Mazatlán, Sinaloa

Having outgrown its image as a chintzy mid-20th century resort town, today’s Mazatlán is one of Mexico’s most alluring and inviting beach destinations. Over the past decade, the ‘Pearl of the Pacific’ has breathed new life into its historic center, and the ongoing renewal program continues to bear fruit. The result is something truly unique: a historic city with a resplendent colonial district only a short walk from a 20km-long crescent of sandy beach.

long in the Zona Dorada (Golden Zone), Mazatlán’s traditional tourist playground. There you’ll find knick-knack shops, pack-’em-in restaurants and resort hotels lined up like dominoes, but few surprises. Instead head straight for the city’s gorgeous pueblo viejo (old town). Here, against a backdrop of cobbled streets, crumbling edifices and an ever-increasing number of newly restored gems, you’ll find a cultural renaissance under way. 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.

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