Mazatlan Downtown & Historical Center
On the southern end of the plaza is the Angela Peralta Theater. Beautifully restored from ruin, this theater has a long and colourful history.
What others have to say about Old Mazatlan
Mexico Connect.- Although residents in Mazatlan are refurbishing the older part of town, it is still quiet and relatively unpopulated with tourists. In the evening, the streets quiet down and in the smaller parks, the benches fill up with people relaxing from the day. Near the remodeled old Teatro, there are several new outdoor cafes. At the Café Machado we enjoyed good cinnamon coffee. Down half a block, we could hear a small ensemble playing chamber music inside The Royal Dutch Cafe. This area is a good change from the rock 'n roll disco golden zone.
The 10 minute walk back through the narrow streets, at a little before midnight, was quiet and serene. We spotted a few teenagers hanging out in front of their homes and, once in while, a car would drive by, but most of the time we were alone. The architecture looked like the French Quarter in New Orleans with the elaborate railings and ornate facades. We hit Olas Altas Street right at the Café Marisimo, an excellent breakfast spot. For 20 pesos you get your choice of eggs, a good onion-potato dish, beans, tortillas, fresh squeezed orange juice and coffee (real coffee not Nescafe)
David Simmonds says-Plazuela Machado.This is the jewel and focus of the restoration that is being spearheaded by the Old Mazatlán Association. Named for a Filipino immigrant, Juan Machado, the plaza is the antithesis of the tourist areas that rock and roll day and night. Most people are astonished to find such a refined and genteel oasis in this town of fun and sun. At one time the plaza was the commercial center of the city, but now is being resurrected as the cultural and entertainment center. Its outdoor cafes and old stately buildings are attracting the intellectual and artistic community of Mazatlán, as well as travelers looking for a break from the fast lane. And now is a good time to see it, before the word gets out and it gets overrun with fellow gringos, all looking for the authentic Mexican scene. Lets hope the Hard Rock doesn't pay a visit in search for future sites.
Just off the corner of the Plaza Machado is the Teatro Angela Peralta, built in 1865 as the Teatro Rubio. It is now fully restored after five years of work. Angela Peralta was a much admired opera star from the 19th century who, after giving her only Mazatlán performance, died of yellow fever in the hotel Iturbides, next door to the theater. Her remains now lie in the Rotunda de Hombres Ilustres in Mexico City. Entertainment of all varieties is now performed in this beautiful building, and you can also tour it during the day from 9 am to 6 pm for a mere three pesos.
Plan on having lunch or dinner at Plaza Machado. I especially enjoyed Cafe Pacífico and the restaurant next door, Hostería Machado. You might think you are in Pamplóna (without the bulls). This is where you can meet the intellectual and rising-class people of the city, many of whom will confide to you that they rarely go to the Zona Dorada, the tourist strip of hotels to which I have alluded.
One of the most striking aspects of Mazatlán Viejo is how many stately old buildings stand empty, presumably waiting to be restored. Its hard to believe that the process of rehabilitation hasn't progressed further than it has. I am sure that lack of money is an issue, but there must be some good deals available. As they say in real estate and youth tennis camps, "there's tremendous potential there." These buildings need to be used and lived in. It's very rare to have an historical area like this in a coastal city. Acapulco is the only other one in Mexico, the other major port city on the West coast. Whenever I visit a colonial town I always think, "This is great...now if only there were a beach down the street." Mazatlán has a great beach down the street.
PLAYA OLAS ALTAS
This was the beach when Mazatlán first became a tourist destination, primarily by sport-fishermen. John Wayne used to keep a boat here. Later the surfers discovered why it was named Olas Altas (tall waves). Best of all, this beach hasn't changed much over the years. The entire stretch of sand, located between rocky points, is fairly short, perhaps a seven minute walk end-to-end on a parallel sidewalk. There are two hotel choices you should consider. The six-story Hotel Belmar is the more run-down of the two, but you can get an ocean-front room with balcony for about $16US. And its not really in bad shape, although it could use a little spruce job after eighty years in business.
My choice, and I think this is one of the best room deals in all of Mexico, is the Hotel La Siesta. It too faces the ocean with second and third story balconies. The ocean-front rooms are almost entirely glass, looking out to one of the best sunset views you will ever see. They come air-conditioned, clean and fully equipped, with all the ocean breeze you can handle. The balconies are full sized, running the width of the room...the kind of balcony you can actually use instead of those claustrophobic, foot-wide diving platforms you encounter at so many high rise tourist zone hotels. There are perhaps quieter rooms in the back, overlooking the inner courtyard, but you should opt for the ocean-front.
The floor level of the hotel houses the popular El Shrimp Bucket restaurant, the flagship of the country-wide Carlos Anderson's chain of restaurants. Besides serving some of the best seafood in Mazatlán, this is a good place to get your day started with a plate of machaca and a bracing cup of café. You'll meet some of the old-time expats of Mazatlán here, as well as down the street at La Copa de Leche, a long-time open-air restaurant that the tourists have now been avoiding in great numbers for years. It's a swell place to sit for a bite and a cold beer, knowing that forty years have not changed the place at all.
Lonely Planet.- The heart of Old Mazatlán is the large 19th-century cathedral with its high, yellow twin towers and beautiful statues inside. Finished in 1890, it faces the lush trees and bandstand of Plaza Principal. A couple of blocks southwest, the attractive Plazuela Machado is the center of a large historic area of Mazatlán that has been extensively renewed. It's surrounded by attractive sidewalk cafes and historic buildings such as the Teatro Ángela Peralta, built in 1860.
Towards the beach, the Museo Arqueológico is an interesting little archaeological museum. Opposite, the Museo de Arte has permanent and changing exhibits of work by Mexican artists.
The main beach, Playa Olas Altas, is where Mazatlán's tourism began in the 1950s. The seafront road has a few faded '50s hotels facing the water, but erosion and construction have reduced the beach to a small crescent at the northern end of the cove. To the north, the coast road passes Cerro de la Nevería, where cliff divers plunge into the ocean below. Further along, Playa Norte is a sunset fishing spot for pelicans and other birds.
At the southern end of the peninsula, a particularly prominent rocky outcrop provides the base for El Faro, 157m (515ft) above sea level and supposedly the second-highest lighthouse in the world (after Gibraltar). You can climb up there for a spectacular view of the city and coast.