Thanks to 20km of sandy beaches, Mazatlán became one of Mexico’s most alluring and inviting beach destinations in the mid-20th century, before it lurched past its prime and into a midmarket, package-tourist category. Recently, however, Mazatlán's historic core has been restored and peopled by the creative class. The result is a historic city, that eats well, plays hard, and remains just a short walk from those luscious beaches.
To take the pulse of Mazatlán, don’t linger too long in the Zona Dorada (Golden Zone), Mazatlán’s traditional tourist playground. Instead head straight for the city’s cobblestone pueblo viejo (old town), catch a performance at the wonderful refurbished Teatro Ángela Peralta and then a late-night bite at the atmospheric Plazuela Machado. Step into one of Mazatlán’s excellent small museums or go treasure hunting in one of the many new small boutiques. One big attraction is free for all – the daily spectacle of rocky islands silhouetted against the tropical sunset as the fiery red fades into the sea and another starry night begins.