Although I could happily spend days on end at the Grand Palladium Vallarta, it’s also really nice to mix things up and see a different side of things. So midway through our stay, we decided to head off the property for a one-day excursion with the kids. I had heard that there were really neat towns all around us and we HAD to check them out.
I spoke with our concierge and asked what the best and most comfortable way would be if we wanted to see a few of the surrounding towns. She suggested we hire a private driver to shuttle us around wherever and whenever we wanted. The ease of this totally appealed to me, even though the price was a bit more than I was hoping for. To get our money’s worth and cover as much ground as possible, we hit up three small towns. We spent $300 CAD for the private driver but it was well worth it to know we had a large air-conditioned vehicle with waters to climb back into after exploring. The driver also had a car seat for our toddler which was perfect because we didn’t bring ours. We also had the flexibility of leaving the stroller in the vehicle when we didn’t need it and left our larger bags in there too. I didn’t want to lug around diapers, snacks, and sunscreen all day so it made for a perfect little hub for us.
We departed the resort at 9 AM, giving us enough time to enjoy breakfast and also skip rush hour traffic. After speaking to our driver about which towns we wanted to visit, he suggested the best itinerary would be Grand Palladium -> Bucerias -> San Pancho -> Sayulita. So that’s exactly what we did 🙂
Bucerias is 20 minutes East of the resort so it took no time at all to get there. We were dropped off by all the little local markets (there are tons!) and shopped around for a bit. We really didn’t need anything, nor did we have room to pack anything, but we still had fun poking around.
Bucerias is a working town but has fantastic beach access so it’s quite beautiful. Beyond the markets, there were a lot of cute restaurants and art galleries. I have to be honest in saying that as neat as all the markets were, I don’t have a burning desire to go back. But I’m glad we checked it out anyway.
We headed 30 minutes North to get to San Pancho and as soon as we pulled into the town, my Husband and I were feeling ALL the vibes. The town is one long strip with one shop after the other and gorgeous beach restaurants. We decided to hit up a restaurant on the beach first and ordered some margaritas and chips & salsa.
After refueling, Mexican style, we began exploring and it was one unique shop after the other. There was a mix of traditional and modern Mexican style and the feel of the town was very energetic and young.
After poking into some shops, we ended up at a taco restaurant called el Gallo. It was unbelievable. The restaurant mills their own corn and is so passionate about using quality-GMO ingredients. When we took our first bites, we were blown away. The tacos were simple (I got one mushroom taco and one sweet potato taco) but the flavours were out of this world. And the best part? The entire meal plus our drinks came to $25 CAD!
By the time we were finishing lunch, it was almost 2 PM so we decided to wrap things up in this gem of a town and move onto the next. I love San Pancho because it’s on the cusp of becoming the next Sayulita but has retained its small-town vibe and authenticity while also offering super trendy restaurants and shops.
This is the most well-known town out of the three and we chose to end with it and is just a 10-minute drive South along the water from San Pancho. You may have heard of the town from a little show called Bachelor in Paradise 😉 That’s where I first caught wind of this amazing little town anyway, and I’m not ashamed to admit it!
We navigated the streets cautiously with our stroller and found that the streets were a bit tricky on wheels but we managed. We hit up chocolate shops and juice bars and a little shop where I STILL regret not buying this gorgeous hand-painted bullhead. It would look SO good in our home so I guess I’ll have to go back another time 😉
There is so much to see in this little town and it’s buzzing with people and quite a few tourists. I loved it! We walked past this storefront called el Conejo that I was immediately drawn to and had to poke my head in there. The decor was so instagrammable, we couldn’t NOT go in there. They had this gorgeous rooftop patio where we let the kids run/crawl around while we sipped on our drinks. I can’t think of a better way to end a day of adventure.
Out of all Three
If you only have time to visit one of the three towns, there was a clear winner in my mind, and I’d definitely check out San Pancho. It’s like the Goldilocks out of the three towns we visited – not too sleepy, not too busy, just right. Each town had its own unique offerings though so I’d recommend checking out all three and maybe more if you have the time!
Exploring with Kids
Three towns was our max in one day with the kids. We decided to forgo clear winner that day, and they did surprisingly well. Our baby slept here and there in the car seat and our toddler was so excited to be out exploring that he was totally fine!
The towns were stroller friendly, for the most part. Sayulita was the most difficult to navigate because they have quite a few steps and cobblestone streets, but the other towns were easy. If you’re only going to Sayulita with the kids, I’d recommend using a baby carrier and a backpack instead.
I’m so glad we had the chance to explore. It’s so important for me to expose our kids to a variety of different cultures to the point that they’re comfortable with it. Different languages, flavours, culture and traditions.
When I was the same age as my son (2) my parents traveled all over the world with me. I was taught to appreciate and respect different cultures and from a young age and my mind was opened up. I want my kids to know that the center of the Universe does not revolve around them and that life isn’t just made up with playdates and routines. There is so much to explore, so get out there and do it!
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