Mexico’s tropical Pacific Coast resort of Puerto Vallarta boasts nearly 600 hotels in every price range, from world-class luxury hideaways to down-home guesthouses, and most are terrific values. This town has been famous since the 1960’s, when the best hotels were clustered downtown around the Puerto Vallarta’s famous seaside promenade, Malecon, but that’s no longer true. Look at this blog’s choice of family activities in Puerto Vallarta and you’ll understand that you’ll be on the move if you want to get the most out of your visit. So when considering which of our favorites to book, go to the hotel metasearch engine, Trivago.com, and use their location filter to select the best neighborhood for your interests.
Puerto Vallarta Neighborhoods
For today’s family, our top resort picks are on the fringe of old town in the so-called Zona Hotelera, where the beaches don’t have to withstand the enormous wear and tear of Malecon passersby. In this newer resort area, you’ll be within a $10 taxi ride of the shops, galleries, restaurants, nightlife, activities and landmarks, but in a quieter and more tropically laid back neighborhood.
The Marina Vallarta area, where mega cruise ships call almost every day of the week, is a newer enclave of hotels just a few minutes farther from the Malecon. This planned community has a few resorts, many condo towers, and a waterfront shopping and restaurant promenade that circles a marina packed with live-aboard yachts. It’s also a good choice for families since it’s located on a nice sand stretch of beach. The Galerias Vallarta shopping mall in the marina has an MMCinema for a movie night out, and a branch of the popular VIPs coffee shop.
Both of these welcoming neighborhoods offer properties that are ideal for a family beach vacation, whether you’re part of a same sex couple, family reunion, multi-generational getaway with grandparents or just out to enjoy some family together time.
A Unique Beachfront Puerto Vallarta Hideaway
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
+52/ (322) 2934-506; 855/326-1525 (California office)
Rates including all meals from $$-$$$ per double; four-person room rents for $$$$; children 5+ welcome for extra fee of $50 per night; Closed July 1-Septermber 30 during rainy season
Mahajuitas Beach is one of the prettiest stretches of white sand near the built up resort town of Puerto Vallarta, a favorite stop for day-trippers and cruise shore excursions. But there’s nothing to compare to staying here after everyone leaves. Book one of the eight casitas operated by the Majahuitas Resort (“resort” is truly an overstatement), and wave goodbye to the boats, curl up on your woven Mexican pillows, in a hammock, or on a chaise outside the dining palapa, and just enjoy the birds, the breeze and the occasional monkey. We loved the casita named Luna de Miel for its style and built-in seating nooks, but all boast terra cotta tiles, carved woods, Mexican stone sculpture, weavings, and that feeling that no one will ever figure out where you are. Your hosts provide solar powered hot water and electricity, a massage or other wellness treatments, healthful meals of locally grown produce, and boats for kayaking, fishing and snorkeling — all included in the rates. An ideal renewal for new parents, or those hoping to introduce kids age 5+ to the natural world in a distraction-free setting.
Family-Friendly Puerto Vallarta Resorts
Now Amber Resort
David Alfaro Siqueiros No. 164
Col. Zona Hotelera Las Glorias, Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco 48333 Mexico
+52 (322) 226-2900
Rates from $$$ per room, all inclusive
Closer to the heart of downtown but with easy beach access, this luxury all-inclusive resort treats families (and anyone else) very well. We love that they don’t use wristbands to identify resort guests, and we love that they charge no single supplement, making it ideal for single parents to vacation with their kids. The 220 rooms are large, comfortable and appointed with the highest quality toiletries (including sunblock), linens and contemporary furnishings. The Preferred Club wing (about US$100/night per room upcharge) has its own concierge and fully-stocked lounge, with a few master suites that can sleep up to four adults and four kids (ages 3-12 years) in connecting rooms. Dining options are varied, easy and the food is fresh, whether you’re at the main buffet restaurant, poolside café, pizza and hot dog-style snack bar, or having a proper meal at a la carte Italian, Asian and Mexican restaurants. There’s even a take-out coffee shop (with laptops) in the lobby if you don’t want to order from 24-hour room service. The Explorers Club open 9am to 10pm for ages 3-12 is one of the best children’s programs we’ve seen. The large, spotless and eco / dinosaur-themed space is well staffed with counselors trained in infant CPR and 1st Aid. Their profiles and photos are posted so that parents can get to know them, and they provide private in-room babysitting on request. Kids’ amenities include an Explorers’ backpack with T-shirt and coloring book, with activities ranging from Spanish to cooking lessons, to lunch at their indoor and outdoor picnic tables, Earth Day recycling crafts, Friday night movies and toddler naps. Parents are given a pager when they drop off kids, so they can be summoned if needed, to change a diaper for a young 3, for example. Special needs kids are accommodated within the group as well. Teens have the Core Zone, open nightly for gaming, music, lounging or pingpong. An AMR Resorts property, Now is the family brand that adjoins the adults-only Secrets, so parents can luxuriate in we-time at the beautiful adults-only pool, the Spa by Pevonia, or at the several bars and music clubs. A top pick.
Melia Vacation Club Puerto Vallarta All Inclusive
Paseo de la Marina Sur 7 Lotte H-7
Marina Vallarta, Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco 48354 Mexico
+52 (322) 226 3000
Rates: $$-$$$ per room, all inclusive
New parents can rock out with the Flintstones at the 318-room all-inclusive Melia Vacation Club, because its Baby Rock Club welcomes ages 4 months-4 years with trained counselors, a themed sleeping area, indoor playground, cribs and strollers. Ages 5-11 and 12-15 can meet and greet Fred and Dino, or learn kayaking, try the climbing wall, practice archery, dancing lessons or hit the batting cage. There’s a lot of creative kids’ play going on, as you can see in this review of the Melia Vacation Club. The best part for larger families: 41 Kid & Co gardenfront family rooms with two double beds and a bunk bed (maximum occupancy is 5) are perfectly designed and packed with kids’ special toiletries and upgraded amenities for parents. More perks: kids club staff does private childcare ($) and there’s a new Kids & Co Spa, specially designed for girls ages 3-12. This Hotel has a variety of nightly shows during the week, with professional dancers at the Meliá Theater.
The Westin Resort & Spa, Puerto Vallarta
Paseo de la Marina Sur #205
Marina Vallarta, Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco 48354 Mexico
Rates from $$-$$$$
The newly renovated and stylish look, full service staff and facilities at this Westin on Banderas Bay make it a solid choice for families, especially same sex couples who favor the Westin brand. Special-for-kids amenities include a club where ages 4-12 can play video games, do arts n’crafts in air-conditioned comfort, or explore the grounds. It’s open daily except Tuesday; US$10/HR per child; the same rate as booking one of the staff to do after-hours private babysitting. Two nice family features of the Westin are its location opposite Marina Vallarta’s waterfront shopping and restaurant promenade; and the breakwaters that have been created in the bay to form a sheltered swimming cove for little ones. The 220-room resort hotel, built with three smaller timeshare towers next door, occupies a former coconut plantation and the 600 trees that remain standing on its 21 acres provide shade and relaxation. Wellness and fitness options abound. Two lagoon style pools, one designed for families with shallow entryways and a nearby playground, offer pool time fun with infants and toddlers. Couples can take advantage of hotel’s small spa, have a tennis lesson, enjoy the 3rd level’s open air bar overlooking the pools, have a very romantic dinner under the palms along the beach, or go out and sample the city’s famous nightlife. Rooms are spacious and elegantly decorated throughout the, but restaurants can be expensive (although we love their healthy superfoods breakfasts). The best value we found was the Club Floor, which includes a continental breakfast in a dedicated lounge, beverages all day, snacks and cocktails at sundown, full gym access to the Westin Workout classes, and another space to play board games when the kids are restless. This resort also has European Plan, bed and breakfast, and all-inclusive pricing options (about three times the rate of room only), so you’ll have to decide how much time dining around your family will do in this great foodie town. Check the hotel’s site for seasonal Starwood Love Your Family savings packages.
Velas Vallarta Resort
Paseo de la Marina Norte 585
Marina Vallarta, Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco 48354 Mexico
877/418-2859 (toll free US), +52/322/226 8673
Rates from $-$$$$ all inclusive; kids 5-16 pay special rate
This posh Velas resort, one of three in the region, is within walking distance of the Marina Golf Course and Marina Vallarta, and caters to families and single parents with large rooms and summer offers. The Velas Vallarta has 345 luxurious and comfortable, beautifully-appointed suites, including studios, one-, two-, and three-bedroom suites, as well as Master and Ocean Front Suites. Designed with tropical-inspired décor, contemporary furnishings and balconies, they easily sleep from four to eight guests. The all-inclusive rates include suite accommodations, a la carte gourmet meals at a choice of specialty restaurants, premium branded beverages, 24-hour room service, fitness center, kids’ club hosted by Franki the turtle (with cooking classes and more), evening entertainment, activities for adults and children, taxes and gratuities, and more. You can read more about the Velas properties in this first-hand review of their Grand Velas All Suites And Spa Resort in Nayarit, about an hour north of the Puerto Vallarta hotel.
Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta
Playa Las Estacas S/N Carretera Barra de Navidad Km. 3.5
Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco 48300, Mexico
+ 52 322/226-5000
Rates from $$-$$$$$
One of only three outposts of the new Z brand from Hyatt, the Ziva (formerly Dreams Puerto Vallarta) sits on a private secluded cove along Banderas Bay offering watersports, nightly entertainment, all meals and booze as you’d expect at an all-inclusive. It’s located just 15 minutes from the waterfront Malecon, and there’s on-site private childcare, so those looking for a night on the town are in luck. As a high-end, families-welcome resort, Ziva boasts gourmet restaurants, lots of watersports activities with excellent instruction, and an Explorer’s Club for children 3-12. At certain times of year, the resort participates in the local turtle watch and you can see turtles laying eggs, or later in the year, help the hatched babies find their way back to the sea. Service is a big plus here, and the staff is very welcoming to kids. Families with older kids will want to move from a guestroom to the suite-style rooms with a living room including sofabed and refrigerator stocked with drinks. As noted, meals are included in the rates, but you will have to book ahead at the excellent a la carte restaurants in order to guarantee a seat.
A Budget Family-Friendly Puerto Vallarta Hotel
Lázaro Cardenas No. 179
Col. Emiliano Zapata, Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco Mexico
+52 322/222 6465
Rates from $-$$
Located in the heart of the old town in the famous Romantic Zone, the smaller 77-room Eloisa is one of the most traditional hotels in this resort area. The white stucco, red tile-roof hotel is a good option for families looking for a true taste of Puerto Vallarta’s local spirit because it’s very close to the central Los Muertos beach and an easy walk to the taco stands. It’s a real budget option with plain small rooms, a friendly staff, two very small pools, an on-site restaurant and it’s pretty quiet and relaxing. Bargain rates vary by season, and the hotel often runs summer specials; be sure to get a room with A/C.
Additional information on Puerto Vallarta lodgings is available at Visit Puerto Vallarta.
This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question, and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.