Are you planning a trip to Puerto Vallarta with kids and looking for family-friendly activities? Keep scrolling to check out the coolest things to do in Puerto Vallarta with family!
This list of kid-friendly things to do in Puerto Vallarta with family was written by family travel expert Marcie Cheung and contains affiliate links. If you purchase something from one of my affiliate links, I may earn a small commission that goes back into maintaining this blog.
Are you planning on visiting Puerto Vallarta with your family and wondering about the best things to do in Puerto Vallarta with kids?
Mexico is known as a spring break destination and offers various romantic getaway options. However, it’s also an excellent place for a family vacation.
There are many family-friendly activities in Puerto Vallarta, from snorkel tours to Whale watching. Also, Mexican culture is thriving, so it’s a great spot to teach the little ones about the rich history and cultural significance around Mexico.
Let’s dive into the best things to do in Puerto Vallarta with kids.
20 Popular Things to Do in Puerto Vallarta with Kids
Explore Downtown Puerto Vallarta
The very first thing anyone should do on a Puerto Vallarta vacation is to explore the downtown area and learn your way around. You’ll get a good feel for the city and your surroundings.
Downtown Puerto Vallarta is a beautiful area right on the beach, with many restaurants, bars, and shops.
The Malecon is a boardwalk that runs along the ocean. It is often described as the geographical and cultural hub of the downtown district. It’s not the most cultural experience, but it has charm and beauty.
Some other points of interest in downtown Puerto Vallarta are Our Lady of Guadalupe Church and Cerro de la Cruz Lookout.
You can easily walk around downtown and catch all the major points of interest. However, if you want to be accompanied by a guide, you can consider a guided tour.
Puerto Vallarta: City Tour, Tequila, and Coffee Factory Tour is a great option for those who want to make the most of a day downtown.
Go on a Horseback Riding Tour
Beautiful beaches and incredible nature surround Puerto Vallarta, and one of the best ways to experience the natural beauty is on horseback.
Although Puerto Vallarta is small or large, there’s a lot of open space around the city borders. And there are many excellent places for horseback riding for all experience levels. This is such a fun and unforgettable memory for the whole family.
There are also several different environments for horseback riding. You can go with a guide to the Sierra Madre Mountains or enjoy a relaxing stroll along the beach outside the city.
Horseback riding in Sierra Madre from Puerto Vallarta is a great horseback riding tour through the mountains. The route follows a river and leads to a beautiful waterfall, making it perfect for children and families.
Punta de Mita/Sayulita: Horseback Riding Tour is another great option, but instead of riding through the mountains, you’ll ride along the beach with gentle, crashing waves.
This tour is much shorter but has some incredible views, as well. It’s the perfect half-day adventure for the family.
Las Animas Adventure Park
Las Animas Adventure Park is an ecological park that offers some exciting adventure activities, like ziplining, beginning rock climbing, and bridge-crossing. It’s also located on its private beach, Las Animas Beach, which is only accessible by boat.
Because of its secluded location, you’ll have to take a boat ride to the island and adventure park. But it’s so much fun; it’s worth the trouble.
And there’s a little something here for everyone in the family. Activities and difficulty levels range, so it’s easy to find something for your kids (and, of course, yourself).
You can make a reservation directly through Las Animas Adventure Park’s website or book a guided tour with a stop at Las Animas Beach.
I recommend the Private Los Arcos Snorkel and Beach Tour from Puerto Vallarta.
The tour includes several stops and only has a few hours reserved for Las Animas Adventure Park, but it’s still enough time to enjoy this kids’ adventure park. And you might even get lucky and have a few dolphin encounters on the ride to the beach.
Take a Snorkel Tour to Los Arcos
If you take a full-day tour to Las Animas, you’ll likely have time to visit Los Arcos. However, no matter what you do, try to make sure you and the family make it to Los Arcos for some snorkeling.
Los Arcos is a large arch that juts out of the water. Although you can see it from mainland Mexico, it’s best to get up close on a boat tour. If you don’t want to take a tour, you can swim and admire the view from Mismaloya Beach outside Puerto Vallarta.
However, on a good day, the snorkeling around Los Arcos is some of the best on the Pacific Coast. It’s one of the most fun activities and great for visiting Puerto Vallarta with kids.
Most tours depart from Marina Vallarta, which is near downtown, so it’s easy to get around.
Luxury Yacht & Snorkeling Tour is an excellent tour that navigates through the Banderas Bay, passes by Los Arcos and the Malecon in Puerto Vallarta, and stops at Majahuitas Beach, a private beach with great snorkeling.
The tour includes an open bar, lunch, snorkeling equipment, and use of paddleboards.
Puerto Vallarta: Los Arcos Snorkel & Beach Private Boat Tour is another great option for families looking to hire a boat all to themselves.
The tour includes time to snorkel around Los Arcos, as well as a brief stop near Las Animas Beach. Pickup for this tour is at Los Muertos Pier, which isn’t hard to get to.
Take a Boat Tour to the Marietas Islands
There are so many beautiful places accessible by boat; you’ll never be bored. Puerto Vallarta is great for nature lovers, especially ocean lovers.
The Maretas Islands are a collection of uninhabited islands off the coast of Mexico. There are also several hidden beaches along the islands, making it the perfect way to escape the crowds in Puerto Vallarta.
This is one of my favorite things to do in Puerto Vallarta with kids because the children always love snorkeling and boat rides, and you’ll pass by a popular spot for wild dolphins.
Marietas Islands Snorkel Tour & Hidden Beach is an exciting adventure through Banderas Bay to all the best spots.
You’ll swim with the exciting marine life and explore the uninhabited islands at your own pace. The tour includes snorkel equipment, snacks, bottled water, and national park entrance fees.
Go Whale Watching
The Bay of Banderas around Puerto Vallarta is an excellent place for whale watching. The most prevalent whales are the humpback whales, and it’s estimated that over 2,000 humpback whales swim near the bay in the winter.
Whale season in Puerto Vallarta is between December and March. During these months, you can cruise to the open ocean and watch the whales jumping and breaching in the distance.
Swimming with these gentle giants is a great memory and is popular with the whole family. It’s one of the most fun things to do in Puerto Vallarta for kids.
Several whale-watching tour companies operate around Marina Vallarta and Los Muertos Pier, Puerto Vallarta’s two central piers.
The Whale Watching Cruise in Puerto Vallarta is an excellent 4-hour tour around Banderas Bay to catch glimpses of whales.
The tour includes a live, bilingual guide who can teach you about the whales in the region. It’s It’seat kids Puerto Vallarta activity off the coast.
Puerto Vallarta Botanical Gardens
One of the best Puerto Vallarta things to do for families is visit the Puerto Vallarta Botanical Gardens. Located right outside the city, it’s one of the best botanical gardens in the country.
The mission statement of the botanical gardens is “To create Mexico’s foremost botanical garden for the propagation, study, discovery, conservation, and display of Mexican native plants for the enjoyment of Puerto Vallarta’s residents and our visitors.”
The gardens have an array of native plants to Mexico, including several types of orchids. They also offer several interactive events and other activities.
You can easily navigate to the Puerto Vallarta Botanical Gardens, about 20 minutes from the town center.
If you’d like to go with a guide, some tour companies offer tours of the gardens with roundtrip transportation.
Puerto Vallarta: Botanical Gardens, Distillery, & Coffee Tour is a full-day tour that includes plenty of time for the gardens and learning about the plant culture in the area.
Do a Puerto Vallarta Food Tour
If visiting Puerto Vallarta with kids, you should encourage the whole family to try traditional Mexican food.
Food is a big part of Mexican culture, and even though it might be different than what you’re used to back home, it can be a great experience. Your kids might even find something they like!
You can walk around the streets and find a variety of food vendors and street foods lining the beautiful beach and downtown area. Or you can take a tour to experience the local culture and Puerto Vallarta’s scene firsthand.
The Puerto Vallarta 3-Hour Food Tour of Authentic Local Cuisine is a highly-rated tour of all the best spots in Puerto Vallarta.
The tour stops at seven different food-tasting stops that are carefully chosen to accurately represent Puerto Vallarta’s seasonal flavors.
Take Cooking Classes
The food around Puerto Vallarta is incredible, and it’s really fun to wander around and try bits of everything. But if you visit Puerto Vallarta, I also recommend a cooking class.
Through the cooking class, you cannot only try local cuisine but also learn to prepare it yourself. Many tour operators also include a brief tour around the local market to shop for fresh ingredients.
Puerto Vallarta Cooking Experience with Market Tour and Tastings is an excellent family activity. You explore the market with a local and learn all about the various cuisines.
Each day, the menu is different, depending on what’s around and obtainable that day. It’s a small group, so it’s it’s for the family.
The Bay of Banderas is a 62-mile-long natural bay. Puerto Vallarta is located right in the middle of the bay, but there are also a lot of other little spots on the bay.
The Pacific Ocean is often rough and ruthless, but Banderas Bay protects the beaches and marine life and makes swimming in Puerto Vallarta safe.
I recommend spending time on the beach in Puerto Vallarta, soaking up the sun, and maybe playing beach volleyball with the kids.
You can also get out of the small city and explore other towns on the bay. Bucerias and La Cruz de Huanacaxtle are smaller towns on the bay. You can easily take a day trip or explore for a weekend from Puerto Vallarta.
Los Veranos Canopy Tour
A canopy tour (or a zipline tour) is one of the most fun things to do in Puerto Vallarta with kids, especially for adrenaline seekers.
Ziplining is a great family activity and is very safe in Puerto Vallarta. There are a good handful of reliable tour operators.
Most zipline tours take you to the Sierra Madre Mountains or somewhere in the jungle and give you a playground of excellent ziplining courses.
Puerto Vallarta: Canopy Tour with Zipline and Speedboat Ride is a full-day tour from Puerto Vallarta.
The Los Veranos Canopy Tour includes 19 exciting ziplines through the mountainous jungle, all safety equipment, and a qualified guide through the zipline course.
There are water slides, kayaking, and swimming spots throughout the course. And the kids can also visit the Monkey House.
Puerto Vallarta Zoo
The Puerto Vallarta Zoo, located near Mismaloya, is home to dozens of animal species, including various felines like leopards and jaguars.
The zoo is an excellent activity for families visiting Puerto Vallarta. Kids can learn about the different animal species, and it’s a welcome break from the busy beaches.
The zoo allows guests to get much closer to the animals than many other wildlife sanctuaries and zoos. In the animal sanctuary, several animals are rescued and raised in the zoo. The only downside is that some of the cages seem a bit small.
That said, the animals seem very happy, healthy, and active. And so many employees around the sanctuary are helping and attending to the various animals.
Puerto Vallarta is not particularly known for world-class climbing, but there are many adventure parks with great rock climbing and repelling courses for beginners.
Climbing with the family is a memorable experience, especially in places with so much natural beauty, like the Puerto Vallarta region. A day trip to the jungle for climbing and ziplining adventures is recommended for older children.
The best way to go climbing or repelling is at one of the adventure parks. Usually, these parks have ziplining, water parks, hanging bridges, water sports, and other activities.
Puerto Vallarta Adventure Tour: Ziplining, Repelling, and Tequila Tasting is a great, inclusive activity with plenty of climbing and other high-adrenaline sports. And there’s something for the entire family.
Visit Matamoros Lighthouse
Matamoros Lighthouse is a historic landmark in the South Side – Old Town of Puerto Vallarta, right off the Malecon. The lighthouse operated from 1932 to 1978 and has become one of the city’s many historical symbols.
Nowadays, you can visit the lighthouse while strolling along the Malecon and passing street performers, art galleries, restaurants, and shops. It’s not a full-day activity, but travelers often miss the lighthouse, and the view is worth your time.
Go on a Pirate Ship
The pirate ship experience is one of the most fun activities for kids visiting Puerto Vallarta. There’s a 700-pound galleon cruising around Banderas Bay after dark. It’s a marvelous sight from shore but even better on board.
The pirate ship puts on a real show with live performers, a buffet-style dinner, and refreshments. All the staff are characters in the show, which makes it a great activity in Puerto Vallarta with kids.
Puerto Vallarta: Pirate Cruise with Dinner and Show is the best tour. The food on board is pretty good, but the show and laughter of the little ones are even better!
Visit Las Caletas Beach and Adventure Cove
Las Caletas Beach is a hidden beach not too far from Puerto Vallarta. The beach is lined with hammocks and offers a wide range of water sports, such as kayaking, paddle boarding, and snorkeling.
Behind the beach, there’s also a variety of other activities. The Teen Adventure Cove is a popular activity for older kids with water slides, repelling, climbing, and other activities. There’s also a Kids Adventure Park for children ages 4-11.
It’s a long ferry ride over to Las Caletas Beach, but all the fun and natural beauty make this one of the best day trips from Puerto Vallarta.
Puerto Vallarta: Las Caletas Beach Hideaway Experience is an excellent package for families that offers roundtrip transportation, meals, drinks, snacks, and all safety and equipment gear.
You’ll also visit the hideaway beach with a tour guide who is very knowledgeable about the culture and activities of the beach.
Explore Yelapa and Majahuitas
Yelapa and Majahuitas are two of the most tropical and beautiful coves around Puerto Vallarta. Although only accessible by boat, they are worth the trip.
These coves are practically untouched, with crystal-clear waters and beautiful beaches. And there’s even a tiny waterfall behind Yelapa Beach that you can easily walk to.
Vallarta: Yelapa Waterfall & Majahuitas Snorkel Adventure is a well-planned trip to both coves, with ample time to snorkel and explore.
The tour stops at Majahuitas first, where you can snorkel and relax on the beach. Afterward, you’ll head over to Yelapa Cove, where you can either enjoy the beach or explore the beautiful surroundings and walk to the Yelapa Waterfall.
Try a Chocolate Workshop
Cacao, used to make chocolate, is native to the Mesoamerican region. The first use of chocolate in Mexico dates back to 450 BC in a cacao beverage flavored with corn, honey, chiles, and other ingredients. So, what better activity for the kids than a chocolate workshop in Mexico?
A chocolate workshop teaches you the history of chocolate in the region and the entire process of turning cacao beans into delicious chocolate.
Puerto Vallarta: Bean to Bar Chocolate Workshop is a big hit among families and one of the most fun Puerto Vallarta things to do for children. The 2-hour workshop walks you through the creation of chocolate, and the kids will surely love it.
Help the Sea Turtles
Puerto Vallarta has excellent wildlife and lively marine life, including sea turtles. From August to December, sea turtles climb to the beach to lay eggs. After the eggs hatch, baby turtles make the long trek down to the ocean.
You can take part in this miraculous adventure with a turtle release program. The Encounter with Nature at the Sea Turtle Camp is a well-known tour activity that allows participants to help the hatching sea turtles get down safely to the ocean.
Take a Day Trip to a Nearby Town
Traveling with kids can be exhausting, and a day trip with the entire family may be intimidating. However, visiting nearby towns is a highlight of visiting Puerto Vallarta. It’s also a great way to escape the busy city and explore more “off-the-beaten-path” locations.
From Puerto Vallarta: San Sebastian del Oeste with Lunch is an excellent tour of a small mountain town near Puerto Vallarta. The town has a rich history, beautiful views, and a small-town charm that is sometimes missed in Puerto Vallarta.
If you want to stay near the beach and enjoy the incredible coastal beauty, several towns are available. Sayulita and San Pancho are two popular day trips from Puerto Vallarta.
From Puerto Vallarta: San Pancho and Sayulita is a full-day tour of these small fishing villages.
The tour first stops at San Pancho and allows you to explore the cobblestone streets and admire the local art galleries and handmade collections. Then, you can enjoy the surfing town of Sayulita.
Things to do in Puerto Vallarta Mexico FAQs
Is Puerto Vallarta good for families?
Yes, Puerto Vallarta is suitable for families. The small city offers many different activities, like jet skiing, kayaking, ziplining, and enjoying the beach. It’s also a cultural hub with plenty of artisanal and historic crafts around town.
Are there theme parks in Puerto Vallarta?
Yes, there are theme parks in Puerto Vallarta, but maybe not the ones you are used to. Most theme parks are adventure parks, with a large water park and activities like ziplining, repelling, and water sports.
Where can I do animal encounters in Puerto Vallarta?
There are many places for animal encounters in Puerto Vallarta. One such experience allows visitors to help release baby sea turtles into the ocean. There is also a Monkey House at one of the popular adventure parks and the Puerto Vallarta Zoo.
Is there an animal sanctuary in Puerto Vallarta?
Yes, there is an animal sanctuary in Puerto Vallarta. The zoo acts as an animal sanctuary for some species, and there are also specialized sanctuaries for other animals, like monkeys and turtles.
What Puerto Vallarta adventures are good for older kids?
I recommend the adventure and water park for older kids. The activities are sometimes intense, like climbing across hanging bridges, so it’s sometimes more challenging for younger children. The snorkel and boat tours are also a hit with older children.
What is Puerto Vallarta known for?
Puerto Vallarta is known for its beautiful beaches and proximity to the magnificent Sierra Madre Mountains. So, not only can you have relaxing beach time, but you can also have thrilling adventures through the mountains.
How much cash should I bring to Puerto Vallarta?
It’s always good to have a decent amount of cash (and pesos) on hand in Puerto Vallarta, as cash is still king in most parts of Mexico. I’d recommend keeping about 2,000 pesos ($110) on hand in case of tipping or small purchases that don’t accept credit cards.
What are the best free things to do in Puerto Vallarta?
The best free things to do in Puerto Vallarta with kids is to enjoy the beach right downtown and walk along the Malecon with incredible views. The street performances will entertain you and have plenty of window shopping opportunities.
What are some cool things to do in Puerto Vallarta when it rains?
The winter months are usually rain-free, but the rainy season is from June through October. So, if you visit during these times, you may have to deal with some rain showers.
When it rains, you can visit the church, The Lady of Guadalupe, art galleries, and museums in Puerto Vallarta.
Amazing Things to Do in Puerto Vallarta with Kids Wrap-Up
Some people might be worried about traveling to Mexico with their families, and that’s understandable. The reputation of many parts of Mexico is not stellar.
However, Puerto Vallarta is a small city built on tourism, with a relatively low crime rate. On the contrary, it’s a great place to take the kids to.
Puerto Vallarta offers many activities that are great for children of all ages. Whether your family is interested in horseback riding to a hidden waterfall, spending the day running around one of the water parks, or learning a bit about local culture, Puerto Vallarta has you covered.