There are two sides to Mazatlán, the so.called Pearl of the Pacific. The Zona Dorada, in the north, is the touristy area, where hotels and bars line the beaches, and people crowd the streets to shop. But walk down the promenade (or malecón) to the southern end to find a very different place—Old, or Viejo, Mazatlán, whose cobblestoned streets are lined with 19th.century mansions, great restaurants, museums, galleries, and shops.
Head to Avenidas Camarón Sabalo and Playa las Gaviotas in Zona Dorada for one stop souvenir shopping. Sea Shell City is an over.the.top museum and shop. The Mazatlán Arts & Crafts Center is the place for pottery and rugs. In Viejo Mazatlán, the sprawling 110-year-old Pino Suarez market is a must-see. Walk around the Plaza Machado, also in the Old Town, to find more-upscale galleries and shops offering works by local artists. From November through May, the first Friday of the month is dedicated to an Art Walk, when visitors can drop by galleries, shops and artists’ studios from 4 p.m to 8 p.m. Refreshments and live music add to the fun.
A MOVEABLE FEAST
In Mazatlan, you can grab a delicious snack at a taco stand or sit down to dine in a fabulous restaurant. Q Cotorro is an open.air spot known for its tacos, notably a cheese and sirloin version. Chef Diego Becerra opened the upscale El Presidio in his great grandmother’s home, a historic mansion that dates from 1876. One of the best seafood places in town is Los Arcos, part of a Mexican chain favored by locals for its high quality and reasonable prices. La Costa Marinera serves up seafood specialties, like ceviche and aguachile, on the beach, with live music.
The Old Town section is the site of several museums housed in age-old buildings. Two standouts are the Museo Arqueológico, showcasing a small but impressive collection of pre-Hispanic regional artifacts, and the Museo de Arte, a fine-art museum displaying outstanding examples of 20th. and 21st.century Mexican art.
FISHING AND HIKING
Mazatlan is a major sport.fishing destination: Bonito, mahimahi, and yellowfin tuna are caught in offshore waters year-round. Book a half-day or full-day charter with Star Fleet to try your luck. And if you feel the need for physical exertion, consider hiking the trail to El Faro, the highest lighthouse in the Americas. Start at the southern end of Paseo del Centenario, and allow about 45 minutes to reach the lighthouse, 515 feet above the sea. You’ll be rewarded with an amazing view—which might even include the sight of divers jumping from the high rocks nearby to entertain onlookers.
Sea Shell City: 407 Avda. Gaviotas, Zona Dorada; +52.669.913.1301; seashellcitymuseum.com
Mazatlán Arts & Crafts Center: Avda. Playa las Gaviotas at Loaiza; +52.669.913.5022
Mercado Pino Suarez: Aquiles Serdán and Melchor Ocampo, Old Town
First Friday Art Walk: artwalkmazatlan.com
Q Cotorro: 208 Avda. Rafael Buelna Tenorio; +52.669.990.3099
El Presidio: 1511 Ninos Heros; +52.669.149.5054
Los Arcos: 1019 Avda. Camarón Sábalo; +52.669.914.0999; restaurantlosarcos.com
La Costa Marinera: Privada del Camarón; +52.669.914.1928; lacostamarinera.com
Museo Arqueológico: 76 Sixto Osuna; +52.669.981.1455; inah.gob.mx
Museo de Arte: 71 Sixto Osuna; +52.669.981.5592; free admission
Star Fleet: +52.669.982.2665; starfleet.com.mx