This article originally appeared in Delta Air Lines’ 2012 Caribbean, Mexico and Latin America Travel Guide. It has been extracted from its original format. To read the full travel guide, visit the digital edition.

The “Pearl of the Pacific” embraces its 19th century landmarks in a well-kept historic center while attracting beach-and-sun visitors with miles of beautiful shorelines. Sportfishing and golf are main draws, although foodies might know it best for its famous juicy shrimp.

Mazatlan’s wealth of ancient buildings, protected as national landmarks, pepper colorful streets and house cafes, art galleries and shops throughout the city’s historic center. A must-stop is the Angela Peralta Theater, a beautiful opera house built in the 1870s that offers a year-round roster of live performances, and Plazuela Machado for people-watching. Just a few blocks away is the famous Mazatlan boardwalk or malecon, which weaves alongside the Pacific shoreline and is busy with visitors day and night. A walk down this romantic boardwalk or a ride on one of the open-air pulmonias also reveals a number of monuments celebrating the city’s homegrown Pacifico beer, fishermen life, and more. Across from the Mexican singer-actor Pedro Infante monument is Casa Lucila, an intimate hotel of just eight rooms that is a short walk away from the heart of the historic center.

The city’s Golden Zone, just a few minutes away, is known for its swimmable beaches, clubs and affordable hotels. This is the place to stay for baseball lovers who come to enjoy Mazatlan’s famous team during season, as the stadium is not far off. Farther away from the city is the ever-growing New Mazatlan, which has plenty of beachfront hotels for every budget and taste.

Mazatlan’s Carnaval, as big as Mardi Gras and second only perhaps to Rio’s, is a week-long extravaganza that combines the spirit of a great big fiesta with the region’s customs and traditions via giant floats, parades and plenty of live music, entertainment and folklore. This year, the 114th edition of Carnaval takes place Feb. 16- 21.


  • Best time to go: 
    Year-round; it might get chillier during the winter months, especially in Mexico City and Monterrey, but it’s nothing a jacket won’t fix
  • Fun fact:
    Mariachi music and traditional Mexican cuisine now form part of UNESCO’s list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
  • Getting there:
    Delta flies from Atlanta to Acapulco, Cancun, Cozumel, Guadalajara, Mexico City, Monterrey, Puerto Vallarta and Los Cabos; Delta flies from New York (JFK) to Mexico City and Puerto Vallarta; Delta flies from Minneapolis to Cancun, Cozumel, Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo, Los Cabos, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta; Delta flies from Detroit to Cancun, Cozumel, Los Cabos, Monterrey and Puerto Vallarta; Delta flies from Los Angeles to Cancun, Guadalajara and Puerto Vallarta; Delta flies from Salt Lake City to Cancun, Guadalajara, Los Cabos, Mexico City and Puerto Vallarta; Delta flies from 12 additional gateways to Cancun
  • Entry documents:
    Valid passport
  • Currency:
    Mexican peso
  • Must-try local food:
    A few of the hundreds of varieties of thick moles; on the Pacific side, pescado zarandeado (grilled fish in a tangy tomato sauce); in Monterrey, try the cabrito a las brasas, barbecued kid goat
  • Best buys:
    Silver, indigenous original artwork, tequila—some of the best brands are not sold in the U.S.
  • Information please:
    Mexico Tourism Board’s website—