El Malecón – Puerto Vallarta’s famous boardwalk
One of the most popular activities in Puerto Vallarta is taking a walk along the city’s famous boardwalk, the Malecón. Packed with shops, restaurants, and works of art, the Malecón offers great entertainment for all ages and budgets. The young and fashionable can go shopping during the day and visit the restaurants and clubs at night. Families can enjoy the scenery, find lots of friendly people and activities, and relax on any of the boardwalk’s many rustic benches. There is something for everyone on the Malecón, one of the most popular attractions in Puerto Vallarta.
Most visitors begin their walk at the north end of the Malecón, outside the Hotel Rosita. Here you will find the first sculpture of the unique open-air museum in Puerto Vallarta. “Los Milenios”, the work of Mathis Lidice, is one of the most popular and photographed works on the boardwalk. Another of the most famous sculptures on the Malecón is the “Rotonda del Mar”, a peculiar construction of chairs by local artist Alejandro Colunga. Located at the midpoint of the Malecón, this sculpture is surrounded by benches and offers a great place to rest and enjoy the view.
On Tuesday mornings, Gary Thompson, owner of 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, tours end at the Thompson Gallery, where visitors are offered refreshments and additional information on the city’s unique works of art. As a bonus, Ramiz Barquet, one of Puerto Vallarta’s most renowned artists, whose sculpture “La Nostalgia” is an international symbol of the city, is often on hand to offer interested tourists a first-hand account of the meaning artistic of the Malecón.
Recently, the Malecón was further expanded with the construction of a bridge over the Río Cuale. In addition to offering a beautiful place to stop and watch the sunset or just enjoy the water, the bridge connects the boardwalk to one of the most popular beaches in Puerto Vallarta: Playa de Los Muertos. A favorite with local families, Los Muertos is a great beach to relax or pack a picnic. If you want to do some shopping on the beach, the friendly vendors of Los Muertos sell everything from handmade souvenirs to freshly cooked seafood.
Like Los Muertos, there are many vendors offering freshly cooked specialties on the boardwalk. However, you should definitely try some of the great food on offer at the Malecon restaurants. Serving everything from adventurous European cuisine to traditional Mexican fare, the Malecón’s restaurants cater to everyone’s tastes. Many restaurants and cafes also offer patio seating on the boardwalk. Tourists and locals alike agree that a patio seat on the boardwalk might be the best way to enjoy a majestic sunset over Banderas Bay.
The Malecón also offers many shops. In addition to souvenir shops, you’ll see boutiques selling handmade jewelry and leather goods. There are even some luxury stores that offer haute couture clothing, fine jewelry, and truly distinctive souvenirs.
The Malecón is also the best nightlife destination in Puerto Vallarta. From dance clubs open until the wee hours of the morning to relaxing lounges with live jazz, the Malecón fits any mood. It is even possible to take a night cruise in Banderas Bay along the Malecon. There are a number of ships that cater to families and couples alike, with each offering dining and live entertainment. After the sun sets on the bay, you can watch the Malecon light up as fireworks shoot skyward.
On Sunday nights, the Malecón transforms into a family festival. While the crowd will be made up of many tourists, local families also come to the Malecón to enjoy the vibrant atmosphere and fireworks. The Los Arcos Amphitheater, the end point of the Malecón, is known for its free concerts and performances on Sunday nights. On the boardwalk, clowns and street performers also provide free entertainment. Most of the excellent restaurants on the Malecón will be open late and offer special menus for children. For dessert, your family can enjoy cotton candy and fried plantains served by vendors along the boardwalk.
Although any time is perfect to take a stroll along the Malecón, November is a particularly good time to visit Puerto Vallarta. Marking the beginning of the vacation travel season, Puerto Vallarta offers a huge art festival with many free events, all centered around the Malecon.