Puerto Vallarta is a shopping lover's dream come true. Whether you're looking to do some window shopping, add to your art collection, take home some souvenirs from your trip, or maybe pick up a gift or two for those unlucky folks who had to stay home, you’re sure to find plenty of options. Here are a few of the best spots to enjoy some retail therapy on your visit to Puerto Vallarta.
Along the Malecón
Most people get their introduction to Puerto Vallarta by strolling along the Malecón, the beachfront walkway. As you make your way along this picturesque promenade, you’ll also get an introduction to the wide variety of goods available for purchase. There are shops and restaurants lining the city-side of the Malecón, and vendors selling handicrafts, souvenirs, and local artists set up temporary stands along the way. In this area, you’ll find boutiques selling swimwear and resort-wear, leather goods, high-end jewelry, specialty tequila stores, and galleries featuring the locally-made traditional Huichol art. To discover this area and a few of the numerous art galleries it contains, participate in the Art Walk, held at 6 p.m. each Wednesday from the end of October to the end of May.
There's a shaded haven for bargain-hunters on a small island in the River Cuale, which separates Puerto Vallarta’s Historical Center from the Old Town or Romantic Zone. Cross over on one of the footbridges or (if you’re feeling adventurous) one of the suspension cable bridges that links Isla Cuale to the mainland. You’ll find a great number of stalls selling handicrafts, souvenirs, locally made art, and more. Refine your haggling skills by bargaining with the vendors (brush up on your numbers in Spanish ahead of time for extra street cred, though most of them speak enough English to agree on a price!).
Puerto Vallarta’s Marina is a lovely area to visit at any time, but on Thursday evenings from 6 to 10 p.m. during tourist season (October through May), the place comes alive for the weekly art market. Stalls and tents line the dock, and vendors offer up goods such as homemade jams, baked goods, decorative items, locally-designed handbags and jewelry, and much more. There is live music and performances to enjoy and an all-around lively atmosphere.
La Isla Shopping Village
Designed to evoke a city square, La Isla is Puerto Vallarta’s newest mall. The open-air design with a canal running through it (sometimes gondola rides are offered) is enjoyable to explore on good weather days. You’ll find some high-end shops and boutiques and some international stores such as H&M, Bath and Body Works, Calvin Klein, and more. There are many restaurants as well as a Cinepolis theater if you’d like to catch a movie (Hollywood films are shown with subtitles, except for kids’ movies which are usually dubbed).
If you need to pick up something you lost or forgot to pack, Galerias Vallarta is located very close to the cruise ship dock and has a variety of shops, including the Mexican department store, Liverpool. There’s also Sam’s Club and Walmart just next door if you don’t find what you’re looking for in the mall. Some people come to escape the heat in the comfort of the mall’s air conditioning (particularly appealing if you visit Puerto Vallarta during the summertime, Puerto Vallarta’s hot and humid season). The upstairs food court offers beautiful views of the sunset and cruise ships.
Besides the fruits and vegetables that you would expect to find at a farmers market, the Olas Altas Farmers Market in Old Town Puerto Vallarta has a wide variety of goods that are all homegrown or handmade in the Puerto Vallarta area. Open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays between November and April, this market offers a blend of Mexican and international flavors. Go for breakfast, enjoy some live music, browse local art, handmade items, and locally designed clothing, jewelry, accessories, and items for the home. You’ll likely be tempted by the baked goods and wonderfully fresh produce, so bring an appetite!
The cobblestone streets of Old Vallarta contain a multitude of shops and galleries. Basilio Badillo street is an excellent place to start exploring. Besides its numerous restaurants, on this street, you’ll find interesting boutiques such as Lucy’s Cucu Cabana offering handcrafted items from different areas of Mexico, Chantel’s Vintage Spoon Jewelry & Boutique which has a wide variety of jewelry made from repurposed silverware, and Faith Colectiva which features clothing and jewelry made by local women. As you wander around, you're sure to find many unique and interesting items you'll want to take home with you.