We were lucky enough to be invited on the Virgin America's maiden air voyage to Puerto Vallarta this past weekend, and we can safely say that PV is poised to become one of the friendliest, most welcoming destinations for Bay Areans who need a quick tropical getaway to cleanse themselves of winter blues or real life jitters.
It's just a short three-hour flight (be sure to order the tequila-spiked hot chocolate onboard) to the Puerto Vallarta International Airport, where, as you approach customs, you'll be welcomed by a ten-person mariachi band (it is the land of the mariachis, after all!) and the calming warmth and brightness you can only find in paradise. From there, you can either take a taxi into PV, a city about a quarter the size of San Francisco, or the gorgeous countryside of Riviera Nayarit.
Puerto Vallarta proper is a bustling, tourist-friendly place (you'll be hard-pressed to find anyone who doesn't speak a little English) that is a perfect combination of beachside town and nightlife hotspot. Nightclubs (try Bebotero or Club Roxy for rock 'n roll, Roo for DJs and Mañana for dancing) and cocktail lounges (Daiquiri Dick's remains a classic choice) sit right on the beach and a brand-new manicured boardwalk is a meeting place for everyone, from street performers to vendors to locals to visitors.
Wander high up into the foliage-heavy hills along narrow cobblestone roads that are filled with stacked villas and adorable adobe homes decorated in tiles and wrought-iron balconies. Gaze at the soaring grandeur of the Cathedral of Our of Lady Guadalupe (December's twelve-day Feast of Guadalupe is going on right now!). Flea markets sporting handmade blankets, sweaters and trinkets are a trip. You might even want to stop into one of the tequila shops that offer free tequila tastings, even if it's just for a little time in the shade.
Book flights to Puerto Vallarta from SFO on Virgin America here. A serious dose of paradise is just a breath away.