Exploring Centro Vallarta
by Vallarta Online Staff | published: 5/26/2005
Spend a Splendid Day in the Heart of the City
Find the hidden treasures and secret gems that keep visitors coming back year after year to Vallarta.
Once you rise and shine, as the sun begins peeking over the mountain tops, slip on your favorite walking shoes and set off for a day of adventure. Start your day mid-way on the Malecón at Las Palomas for a delightful breakfast. Las Palomas is a legend in Vallarta with tourists and locals alike. A large menu offers traditional breakfast favorites, piping hot coffee and fresh squeezed orange juice. Sit street-side and watch the Malecón and the Banderas Bay come to life.
Once your tummy is full, walk across the street to the beachside boardwalk, and head left. Strolling along, you'll come across some of the many sculptures Vallarta is known for. At the end of the boardwalk is Los Arcos, the marble arches and amphitheater where frequent weekend dance or music performances are held, free of cost.
Directly across the street is the plaza, Plaza de Armas, with its white wrought iron gazebo where you can find everything from clowns and mimes to bands, dancing and shows. To the left is the City Hall, Presidencia Municipal, and tourism office where you can pick up maps, facts and information. Above the plaza is the church, La Parroquia de Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe, named for the city's patron saint. Relatively new, built in 1951, the church's crowing glory is the huge crown on the main tower modeled after Maximillians' wife, Empress Carlota. While you are free to visit the church, please be respectful, wear appropriate clothing and remove your hat.
Gringo GulchIf you are facing the church, the next street to your left is Zaragoza street. Walk up Zaragoza away from the ocean. This is the area known as Gringo Gulch, a steep villa-speckled hillside area known for the affluent North Americans who settled here years ago, including the likes of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. During the filming of The Night of the Iguana, Richard and Elizabeth not only fell in love with each other but the area as well and subsequently bought two homes on Zaragoza, adjoining them together with the infamous pink love bridge.
Rio Cuale Island
You can easily spend hours strolling the narrow streets and stair-stepped sidewalks, but if bargaining is up your alley, head back down towards the Isla Rio Cuale. Right on the island is the famous Mercado where you can find every type of T-shirt and souvenir in Puerto Vallarta. Here is where you are expected to bargain.
Normally, the prices start high, and it is up to you to get the price down through negotiation and easy banter.
Crossing the Bridge
There are multiple ways of getting off the island and onto the southside of town. You can cross the river via one of five swinging wooden bridges, or you can save your stomach and take the concrete steps up to Ignacio Vallarta Bridge bringing you into a plethora of traditional Mexico hotels luxury condos, shops, restaurants, food stands, bakeries, coffee shops, cyber cafes, bars and discos. Anything you can imagine could be found in a radius of a few blocks. No matter what street you turn on you will find thousands of eye catching possibilities. Decadent pastries for a few pesos, 10 peso beers, hand rolled Cuban cigars, to $300 dollar dresses and one-of-a-kind designer jewelry all housed in a residential/retail community.
Taking A Load Off
If you need a break, Roberta's Café Dulce (formerly Pie in the Sky) offers a selection of pastries, Blue Bell ice cream and hearty sandwiches and is air conditioned to boot! You can find it at the corner of Calle Ignacio Vallarta.
Best Places to Stay in Within This Area:
Posada Roger- A typical Mexican atmosphere in the heart of the city.