Mazatlan The Land of the Deer in the old Nahuatl language for better or worse made its name as a spring break destination from the 1980s on. Today, however, families and mature vacationers flock here as well, taking advantage of the low prices and 10-plus miles of beaches. Almost straight across the Sea of Cortez from Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan has Mexico’s largest commercial port. Cruise ships dock near the historic downtown area at the south end; the tourist-oriented Zona Dorada (Golden Zone) lies about 4 miles to the north.
Iconic sight At the center of Mazatlan’s 20-square-block historic district extensively restored since the early 2000s pretty little Plazuela Machado is home to the 19th-century Italian-style Teatro Angela Peralta, a national historic monument which still hosts concerts. Daytime visitors can tour its sumptuous, jewel-box-like interior.
Top beach In the Zona Dorado, long Playa Sabalo is perhaps the best beach in Mazatlan.
Tee ‘em up Mazatlan affords the best golf value in Mexico, with two notable courses open to the public: the 27-hole course at the El Cid resorts (http://elcidgolfclub.com ), just east of the Zona Dorado; and the 18-hole Estrella del Mar Golf Club (www.estrelladelmar.com ), across the channel from downtown, designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr.
Off the beaten track Bus tours into the foothills of the Sierra Madre take visitors to 16th-century colonial towns with narrow cobbled streets and old churches.
Bottoms up Tours of the local Pacifico Brewery (www.discoverpacifico.com ), which makes one of Mexico’s most popular beers, includes tastings and a rooftop bar.