It’s the end of another busy day of sand-and-sea adventures, but there’s time for the family to take one last stroll along the boardwalk before the sun slips over the horizon. The promenade is at its busiest during this time of day, crowded with dancers, jugglers, and food vendors selling spicy corn and tres leches cake. As the kids crane their necks to watch the daring Voladores de Papantla dangle from their ankles and spin around a 50-foot-high pole, you begin to wonder if you’ll ever have enough time to explore everything that Puerto Vallarta has to offer. Just when you think you’ve seen it all, something new surprises you.

Nestled between the lush Sierra Madre mountains and beautiful Banderas Bay on the Pacific Coast of Mexico, Puerto Vallarta is lovely for a family holiday destination. Thanks to its glorious beaches, water sports, and kid-friendly attractions, there’s always something new and exciting for the family to see and do. Whether embarking on a whale-watching adventure, zip-lining over a canopy of trees, or exploring the culture of the area’s indigenous Huichol people, you know you’re making lasting family memories every day.

Malecon Promenade

Family vacations to Puerto Vallarta begin at the beaches around the deep waters of Banderas Bay. But before hitting the sand and surf, take the kids for a stroll along the city’s iconic Malecon, Puerto Vallarta’s most popular attraction. The newly renovated boardwalk starts in the downtown district and stretches to Playa Los Muertos, the city’s largest beach.

Ornamented with pebble designs created by a local Huichol artist, the promenade features bronze sculptures of whimsical creatures such as mermaids, giant seahorses, and unicorns. Mimes, clowns, and jugglers entertain the kids and souvenir shops and outdoor cafes crowd the 12-block-long Malecon. Free tours of the Malecon are available at Hotel Rosita, the city’s oldest resort.

Water Sports and Activities

Puerto Vallarta offers every kind of kid-approved water activity you expect from a beach resort town, including kayaking, jet skiing, boogie-boarding, parasailing, snorkelling, and scuba diving. Tell your kids to stay on the lookout for mammoth humpback whales offshore–these gentle giants pass through Banderas Bay on their annual 16,000-mile migration. Whale-watching cruises are also available.

Pirate Ship Vallarta

For a once-in-a-lifetime family adventure, book a cruise on the Pirate Ship Vallarta. The pirate ship departs from the Maritime Terminal, and the crew enacts pirate battles as it sails through Banderas Bay to a secluded beach. The family-oriented excursion includes interactive pirate games and contests that will make your kids shout “Arr, matey!” with delight.

Aquaventuras Park Vallarta

No family vacation to Puerto Vallarta is complete without a visit to the Aquaventuras Park Vallarta. Located to the north of the airport, the water park boasts 10 water slides, a lazy river, and a playground. Its real claim to fame is the Dolphin Swim Adventure attraction. The chance to touch and play with dolphins is an experience your kids will remember all their lives.

Artesanias Watakame Gallery

Puerto Vallarta is as famous for its food and art scene as it is for its scenic beaches. The traditional Mexican food offered in roadside taco stands and beachfront palapas is to die for, and the upscale restaurants serve world-class cuisine. Once your bellies are full, walk it off by touring the many art galleries of the city. Puerto Vallarta has more than 30 art galleries and stores showcasing both contemporary and traditional artwork. The real gem of town is the Artesanias Watakame Gallery, which features authentic Huichol yarn paintings, prayer bowls, and colourful masks to delight the kids.

In warm and welcoming Puerto Vallarta, your family’s biggest challenge will be finding enough time to explore all of the city’s kid-friendly attractions. Whether snorkeling with your children in the Los Arcos underwater caves or clapping along to a folkloric dance show at Lazaro Cadenas park, Puerto Vallarta will leave you and your children with fun-filled memories you’ll treasure for years to come.

Which Puerto Vallartan activity do you think your kids will love best?