This family-friendly destination is a top-pick for 2022 travel
Mazatlán is a magical town for travelers of all types, and it’s a great choice for introducing children to international travel and beautiful beach destinations. The city is on a revitalization mission and in recent years has experienced growth in hotels, restaurants and attractions designed to draw visitors. It has watersports, golf, a vibrant arts community and a variety of festivals throughout the year—including the third-largest Carnival celebration (behind Rio de Janeiro and New Orleans) and the annual Day of the Dead festival. And, of course, it has beaches. Lots of beaches. With so much to see and do, we’ve helped narrow down the list to some favorites to ensure your Mazatlán vacation is one to remember.
Since its opening in 1980, Acuario Mazatlán (Mazatlán Aquarium) has been one of the best of its kind and the largest in Mexico. However, this fall (anticipated for September 2022), the city will open its new aquarium which will be the largest in all of Latin America. Located within the city’s Central Park, the New Mazatlán Aquarium will be nearly 540,000 square feet. (To put that in perspective, the Denver Aquarium is 107,000 square feet.) Looking like something out of Jurassic World, the three-level building will feature an oceanic fish tank, containing more than 660,000 gallons of water with a gigantic acrylic window nearly 20 feet tall by 65 feet wide. In addition, the aquarium will have a coral tank, jellyfish, seahorses, rays, turtles, reptiles and a variety of other species. It will be a must-see multimedia aquatic playground.
Plaza Machado is the old town area’s central hub. From here, you’ll find shopping, restaurants, galleries and cultural attractions in addition to street performers and musicians. The ornate yellow spires of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception loom large over the north side of the square. This gilded stunner with Gothic, Moorish and Baroque influences, holds a lesser-known secret. The Catholic church has 28 stained glass windows featuring the Star of David. This Jewish symbol serves as a tribute to the local Jewish community that helped fund the final construction of the church. Be sure to see this beauty lit up in the evening.
Mazatlán’s malecón is one of the longest in the world—stretching 13 miles. Along this famous boardwalk, where you’ll want to get a photo in front of the colorful letters spelling out Mazatlán, and the kids will love the variety of statues to admire along the way. High cliffs, monuments, historical buildings and more dot the surrounding area. It’s pedestrian friendly so plan to spend an afternoon walking along the water and checking out the shops and restaurants.
EL FARO LIGHTHOUSE
If you’ve got some good lil’ hikers (although by Colorado standards, this is really just a walk), you’ll want to visit El Faro Lighthouse. Like all the attractions above, the lighthouse is on the peninsular section of the city—and it’s right at the southern tip. It sits 515 feet above sea level and is the highest natural lighthouse in the Americas—and one of the highest operating lighthouses in the world. The kids will love the glass-bottom lookout after a trudge to the top!
Note: If you’re looking for something more extreme, you’ll also find the typical vacation destination activities such as ziplining, parasailing, ATV tours and more!
Mentioned below, if you choose an all-inclusive resort, there are so many dining options you might not want to leave the resort. However, you should really try some of the street vendors. There are so many tasty options—you’ll find many on the malecón and in Old Mazatlán—from seafood to al pastor tacos to elote (corn-on-the-cob). Note about elote: It’s not the sweet corn we get from Olathe, but it does come slathered in mayo, sour cream, ancho chile powder and cotija cheese. And definitely keep your eyes peeled for a churros vendor!
LA VIDE EN PLAYA
A beach vacation with kids doesn’t get any easier than when you stay at the all-inclusive, newly renovated Pueblo Bonito Mazatlán Beach Resort. It has suites and junior suites with kitchenettes so you can keep snacks handy, but there are also five restaurants on the property. You’ll enjoy two pools and daily on-site activities—including ones for children. In addition, you can visit the sister property, Emerald Bay, to access another two pools and five additional restaurants included in your all-inclusive package. The resort is in the Golden Zone, just north of the malecón, so it’s a quick cab ride (the kids will love the golf-cart-turned-taxis running around this area). But the best part about Pueblo Bonito Mazatlán Beach Resort: the beach. It’s long, flat and the water is shallow and calm, making it a perfect spot to introduce the kids to beach life.