A resort town that hasn’t lost its authentic character, Mazatlán is a surefire bet for a Mexican vacation

Samantha Schoech

Yes, there are miles of golden sand beaches here, but the heart of Mazatlán is the old town, which has been updated and refreshed by an influx of creative types in the last decade. Stroll the mid-century throwback malecón, visit the tree-lined Plaza Machado in the evening, and wander the cobblestone streets soaking up the pastel atmosphere.

Hotels

Casa Lucila. This boutique hotel in the heart of old town has a colonial exterior but the heart of modern minimalist. Ocean views from the rooftop infinity pool are endless. $$.

Casa de Leyendas. A brightly colored throwback with six comfy, if slightly dated rooms near Playa Olas Altas. There’s a library; a lively bar; a central “cocktail pool”, a communal guest kitchen, and two upstairs patios. $.

Restaurants

Hector’s Bistro. When you tire of beans and fish tacos head to this huge gourmet bistro for European faire such as seafood carpaccios or T-bone steaks, all made from local ingredients. $$.

Angelina’s Latin Kitchen. A casual local favorite, Angelina’s serves beautiful local seafood, vegetarian options, and universal faves like burgers and eggs benedict. Try the aguachile (spicy lime-marinated shrimp). $; +52 669 910 1596.

Carlos and Lucia’s. A cheery, colorful little restaurant serving home-style specialties from Cuba and Mexico. Order the mojito and chances are good owner Carlos will come prepare them at your table. $$; across from the Palms Resort.

Things to do

Angela Peralta Theater. By the ’80 this once-grand 19th century theater had fallen into disrepair. But thanks to a dedicated group of locals, it is now restored to its former glory. All kinds of cultural events happen here here, including the annual Festival Cultural Mazatlán, Oct.-Dec. $$.

Isla de la Piedra. This popular island just off shore from Old Town has a long sandy beach fringed by coconut palms and makes a great day trip. It’s a favorite among surfers looking for waves and Mexican families enjoying the simple palapa restaurants along the sand, but if you go during the week or in off-season you might just have it all to yourself. Water taxis leave every 10 minutes from the Playa Sur embarcadero for about $3 each way.