Autumn in Mexico is an exciting time of year to visit; not only is the weather ideal with bright sunny days and mild temperatures, but the country is in full celebration mode. Important and vibrant celebrations for Mexico’s Independence Day, Dia de Los Muertos, Fiesta del Sol, and lots of other local festivals fill the calendar week after week. If you want to experience the true authentic traditions and culture of Mexico, plan a visit this fall to join in the merriment and activities that celebrate the heart and soul of Mexico.
Taking part in a Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebration (October 31 – November 2) is a must when visiting. From Puerto Vallarta to Los Cabos, each city celebrates in its own unique way and is buzzing with life. Walk among festival-goers in ornate traditional costumes, enjoy the delicious local cuisine, and admire the colorful decorations and altars that honor deceased loved ones. Unlike a typical scary Halloween-style celebration, Dia de Los Muertos is more of a time of warmth, joy, and reflection on life and those we love — and something special to be a part of.
Even if you can’t make it to Dia de Los Muertos this autumn, there are many other cultural festivals and outdoor activities to make your holiday one you’ll never forget. There are plenty of reasons to head to Mexico and stay at the Villa Group Resorts for a fall holiday and we’ve got a bunch of them listed right here, just for you!
1. Hike to Mirador de la Cruz for The Ultimate View of Puerto Vallarta
Mirador de la Cruz is the absolute best panoramic viewpoint in Puerto Vallarta. The view of the shimmering coastline and cityscape below is gorgeous. If you time it right for sunset, the rewards will be well worth it!
The 15-minute hike up to Mirador de la Cruz starts at the foothills just outside of downtown and there are signs along the way. There are a lot of steps up to the viewpoint (over 200 to be exact), so bring some water and take a few rests stops along the way to enjoy the charming neighborhood along the way. From Villa del Palmar Puerto Vallarta, it’s a quick 10-minute (3 miles) drive to downtown.
2. Snorkel at Los Arcos National Marine Park
Few things are more awe-inspiring than snorkeling among a sea of colorful and exotic tropical fish. Los Arcos National Marine Park is a protected nature reserve where you can swim, snorkel, and dive amidst sea turtles, fish, and other cool marine life. From Puerto Vallarta, the distinct large granite islands of Los Arcos can be spotted and easily located if you are traveling there by car. Los Arcos is a 40-minute drive (10 miles) from Villa del Palmar Puerto Vallarta.
3. Vallarta International Gourmet Festival
If you are a foodie who loves exploring new flavors, then don’t miss the Vallarta International Gourmet Festival from November 9-19, 2023, at the Malecon boardwalk. From Villa del Palmar Puerto Vallarta to the Malecon is an easy 11-minute (3-mile) taxi ride. When you arrive, the first thing you’ll notice is the aroma of deliciousness in the air and food eye-candy everywhere you turn. There is wine and tequila tasting, cooking classes, and plenty of fun activities for the whole family to enjoy. And, the best part, is it’s not just a one or two-day event so you can go back for more over the course of the 10-day event!
4. Dress Up for Halloween
During Halloween, the streets of Puerto Vallarta are filled with kids and adults dressed in costumes, and there are Halloween festivities happening all over the city. If you’re looking for a place to celebrate, head to the Malecon boardwalk for music and a chance to dress up and show off your costume. The streets of Old Town are also filled with adults and kids in costume carrying candles that give the streets a festive glow. If you’re looking for a more adult-friendly activity, head to Los Muertos Beach where the clubs and bars along the beach host Halloween parties, and the atmosphere is electric.
The drive to the Old Town and the Malecon takes around 14 minutes (3 miles) from Villa del Palmar Puerto Vallarta. Los Muertos Beach is just a few minutes north of downtown.
5. Dia de Los Muertos Celebration in Puerto Vallarta Style
Looking to get your dose of culture and art? Then Puerto Vallarta is undoubtedly a great place to spend the Day of the Dead. During the celebration, giant Catrina statues are set up along the Malecon boardwalk which is only a 14-minute (3-mile) drive from Villa del Palmar Puerto Vallarta.
Like most cities and towns in Mexico, cleaning and holding vigils at gravesites is also an important tradition in Puerto Vallarta. The main cemetery can be found in the Cinco de Diciembre neighborhood, where festive decorations and candles light up the cemetery. The celebration usually takes place on November 1st and 2nd with a festive parade that starts from the cemetery and makes its way downtown with a trail of colorful floats decorated with flowers and Day of the Dead objects and singing charro cowboys. The streets are also filled with playful life-sized (and bigger) papier maché figures of Catrina Calavera (aka La Catrina, Skeleton Dame, and Mexico’s Lady of Death) and Santa Muerte (Saint Death). Most locals are also in full celebration mode dressed up in beautiful traditional garb with Catrina and Sante Muerte face painting. You won’t want to miss this parade, it’s a great way to experience this special event in Puerto Vallarta.
1. Fabulous Food and An Amazing Show in a Tropical Rainforest
The nearby island of Las Caletas plays host to a spectacular food and entertainment extravaganza called ‘ALMA’ by Rhythms of the Night. From downtown Puerto Vallarta, the evening starts with a lovely open-bar boat ride to Las Caletas where you can enjoy tasty snacks and beautifully crafted cocktails. The dinner show on the island includes a spectacular all-you-can-eat gourmet feast amidst an exotic tropical rainforest setting that is followed by a magical Cirque du Soleil-esque performance full of acrobats, fire jugglers, and special effects that will blow you away!
Your Member Services or Pre-Arrival agent can book the reservations for you. The tour departure point is from Nuevo Vallarta which is approximately 15 minutes (4 miles) from Villa del Palmar Flamingos.
2. Tropical Garden by the Sea
Spend a day at Lo de Perla Jungle Garden wandering among the beautiful autumn gardens and admiring the dazzling display of orchids and other exotic plants and flowers. This particular garden is popular for its extraordinary collection of over 65 species of orchids that are grown on the property. The garden is located in San Pancho which is approximately a one-hour drive (21 miles) from Villa del Palmar Flamingos. You can spend a lovely day here exploring, learning, and relaxing – you will truly feel like you are in paradise.
3. Hike to Monkey Mountain for A 360º View of Banderas Bay
If you’re visiting Riviera Nayarit during the autumn when the weather is ideal, there’s one place you can’t miss if you’re an avid hiker or trekker- Monkey Mountain (just outside of Sayulita). From the summit, you will be rewarded with a spectacular 360º view of the beautiful Banderas Bay coastline. During the four-hour gradual (and shaded) ascent to the summit, you can admire the plentiful flora and fauna of exotic birds, butterflies, and tropical trees of this natural paradise.
To reach the trailhead from Sayulita, drive halfway to the KM 5 turn off of the Punta de Mita Highway to Hacienda Jaqueline guest house (the trail entrance is just opposite). From Villa del Palmar Flamingos, the drive to the trailhead is nearly 40 minutes (18 miles).
4. Halloween at Villa del Palmar Flamingos
During Halloween, Villa del Palmar Flamingos becomes the “it” spot to celebrate. Members and guests are invited to dress up and show off their best costumes. There will be fabulous Halloween-themed food and cocktails, great music where you’ll definitely be dancing to the “Monster Mash”, and a costume contest to finish off the night!
5. Celebrate the Day of the Dead in Sayulita
From October 31st to November 2nd Riviera Nayarit comes to life to celebrate and honor loved ones who have passed away. During the celebrations, the main plaza of the charming pueblo of Sayulita is the place to be. The streets are full of color and the scent of flowers and traditional Day of the Dead sweets fills the air. Some of the highlights are the altar contest at the public square in Sayulita, watching the people dressed up as Catrina’s roaming around the plaza, and the fabulous mariachi music, Folkloric dancing, and great food.
1. Outback and Camel Safari
In addition to its stunning blue waters and bountiful marine life, Los Cabos is also well known for its expansive desert sand dunes. A great activity to do in the fall when the sunny days and temperate weather are at their best is to take a camel ride and explore the Baja California Sur outback. This fun family-friendly activity will surely build long-lasting family memories.
For added convenience, your Pre-Arrival agent or Member Services agent will be happy to book your tour. Expect the journey to take approximately 25 minutes (12 miles) from Villa del Palmar Cabo San Lucas and from Villa La Valencia it’s approximately a 20-minute drive or 5.8 miles.
2. Discover Art and Culture
If you enjoy the arts and music, a trip to Cabo San Lucas is one of the best autumn vacation ideas. During the months of September through November, there are quite a few festivals to enjoy for foodies, music lovers, and film connoisseurs.
Warren Hill’s Los Cabos Jazz Festival in San Jose kicks off on October 8th, bringing together international musicians and fine dining where you can hear the best in jazz and eat fabulous food. The jazz festival in San Jose is approximately 27 minutes (19 miles) from Villa del Palmar Cabo San Lucas. From Villa La Valencia expect an approximate arrival time of 13 minutes (8 miles) to the venue.
Then on November 29th until December 23rd, the Los Cabos International Film Festival kicks off at Pabellon Cultural de la República in Cabo San Lucas. Here, you can watch some of the best up-and-coming filmmakers from Mexico and the United Stats. The travel time by car to the venue from Villa La Valencia is about 21 minutes (12 miles). From Villa del Palmar Cabo San Lucas expect an 18-minute (11-mile drive).
With both of these festivals happening every Fall you can see why Cabo San Lucas is one of the best autumn vacation spots for those who love art and culture.
3. Pass Out Halloween Candy
Halloween and trick-or-treating have become very popular in Cabo. Children parade around the streets of Cabo in costumes and collecting candy. If you’re missing the customary Halloween celebrations back home, go to downtown Cabo San Lucas with a bag of candy and pick a spot outside where you can participate by handing out candy to the children trick-or-treating. Downtown Cabo San Lucas is just a quick 7-minute or 2-mile drive to downtown from Villa del Palmar Cabo San Lucas, whereas from Villa La Valencia it will take around 17 minutes (11 miles).
4. Experience the Traditions of Dia de Los Muertos
The beginning of November is the perfect time to travel to Cabo San Lucas. You will find the city lit up for the festive and joyous Dia de Los Muertos celebration with beautiful lights and colorful altars, flowers, and decorations everywhere the eye can see. To have a taste of local customs, head to the main plaza in Cabo San Lucas where the biggest celebrations are held. Much of the festivities will also take place at the local cemeteries where families go to clean and adorn gravesites with Day of the Dead decorations. You won’t need to travel far to experience this special day, from Villa del Palmar Cabo San Lucas the drive takes around 7 minutes (2 miles) and from Villa La Valencia the distance is 11 miles (17 minutes).
1. Visit Chichén Itzá on the Fall Equinox
If you’re lucky enough to be in Cancun this autumn for the Fall Equinox (September 23rd), then you won’t want to skip a trip to the ancient Mayan site of Chichén Itzá (aka Quetzalcoatl) – one of the Seven Wonders of The World. In the late afternoon of the Fall Equinox, the sun creates a shadow-like illusion of a snake creeping down the northern staircase of Chichén Itzá which symbolizes the unification of heaven, earth, and the underworld in Maya culture. This once-a-year spectacle is something special to see.
Since the drive to Chichén Itzá is around 3 hours or 130 miles from Villa del Palmar Cancun, plan on a full-day trip. You can also ask your Member Service or Pre-Arrival agent to set you up on a tour.
2. Enjoy Dinner and A Show on the Jolly Roger Pirate Ship
Enjoy an amazing and memorable pirate battle in the Caribbean Sea aboard the Jolly Roger – an authentic pirate galleon. You will be surrounded by a show of exciting and acrobatic pirate sword duels, cannon battling, and pyrotechnic explosions during this entertaining and interactive show. Not only do you get swash-buckling entertainment, but you’ll also enjoy a delicious dinner including a buffet and drinks. Contact your Member Services or Pre-Arrival agent for more information about departure locations and times as well as to book this activity.
3. All Hallow’s Eve Activities in Cancun
There are plenty of kid-friendly activities for families on Halloween. Many of the hotels and clubs in the hotel zone and downtown set up fun haunted houses, costume contests, and live music to dance the night away. While Halloween may not be an authentic Mexican festival, it has become more popular through the years. So, if you’re traveling to Cancun at the end of October, you can still enjoy this fun holiday! From Villa del Palmar Cancun you will head about 15 minutes (9 miles) to get downtown. The hotel zone is located nearly 26 minutes (11 miles) from the resort.
4. Enjoy Life and Embrace Mortality During Dia de Los Muertos
In honor of this special day, Cancun pulls out all the stops for Dia de los Muertos. The celebration in Cancun fuses Mexican and Maya cultures (the Maya version of the holiday is called Hanal Pixan, meaning ‘Food for the Souls’). During the festivities, you will get the chance to see and experience fascinating traditions through joyful processions, dance, folk art, music, and food. Make sure to try the delicious ‘Pan de Muerto’ – an anise and orange-scented skull shaped bread.
El Centro is brought to life with vibrant marigold flowers, elaborate altars, and plenty of ornate and playful Catrina and Santa Muerte figures lining the streets and storefronts. If you’re driving from Villa del Palmar Cancun to downtown, it will take around 15 minutes (9 miles).
Islands of Loreto
1. Explore Prehistoric Cave Paintings
Autumn is the perfect time for history buffs to explore the prehistoric cave paintings in the Islands of Loréto that date back 7,000 years. While some of the caves are hidden in challenging terrain, others can be found more easily accessible. An easy stop from Loreto is the La Pinguica Mountain Range, which contains many cave paintings that are now UNESCO World Heritage sites. From Villa del Palmar at the Islands of Loreto, the drive to the mountain range will take around an hour and a half (55 miles).
2. Visit the Loreto Mission and Museum
The quiet town of Loreto is full of history and is one of Baja California’s oldest settlements. From nature and wildlife to colonial splendor, the area has so much to do and see. This includes The Museum of Baja California Missions which will take you on a journey through the milestones of the past and to where the first California missions began. Enjoy a scenic 40-minute (26 miles) drive from Villa del Palmar at the Islands of Loreto to the heart of Loreto and spend the day discovering more of Loreto’s fascinating history.
3. What to Do on Halloween
As most of the town prepares for Dia de Los Muertos, which kicks off on November 1st, Villa del Palmar at the Islands of Loreto is the place to be for Halloween on October 31st. With plenty of family-friendly activities offered such as costume contests, candy, games, and delicious food, it will be a Halloween celebration you won’t forget!
4. Celebrate Day of the Dead in Loreto
For anyone wanting to experience authentic Mexican culture, experiencing Dia de Los Muertos is a true must, and there is no better place to do it than the town of Loreto which is around a 40-minute (26 mile) drive. Locals are out in full force mingling in the brightly decorated streets that are full of beautifully painted Catrina statues, colorful bread and candy skulls, traditional altars, and candles that create a warm glow. Music and food can also be found on every street in the city center where the entire pueblo congregates to celebrate.
In addition to the activities listed above, all of our resorts offer onsite activities for Halloween and Dia de Los Muertos. Ask your concierge upon arrival for more details. Please note that the information stated above is subject to change at any time.
This autumn, enjoy a fun-filled holiday in Mexico to soak up the sunny days and mild temperatures and immerse yourself in the local culture during all the special festivals and events that happen each Fall. Embark on an extraordinary journey to Mexico, where you’ll be captivated by new experiences and endless possibilities.
We invite you to come and take part in these fun fall celebrations at your home away from home in Mexico!