Something for Everyone
Beach fun competes directly with the attractions of Mazatlán's historic center, offering you a variety of activities to fill every day of your vacation.
Things to Do
The best way to get a feel for Mazatlán Viejo is to walk its winding streets. The historic area conveys an authentic image of the city's glorious history between 1830 and 1913. Restored buildings, museums, shops, and cafés all bring the flavor of the past to the present.
Join an organized walking tour of Mazatlán Viejo every Wednesday at 10 A.M. (669-982-4447).
Mazatlán Viejo is still the civic, religious, and commercial center of the city. Its beautiful nineteenth-century, double-spired La Basílica de la Immaculada Concepción (The Basilica of the Immaculate Conception) stands on the Plaza de la República, Mazatlán's
A few blocks over, a neighborhood with 479 national historic landmarks awakens as centuries-old buildings have been restored, including the historic Teatro Ángela Peralta (Angela Peralta Theater), just off the corner of the Plaza Machado, site of a weekend crafts and antiques bazaar. Named after Juan Machado, a Filipino immigrant merchant, the little plaza remains a gentle oasis of culture in this bustling resort city.
Built in 1865 by Manuel Rubio as the Teátro Rubio, and later severely damaged by a hurricane, the Teatro Ángela Peralta now stands fully restored. Angela Peralta, famous nineteenth-century opera star, died of yellow fever in the Hotel Iturbides, next door to the theater after giving her only Mazatlán performance. You can tour it daily from 9 A.M. to 6 P.M.
After your tour, you may want to sit under a sidewalk umbrella table on the north side of the square and sip delicious cinnamon coffee at the Altazor Café or perhaps down an ice-cold bottle of Pacifico Beer at the Café Pacifico nearby before strolling the streets off the square.
At the end opposite the theater stands the Portales de Canobbio (Canobbio Arcade), a colonnade which originally served as a market called Porta de la Lonja. But Luis Canobbio, an Italian pharmacist, bought the building, added a second floor and changed its name to Portales de Canobbio after himself. Today, it's known as Museo Casa Machado. Stepping into the past, to imagine how people lived in turn-of-the-century Mazatlán, is as easy as walking through a door and up a flight of stairs. The house's upper-floor rooms, decorated with nineteenth-century antiques, reveal much about life back then.
From the plaza to the southwest, historical treasures abound. Along most streets between Plaza Machado and Bahía Olas Altas, fuschia bougainvillea smothers faded lavender and cobalt walls. Flaming orange trumpet vines entwine the iron railings of gates and fanciful balconies. Cast-iron fans and rows of iron bars guard windows and doors. In fact, you'll notice the use of iron for every possible effect, testimony to the Fundicion de Sinaloa, the nineteenth-century iron foundry where ornamentation reigned.
The Museo de Arqueológia (Museum of Archaeology) (Open Tuesday through Sunday 10 A.M. to 7 P.M., 669-981-1455), a few blocks toward the sea, chronicles Mazatlán's rich heritage. Objects on display include hundreds of pre-Columbian relics, such as burial ornaments and the distinctive black-and-red polychrome pottery left behind by the Totorames. The rocks standing outside the museum are Aztec route markers found in Sinaloa. The museum provides a good basic pre-Columbian exhibition if you haven't seen others. Be sure to see the shrunken heads in the corner of the back room.
Pick up a free copy of
Standing in the center of the old café-lined resort strip north of Playa Olas Altas is the city's most famous landmark, the Monumento al Venado (Monument of the Deer). An old Spanish fort, Fuerte Venustiano Carranza, just west of downtown adjacent to Playa Los Pinos (The Pines Beach), is where Mazatlán defended itself from French invaders in the 1860s. At the southern end of the peninsula atop El Cerro del Crestón (Crest Hill) stands El Faro, the old lighthouse, the second-tallest in the world after Gibraltar's. Climb to the top for a magnificent view of the coast. Or take a
At the famous diver's cliff, Punta de Clavadistas (Diver's Point), on Paseo Claussen near the Monumento Mujer de Mazalteca (Monument to the Women of Mazatlán), your heart will race as you watch daring locals plunge into forty-five feet of turbulent water surrounded by rocks. The dive requires expert timing because without a high wave, the waters are only six feet deep.
Thirty minutes from Mazatlán, an old tequila distillery has been converted into Rancho Las Moras, a charming hacienda hotel. Original buildings have been restored. You can visit the ranch for lunch and take a horseback ride into the mountains with advance reservations (
On most Sundays, in neighboring villages of Mazatlán, such as Llanito, you can see the ancient ball game
But the favorite pastime of Mazalteco families is strolling along the
For the Kids
You'll find plenty for your kids to do in Mazatlán. Begin by visiting the Acuario Mazatlán (Mazatlán Aquarium), the largest in Mexico and home to more than 300 species of fish, including sharks, eels and seahorses. Kids love the seal shows. Outside, there's a playground and small zoo that sits amid the trees in a botanical garden. Admission is $5 for adults, $2.50 for kids. (Open 10 A.M. to 6 P.M., 669-981-7815.)
For daytime play, there's Parc Mazagua on Playa Cerritos (open 10 A.M. to 6 P.M., 669-988-0041), a water park with giant slides, wave pool, and a miniature golf course. Admission is $8 for everyone over three. And for those kids who play baseball, there are batting cages and a chance to see the city's Mexican Pacific Coast Baseball League team, Los Venados (The Deer), play at the Estadio Teodoro Mariscal.
RAINY DAY FUN
With movies costing only $3, the theatre is a good place to spend a couple of afternoon hours out of the rain. Mazatlán has five theaters, showing movies in English with Spanish subtitles. Cinemas Gaviotas features six screens (669-983-7545).
California sea lions winter on Isla Tortuga (Turtle Island), a small rocky island a half mile from town. Your kids will enjoy seeing these “trained seals” of the circus in their natural habitat, sunning themselves on the rocks.
Visit Concordia and Copala
Unlike other resort areas, there's lots to see in the countryside. For about $50 per adult and $35 per child eleven and under, the “country tour” offered by most hotels includes a stop at Concordia, twenty-eight miles east of Mazatlán. This picturesque former mining town is known for its fine hand-crafted furniture, especially its rocking chairs. Copala, twenty-seven miles northeast of Concordia, is another old mining town founded in 1565.
On Sundays, local families from Mazatlán travel Concordia's cobblestoned streets to enjoy a day in the country. You can picnic or stop into Daniel's Restaurant for lunch. The restaurant serves an excellent banana coconut cream pie. Daniel's also runs private van tours to Copala (669-916-5736).
Concordia's Church of San Sebastian, at 350 years old, is the oldest in the state of Sinaloa. This is mango country, and you'll see fresh ones for sale along the road. A huge rocking chair stands in the
On Sundays from Christmas through Easter, you can take in a bullfight at Mazatlán's Plaza de Toros La Monumental.