Gorgeous ocean views dominate one’s dreams of Puerto Vallarta — long a top and welcoming destination for gay tourists and expats — but the beach city flourishes with creative energy. Though Zona Romántica remains the epicenter for shopping and nightlife, once you’ve cruised the boardwalk and chowed on mango skewers from street stands, you’ll find a mix of sophisticated dining and rustic jungle thrills.
If you like your vacations to resemble the covers of equestrian Harlequins, Puerto Vallarta has no shortage of rugged, majestic ways to ride horseback — shirtless, in rushing water, through exotic jungles. Experience them all at once at Hacienda Doña Engracia, where a two-hour horse ride includes not only a trip to hot springs and deep-water saddle-less jaunt, but, most important, a homemade tequila tasting at the end.
Photo by Sarah Crumb
While the Mexican capital may be in the thrall of mezcal, fine tequila continues to thrive here, the region where it was born.
CasaMagna Marriott Resort
bottles its own delicious strains distilled from the ripe hearts of blue agave, so check in with resident sommelier and tequila expert Audrey Formisano for a lesson in whether reposado or añejo pairs betters with a plate of shrimp ceviche.
Not loose enough? Make an appointment for a treatment at the
, which features art and healing techniques from local Huichol Indian tribes.
A meditation in white, chef Alfonso Cadena’s latest restaurant La Leche, with its wall of blank milk cartons, may resemble a desaturated Warhol project, but the spotless interior and minimal decor isn’t just a sight gag — rather, it’s a blank canvas on which to display his French-inspired menu (both the signature duck dish and seafood ravioli are standouts) that puts the city’s dining scene on the culinary map.
Sip With a View
With countless stunning vantage points, it may seem redundant to point out one in particular, but don’t miss the sunset view from
hotel. Located 10 minutes south of the city center, and therefore a bit more secluded, it offers an unparalleled view of the horizon. Whether it’s taken in from the oceanfront property’s infinity pool or while sipping a cocktail at the glass-walled restaurant, it’s a sight you’ll never forget.
Carretera a Barra de Navidad Km. 7.5;
Photo by Sarah Crumb
Catering mostly to an LGBT clientele, the “straight-friendly” Casa Cupula, tucked into one of the city’s hillsides (a 10-minute walk from town), achieves that fine balance between seclusion and accessibility — with stunning beach panoramas and tropical flora surrounding the 21 eclectic rooms, suites, and villas for privacy. Those with a natural curiosity beware: One could get lost exploring the nooks, pools, and lookouts sprinkled throughout the sprawling property.
Callejon de la Igualdad Mexico 129;
Night of the Iguana
The 1964 film directed by John Huston (and starring Richard Burton) put the city on the map and remains one of its cultural touchstones. Elizabeth Taylor’s decision to join Burton during the filming brought Hollywood glamour to what was then a “remote fishing village,” thus transforming it forever.