Puerto Vallarta encompasses Mexico's diverse attributes

Last Updated: September 4, 2012 by
Categories: Mexico

By Maribeth Mellin

I have certain expectations when visiting Puerto Vallarta. I plan to eat well and often, purchase more than I can carry and learn something totally unexpected. Gorgeous sunsets are a given, as are mountains so lush they soothe weary eyes. I'll inhale the sweet scent of mangos and churros, tap my toes to salsa and mariachis and exchange cheek smooches with (nearly) everyone I meet.

In short, I'll savor all my favorite Mexican sensations without racing all over the country. Puerto Vallarta, you see, has a bit of everything I adore about Mexico. And though I've visited PV, as it's known informally, at least two dozen times I always find a new favorite thing. What follows are just a few of the reasons I keep returning.

Civilized beauty

So iconic as to be passe, the view of the filigreed crown atop PV's Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, set against the blue horizon and Bahia de Banderas, always sends my inner shutter into ecstasy. Surrounded by a panorama of white boxes with bumpy terracotta roofs tumbling down steep hillsides, the church dominates Viejo Vallarta. My preferred perch for this portrait is the Celestial Suite at Hacienda San Angel, though it's hard to find a bad angle from the hills above the city. With unusual prescience, the city's leaders have long protected this view, ensuring wires and cables are buried beneath river-stone streets.

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