The Zona Dorada—the start of which is marked by a kitschy white castle that houses a dining and dancing complex—has blocks of high-rise hotels, shops (including car-rental offices and a few pharmacies), restaurants, and nightclubs, along with the city's best swimming beaches. The malecón connects this zone with the historic center to the south. The southern part of the city is where all of Mazatlán's charm lies, along with most of the museums and sights. There are some stunning viewpoints from the seaside promenade on this end, but there's virtually no beach access unless you want to do as the locals do and pick your way over rocks to catch the sunset from one of the jetties.

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  • 1. Acuario Mazatlán

    Olas Altas | Zoo/Aquarium

    A perfect child-pleaser—and a lot of fun for adults, too—Mazatlán's homey little aquarium has more than 50 tanks with sharks, sea horses, and...Read More

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  • 2. Bosque de la Ciudad

    Olas Altas | City Park

    The city's best (read: only) real park is around the corner from the aquarium. With 29 acres of shaded playgrounds, trails, and a train to ride...Read More

  • 3. Catedral de Mazatlán

    Centro Histórico | Religious Building/Site/Shrine

    A new lighting scheme gives nighttime drama to the bright yellow spires of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, which have towered over...Read More

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  • 4. Cerro del Vigía


    The view from Lookout Hill is fantastic, but the road up from Paseo del Centenario is steep and confusing; take a pulmonía. At the top are a...Read More

  • 5. El Faro (The Lighthouse)


    The best view in Mazatlán gets you some exercise, too—a 30- to 45-minute climb along natural trails and rough-hewn stairs to the lighthouse...Read More

  • 6. Malecón


    A long, gorgeous waterfront makes Mazatlán a great city for walking, biking, or rollerblading. The malecón, a sidewalk atop the 10-km-long...Read More

  • 7. Mazatlán Membership Library

    Centro | Library/Archive

    If you forgot your beach reading, the nonprofit Mazatlán Membership Library will lend you English-language books one at a time for a $15 annual...Read More

  • 8. Museo Arqueológico de Mazatlán

    Centro Histórico | Museum/Gallery

    The black-and-red pottery of the Totorame (an indigenous tribe that inhabited the area until 200 years before the Spanish arrived) highlights...Read More

  • 9. Museo de Arte de Mazatlán

    Centro Histórico | Museum/Gallery

    The revival of the Centro Histórico has injected new relevance into this small museum. Beyond recognized Mexican artists like José Luis Cueva...Read More

  • 10. Playa Camarón Sábalo


    This beach is just north of Playa las Gaviotas on the map but a couple of notches lower on the energy scale. Although hotels and sports concessions...Read More

  • 11. Playa Escondida


    Relentless condo construction is creeping along the 6 km (4 mi) stretch of sand between Marina Mazatlán and Punta Cerritos, so Hidden Beach...Read More

  • 12. Playa Isla de la Piedra


    Stone Island is where locals come on weekends, and it's a wonderful adventure for visitors—a short trip to a side of Mazatlán that seems worlds...Read More

  • 13. Playa Isla de los Venados


    The most memorable way to get to Deer Island—one of three islands that form a channel off the Zona Dorada—is on an amphibious tank. The World...Read More

  • 14. Playa las Gaviotas


    Seagull Beach, Mazatlán's most popular, parallels the Zona Dorada hotel loop. Streams of vendors sell pottery, lace tablecloths, silver jewelry...Read More

  • 15. Playa Marlin to Playa Norte


    This 6-km (4-mi) arc of sand runs below a seawall walkway along the waterfront road known as Avenida del Mar, from Punta Camerón (Valentino...Read More

  • 16. Playa Olas Altas


    In this small cove, named for its high waves and edged by rocky hills, you can forget that the rest of Mazatlán exists. A couple of hotels—La...Read More

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  • 17. Plazuela Republica

    Centro Histórico | Plaza/Square

    Also known as the zócalo or Plaza Revolución, this shaded square at the center of downtown—near the cathedral, city hall, and post office—is...Read More

  • 18. Teatro Angela Peralta

    Arts/Performance Venue

    The restoration of this 1860s-era opera house—named for a touring diva who died of yellow fever before she could give her concert—ignited the...Read More

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