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Beyond The Beach


Settle into Rivera del Rio, a sumptuous B&B that was once home of late local legend Mary Margaret ("Silver") Alexander Killen and often used as a backdrop for photo shoots.


Sign up for a cooking class at the prize-winning restaurant  El Arrayán. The Monday class begins with a traditional Mexican breakfast and market tour before hands-on in the kitchen, preparing lunch. Thursdays and Saturdays , a shorter class focuses on kitchen-time and lunch.


If the cooking class doesn't fit in your schedule - or you don't want to get your hands dirty - do a foodie walking tour to sample snacks and sights with Vallarta Eats, which also has evening tours.


After lunch, stroll the 12-block Malecón seaside promenade with its impressive parade of monumental sculptures. If you want to learn more about the sculptures, drop by the Pacific Art Gallery, whose owner Gary Thompson gives a free tour Tuesday mornings during the winter season.


Head south of the river to Galleria Dante, an electric art gallery in an old hacienda. Long a fixture on the Puerto Villarta art scene, it has a particularly good stable of Mexican artists.


Adjourn upstairs to Di Vino Dante, a romantic tapas and wine bar that overlooks the sculpture garden of the gallery.


Plan for tomorrow's outing among the orchids at the Vallarta Botanical Gardens just south of the city and a visit to the nearby 16th century village of El Tuito where you can sample artisan cheese and coffee and a pre-Columbian moonshine called raicilla.