The Zona Romantica, also calle Old Vallarta, Old Town, or the South Side, is the part of the city that still feels like a Mexican village and is, to my mind, the most exciting part of PV. The streets are cobblestone, the buildings are white adobe with red roofs, and the whole feel of the area is decidedly welcoming.
This area is full of sidewalk cafes, boutique shops, art galleries, taco stands and vendors stalls. The best streets for enjoying the spectacle are along Olas Oltas and Basillo Badillo, where the cafes are always busy, there is always music of some kind, and the atmosphere is lighthearted and fun.
Dining ranges from the simple pleasures of a fish taco at an outdoor stand, to the elevated fine dining of Maximillians. There are clubs, music venues, dinner theatres and martini lounges.
This is also the very gay friendly part of town, close to the famous Blue and Green Chairs.
It is a safe place to enjoy a Mexican night out.