Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Puerto Vallarta became an instant hit after the release of the film The Night of the Iguana, staring Ava Gardner and Richard Burton. Located at the edge of the Sierra Madre range, the cobblestone streets of this once-quiet Pacific Coast fishing village are now full of visitors during high season.
Before You Go: Need-to-know info
7 hours from NYC, 3 hours from LA, 7 hours from Chicago, 5 hours from Dallas
Taxi, car, bus
When To Go: Puerto Vallarta at its best
October to May
May or June through September or December; exact dates vary by hotel.
Semana Santa, which begins in March or April, leads up to Easter and is celebrated with parades and passion plays; Fiestas de Mayo, a traditional fair, runs through May; Mexico's independence is celebrated in mid-September with fireworks and parties in the central plaza.
What To Do
Surf and shop:
Puerto Vallarta's golden sands are a major draw for honeymooners and a beach-lover's dream come true. To shop and people-watch, head for Playa de los Muertos and Sayulita for surfing. You can pay homage to The Night of the Iguana
and visit Mismaloya Beach (where the movie was filmed), or go snorkeling at Quimixto, a beach south of Puerto Vallarta that's accessible only by boat (so it's remote and romantic).
Experience old-world ambience:
Old Town is a crisscross of crooked cobblestone streets lined with Spanish-style white-washed buildings. Here you can sip coffee and catch some city sights.