You will not find an outdoor market anywhere in Banderas Bay as large and eclectic as the Thursday market at La Peñita de Jaltemba, in Riviera Nayarit. The weekly mercado is a tradition everywhere in Mexico, and it takes place in different days of the week. Some markets, particularly those in larger cities like Guadalajara or Mexico City, specialize in specific items, from flowers to meat, to arts and crafts and so forth. That is not the case here in Puerto Vallarta, where there are several mercados, but none to write home about, none to compare with La Peñita’s. Is it worth the 70-minute drive? You bet it is, particularly when you consider that Sayulita and San Pancho, two other great stops worthy of a daytrip, are on the same road.
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What is so special about the Thursday market at La Peñita? Well, to begin with, it’s huge, spanning several blocks’ worth of all kinds of trinkets: from plastic items to pirated dvd’s to underwear in odd sizes, shapes and colors, not to mention fresh produce and all sorts of snaks. La Peñita’s main plaza, however, is reserved for a broad variety of Mexican crafts. La Peñita attracts artisans from many different parts of the country, so you are likely to find items you wouldn’t see in Puerto Vallarta, and at much better prices than those offered here. Stay on the plaza section and chances are you won’t leave empty-handed. Venture along the more traditional market, which extends for several blocks south of the plaza and you will treat yourself to a truly Mexican experience.
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And while you are there, Xaltemba, a wonderful restaurant/art gallery that is usually only open for dinner, makes an exception on Thursdays, when hosts Roberto & Eddie also offer casual lunch fare for folks visiting the market, and it is located right next to the main plaza.
Getting to the market is quite easy. Simply drive north along Carr. 200 passing Sayulita and San Pancho. Once you reach Rincón de Guayabitos, you are only 5 minutes away. At the main intersection in La Peñita, take a left turn onto the main avenue (Emiliano Zapata). The market begins five blocks ahead, on the left side, along Manzanillo St.