A Kid-Friendly Tour of the Sierra Madre Mountains in Mexico
Puerto Vallarta with kids By Ashley Burnett
The Sierra Madre Mountains is a few hours' drive from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico (Flickr: stephen frith)
With its plethora of family-friendly hotels and attractions, Puerto Vallarta is an obvious destination for families looking to explore Mexico. But for parents looking for a little cultural immersion and a taste of the “real” Mexico, tour operator Vallarta Adventures has the perfect solution in their new Talpa & Mascota tour. After a short three-hour bus ride – in which the tour guides make time fly with interesting anecdotes and hilarious jokes – families will find themselves in the heart of the Sierra Madre Mountains, where they'll get to meet the locals of Talpa and Mascota as well as sample all of the delicious and authentic Mexican food they have to offer.
The tour kicks off with a stop at a local bakery just outside of Puerto Vallarta. The owners let guests try their hand at making an empanada of their own, which is great for any kid interested in the culinary arts. Kids will love sampling the pan dulce and pineapple empanadas, and these free goodies from the bakery will also keep them entertained as the bus makes its way to Mascota.
La Iglesia de la Preciosa Sangre in Mascota (Courtesy Vallarta Adventures)
In Mascota, kids will love visiting the Museum of Archeology while the adults indulge in the town's world-famous cheese, which is produced at the local high school. Mascota is primarily an agricultural community and an interesting change of pace from the nightlife and buzz of Puerto Vallarta. Another stunning sight in town is La Iglesia de la Preciosa Sangre, a beautiful church that was never completed and has become overrun with vegetation. The kids on tour will be fascinated by the trees growing right on top of the cathedral and relish the chance to run around the ruins.
Our Lady of the Rosary of Talpa (Courtesy Vallarta Adventures)
From Mascota, the tour moves to Talpa. Here, families can learn about the religious history of the town. Every year, thousands of pilgrims make their way to Our Lady of the Rosary of Talpa to pay tribute to the Virgin of Talpa, who is said to have healing powers. Learning about this tradition is sure to leave a lasting memory on the kids, as is actually seeing the pilgrims hike through the mountain as the bus winds its way from Mascota to Talpa.
A local spot in the Sierras (Photo: Ashley Burnett)
The food served during the tour is delicious and never too out there for any picky eaters. The children will love getting to taste fresh quesadillas and guava juice; while the adults will enjoy sampling the local wine and mole. The tour can be made even more family-friendly with the help of Vallarta Adventures. The tour operator encourages customized trips and can help set up special birthday parties, including scavenger hunts in both Talpa and Mascota, as well as add additional stops along the itinerary. Other options include cooking lessons, sack races through the various towns and swing-building challenges. Tours can also be made private for families looking to celebrate by themselves. This is a great option for families with children who tend to get antsy in cars, as the tour operator can add more rest stops or shorten the length of the trip.
Other destinations, such as San Sebastian, can also be added to the itinerary. San Sebastian is a definite must-see for its stunning scenery and beautiful coffee plantation, but beware: adding another destination means adding hours to the drive, which might not sit well with younger kids (or adults who hate being stuck on a bus).
There is minimal physical activity on the trip so no need to worry about any long hikes or extreme adventure activities. Vallarta Adventures recommends children be over the age of eight to participate in the tour. Children that are a little older will definitely appreciate the history more, as will pre-teens and teens. Overall, the tour is the perfect choice for families looking to explore more of Mexico. Prices begin at $129 per person.
Ashley Burnett contributed this to MiniTime.