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 into a mid-market, package-tourist category. Recently, however, Mazatlán's historic core – referred to as 'tropical neoclassical' – has been restored and peopled by the creative class. The result is a coastal city with plenty of allure. A boldly engineered new highway from the interior means the beaches are now more accessible to Mexicans too, and the good-time vibes have returned.
To take the pulse of Mazatlán, don’t linger too long in the Zona Dorada (Golden Zone), the city's traditional tourist playground. Instead head straight for the refurbished old town and its glorious malecón (beach promenade), where you can view magic sunsets from bars and restaurants that still evoke the 1950s.