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Puerto Vallarta offers rich opportunities for shoppers. Almost everything made in México is available: silver, blown glass, pottery, sarapes, clothing, sandals, masks and other arts and crafts. Also, the city’s reputation as an art center sets it apart from most other Mexican beach resort cities. Visitors have the unique opportunity to purchase pieces by some of Mexico’s most well known contemporary painters and sculptors, as well as internationally renowned artists. And, for budget-conscious vacationers with a good eye, Puerto Vallarta offers the opportunity to get in on the ground floor with Mexico’s up-and-coming new artists can be see at thePueblito del Sol Cultural Center.

More good buys include colorful handmade resort wear, the popular locally made leather sandals and huaraches. There is also a good selection of quality colonial-style furniture and most stores ship purchases to the U.S.

Excellent shops are scattered throughout. Some are near the beach, some in major hotels and many are located on the main downtown shopping area along Juárez and Morelos Streets. Most stores close from 2 – 4 p.m. Most open around 10 a.m. and stay open until 8 p.m.

Vallarta's main flea market (located next to the Rio Cuale) houses dozens of stalls with a wide selection of items to choose from. Along the downtown Malecon strip, designer shops specializing in casual wear are everywhere. Combining the old with the new, American shops dot the Malecón (the main shopping area in "Centro" Vallarta) and are shoulder to shoulder with more traditional Mexican shops and galleries.

Puerto Vallarta's antique store and art gallery district is along Morelos, one block behind the "Malecón" and also on Corona, a side street. Here you might find an old iron hitching ring for a horse, or maybe a pre-columbian artifact.

Original, signed Mexican paintings are featured by a number of the galleries. Many are by well-known local artists. Original signed art can be taken home duty-free. The Muncipal "flea" Market is right beside the Rio Cuale on Insurgentes, the highway to Mismaloya, with dozens of small stalls, where you can buy a variety of items from leather bullwhips to printed T-shirts.

Puerto Vallarta offers one of the best shopping of any resort town in Mexico. Various States and regions in Mexico are famous for different products and art forms. Puerto Vallarta is renowned for its pottery and ceramics, beautifully hand-blown glass.

Talavera pottery is still made in the area using the same techniques employed by 16th Century Spanish potters. The Huichol Indians, native to the State of Nayarit which borders closely with Vallarta, produce stunningly colorful pictures made from naturally colored Indian yarns and dramatic beaded painted masks that are loaded with native ritual symbolism. You can also find pottery and tapestries from Oaxaca State (known world-wide for its "black" pottery). Spectacularly colorful hammocks and intricate tin works from the State of Guerrero abound. Huaraches, traditional Mexican sandals made of leather strips and rubber tire soles can be found in most shops.

There are three major "plazas" in Vallarta

•  The Marina Plaza, located at the road entrance to the Marina complex, has numerous shops, cafes and restaurants, along with some up-scale furniture and design shops. Also in the Marina Plaza is one of the two McDonald's to be found in Vallarta (the other is on the Malecón in Centro).
•  The Plaza Caracol located in mid-town (Versalles) has numerous small shops and boutiques, along with some ice cream and fast food outlets.
•  The Plaza Genovesa, located in mid-town, a short distance south of the Plaza Caracol has many small shops, banks and a number of restaurants.

All three plazas are worth a visit. There are four major department stores in Vallarta, where you can get groceries, clothing and just about everything. "Gigante" (Plaza Caracol), "Comercial Mexicana" (two locations: Plaza Genovesa and Plaza Marina), "Rizo's" (located downtown in Centro) and "Leys" (also downtown in Centro). "Lans" (downtown in Centro) is an up-scale department store that does not sell groceries.

There are numerous "farmacias" (pharmacies) around town, where you can buy everything from sun tan lotions to local herbal remedies. In addition, many prescription drugs can be bought over the counter in Mexico at prices much lower than in North America and Europe.

A number of stores will ship your goods home for you. You are better to deal with "expert" shippers who are experienced with packing and processing customs information that will ensure that your purchases get where they're going.

 

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