Things to Do in Jalisco - page 2
Riding the Tequila Express is one of the most atmospheric ways to take in the highlights of Mexico’s tequila country, chugging through the sweeping valleys between Guadalajara and Amatitan. Hop on board the historic railway and take in the UNESCO-listed landscapes of Jalisco, the center of Mexico’s tequila industry and home to over 30,000 hectares of blue agave plantations and over 140 tequila distilleries that produce some 50 million gallons of the spirit each year.
Taking a day tour on the Tequila Express is about more than just the journey though - it’s a cultural experience that includes a visit to the famous Casa Herradura Distillery, where you can learn all about the production of the historic spirit; a buffet lunch of traditional Mexican food and an entertaining show of Mexican mariachi music and dance. Of course, you’ll also get the chance to visit the town that started it all – Tequila – where you can sample some of the region’s finest tequilas.
There’s no denying that one of the major draws to the resort town of Puerto Vallarta is the weather. And warm, beach-going weather also means great golfing weather, perfectly suited for a day at the Vista Vallarta Golf Club. Designed by famous golfers Jack Nicklaus and Tom Weiskopf, the Vista Vallarta Golf Club is routinely selected as not only one of Mexico’s best courses, but one of the most beautiful settings for a game of 18 holes in the world. Surrounded by tropical mountains and the Pacific Ocean, it’s hard to find anything not to like about this pinnacle of golf resorts.
A luxurious and spacious hotel and resort zone, Nuevo Vallarta lies at the center of beautiful Banderas Bay—a long, sandy stretch of beach and cool Pacific water known for its small fishing villages. Born from the tourist boom that was Puerto Vallarta in the 1970s, Nuevo Vallarta was built to offer all that the traveler could want: luxury hotels, fine dining, boutique shopping and some fabulous water sport attractions. The Marieta Islands preserve lies just a few miles offshore, and the water here is home to countless species of fish and larger marine life including the elusive sea turtles. Whale-watching is another seasonal event and one that shouldn’t be missed, much like a visit to this pristine part of Puerto Vallarta.
Never has a bombing ranged looked so beautiful than at Mexico’s Marietas Islands. Here off the coastline of Nayarit outside of Puerto Vallarta, these two volcanic, bird-covered rocks hold hundreds of scars caused by years of bombing by Mexico’s early military. Thanks to conservationist’s efforts, however—most notably Jacques Cousteau—the Mexican government agreed to protect the islands, rather than blow them up. Today, what remains of the islands above and below water is nothing short of astounding. Schools of colorful reef fish swarm in Technicolor clouds on the reefs, and sea turtles, dolphins, and enormous manta rays are regularly spotted near shore.
Creating the perfect backdrop to the sea, the jungle-clad mountains of Mexico’s Sierra Madre Mountains range are tailor-made for rural day trips from Puerto Vallarta.
All-terrain vehicles head out on safari, highlighting the region’s natural wonders and offering the opportunity to hit the beach or river for a swim en route to the mountains. Going off-road to the Sierra Madre mountains is a great chance to see everyday Mexican villages off the beaten track, whether you go by Jeep, four-wheel drive or mountain bike.
Sail into the calm Bay of Banderas for a warm Mexican welcome at Puerto Vallarta. This lovely beach resort city is on the mid-west coast of Mexico, lapped by the Pacific Ocean. Make your way downtown from the Marina Vallarta Maritime Terminal for an aquatic, eco-friendly or relaxing shore excursion.
If your ship is mooring at Puerto Vallarta, you’ll dock at the Marina Vallarta Maritime Terminal, 3 miles (5km) north of the city center. Alternatively, your ship might anchor just offshore, in which case a tender will float you ashore. Taxis line up to take you downtown; negotiate the fare (around US$5) before you head off.
Puerto Vallarta’s number one attraction is the beach, and the full-facility resorts lining the sands. After soaking up the rays, take a leisurely stroll along the waterfront promenade to shop for silver jewelry and ceramics, sculptures and glassware.
As the world’s oldest and largest Tequila distillery, the Jose Cuervo brand is renowned around the globe - and the family-run distillery is the top attraction of the town of Tequila, the birthplace of Mexico’s National drink. Established in 1795, the legendary distillery forms part of the UNESCO-listed landscape of Jalisco and produces up to 20,000 gallons of mixto and 100% agave tequilas per day.
Today, the Jose Cuervo Distillery is open to the public via guided tour, offering visitors the chance to learn how the juice is extracted from blue agave plants and distilled to produce a range of traditional blanco (white), añejo (aged) and mixto (diluted) tequilas. Guests can also sample a selection of fine tequilas, sip premium tequila straight from the barrel or visit the private cellars of the Cuervo family. It’s even possible to create your own customized bottle of tequila, selecting your choice of spirit and designing your own personalized label.
Tucked into the corner of the Bahia de Banderas of the Pacific Ocean is the quiet fishing village of Boca de Tomatlan. A wonderful throwback to a simpler way of life, this charming seaside town is sandwiched between the Horcones River, Boca Bay and the mountains of Puerto Vallarta. Popular among divers and Caribbean escape artists alike, this little slice of tranquility lies just 10 miles south of downtown Puerto Vallarta and is the idyllic retreat for all who dream of tropical beaches, rich forest jungle, peace and quiet.
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The private beach resort of Las Caletas is a day-trip destination like no other for spoiling the senses.
The former home of maverick movie director John Huston, this tropical beach haven is surrounded by protected rainforest and palms.
There’s everything you could possibly need for a relaxed, luxurious day at the beach. Chill-out in a hammock, de-stress with a soothing massage, take a guided diving or kayaking tour, snorkel with sea lions, learn to cook paella or stroll through the bird-filled orchid gardens.
Las Caletas can also be visited at night for a magical dinner under the stars and Mexican dance show.
One of the principal tequila-producing towns of Jalisco’s UNESCO-listed Tequila Country, Amatitán has long proclaimed itself the ‘birthplace of tequila’. Many connoisseurs agree that, despite owing its name to the neighboring town of Tequila, the fiery spirit likely found its origins closer to Amatitán, but whatever you believe, there’s no doubting Amatitán’s importance on the region’s well-trodden Tequila Trail.
The small town is home to dozens of tequila distilleries, churning out a vast quantity of mescal, mixto and 100% agave tequilas, including well-known brands like Cabo Wabo Tequila, El Jimador, Partida Tequila and Don Eduardo. Many visitors to Amatitán arrive on the historic Tequila Express railway from Guadalajara, combined with a tour and tequila tasting at the town’s legendary Casa Herradura Distillery.
A dusty town tucked in the volcanic valleys northwest of Guadalajara and surrounded by the UNESCO-listed blue agave plantations, Tequila’s rich history is about more than just a name. As the birthplace of the eponymous drink, Tequila has been producing Mexico’s national beverage since the 16th century and the surrounding state of Jalisco is the only area of the country where the potent spirit can be legally produced.
Of course, visitors to the town come for the tequila, many following the popular Jalisco Tequila Trail or hitching a ride on the scenic Tequila Express train. Tequila enthusiasts will be spoiled for choice, from the over-zealous hawkers flogging sub-par mixto on the streets to specialist taverns serving up fine 100% agave vintages.
With a history dating back to 1870 and a reputation for producing some of Mexico’s finest tequilas, the Casa Herradura Distillery is among the most famous of Jalisco’s many tequila distilleries. A family-run hacienda located at the center of tequila country, Casa Herradura lies just outside of Amatitan and is devoted to preserving traditional hands-on production methods alongside modern processing techniques.
The most popular way to visit the Casa Herradura Distillery is with a ride on the Tequila Express train from Guadalajara, an historic railway route set against a backdrop of blue agave fields and sweeping mountains. Exploring the vast distillery, visitors can discover the secrets of tequila production, from harvesting and crushing the agaves, to the fine art of fermentation and distillation.
A small and charming Mexican town located just an hour’s drive from Puerto Vallarta, El Tuito draws visitors with its slow-paced, traditional vibe. With only one main road, you’ll find that most of this village’s attractions are centrally located and make for easy walking. The main plaza is home to the majority of the town’s activity, as well as the main church and El Tuito’s historical center.
Note the Spanish colonial homes with their unique orange glazing, try the local artisan cheeses for which the area is known, sample delicate pastries from the local bakery, note the murals at the city hall and stop by the Church of St Peter, which boasts a giant boulder as its main alter. El Tuito is a great day trip from Puerto Vallarta if you’re looking for an authentic dive into the true Mexican town experience.
Every year Mexico holds a prestigious nationwide ceramics competition. The tradition was started in 1977, and the contest has nine categories and a coveted President’s Award. If you are at all acquainted with Mexico’s fine folk art traditions, it should come as no surprise that the winning entries exhibit great innovation and a mind-blowing level of detail.
The Museo Pantaleon Panduro in Tlaquepaque houses over three decades of winning entries, and the collection is a true testament to Mexican ingenuity. Centered around a courtyard, vaulted hallways branch out into 27 galleries, where visitors can view everything from avant-garde crucifixes to the finest examples of traditional pots and dishes.
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