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Historic El Centro

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Fall in love with Puerto Vallarta as you walk the historic district with a native English speaker and resident whose love of the city is evident through the fascinating insights you hear. Walk the cobblestone streets, typical of Spanish Colonial architecture, while absorbing the sights, smells, and sounds of daily life. This area of Vallarta is known as Old Town, where a settlement first began as a small fishing village over 150 years ago. First, it was the discovery of silver in the Sierra Madre Mountains that drew people here, then it was the movie “Night of the Iguana” with its famous actors and outrageous scandals! Today it is a world-famous tourist destination. But fear not, once on this walk, you will be taken back in time to a slower, friendlier, quieter way of life.

This walking tour will also introduce you to the old-world way of specialty shops and custom orders including a tailor who will create cotton and hand-painted clothes from your own design. Hear the story behind the Huichol Indians and their peyote-inspired folk art. Learn how to navigate through a sweet-laden candy shop known for its hot, caramelized nuts prepared in a copper pot right in front of you, get expert advice on buying Talavera pottery, and how to get your shoes repaired where the priests have theirs custom-made.

We begin at the Four Arches Amphitheater on the Malecón across from the central plaza while facing the expansive Banderas Bay, famous for the humpback whales that migrate here in the winter to birth their babies. Next, we cross to the plaza where 100-year-old rubber trees bespeak of an industry of long ago, newspapers, shoe shines, and tuba drinks are sold, and locals gather for daily gossip sessions. We continue on the surrounding streets to learn about the historic colonial buildings, artisan workshops, the ecosystem surrounding the Rio Cuale, today’s educational system, and the local cigar factory where they not only roast their own coffee and cacao beans to make their own chocolates but also sell locally distilled tequila and vanilla. Hear the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church with its beautiful bells still rung by hand and the man who helped bring education to Vallarta after the Revolution.

We end back on the Malecon where final questions and photos can happen.  My Puerto Vallarta guidebooks covering many of the walkable neighborhoods and tropical plants of the area are available at local bookstores around the Bay.