Mazatlan, Mexico

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Miles of Pacific beaches and a world-famous Carnival (this year’s takes place Feb. 7-12) are not the only claims to fame of this romantic Pacific city. Located at the foot of the Sierra Madre Mountains, Mazatlan mixes up history and culture as one of the oldest ports in the Americas.
Whether it’s admiring the cliff divers jumping into tide pools from El Mirador, visiting the second highest lighthouse in the world or enjoying a stroll or bike ride along the city’s beautiful seaside boardwalk, visitors are easily charmed by the colonial-chic aspect of the “Pearl of the Pacific.” In its historic center, a colorful heritage is revealed in close to 500 national landmarks, including the Angela Peralta Theater; Plazuela Machado, which hosts cultural activities throughout the year; and the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, the only Roman Catholic church with the Star of David displayed in each of its stained glass windows.

Most fun for visitors is to explore the city via the local pulmonias, open-air vehicles that allow for better sightseeing. The city’s most popular dish? Shrimp prepared in a variety of ways and sold each morning in outdoor markets.

Hundreds of hotels and resorts throughout the city cater to every taste. Some of its most recent ones, including the new and modern Crowne Plaza Mazatlan, are located in New Mazatlan, about a 25-minute drive from the city-center.

Mazatlan is one of Mexico’s most famous sportfishing destinations, yet those who would rather enjoy the beach have choices such as Playa Sabalo, Playa Los Cerritos and Las Gaviotas. For surfing, there’s the popular Playa Bruja. Onshore, it’s all about golf, with a number of championship courses available. There are also cultural excursions available to nearby villages such as El Quelite and Copala and eco-adventure locations.