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After Dark in Puerto Vallarta
Fodor's Staff - Fodor's
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May 27, 2011
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After Dark in Puerto Vallarta
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico - Outdoorsy Vallarta switches gears after dark and rocks into the wee hours. When the beachgoers and sightseers have been showered and fed, Vallarta kicks up its heels and puts the baby to bed. Happy hour in martini lounges sets the stage for an evening that might include a show, live music, or just hobnobbing under the stars at a rooftop bar.

Many hotels have Mexican fiesta dinner shows, which can be lavish affairs with buffet dinners, folk dances, and even fireworks. Tour groups and individuals—mainly middle-age and older Americans and Canadians—make up the audience at the Saturday night buffet dinner show at Playa Los Arcos and other hotels. Vaqueros (cowboys) do rope tricks and dancers perform Mexican regional or pseudo-Aztec dances. The late-late crowd gets down after midnight at dance clubs, some of which stay open until 6 am.

The scene mellows as you head north and south of Puerto Vallarta. In Punta Mita (aka Punta de Mita), Bucerías, Sayulita, and San Francisco (aka San Pancho), local restaurants provide live music; the owners usually scare up someone good once or twice a week in high season.

Along the Costalegre, tranquillity reigns. Most people head here for relaxation, and nightlife generally takes the form of stargazing, drink in hand. If you're visiting June through October (low season), attend live performances whenever offered, as they are few and far between.

Although there's definitely crossover, many Mexicans favor the upscale bars and clubs of the Hotel Zone and Marina Vallarta hotels, while foreigners tend to like the Mexican flavor of places downtown and the south side (the Zona Romántica), where dress is decidedly more casual.

Nightlife Options:

Bars and Pubs
Like any resort destination worth its salt - the salt on the rim of the margarita glass, that is - PV has an enormous variety of watering holes. Bars on or overlooking the beach sell the view along with buckets of beer. Martini bars go to great lengths to impress with signature drinks, and sports bars serve up Canadian hockey and Monday-night football. Hotels have swim-up bars and lobby lounges, and these, as well as restaurant bars, are the main options in places like Nuevo Vallarta, Marina Vallarta, and most of the small towns to the north and south.

Dance Clubs
You can dance salsa with the locals, groove to rock in English or en español, or even tango. Things slow down in the off-season, but during school vacations and the winter, clubs stay open until 3, 5, or even 6 am. Except those that double as restaurants, clubs don't open until 10 pm. If you care about looking hip, don't show up at a club before midnight - it will most likely be dead. Arriving around 10 pm, however, could save you a cover charge.

Have a late and leisurely dinner, take a walk on the beach and get some coffee, then stroll into the club cool as a cucumber at 12:30 am or so.

Music Clubs
Most of Puerto Vallarta's live music is performed in restaurants and bars, often on or overlooking the beach. Musical events happening anywhere in Vallarta are listed in Bay Vallarta (www.bayvallarta.com). This twice-monthly rag is an excellent source of detailed information for who's playing around Old Vallarta, the Zona Hotelera Norte, Marina Vallarta, and even as far north as Bucerías and La Cruz. More detail-oriented than most similar publications, Bay Vallarta lists showtimes, venues, genres, and cover charges. Live music is much less frequent in the smaller towns to the north and south of PV; to find out what's happening there, ask in tourist-oriented bars, restaurants, or hotels.

Movies
Movie tickets in Vallarta are less than what they are in the United States and Canada. Many theaters have discounted prices on Wednesday. See theater Web sites or www.vallartaonline.com/cinema.

+ Wexico http://news.wexico.com/tourism/27may2011/afterdarkinpv.htm

Shows
Most hotels have lounge music, and many hotels have buffet dinners with mariachis, folkloric dancers and charros (elegantly dressed horsemen, who, in this case, perform mostly roping tricks, as horses are a bit too messy for the stage and most of their feats on horseback involve running at top speed in a specially designed arena called a lienzo charro). All-inclusive hotels generally include nightly entertainment in the room price. Drag shows are crowd pleasers - whether the crowd is straight or gay.

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