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If you are thinking of booking a beach destination or tropical getaway, consider the gorgeous city of Mazatlán in México. Mazatlán is a beach city on the Pacific Coast of Mexico just north of Puerto Vallarta. Mazatlán’s proximity to the ocean makes it one of the best cities in Mexico to enjoy delicious seafood dishes. Known as "The Shrimp Capital of the World" and the “Pearl of the Pacific” due to its rich cultural heritage and historical significance, the city’s colonial beach town atmosphere is celebrated for its rich cultural heritage and world-class gastronomy scene nestled along picturesque seaside views (It is just as picturesque as it sounds).
If you are wondering what to do when you arrive at this coastal gem, here are 17 things to add to your to-do list when you visit Mazatlán. If you need more ideas, check out Go Mazatlán, the official place for all things Mazatlán tourism and a great resource when planning your next trip.
Attend a Baseball Game
Play ball! If you are a sports enthusiast, grab a set of tickets to a professional baseball game to cheer on the local home team, the Mazatlán Venados. The Venados (Deers), are Mazatlán’s Mexican Pacific League (MLP) team, and last won the League Championship in 2016. The Mazatlán baseball team plays in the Teodoro Mariscal Stadium which is a 16,000-seat newly rebuilt stadium. The stadium is located a few blocks off the Malecon (Avenida del Mar) near the Golden Zone, and it's a truly baseball experience.
Catch a Show at the Angela Peralta Theater
The Angela Peralta Theater was officially opened in 1874 and re-inaugurated in 1881 after undergoing construction. The theater boasts of an expansive three-tiered interior that is decorated in Italianate style, with exquisite wrought iron railings and balconies. In 1990, the theater was declared a National Heritage Building. The theater is located near the Plaza Machado in Mazatlán’s Historical District and is one of the city’s most important tourist attractions. The venue hosts theatrical and musical performances and continues to draw internationally renowned artists to perform there. Beyond its role as a performance center, the theater is also home to a cultural development center that houses art galleries and a fine arts school.
Dine at Casa 46
If you are a big history buff and love a good meal, book a reservation at Casa 46. This restaurant was once a museum and still holds strongly to its roots. Still part museum, this restaurant is focused on the history of the different stages of the port city. Culinary-wise, this restaurant museum is oriented toward a reinterpretation of regional Mexican and Mazatlecan cuisine and is influenced by the five foreign cultures that settled in this beachside destination including American, Asian, French, German, and Spanish.
Discover El Malecon
Mazatlán is located along 12 miles of coastline of the Pacific Ocean and to celebrate this rich geographical treasure, the city has built a 4-mile-long boardwalk also known as, “The Malecon,” that runs along the ocean for visitors to enjoy the magnificent atmosphere of the beach town. The boardwalk starts at the end of Paseo Olas Altas, where a life-size bronze statue of famous Mexican singer Pedro Infante sits. Palm trees line The Malecon along with statues and monuments of prominent historical figures and artists. The Malecon is a perfect place to take a stroll, bike, or run along. You can also take a ride on Mazatlán’s famous pulmonia taxis. These taxis are unique to Mazatlán and are open-air taxis that resemble golf carts that ride along the boardwalk for people to enjoy the ocean breeze alongside music playing from the golf cart. There are a number of seafood restaurants that line The Malecon, where visitors can try Mazatlán’s renowned seafood dishes. The big colorful letters that spell out “Mazatlán” are located at the start of the malecon at the border of the Golden Zone.
Drive to El Quelite
If you want an escape from the city, take a drive to the countryside and head to the Tropic of Cancer region where you'll find the town of El Quelite, a quaint old community and traditional Mexican village nestled on the banks of the Quelite River. Visitors can take a walking tour to visit the church of the Virgin of Guadalupe, where every stained-glass window is a scene from the Virgin’s legendary life. Visitors can also tour the local bakery with its old stone oven and get to discover the classic charm of this lovely town. If you are a total foodie, you are also going to want to make a stop at Mesón de los Laureanos, which is a restaurant created to showcase the rich flavors of the local gastronomy. The ingredients used in each delicious dish are 100% endemic to the land and grown in a rural environment to remember the roots of Ancient Mexico. While you are there, be sure to try the traditional Mexican coffee, Café de Olla, and Gorditas de Nata, which are sweet corn cakes that are so good, that you will want to order an entire stack for yourself.
Eat Your Way Through a Local Taco Tour
You cannot go to Mexico without having tacos. After all, when in Rome, errr, Mazatlán. If you are a foodie or just love a traditional taco, eat your way through a taco tour at Water Edge’s Bistro. Canadian expats living in Mazatlán run Water’s Edge Bistro Restaurant and offer cooking classes and food tours in the Historic District. The restaurant has extensive experience with local ingredients and street food and knows the best spots in town for mouthwatering tacos.
“2024 might just be the year you have to visit Mazatlan,” says Edna Gutierrez, Director of Promotion and Marketing of the Mazatlán Tourism Board. “This year, we will host the 126th annual Carnival celebrations from February 8-13. Carnival was celebrated in Mazatlan as early as 1848, and this year’s theme is ‘Baroque Eclipse,’ honoring the upcoming total solar eclipse set to take place this April. Mazatlan will be the best location to catch the longest duration of total darkness from the eclipse. Our city is kicking off the new year strong with these festivities and gearing up to welcome hundreds of visitors as we create enriching and memorable experiences together in Mazatlan.”
Explore the Zona Dorada
One of the most well-known spots of Mazatlán is the Zona Dorada. Zona Dorada, or the Golden Zone, is a beautiful beach spot perfect for parking on the sand for a few sun rays or catching a wave and swimming in the surf of the Pacific. Snap a selfie at the bold and brilliantly colored Mazatlán sign, which is a favorite among tourists. Stroll along the El Malecón (the boardwalk) and enjoy a bite at an open-air beachside restaurant serving fresh seafood and traditional Mexican fare or grab a refreshing cocktail at a nearby club. Be sure to take a moment to soak in the breathtaking views of the Pacific and pull up a seat to watch the famous Mazatlán cliff divers. You can also head north to La Marina, which is the newer area of the city where new hotels and shopping centers are being built.
Go on a Historic Walking Tour
Another easy yet active way to see more sights of Mazatlán is to go on a historic walking tour. There, you can visit the highlights of Old Mazatlán, including the Angela Peralta Theater, the Cathedral, and Machado Square. Along the way, you will encounter art galleries and museums, and the over 100-year-old public market, all while enjoying neoclassical architecture.
Hike Up to the El Faro Lighthouse
If you are looking for an activity and enjoy the great outdoors, plan a hike up to the El Faro Lighthouse. “We recommend starting your journey to 'El Faro' by enjoying a ride on Mazatlan’s unique open-air taxis known as 'La Pulmonía,'” says Gutierrez. “You’ll feel the sea breeze while riding on La Pulmonia and appreciate the ocean views while you travel to the south-end point of the coastline where the lighthouse is located. In 2018, the lighthouse installed a glass floor that extends from the top of the hill so you feel like you are walking on air above the ocean to catch 360-degree views of the city.” The lighthouse is one of the highest lighthouses in the world. Located on a hill at the entrance to the Port of Mazatlán, you can visit the lighthouse during the day by taking a 745 meter (2,444 feet) hike up a gravel path complete with 336 paved stairs to climb. In addition to the beautiful old lighthouse at the top of the hill, hikers can enjoy some of the best views of the city of Mazatlán stretching far out into the Pacific Ocean.
Make Reservations at The Presidio Restaurant
If you want an outdoor dining experience like no other, book a table at The Presidio Restaurant. One of the oldest restaurants in the Historic District of Mazatlán, this restaurant is modeled after a farm to represent the architectural and cultural impact of the 19th century on the port city. It also serves one of the most important cuisines of Mazatlán, offering a culinary history and typical products of the region. This spot offers a charming ambiance nestled in an absolutely picturesque courtyard straight out of The Secret Garden except with a tropical jungle feel. Need help deciding on what dish to order? Try anything Ahi Tuna.
See the Sea Creatures at the Sea of Cortez Aquarium
Officially opening its doors in March 2023, the Sea of Cortez Aquarium is considered the most important attraction in Mazatlán. It is the largest aquarium in México and Latin America with a facility spanning more than 188,368 square feet. Feed a stingray, pet a starfish or sea slug, or simply admire the beauty and biodiversity of all the sea life that can be found in the Sea of Cortez just due north of Mazatlán.
Sign Up for a Tequila Tour and Tasting at Los Osuna Distillery
If tequila is your drink of choice, then you have to sign up for a tequila tour and tasting at Los Osuna Distillery. Technically not tequila, but rather a blue agave spirit, the Los Osuna Distillery produces a 100% blue Weber agave drink that is a truly unique product of the Mexican region. Since 1876, the Osuna family has poured the same care and historical attention into cultivating this blue agave plant. The distillery combines old-school processing with new technology to create the most exquisite of all blue agave spirits. Cheers! You can also have a tequila tasting after so, yeah, sign up. One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor—errr four. Inside tip: Apply bug spray before your visit even if you do not think you will need it because you will. Those no-see-ums are no joke!
Spend the Day at the Resort
Okay, so this may not be something you think of doing when you travel to a beach destination, but some days just require good old rest, and what better way to do that than by spending the day at the resort? Need a recommendation? Check out the El Cid Marina Beach Hotel, an all-inclusive hotel. El Cid Resort Company is a family business with eight all-inclusive resorts in Mexico that span the three most attractive beach destinations in the country. With excellent service, world-class gastronomy, and magnificent stays for guests with stunning sea views, you cannot go wrong booking a room. You can also check out El Cid El Moro, an all-inclusive five-star hotel with sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean and the famous “Three Islands of Mazatlán.”
Take a Cooking Class
One of the best parts about traveling to a new country is experiencing the local cuisine and tasting all of the signature dishes of that region of the world. But why enjoy those dishes only once when you can learn to cook them for yourself? Go ahead and sign up for a cooking class with a local chef to teach you how to cook Mazatlán’s signature dishes and ancestral eats. Through the exploration of traditional recipes passed down through generations, you can gain insights into the unique culinary heritage of this coastal gem. Think of things like coastal fresh seafood meets the Mediterranean Diet along with traditional Mexican cuisine topped with a regional twist of Mazatlán’s rich flavors. This one-of-a-kind combination of flavors and food includes some of the most beloved traditional dishes of this enchanting region with classic recipes like agua chiles, asado a la plaza, fresh shrimp ceviches, and so much more.
Venture to Deer Island
You won't regret a trip over to Mazatlan’s Deer Island, which is the only island of the Three Islands you can visit. The Three Islands are ecological reserves because the city has gone to extreme lengths to protect the fauna and flora found in these ecosystems. Deer Island is a unique tourist attraction to visit for those who are adventure seekers and nature lovers. Visitors can hike through the hidden coves and rocky cliffs on the island. It is full of vegetation, unique species of mammals and reptiles, and smooth terrain making it a paradise for hiking enthusiasts. Tourists can also enjoy kayaking and diving in the calm waters of its extensive beach. Local tour companies offer packages featuring a catamaran trip to the island, a banana boat ride, and snorkel gear rental, among other amenities.
Visit the Observatory 1873
By far one of the best spots in all of Mazatlán is the Observatory 1873. The Observatory offers a unique experience located at a high altitude on the edge of the Pacific Ocean. Sitting on the top of Vigia Hill 75 meters (246 feet) above sea level, this building was originally built to protect Mazatlán from the constant invasions of enemy and pirate ships. Later it became a meteorological and seismological center. Then, in 2019 it was restored and opened as a tourist site. Take a funicular cable car up the hill, explore the museum, chat with the local shaman, enjoy a drink at the Sky Bar, and soak in the breathtaking 360° views this historic site has to offer visitors.
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