Mazatlán, the first major resort town on the Pacific coastline, has a split personality. At the northern end of town is the Zona Dorada (Golden Zone), where the hotels (and the prices) rise high and the pace is frenetic. The streets are jammed with tour buses shuttling cruise-ship passengers to dozens of jewelry shops. At the southern end of the malecón (the seaside promenade) is Viejo Mazatlán (Old Mazatlán), the city's historic center, a gorgeous and low-key area of colorful postcolonial buildings—some restored, some still idyllic piles of chipped stucco—where you'll find a few hip restaurants, art galleries, and shops, and a totally different scene from the touristy Golden Zone.Mazatlán's beaches are golden and wide, though they're not nearly as handsome as those south of Puerto Vallarta. There are, however, tons of beach activities here—this is the place for parasailing—and several nearby islands provide alternatives to the crowded sands in town. Overall, the town is a good choice for a quick getaway: it's cheaper than Puerto Vallarta, the party scene is there for those who want to partake, and unlike in many resort towns, the city has some sights to explore beyond the surf and sand.
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Things You Can't Miss
Dine on shrimp and oysters, dance to hip-hop or play volleyball at Joe’s Oyster Bar, one of Mazatlán’s most popular clubs.
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It’s kitschy, but popular with tourists: a dinner-show tour through time via music and dance. All you can eat, open bar and dancing for guests too.
The Acuario Mazatlán has more than 50 tanks with sharks, sea horses, and colorful salt- and freshwater fish. Animal shows three times daily.
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A 30-to-40-minute climb (wear sturdy shoes) takes you to El Faro, the lighthouse. If you go to watch the sunset, bring a flashlight for the walk down.
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Take the malécon (seaside promenade) to the city’s historic center, where you’ll find colorful postcolonial buildings, restaurants, and art galleries.
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