Puerto Vallarta, also known as PV or just Vallarta, is one of my favorite towns in Mexico to visit with kids. It located on Mexico’s Pacific Coast, in Jalisco state and is well known for it’s authentic Mexican vibe, good food, warm beach waters and overall safety. There are lots of things to do with kids in Puerto Vallarta, which makes PV a very family friendly destination.
Before I knew it, it was the first week of July, and I hadn’t booked any travel for the month yet. My goal is to take the kids someplace new every month; even if just a to a new city in our very own beautiful state of California. I want to make sure that they are exposed to as much as possible, and as well rounded as they can possibly be.
A few days before I booked our trip to Puerto Vallarta, I overhead Aiden talking to his cousins about his trip to Puerto Vallarta a few years back. During their conversation, Aiden’s youngest cousin who is 3-years-old chimed in and said “I’ve never been to Mexico, and I really want to go to Mexico because it is so awesome.” That was all I needed to hear, and I immediately started planning a surprise budget trip for all 4 cousins to Puerto Vallarta Mexico. In order for me to take all 4 kids to Mexico, I would really have to budget and plan hard to make it happen, and I am so glad I was able to do it thanks to miles and points accumulated from our travel credit cards.
- When To Travel To Puerto Vallarta With Kids
- How To Get To Puerto Vallarta With Kids
- How To Get Around Puerto Vallarta With Kids
- Where To Stay In Puerto Vallarta With Kids
- Things To Do In Puerto Vallarta With Kids
- Where To Eat In Puerto Vallarta With Kids
- Puerto Vallarta Trip Expense Recap:
When To Travel To Puerto Vallarta With Kids
Puerto Vallarta has desirable weather all year round. This means that it doesn’t matter when you travel to Puerto Vallarta, you are guarantee to have warm / hot humid weather with some showers here from July to September. We visited Puerto Vallarta in July and the weather was in the 90’s the whole trip. Hot and humid, but still perfect for pool and beach time. It rained for a few minutes on one day of our vacation and that was about it.
How To Get To Puerto Vallarta With Kids
Puerto Vallarta is a short 3-hour flight from Los Angeles, which is ideal when travelling with kids. The airport code for Puerto Vallarta is PVR. I traveled to Puerto Vallarta with my son Aiden (5.5 yrs old), my nephew Ethan (5.5 yrs old) and nieces Milania (4.5 yrs old) and Avery (3.5 yrs old). We flew to Puerto Vallarta from Los Angeles on Southwest Airlines and returned on United Airlines.
We flew from Los Angeles to Puerto Vallarta on Southwest Airlines direct flight for a total of 29,250 points and $159.20.
We love flying Southwest because they allow two free checked bags (we checked 1 bag). There is no prior seat selection allowed, however families with young children are given priority boarding after the A group. If you are traveling with young children, make sure you get to the gate on time, for a better shot at seating with your family.
I checked into my flight as soon as it was the 24hr mark and was able to secure boarding with the A group. This is one of the things I don’t fancy about Southwest because I don’t always remember to check in on time and end up boarding at the end. This time I set an alarm because I wanted to make sure we could board early and get seats by each other.
The kids were excited to wear their Melissa & Doug Pilot Costume, carry their backpacks and ride their scooters around the airport, even all the way to the gate. They folded their scooters prior boarding the plane, carried them on the plane and I placed them in overhead compartment.
We flew from Puerto Vallarta to Los Angeles on a United Airlines flight with a short layover in San Francisco. I purchased 5 one way basic economy tickets for $716 with a United credit voucher I got last year, so I spent $0 out of pocket.
Basic economy is a very restrictive fare (like flying Frontier Airlines), however, it was the cheapest fare they had and because I was on a budget, it was my first choice. Please note that basic economy fares do not include advance seat selection, group / family seating, a carry-on luggage, flight changes and also does not count towards United lifetime miles or premiere qualification. I took a gamble by purchasing this basic fare, especially traveling with four kids by myself knowing we may not have been assigned seats together. Thankfully, we were assigned seats on the same row. If you purchase basic economy tickets, make sure to get to the airport early so that you can request seats by each other, but that isn’t always guarantee, even when flying with young children.
Scooters are not allowed on the plane when flying from Mexico, so I had to check in our luggage and the kids scooters as well. We had a short layover in San Francisco, so the kids were able to grab their scooters, ride it around the San Francisco airport and then take it on the plane for our San Francisco to Los Angeles flight.
How To Get Around Puerto Vallarta With Kids
Taxi in Puerto Vallarta
With 4 kids in tow, I decided not to rent a car on this trip. Also because I didn’t plan to leave the resort much so it would haVe been a waste of money. We took a 7 seater Taxi from the airport to the Hotel and it cost $20. As soon as you get out of the airport, you will see the taxi line (It’s impossible to miss). If you prefer, you can always reserve transportation ahead of time.
PS: Uber does not pick up at the Airport.
Uber in Puerto Vallarta
We took Uber when we went out to breakfast and to the Malecon. I much prefer Uber to Taxi because it’s cheaper and I don’t have t haggle prices or carry cash. We also took Uber from our Hotel to the airport when we were leaving.
Car seats are not required in Mexico, however prior to our trip I purchased Mifold’s and a BubbleBum for the kids. Those are currently the two most portable travel backless booster seats on the market at this time.
Where To Stay In Puerto Vallarta With Kids
We stayed at Hilton Puerto Vallarta Resort for 5 nights. I booked this hotel using 208,000 Hilton points and $0; which included a free night (each night was 52,000 points). Most Hilton’s offer the 5th night free deal when you book using point, which I think is awesome. The Hilton Puerto Vallarta Resort is located right on the beach which makes going between the hotel, the pool and the beach very convenient. IT is an all inclusive resort so all meals and drinks are free. They have a buffet which is open all day, 24 hour room service and specialty restaurants as well such as French, Brazilian, Spanish and Asian. To dine in the specialty restaurants, a reservation is needed, so make sure to wake up early and reserve a spot before it fill up. Specialty restaurants also only accept reservations when dining with children at a specific time.
My 3 main reasons for booking the Hilton Puerto Vallarta Resort with kids:
- I did not have a rental car and needed to stay at a place where everything was accessible like the pool and beach.
- It is an all inclusive resort meaning we wouldn’t need to leave the resort to get food (even though I dislike hotel food, the thought of getting 4 kids ready to go out to each was just too exhausting)
- I wanted to take advantage of the kids club so I could take a break if I needed to.
A few things I loved about staying at the Hilton Puerto Vallarta Resort with kids:
- Pool side food: unlimited tacos for me and pizza for the kids
- Pool side drinks: unlimited virgin strawberry daiquiris for the kids and unlimited margaritas for me – wooo hoo
- Pool side activities
- Specialty restaurants (the buffet food wasn’t one bit impressive, however the specialty restaurants had really good food)
Things To Do In Puerto Vallarta With Kids
Just like on our first trip to Puerto Vallarta a few years back, we spent a lot of time between the beach and the pool. The kids loved both, so we basically spent hours swimming in the pool, and chasing waves at the beach.
Enjoy The Warm Beach Water
One of the main reasons I booked the Hilton Puerto Vallarta Resort is due to it’s location. Because I was the only adult with 4 kids, it was important that everything be in close proximity so I wouldn’t need to drive or walk far to take them anywhere.
We approached by a guy at the beach who asked if we wanted to go parasailing for $120 or jet skiing for $60. I politely declined as it definitely wasn’t in my budget.
Swim In The Hilton Puerto Vallarta Resort Pool
The Hilton Puerto Vallarta Resort has two pools, both directly by each other, and also less than a minute walk to the beach. I love having the pool and beach so together, it makes going back and forth between both so easy. When we got to Puerto Vallarta, I blew up the inflatable arm floaters I had packed for the kids just to be safe. After a few hours in the water, all the kids were swimming unassisted like little fishes. It was so amazing to see!! They did love wearing their Speedo Swim Caps & Goggles.
Be A Model At The Beach
I packed matching outfits for the kids because I wanted to capture some photos of them by the beach. I love taking photos, you ask why, because memories!! When the kids look back at their photos and videos from every trip, they gleam with joy. The look on their faces is why I’m constantly snapping away. Plus, a photoshoot with your besties at the beach in matching outfits, uhhmm why not?
Order Room Service
The look on their faces when they woke up and saw all that food was priceless. They didn’t know how it got to the room, so it was a surprise for them and they really appreciated it.
Visit Playa Grande and Go Ziplining With Kids
The kids had been talking about ziplining and asking to try it out, so I decided to surprise them and book a ziplining excursion. I booked this tour the day before we left to Puerto Vallarta. I booked it through Estigo Tours. They were very prompt in getting back to me and answering all my questions. The zipline excursion was on sale, yay! I paid $175 total for all 5 of us which I think was a steal. Our experience was great and the guides were amazing. The kids did a few lines on their own, and the rest with the guides, 2 kids per guide.
Do note that this tour includes a LOT of uphill hiking which I did not expect. We zip line in Costa Rica 2yrs ago and did not have to do any uphill climbing, so I expected it to be similar. The kids had no problem going uphill, but let me honest here, I was so out of breathe!! Whew. The kids were far ahead and much quicker than me, I could barely keep up. Ugh lol
The face you make when you realize you are taking 4 kids 5 and under zip lining by yourself ??? ???. The kids were ready though. None of them scared or bothered. Wow !!!! I don’t ever remember being this brave at their age. They even did 2 lines on their own and rocked it [Check my stories for video]. They were feeling so confident by the end it was so amazing to see ????????. . • •••••••••••••••• • Reason # 83426, # 83427 and # 83428 why I travel with my kids: # 83426: To expose them to things I never did as a kid and things I didn’t even know existed as a kid. I didn’t know about zip lining until I was a grown adult ???. No joke! . # 83427: To challenge them physically.The hike up the hill to the zip line was strenous. I was out of breathe myself ??. Their little bodies were physically challenged. . # 83428: To teach them perseverance. As tired as they were going up, and as thirsty, and hot and sweaty, and as many mosquitos kept biting, they pushed and pushed and made it. They had an end goal, and they were not stopping until they made it. . • •••••••••••••••• • Have you ever been zip lining, or taken your kids zip lining? Where? And what was your experience like? . . . #TheMOMTrotter #ziplining #zipliningwithkids #travelingkids #hikingadventures #hikingwithkids #puertovallarta #mexico #mexicowithkids #bravekids #daredevilkids
The kids loved ziplining and have asked to do it again! Thanks to Estigo Tours for the great experience.
Immerse Yourself In Mexican Culture At The Malecon
The Malecon is the happening street in Puerto Vallarta. It is a boardwalk and it is located right on the beach. It filled with day life and night life. The kids chatted with locals, chased bubbles around a street vendor, rode their scooters, took photos with the sculptures and more. There are also restaurants and shops here. There is so much to do and see at the Malecon.
Visit El Pitillal To Enjoy Street Food & Meet Locals
During my quest for good street food, I was directed to El Pitillal by several locals. El Pitillal is located in Puerto Vallarta, about 20 minutes from the Malecon. I loved the friendly little town vibe we got there and especially the fact that my kids were quick to play with the local kids with no hesitation. One of the reasons I love visiting parts of Mexico that are not touristy. I love getting with the locals and just chatting up with them in the little Spanish I know. It gives me a chance to practice, the kids as well.
Where To Eat In Puerto Vallarta With Kids
We ate most of our meals at the hotel. After hours un-end of swimming and playing, poolside tacos, pizzas and more fueled us every afternoon. Some of the kids are a bit picky, but I did make sure that they tried new things before turning it down.
Make sure to check out my list of “Top 10 Best Places To Eat In Puerto Vallarta With Kids”
- Exchange money before you get to Mexico because you’ll get a much better exchange rate that whatever they are offering you at the airport.
- Avoid withdrawing money from the ATM because the ATM and bank fees are ridiculous as well.
- Make sure you change at least $30 to $1’s so that you can tip. I much prefer to tip in dollars because I know exactly how much I am tipping. I don’t fancy always having to convert money.
- Take your pool toys with you such as this collapsible beach bucket, or buy them at Walmart or Costco, it is much cheaper.
- Bug and mosquito spray is a must. We still got bit even after spraying our entire bodies. 2 of the kids didn’t react to it, however myself and 2 of the other kids were covered in welts and bites and so itchy.
- Make sure to pack Benadryl, Children’s Benadryl, Benadryl Itch Gel, Triple antibiotic ointment and Hydrocrotizone cream also, just in case you / your kids react to bug bites. I forgot mine at home at had to buy it at the hotel for triple the price. Yes, they really got me there.
- When offered a CD or flash drive of the photos from any excursion, make sure you try to get a lower price. I was initially told the CD with photos was $75, however I ended up paying $10 for it. No way I was paying $75 for mediocre photos.
Puerto Vallarta Trip Expense Recap:
Total Spent: $478.20
For the first time, I decided to include an expense recap in this blog post especially because I’ve been asked often how much we spend on trips or how we are able to travel so often. People think we are rich, but that is hardly the truth.
We make a lot of sacrifices to be able to travel. For example, my husband and I wanted to take all 4 kids to Mexico, however that was going to put us way over our $500 budget. So one of the sacrifices we made was me taking the kids without my husband. If my husband had joined us, it would have put us over budget because 1) we would have needed and extra room and we didn’t have an extra 208,000 points 2) I didn’t have enough on my voucher to cover his return ticket. Traveling with all 4 kids by myself was exhausting, yes, but absolutely worth it for all the things they get to experience and everything they are exposed to.
A month or two ago I sold all of Aiden’s old clothes and made over $500. That money covered ALL the expenses on this trip, as well as using points and miles. Travel is a priority for me, so I make sure to do lots of research, travel where is cheap and spend as little money as possible so that we can travel again soon.
Expert Tip: You can find the cheapest place to travel to from any city at any time of year by using Skyscanner. Don’t forget to make sure that you download the Skyscanner App also to track flight prices so that you know when is best to purchase your ticket.
Total Amount Spent On Trip For 5 Days in Puerto Vallarta for 1 adult and 4 kids = $478.20
Not listed below is our flight on United because it was paid for by an airline voucher that I was given for free due to an issue with a flight I had sometime last year.
- Southwest Airlines – 29,250 miles and $159.20
- Hilton Hotel – 208,000 points
- Taxi from Airport to Hotel – $20
- Uber – $15
- Zipline – $149
- Zipline CD with photos – $10
- Tacos after Ziplining at their restaurant – $12
- Street Food at El Pitillal – $22
- Breakfast at Restaurant Café Lukumbé – $26
- Ice cream at the beach – $5
- Sand toys at the beach – $10
- Hotel Staff Tips – $25
- Anti itch cream at hotel – $15
- Key-chain Souvenirs for the kids backpacks – $10