Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Puerto Vallarta sits along the calm waters of Banderas Bay on the Pacific coast. Its location made it an ideal point for the Spanish to rest and refuel during their colonial days. It is also thought to have played host to the odd pirate. Through the first half of the 20th century, Puerto Vallarta made a living from its rich natural resources, but a chance encounter with Hollywood great Elizabeth Taylor in the 1960s set it on the path to becoming one of Mexico's best loved resort towns.

Get a feel for old Puerto Vallarta with a walk through the Romantic Zone or Old Vallarta. Walk along narrow alleys lined with white balconies and hanging bougainvillea. Take a sunset stroll by the church of Our Lady of Guadalupe to see this early 20th century structure light up in a warm glow. Hire a water taxi and spend a morning swimming and sunbathing on Playa las Animas. Be sure to get there early to avoid large tour groups that arrive in early afternoon.

Stop at cozy Jorge's Hideaway Shrimp Shack for some local grub like fresh caught shrimp stuffed into a pineapple, or tasty octopus appetizers. Sit at a balcony table by the river while enjoying an order of sangria and paella negra at the tucked away La Peņa Andaluza.

Next Stop: Puerto Vallarta

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