If you travel to new and interesting places, like any good parent, you'll take your children along so they can see new places, enjoy unique experiences that they'll cherish all their lives.
Depending on the age of your kids, it'll be easier or less so to find what to do with them. The younger they are, the simpler the requirements and, in most cases, a beach, a shovel and a bucket are more than enough. When it comes to older children, the adventures are more varied and require a bit more preparation.
Puerto Vallarta is a wonderful city, where nature and civilization come together and offer a place that includes fun and relaxation. It is to be expected then that the city has many interesting things to do as a family in Puerto Vallarta.
Let's check out what we consider the Top 10, the best things you can do with your children in Puerto Vallarta, so you can get the most out of your family vacations. They are ordered from good options to even better options, although in the end it is all quite subjective, choose based on your kid's and your own taste.
10- Canopy Tour (Zip lines)
The canopy tours in Puerto Vallarta (zip lines tours) are an exciting and unique ecological experience. They offer your children the opportunity to float above and between the treetops in a network of suspended cables high in the tropical jungle of Vallarta.
A canopy tour (zip line tour) follows a predefined route through an area of forests or other impressive landscapes, often valleys or mountains using zip lines and suspension bridges between platforms that, in the case of forests, are built in the treetops (thus the canopy in the name).
Parents and children are accompanied by trained personnel that provide the correct equipment and all the safety measures so that you and your children can enjoy a safe and fun ecological experience.
Ziplines in the canopies have been around for a long time, but only recently have they become a tourist attraction and are popular in Mexico, Costa Rica and other parts of the world.
For children an extremely fun and exciting experience that they surely will not forget.
9- Turtle Release & Crocodile Farms
Banderas Bay is a paradise of underwater biodiversity, you can find all kinds of fish, mollusks, reptiles, and aquatic mammals that are unique to the region or are rare in other areas, many of these are even in danger of extinction.
In Puerto Vallarta, there are sites established to protect this rich biodiversity, for example, El Cora or El Quelele Farm, created exclusively to protect the local fauna, especially crocodiles. Here you can see these magnificent reptiles safely, even the increasingly scarce American crocodile, hard to find in its habitat due to the encroachment of humans. Children will be thrilled to see them during their feeding schedule and may even interact with the crocodile juveniles under the care of the experienced guides.
Another unique exciting event you can enjoy in this area of the Pacific Ocean is the hatching and release of sea turtles. The event starts off between the months of July and October when hundreds of turtles arrive along the coasts to lay their eggs and return to the ocean water's protection. 45 days after this event the sea turtles start hatching, they crawl out of the sand and immediately begin their race toward the water.
It is an amazing event to observe and in some specific cases, there are tours that allow visitors to observe the even close up and even help the baby turtles on their way into the Pacific Ocean. Since this is a protected species, interaction with them must be very careful and should not be taken lightly.
8- Vallarta Zoo
The Vallarta Zoo is a natural preservation sanctuary where children and adults can watch and interact with more than 700 animal species including mammals, birds, and reptiles.
The zoo is located in Mismaloya, surrounded by a lush tropical jungle. You can get there using public transport, the buses with the sign "Mismaloya", which can be found on the corner of Basilio Badillo and Insurgentes streets.
At this zoological garden, there are many activities, you can feed almost all the animals and the zoo provides foods in ecological bags when you buy your ticket. Being able to interact like this with the animals is a wonderful experience for both children and adults.
There are also feeding schedules for the larger carnivore species that are impressive, though it's up to luck if you catch them eating.
The zoo guides offer informative tours where visitors are provided with lots of interesting information regarding the animals and their ecosystem, this makes the visit even more fun and educational.
Find out more about the Vallarta Zoo, how to get there, etc.
7- Vallarta Botanical Gardens
The Vallarta Botanical Gardens is a natural park located just after Las Juntas and Los Veranos when going south of Puerto Vallarta toward El Tuito and Barra de Navidad. It's a natural sanctuary where you'll be able to enjoy and experience the natural wonders of the state of Jalisco and all of Mexico.
The botanical garden offers a fun, colorful and educational experience for your children. The gardens offer several paths you can walk along, some easy, others only if you are in good shape. There are many plants and trees that are clearly identified with signs and scientific names, there are open areas where children can run and play.
There are guides that offer interesting information about the flora of the place and teach children about the importance of the rainforest and how to help protect it.
You can also swim in the Horcones River that crosses through the garden and a picnic area os the ideal place to share with the family.
If you wish, there is a fabulous restaurant that offers food for children and adults. The quality of the food is top-notch so there is no way to go wrong.
A visit to the Vallarta Botanical Garden is a must for those that love their children, want them to have a healthy future, respect nature and enjoy life in general.
Read more about the Vallarta Botanical Garden, how to get there, attractions, etc.
6- Las Caletas
The trip starts with a cool catamaran ride where your kids will enjoy the beautiful scenery, if they are nice, they may even meet the captain, though they surely will be pampered on the trip.
Las Caletas is an isolated stretch of beach about a mile long, ideal for both resting or for adventure and is known as the home of the famous Hollywood director, John Huston, that lived many years here.
There is an incredible amount of things to enjoy at Las Caletas. Boat rides, kayaking, paddle boarding, diving, and snorkeling are the most common activities here. Kids will have a blast enjoying these fun activities and the tour includes the equipment to practice them.
There are zip lines and an activity park specifically for children (4 to 11 years old) that is very entertaining, there are pottery classes, they can interact with monkeys, parrots and other small animals, they can ride on burros, swim with sea lions, manta rays, other marine animals and much more.
For older children, over 12 years of age, there is the Teen Adventure Cove with activities that are physically more demanding, there are slides, zip lines, and other very entertaining activities.
Las Caletas is a tour that leaves no one disappointed, an experience that they will undoubtedly best remember from their trip to Puerto Vallarta.
Read more about Las Caletas, how to get there, videos, photos, etc.
5- The Pirate Ship (Marigalante)
The pirate ship is a bay cruise for the whole family where adventure and excitement never stop. The tour takes you aboard the Marigalante Galleon that departs from the PV Harbor area, any bus with a "Wal-Mart" sign will leave you right in front of the cruise terminal.
During the day, the tour is called "Pirate Land" that takes children and adults to "Majahuitas Island" (which is really not an island, but it feels like that), surrounded by pirates. What could be more exciting for their children? Arrrrgh.
The trip offers many exciting activities, including, kayaking, beach volleyball against the pirate team, banana rides, treasure hunts, snorkeling, and diving, accompanied by the pirate show that includes sword fights. dancing, walking the plank and cannon shots.
The tour starts off around 9 am and lasts more or less 6 hours.
The ticket includes breakfast and lunch buffet and for the older members of the family, there is an open bar.
4- Malecon & the Cuale River Island
Walking through the Puerto Vallarta Malecon is an activity that does not involve much spending, but will keep your children very entertained.
You can enjoy the beach, the landscape, various activities, such as shooting fun pictures of your kids with the various sculptures, there are public shows, for example, the impressive Papantla Flying Men. You could optionally rent bikes, Segways and other entertaining wheeled options. You can also check out the sand sculptures, there are local experts balancing rocks that almost defy the physical laws, human sculptures and in the evening and special holidays, there are shows at the Aquiles Serdán amphitheater next to The Arches.
If you get hungry or thirsty, there are classic options such as tuba, roasted corn or cotton candy, ice cream and more elaborate meals also abound in restaurants and other locations during this family outing. It is especially relaxing for parents because there are no cars along the Malecon, only pedestrians, bikes, skateboards and so on, no stress.
Cuale River Island, is a small natural island in the downtown area, between the historical section and what's called the Romantic Zone. There are hanging bridges that take you over to the island, crossing them will be the first entertaining adventure for your children (and you too, beware :-)).
There are lots to enjoy there, it is a very colorful location with a lot to offer, although you can just relax and take a stroll too. Visit the many shops and stalls, climb the white bridge to the Gringo Gulch, walk down to the river bank, cross all the hanging bridges (there are three), check out the large peaceful iguanas sleeping in the trees and much more, in an area exclusively for pedestrians. If you are lucky you might find the Río Cuale Museum open (I still haven't had the luck :-)) and if you are hungry or thirsty there are several restaurants and smaller eateries for every budget.
3- Aquaventuras Water Park and Swimming with Dolphins
A water park is an obvious place to have fun as a family. It is a day full of experiences galore and offers different activities that, of course, include the water slides, the fantastic dolphin and sea lion show, many fun pools and the lazy river.
The Puerto Vallarta water park (located in Nuevo Vallarta, 10 minutes north of the International Airport) is well kept and world-class.
There is also a Kid's Club in the water park so smaller children (2 to 5 years old) can use the children's pool and be a part in many different activities scheduled by the sitters.
There are new options and activities in the park, including a 40-foot climbing wall, zip-lining and for older children the "Challenge" (a two-story structure and 32 suspended platforms that'll test your skills).
Dolphins are among the most friendly animals in nature and swimming with them can be an exciting or relaxing experience for everyone, regardless of age. Children are fascinated by these tender and playful mammals, you can see the astonishment on their faces when they are allowed to pet and play them, this option is available in the water park too as a separate paid activity.
2- Day at the Beach in Puerto Vallarta
Considering that Puerto Vallarta is a beach destination, this option should be an obvious one. Any parent knows full well that this option is one of the best ones, though it requires dedication and time from the moms and dads, it will create fun and lifetime memories.
The first step is to choose the beach well, it will ideally be a wide beach with soft sands, soft waves, hopefully with lifeguards (you can never be too safe), with nearby services (bathrooms, showers, food and drink, etc.) and the rest is your responsibility: sand castles, digging holes, swimming, walking and running along the beach, boat rides, etc.
The list of beaches I recommend would be Los Muertos (fun little side trips, including the Los Muertos Beach Pier), Conchas Chinas, Mismaloya, Yelapa in Puerto Vallarta and to the south, and Nuevo Vallarta's beach and Destiladeras to the north.
At most of these beaches, you will find additional activities and food on the spot, ice cream, grilled shrimp and fish, boat rides, banana boats, parasailing, horseback riding and much more, but the younger your children, the simpler the requirements.
Do not forget floats, beach ball, bucket and shovel, and sunblock. Depending on the beach it might be a good idea to bring a parasol, something to drink and light foods.
1- Kid's Club
If your children are too young for some of the activities mentioned above, there are several hotels and resorts that offer Kid's Club services, where they offer many fun things for your kids to enjoy. They might include sports, games, things to eat and lots of fun making new friends, something important for an unforgettable vacation in Puerto Vallarta.
In general, activities include pool games, outdoor activities in the gardens, treasure hunts, soccer, hockey, races, cooking classes, crafts, fun courses in English and Spanish, where children can learn the basics of both languages through games and dynamics.
When booking your hotel room, consider the added benefit of having a Kids Club and the versatility that this will give you in case you want to have some fun of your own with your wife, husband or couple.
I hope it's now clear that is a perfect place for a family vacation and that it is full of things to do for families in Puerto Vallarta, and for kids of any age can enjoy, lots of exciting, fun and even educational experiences for anyone that arrives at this coastal beach paradise.