I RECENTLY escaped the near-freezing climate of the Pacific Northwest for three days in the sun in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Although my trip was short, my days were easily filled with memorable experiences. Puerto Vallarta’s relaxing beaches, lush jungles, and active nightlife made me wish I was there longer. Make sure to follow me on travelstoke to check out my trip in more detail.

[Editors note: Cody was a guest of the Grand Fiesta Americana Puerto Vallarta on this trip.]



I explored the Sierra Madre Jungle on a ziplining tour with Vallarta Adventures. Although it looks like I’m having fun in this picture, I was secretly scared out of my mind. This one was just a warmup before the “Superman” - a 1km long zipline where you can hit speeds up to 70 miles per hour.Featured on “The Amazing Race” and “Chopped,” the Superman was one of the most memorable experiences I had in Puerto Vallarta.


Show de Fuego

I’ve had the pleasure of seeing a few fire shows while traveling but nothing has come close to the “Show de Fuego” I saw in Puerto Vallarta. With frequent performances at hotels and parks across the city, this near hour-long show will keep you warm and entertained. Pictured in the back is Diego Jonathan Hernandez Tellez who owns “Show de Fuego.” His passion for entertaining crowds shines during his performance as he somersaults, cartwheels, and stage dives all while twirling fire.



Surrounding the city of Puerto Vallarta is the 150 mile wide mountain range, Sierra Madre Occidental. With over 400 species of birds, 300 species of orchids, pumas, jaguars and white-tailed deer, the mountains are packed with exciting possibilities. You can go out for a hike on your own or schedule an adventurous tour to explore the jungle in extreme ways such as zip-lining, horseback riding, or ATVing like pictured here. I rode shotgun and kept my eyes peeled for the elusive Jaguarundi as my tour guide drove us around.


Glorious beaches

I captured this image from my gorgeous balcony view at the Grand Fiesta Americana Puerto Vallarta. With the entire West side of the city overlooking the Pacific Ocean, views like this are common.


El Malecon Boardwalk

The “El Malecon Boardwalk” is a 12-block, spacious seawalk. Aside from the ocean views, it is a fantastic place to go for shopping, clubs, and dining. With something to do at all times of the day, the boardwalk is a center for activity in Puerto Vallarta. With vehicle traffic not allowed, the boardwalk is filled with statues, art, sand sculptures, street performers, and photo opportunities.


Tequila tastings

Stepping out of the airport, I was offered free tequila way before I was ever offered a taxi. While checking into my hotel, I was offered tequila before a room key. At the end of every tour I attended, I was offered free tequila. The locals were happy to boast and share their flavorful tequila, but I found all the tequila I tried tasted similar. I’m excited to return to refine my palate at one of the local distilleries next time I visit. The Rancho Verano Distileria de Tequila near downtown was recommended as a great place to learn about how to taste tequila, the history of tequila and, of course, try some authentic tequila. When sharing tequila in Mexico, use the toast, “¡Arriba, abajo, al centro, pa' dentro!” The phrase translates to “up, down, center and inside!” It is popular amongst locals and in many Latin-American countries as well.


Farmer's Market

While you’ll find the traditional souvenir and pharmacy stores in Puerto Vallarta, the Farmer’s market is where you’ll find plenty of fresh fruit, veggies, bread, and pastries amongst novelties and artisan wares. You don’t even have to buy anything to enjoy the people watching and fresh smells. My best purchase at the market was a Mexican pastry sold by a street vendor. It was stuffed with fresh apple and baked to a warm, gooey perfection.


The Pier at Los Muertos

The Pier at Los Muertos - a hub for water activities in Puerto Vallarta - is a landmark at the heart of a busy beach. Paragliding, scuba diving, jet-skiing, and other boat related tours can be booked there. The pier also offers phenomenal views of the Puerto Vallarta skyline and bay. I can’t wait to go back and get a sunset shot looking down the shore.


Meeting other travelers

Meeting new people is one of my favorite part of travelling; I love exposing myself to new ideas and cultures. As a port city for as many as 16 cruise ships per month, Puerto Vallarta is a melting pot of travelers from around the world. I met a Croatian, Malaysian, Serbian, and Russian in just three days while exploring the city.



The club scene in Puerto Vallarta was impressive. Multi-story vegas-style clubs line one block of the boardwalk and offer entertainment until six in the morning. The main clubs are all next-door to each other so if you strike out at one, there’s another right next door. Most nights, a single pass will grant you cover to all four major clubs: “Zoo”, “La Vaquita”, “Carlos N Charlies” and “Mandala”. Many club-goers keep it casual by wearing swimsuits to enjoy buckets of foam frequently unleashed on the dance floor.


Amazing food

There are over 400 restaurants in Puerto Vallarta ranging from taco stands on the beach to luxurious culinary institutions run by gourmet chefs. Next time I go, I’m going to join a food tour so I can taste as much as possible. Right now, my perfect Puerto Vallarta day would be “Freddy’s Tucan” for breakfast to have an omelet with Kaluha Pancakes, “Le Kliff” for happy hour martinis and appetizers, followed by “Panchos Takos” for dinner to have authentic Mexican tacos al pastor.