinje

Puerto Vallarta Cooking Classes

For those who prefer land-based activities, Puerto Vallarta also offers families a chance to immerse in the culture with cooking lessons and market tours. Cookin’ Vallarta is a locally-owned company that offers cooking classes for budding chefs of all ages.

Kids, their parents, and their grandparents can participate in a cooking class and learn about the traditions of Mexican cooking. The cooking class also involves a market tour with some walking, but the majority of the cooking activity takes place in a kitchen with ample opportunities for sitting and resting.

Explore the local markets

Another low-key activity for families to do is visit the local markets. The Pueblo Viejo Mercado de Artesanias, and the nearby Cuale Island Flea Market, sell artisan goods for travelers looking for souvenirs to buy. 

Further south of the River Cuale is the Olas Altas Saturday Market, a local farmer’s market selling local artisan food and goods. On Thursday evenings, Marina Vallarta, in the northern part of the city, hosts a night market with local vendors, artists, and performers.

The abundance of family activities in Puerto Vallarta makes it a suitable city for family members of all ages.

Where to Eat in Puerto Vallarta

A Puerto Vallarta institution is Pancho’s Takos, which sells tacos al pastor, a staple Mexican dish made with spit-grilled pork topped with a pineapple. This restaurant is located in Puerto Vallarta’s old town, known as Zona Romantica. There is always a line, so be sure to come early.

Puerto Vallarta restaurants-Multigenerational Vacations
Who doesn’t like tacos?

Another good spot for eating is along the Malecon, Puerto Vallarta’s boardwalk. There are dozens of options for food, but one that is excellent for families is Restaurant Bar La Chata. This restaurant is a great place for sampling Mexico’s diverse array of dishes, from mole to grilled meats. The view of the ocean from the second level is a bonus. 

For a fun, albeit slightly touristy restaurant experience, head to Pipi’s. Nightly mariachi bands entertain restaurant guests, while servers make fresh guacamole right at the table. The menu has a decent selection of Mexican dishes, but the ambiance of Pipi’s is its real draw.

Where to Stay in Puerto Vallarta

It’s easy to find an all-inclusive family resort in Puerto Vallarta — there are quite a few with family-friendly activities, spacious suites, and amenities like a kid’s pool, kids’ club, or even a water park that the whole family can enjoy. Some family-friendly resorts also have video games, arcade games, water sports, tennis courts, and options for fun activities and excursions like kayaking and horseback riding. (Here’s why all-inclusive resorts are perfect for a multi-gen family trip). 

However, if you are looking for a more local experience, head to Centro. Hotel Porto Allegro is popular among travelers due to its central location and proximity to the beach. There is a small outdoor pool for guests, and breakfast is included. Plus, the hotel has a fitness center for anyone in the family who wants to slip in a quick workout. Velas Vallarta is another great option for families and groups with suites that have kitchenettes and extra space to spread out.

A bit farther from Centro, to the south, is Pinnacle Resorts 220. Although on the higher end of hotels in Puerto Vallarta, travelers enjoy this hotel for its rooftop infinity pool with incredible views of the Pacific Ocean.

Still further from Centro, this time to the north, is Marina Vallarta. There are a large number of vacation rentals available in Marina Vallarta, and many of them can be found on VRBO. This is a great option for families looking for a local experience.

Puerto Vallarta family vacation resorts-Multigenerational Vacations
Photo: Astrid Vinje

Suggested Puerto Vallarta itineraries 

Puerto Vallarta Family Vacation Weekend itinerary

For families who only have a weekend to explore Puerto Vallarta, start the first day with a visit to Playa Los Muertos. Spend the morning playing on the beach, and then explore Zona Romantica for lunchtime. After lunch, take a walk through the Isla Cuale Flea Market, located on Isla Cuale, and squeeze in some souvenir shopping. 

Make your way to Plaza de Armas, and then continue to the Malecon. Have dinner along the Malecon, as you watch the sunset or stroll around to take in the beautiful views, scope out live music, or enjoy watching street performers. 

The next day, take a day trip to Yelapa to relax on the beach and explore this artisan town. Upon returning to Puerto Vallarta, head to Marina Vallarta for dinner at one of the many restaurants along the marina.

Week in Puerto Vallarta Itinerary with family

If you have a week to explore Puerto Vallarta, spend your third day doing a market tour and cooking class. End your day with dinner at Zona Romantica, perhaps at Pancho’s Takos.

On your fourth day, take a boat tour around Banderas Bay to see whales, dolphins, or marine life. Book boat tour that also includes snorkeling, so that you can experience the underwater life in the bay. Most tours leave from Marina Vallarta, so after coming back from the tour, feel free to stick around the area for dinner.

For day number five, take some time to explore Centro and Isla Cuale more. The Naval Museum, on the Malecon, is a fun place for kids to learn about Puerto Vallarta’s naval history. The Parish of Our Lady of Guadalupe is a Puerto Vallarta landmark, and worth a visit. 

Puerto Vallarta Boat Tour-Multigenerational Vacations
Photo: Astrid Vinje

Afterward, take a stroll through the Mercado Municipale and continue onto Isla Cuale Market across the bridge. On Isla Cuale, the Museo del Cuale offers small exhibits showcasing Puerto Vallarta’s history. Also on Isla Cuale is Oscar’s Tequila Distillery, where parents and grandparents can sample locally distilled tequila. 

On the sixth day, spend the day being entertained with the Marigalante Pirate Ship cruise. This day will be action-packed with activities, games, food, and an abundance of entertainment. Play it low-key in the evening with dinner along the Malecon.

Spend your final day in Puerto Vallarta visiting your favorite neighborhoods: Centro, Zona Romantica, and the Malecon. Or you can spend the day at one of the city’s beaches – Olas Altas, Playa Los Muertos, Rosita Beach, Playa Tranquila, or Playa Camarones.

If you are looking for other multi-gen family vacation ideas, don’t miss our suggestions for multigen family trips to Europefamily vacation ideas in the US, and destinations for large family groups around the world.