A family vacation to Mexico can be so much more than just a beach vacation, as there are so many historical and cultural attractions that make it an educational experience as well as a pleasure trip. The Mexican Riviera is the term for a group of cities along the west coast of Mexico with beaches on the Pacific Ocean. A popular way to visit several cities in one trip is to take a cruise with ports of call along these magnificent beaches. Most of these cruises depart from Los Angeles or San Diego and include stops in Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta, and Ensenada. A few also include Huatulco, Manzanilla and Acapulco. Shore excursions on these cruises feature snorkeling, horseback riding, ATV adventures, shopping tours, and wine tours.
But if you’re interested in exploring one of these cities in depth and plan to spend your spring break in one location, which to choose? All have many options for deluxe, all-inclusive accommodations. Puerto Vallarta, for example, is home to several outstanding properties, although many have an “adults only” policy which wouldn’t work for a family vacation. The Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit is as luxurious as hotels come, but is also very kid-friendly with kids and teens clubs and an extensive water sports program. This award winning resort overlooks Banderas Bay and is backed by the Sierra Madre Occidental Mountains. The Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta also welcomes families and boasts a private beach and five infinity pools.
What is there to do in Puerto Vallarta besides beach activities? Plenty!
- Visit the Puerto Vallarta Botanical Garden – 64 acres of amazing tropical plants, caves to explore, and a butterfly sanctuary.
- The Planeta Cacao Chocolate Plantation is a working farm where you can watch the cacao beans become the chocolate treats we all love. The Chocolate Museum and the Chocolate School are located here with interactive activities and a chance to make your own chocolate goodies.
- The Aquaventuras Park Vallarta is a water park for kids and adults of any age, and it also features rock climbing and ziplining as well as an aquarium and zoo.
The rich and famous made Cabo San Lucas their “go to” Mexican destination, but you can enjoy it too! This picturesque village on the Baja Peninsula has the advantage of beaches on the Pacific and the Sea of Cortez. The Grand Velas, an all-inclusive, family friendly resort, would be a good choice here. Two of the best restaurants in Cabo are located in the resort, and its secluded beach is perfect for an afternoon snooze.
Attractions here are numerous:
- You MUST get a photograph of El Arco, the iconic landmark rock formation towering over 200 feet above the sea. The sunset at this spot is mind-blowing.
- Catch the end of the whale-watching season as whales from Arctic regions have migrated to these warm waters to mate.
- Visit Flora Farms, an organic 25 acre farm featuring a walking tour and farm-to-table meals served on a beautiful outdoor patio.
- Spend the afternoon at Medano Beach – one of the few beaches in Cabo that’s safe for children and features parasailing and jet skiing.
- Visit La Paz and swim or snorkel with whale sharks (an endangered species that is neither whale nor shark).
- Take the short drive (20 miles or so) to San Jose del Cabo, a quieter, more laid-back version of Cabo San Lucas. Here you’ll find dozens of art galleries and less glitzy bistros and out of the way local hangouts. The San Jose Estuary is a bird sanctuary populated by hundreds of tropical and migratory birds as well as reptiles and amphibians.
- Play at one of Cabo’s amazing golf courses, or try your hand at deep-sea fishing.
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