Puerto Vallarta offers great opportunities for shopping travelers. Almost everything about Mexico is available here: blown glass, silver, scrapes, pottery, sandals, masks, colonial-style furniture, clothing, and many other arts and crafts. It’s being an art center that distinguishes it from many other beach resort cities in Mexico.
The city will give you a unique opportunity to buy pieces by some of the well-known contemporary sculptors and painters in the country. If you are a budget-conscious traveler with a very good eye, visit the Pueblito del Sol Cultural Center where you will see works of some of the country’s up-and-coming artists. There are so many great buys that you will find it difficult to choose what to get.
Puerto Vallarta’s major flea market is located near the Rio Cuale. Along the Malecon strip, you will find designer shops that specialize in casual wear. American shops also dot the Malecon, a good combination of the old and the new. They are placed side-by-side with traditional Mexican galleries and shops. You can find the city’s art gallery and antique store district along Morelos and on Corona. You might find here a rare pre-Columbian artifact or an old iron hitching ring for a horse.
Great shops are scattered throughout Puerto Vallarta. Some stores and boutiques are near the beach, while some are located in major hotels. The other is located in the downtown shopping district along Morelos and Juárez Streets. Most shops open around 10 am and close around 8 pm. Other shops close from 2 pm to 4 pm.
Puerto Vallarta is not only about taking a shot of tequila, loving the pristine beach, or sampling local delicacies. It is also about experiencing the city’s market life. If you love good markets, then Puerto Vallarta will not disappoint you. The city has all the hustle and bustle, the sights and sounds, the smell of the freshest native food, and the products you would never find in other cities. The city gives you the thrill of bargaining, making your market experience exciting.
The city’s major market is located in the northern part of the Río Cuale. This market sells clothes, produce, serapes, jewelry, shawls, suitcases and leather accessories, stuffed armadillos and frogs, paper-mâché parrots, and T-shirts.
Make sure that you compare first and haggle before buying. The market also serves cheap but delicious traditional Mexican dishes. If you are an adventurous diner, it is perhaps the best value and one of the most authentic dining experiences in Puerto Vallarta. The market is open every day from 9 in the morning to 7 in the evening.
An outdoor market is located along Río Cuale Island. It is filled with stalls that sell clothing, gifts, crafts, and folk art. Small Vallarta is one of the more recent markets in the city. It is located on Paseo Díaz Ordaz 928. It features traveler-friendly dining and shopping dining options.
For many years, Puerto Vallarta shopping was concentrated in eclectic, independent, small shops. This has changed in recent years, however. Today, shoppers can splurge in large and modern shopping centers located between the hotel zone and Marina areas.
There are several major “plazas” in the city. Located in Versalles, the Plaza Caracol and Plaza Caracol have many small boutiques and shops, along with some restaurants, banks, fast foods, and ice cream outlets. The Marina Plaza is located in the Marina complex. It houses many shops, restaurants, and cafes, along with some high-end design and furniture shops.
A recent addition to Puerto Vallarta’s dining and shopping scene is the Plaza Peninsula, facing a waterfront condominium development bearing the same name. Another retail addition is the Centro Commercial Galerias Vallarta, a huge entertainment and shopping mall anchored by up-scale Liverpool. It houses various boutiques and shops that include Bennetton, Hugo Boss, Lacoste, and Levis, among many others. Sirloin Stokade, Applebee’s, and Chili’s are among the best selections for dining.
There are major department stores in the city where you can buy clothing, get your groceries, and just about everything. They include Gigante in Plaza Caracol, Comercial Mexicana in Plaza Marina and Plaza Genovesa, and Rizo’s, Leys, and Lans in Centro.
Arts & Crafts
Traditional Puerto Vallarta arts and crafts are extremely varied, and there is something for different tastes. Whether you are searching for a beautiful ornament as a keepsake or a higher-end piece of furniture or artwork, Puerto Vallarta has got all of them for you.
The city offers an excellent selection of Huichol art. The Huichol Indians are Aztec descendants; they are one of the world’s indigenous cultures that still practice ancient traditions and customs, speak an ancient language, and live in their original habitat.
Huichol arts and crafts have been cloaked in a veil of mystery and mysticism. This is perhaps one of the many reasons serious art collectors are attracted by these art forms. The colorful and symbolic yarn paintings, which are inspired by visions one experienced during spiritual ceremonies, is one of the major characteristics of Huichol art. In the rituals, artists ingest a hallucinogenic cactus (peyote), which induces colorful visions. These visions are considered to be messages from their ancestors. The mythological and symbolic imagery of the visions influences their art, which covers not only yarn paintings but also interesting bowls masks designed with small colored beads.
While geographically isolated, the Huichol are beginning to learn the importance of business. Thus, in order to satisfy consumer demand, they have adapted their art to include designs that depict iguanas, sea turtles, jaguars, eclipses, frogs, and eggs. If you are after more traditional works, you should look for pieces depicting snakes, deer, scorpions, or wolves.
You may see Huichol on the city streets. They are not difficult to spot. A Huichol Indian traditionally wears white clothing that is embroidered with bright colorful designs. You can find many fine Huichol galleries in downtown Puerto Vallarta.