Featured in Vallarta Lifestyles Magazine, Spring/Summer 2006 issue.

Celebrating this area’s rich bounty of tropical flora and offering a pleasant respite from the bustling crowd is a new family-run botanical gardens a half-hour drive away. The pretty Horcones River running through its 25 rolling acres, here hiking and bird watching come naturally and orchids are everywhere.

A work in progress, six trails are now in existence, each lined with different plants: cacti and succulents, water gardens, orchids, flowering shrubs, stream plants and fern grottos; a retail nursery specializing in rare plants; a pottery shop, where you can watch bird baths and statuary being made; the Plantation House Café, featuring a wood-burning brick oven, its pizza and salad specialties made with ingredients organically grown on the property; and ample parking.

Plans call for an art school, a garden-themed art studio, a gift shop and more. And the International Friendship Club’s Mel Borenstein says the IFC plans to expand its popular Home Tours next high season to include this delightful spot.

“It’s beautiful, with lots of fledgling plants that haven’t gone through a rainy season yet, but will be absolutely gorgeous once they do. There are ponds, a nice little restaurant, and it’s very pleasant to walk around, really relaxing.”

For more info www.vallartabotanicalgardensac.org