.:.Directly across from the tip of the Baja peninsula sits an island immersed in Mexican culture and history. It is called Mazatlán and is considered the Pearl of the Pacific. Even before the Spanish conquered Mexico, indigenous people known as the Totorames inhabited the surrounding areas of Mazatlán. Remnants of their civilization, including their highly stylized pottery and sculptures, are still on display at the famous Museo Arqueologico. While in Mazatlán, make time to watch a game of ulama. This ancient form of handball has been played for thousands of years and still has a fierce following in this little corner of Mexico.
ThThe hill-screened harbor of Mazatlán served as a perfect hiding place from pirates looking to surprise the rich galleons that plied the coast. Today, these same hills invite travelers to explore hiking trails and limestone caves. Tourism is now booming here, as evidenced by the Golden Zone, a stretch of high-rise hotels and pristine beaches. The city's downtown is filled with restaurants, theaters, boutique stores and open-air markets. One of the most impressive is the Teatro Angela Peralta, a magnificent, neoclassical building that routinely hosts state cultural festivals. And if it's festivals you're after, the Carnaval here is considered by many to be the third-biggest celebration of its kind in the world. It may have you dancing in the streets until the wee hours of the morning, celebrating your trip to Mazatlán.
ToTour the nearby country side with your own car (it's easy; we can provide you with directions), or ask for Marco at the front desk to be your driver. Some places can be busy when a large cruise ship is in town. An all-day trip of 40-50 miles will take you out of the city to get a taste of small-town Mexican life.
> El Quelite. Just a bit farther up the highway from the turnoff to La Noria (and just a bit north of the Tropic of Cancer) is El Quelite. This is a neat and clean little town with a church dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe. Many historic homes from Mexico's colorful past are marked by plaques (in Spanish, of course). There's a large ranch on the edge of town where gaming cocks are bred and raised.
>- Concordia In the opposite direction, south of Mazatlan and then east towards Durango, you'll find this town where the foothills of the Sierra Madres begin. Concordia is the center of a furniture producing region, with many roadside shops displaying their wares and allowing you to see the work in progress. Of course, it has an old church on its village square. On the way there, you can see brick makers, tile makers, and even a hot spring where local women come to do their laundry.
>- Copala Winding farther into the hills, past former silver and copper mines and corn fields only a mountain goat could harvest, you come to tiny Copala and its narrow cobblestone streets. The church here sits on the edge of the hill and is one of the oldest around. Do not miss the to-die-for coconut banana cream pie at either of the two restaurants in town: Daniel's or the Copala Butter Company!
Iffor those of you who are looking for an active vacation, enjoy an early game of tennis on the free court on site. Four tennis racquets are furnished (bring your own tennis balls). Take in a round of golf or try your hand at deep sea fishing located nearby. Bi-lingual horse back riding, hiking, biking, scuba diving, para sailing and other water sports are some of the fun activities you can enjoy while on your vacation.
ToTour the aquarium with over 250 species of marine life. Or enjoy a professional game of baseball when in season. Take a short bus ride to the Historic Mazatlan Market or to the Golden Zone for fantastic shopping, area arts, crafts, clothing and tasty treats. There are delicious restaurants nearby, sure to please your palate, and after the sun goes down the Night Clubs/discos will keep you up and partying until wee hours.
La Noria. This day trip takes you into the countryside north of town. La Noria is small, quaint, sleepy village with an old church on the hillside, an old jail and leather craftsmen you can see making huaraches (sandels) and sakkles. A possible side trip on the road there is Rancl Las Moras, a former 19th century tequila distillery (a ranch turned into a resort with poolside restaurant. There's also another old tequila distillery (ranch that is being brought back into production in La Noria. Their tours and tastings are offered through local tour companies such as Marlin Tours.
Or you could just sit on the
beach and watch the sunsets!