Meagan Drillinger
Meagan Drillinger

Humans are creatures of habit. I know that I am, especially when going to a destination that I think I know like the back of my hand. I like to stay in the neighborhoods that feel like home, with the restaurants whose menus I've memorized and the bars with the bartenders who have become my friends over the years. The problem with that, however, is that I often miss out on what's changing. I like to cling to the way places used to be rather than going out to experience how they actually are.

So, this year, on my annual visit to Puerto Vallarta -- a city I have lived in and have visited what must be 100 times at this point -- I decided it was time to try something new. And that's how I discovered the Versalles neighborhood, which opened me up to an entire world in Puerto Vallarta worth getting to know.

Where is Versalles?

Versailles is very close to the Hotel Zone in Puerto Vallarta. I typically avoid the Hotel Zone, preferring the cobblestone streets and raucous energy of downtown or the Zona Romantica. But this time, as I'm now in my mid-30s and my raucous days are slipping into the past, I chose the quiet, much more low-key Versalles neighborhood.

Directly across the highway from the Hotel Zone, Versalles is bound by Highway 200, Avenida Los Tules, Avenida Fluvial and Avenida Francisco Villa. This sleepy neighborhood has the charming cobblestone streets and traditional architecture of old Puerto Vallarta, but it is starting to show signs of modernization in luxury condos with higher floors and rooftop pools.

Where to Stay in Versalles

Airbnbs and vacation rentals are the top places to stay in Versalles right now, but it won't be long before the boutique hotel scene catches on. Because the neighborhood is not directly on the beach, and most travelers who come to Puerto Vallarta come for the beach, it has taken a while for the hotel scene to follow.

The closest hotels are the Secrets Puerto Vallarta, Dreams Puerto Vallarta and the Sunset Plaza Beach Resort. Most of the boutique hotels in Puerto Vallarta are downtown or in the Zona Romantica, which is about an 8- to 10-minute taxi ride from Versalles.

Things to do in Versalles

The reason your clients would want to stay in Versalles is to experience Puerto Vallarta like a resident. It is within walking distance to several grocery stores, an Anytime Fitness gym in the Plaza Caracol and, most importantly, some of the best restaurants in Puerto Vallarta.

In fact, Versalles is something of a culinary hot spot within the city. Calle Espana, for example, is always a hive of activity when dinnertime rolls around. You'll find the tables from the restaurants spill into the street, creating a pedestrian-friendly, social atmosphere with backdrops of vibrantly painted buildings and purple bougainvillea blossoms.

Some of the top restaurants in Versalles include El Puerco de Oro for fantastic carnitas tacos; Abulon Antojeria Del Mar for fresh seafood tostadas, tacos and grilled specialties; Florios Versalles for homemade pizzas, pasta and Argentinian-style steaks; Cha' for breakfast and brunch; plus countless cozy coffee shops, wine bars and design-forward mezcal bars.

If your clients simply want a taste of Versalles, they can sign up for a food tour with Vallarta Food Tours. Their Versalles-specific tour will highlight the rising stars and the local favorites in the neighborhood. In fact, a food tour is how I discovered Versalles last year and fell in love, determined to stay there this year and get to know it a bit better.

Why choose Versalles?

Travelers will like this neighborhood if they are already familiar with Puerto Vallarta and feel like they want to take their knowledge of the destination to the next level. First-timers will always want to stay at the beach or downtown -- and they should, that's how you fall in love with Puerto Vallarta.

But with development and expansion, the city is becoming so much more international, so much more diverse, and so much more of a city than a beach town. The evolution of Versalles is one of the best ways to exemplify how Puerto Vallarta has much more to offer off the beach, and it will give travelers an even deeper appreciation for this city on the sea.

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