Mazatlán is re-emerging as a destination that can check off all of your vacation wish-list needs, without the crowds of tourists you might expect. Think of it as the Mexico you’ve been searching for but didn’t realize existed: A coastal enclave with incredible beaches, music, and art that rival cities like Florence and Washington D.C. — and culinary offerings that excite your palate without emptying your wallet.
The reasons to visit are endless, but these five highlights are what set the magical city apart — and the reason now is the best time to book your visit.
1. It’s still off the beaten path
Located across from the tip of the Baja Peninsula on the Sea of Cortez, Mazatlán sits at the same latitude as Hawaii, which means you can expect incredible temperatures year-round. It was once the destination of choice for Hollywood elite like John Wayne and Gregory Peck, and famous writers including Ernest Hemingway to Jack Kerouac, but the city slipped out of notice for a few years. Recent restorations and tourists in the know are changing that. In 2018, the city was voted one of the 10 best places to retire overseas by U.S. News & World Report. Getting there now gives you first access to a destination poised to be one of Mexico’s most popular.
2. Miles of beautiful beaches
They call Mazatlán the “Pearl of the Pacific” with good reason: The city boasts more than 17 miles of incredible beachfront and a stunning, restored boardwalk (the Malecón) where you can take it all in. Whether you opt to secure a daylong spot under a palapa on white sands, stroll local shops and outdoor sculptures along the water’s edge, or rent a kayak, board a sailboat, or hire a fishing charter, you’ll find plenty to fill your time. Enjoy the waters by day but return to them in the evening: Mazatlán is renowned for its incredible sunsets, and watching them from the beach is a sight to remember.
3. An incredible international history
Mazatlán’s unique history makes a trip to Centro Historico (Old Town) a must-do. The colonial neighborhood, complete with cobblestone lanes and intimate gardens, is centered around the incredible Plazuela Machado. This is a city that has seen Spanish conquistadors, French soldiers, and English pirates — and their lasting architectural legacies are all on display. There are also surprises waiting around every corner. German immigrants who brought both a beer culture and their polka music to the area have had a lasting influence. Don’t be surprised when you detect a noticeable “oom-pah-pah” rhythm to local Mexican “bandas” that roam the streets. And nearby “pueblos magicos” — nationally designated traditional towns — make for incredible day trips.
4. Affordable culinary delights
The easiest thing you’ll do in Mazatlán is eating well. Gastronomic offerings range from simple bites at street side cenadurias to lingering lunches served to your table by the chefs who made them. Seafood is at the heart of many dishes, as the city is the shrimp capital of the world, but you’ll also find tasty vegetarian options. And while all the Mexican snacks you love are here, there are plenty of opportunities to try something new. Wash it all down with a local pilsner or glass of horchata and you’re ready for whatever the day may bring.
5. World-class culture and moments to remember
The performing arts in Mazatlán are at the heart of local culture. At the historic Angela Peralta Theater you’ll encounter the best of the world in ballet, opera, symphony, and more. A self-guided walk through the Centro Historico offers an opportunity to peek into the studios of painters, sculptors, and other local artists. Or pop into the Mazatlán Art Museum or Archaeological Museum for a deeper understanding of Mexico’s historical connections to the arts.
Looking for a simple souvenir to take home? At Mercado Pino Suárez you’ll find a mix of kitschy knick-knacks, spices, and local crafts. Time your visit to Mazatlán for late February or early March, and you can also watch one of the largest street “carnavals” in the world. Bright costumes and lively music draw participants from across the country and an audience from around the world.
The Mazatlan Post