Which neighborhoods to hit while you're in Mazatlan
Mazatlan is huge -- including its outlying communities it’s more than 1,000 square miles. So if you’re in town for a quick visit it’s best to know the neighborhoods where you can maximize your time. What I love most about Mazatlan is that, because it’s a destination mostly for Mexican travelers and Canadian snowbirds, it’s not quite as delineated as other cities in terms of “tourist” and “local.” Everyone melds together, from the Golden Zone all the way down to the Centro Historico.
Coming in from the airport you're going to pass Marina Mazatlan, which is a fairly new area that has newer condos, a golf course, and the big box stores like Walmart and Sam's Club. Keep moving.
Next you'll come into the Golden Zone, or the Zona Dorada, which is the main "tourist" area you'll find in the city. The main drag is Avenida Camaron Sabalo, along which you'll find the majority of the major hotels, restaurants, bars, and souvenir shops. If you want to label a section of Mazatlan as the tourist section, this would definitely be it. That said, this is still a pocket of the city where Mazatlecos (Mazatlan locals) are willing to visit for a good meal or a fun night out. Prices are considerably cheaper here, especially when compared to other tourist zones in the country (again, looking at you Tulum and Cabo). So if you stick around here, you're doing okay. But still, I encourage you to keep moving.
After the Golden Zone, you're going to come face-to-face with the beginning of Mazatlan's iconic Malecon. The 13-mile-long beach path had been under renovation and expansion since 2017, and has recently reemerged shiny and revamped, but with a retro vibe evocative of the sea paths in Old Havana or Nice. The Malecon area is framed by the beach and Avenida Del Mar. It's in this neighborhood that you'll find the Teodoro Mariscal Baseball Stadium. Yes, baseball. If you thought crazy Uncle Ned and his Red Sox were out of control, you ain't seen nothing 'til you see the Mazatlan Venados play the Culiacan Tomateros. The rivalry is much more intimidating than the team names. Trust me.
Finally, we come to Olas Altas and the Centro Historico. Follow the Malecon around the bend and you'll discover the small bay that is the oldest section of Mazatlan. Here there is a beach, a sea wall, and one of the best views of old world Mazatlan. Just across the street from Olas Altas is where you will find the Centro Historico, where some buildings are more than five centuries old. There are art galleries, museums, fabulous restaurants, great bars, boutique shopping, and more. If you're looking for #content, you cannot beat the late afternoon sunlight that bathes this part of the city in liquid photo-friendly gold. No visit to Mazatlan is complete without a stop in this magical part of the city.
Getting from area to area means you're going to want to want to take a taxi or an Uber (yes, Mazatlan Ubers!). Again, Mazatlan is really, really spread out. If you’re feeling festive, you should try a pulmonia, which is a local open-air car. They’re pretty cheesy and designed for tourists, but they’re a lot of fun to ride in.