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Malecón de Mazatlán

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#1 Boutique Hotel in Mazatlan, Mexico

How to Spend 36 Hours in Mazatlan

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Your Official Travel Guide of Things to do in Mazatlan.

How to Spend 36 Hours in Mazatlan

Sophia Boccard

We’ve got a secret to share with you: we love reading The New York Times travel section – it’s our little indulgence. Thus, the theme for this post pays tribute to the Times’ “36 Hours” series. 


Mazatlan began as a simple fishing and hunting destination in the early 1930s in the area known today as the Historic Center. This was a time when the likes of John Wayne, Ernest Hemingway, Rock Hudson, Robert Mitchum, Tony Curtis and many more were visiting the inconspicuous town. The Hotel Belmar, built in 1896, was a staple for years before the deep water fishing lovers of Hollywood began to make their way south of the border from Los Angeles.  Over by Mazatlan’s Golden Zone, known as the Zona Dorada, her first resort, Hotel Playa, opened its doors in 1955. But it wasn’t until the 1970’s when more and more resorts were being built that Mazatlan got the tourism boost that lasted well into the early 1990’s.  


However, back in the Historic Center, life carried on as it always had since the early 1800’s. Old Mazatlan, as it is affectionately called today, went virtually unnoticed between the 1950’s to 1990’s by tourists who were heading down exclusively to the Golden Zone to hang out in their all-inclusive resorts. Locals also began to move outwards by the Golden Zone and the city’s historic area started to see dilapidated buildings. That all began to change in 1992 when the Angela Peralta Theater’s triumphant re-opening and restoration marked the beginning of the complete restoration of our colonial city.

mazatlan boats

Today the markets, cafes, churches, and shady plazas located throughout our Historic Center provide a flashback into 1800’s Mazatlan with a consistent view of a restored colonial city filled with 19th century structures that have been carefully renovated and restored to their original glory. We, here at Casa Lucila, too are so proud of our own thoughtful restoration of an 1823 German-owned and inspired mansion.

mazatlan centro historico

Enjoy and experience 36 hours immersed in the rich cultural hub of Mazatlan, known as the “Pearl of the Pacific,” with - we hope! - Casa Lucila Hotel Boutique as your home base. 


5 p.m. 

Enjoy an evening of specialty cocktails and light fare at Lucila’s Restaurant, located on the ground floor of Casa Lucila Hotel Boutique. Choose from eight drinks, each appropriately named after one of the owner’s sisters. The Chayito, a variation of a White Russian, pairs perfectly with Ceviche de la Casa and lightly fried tortilla chips.

7 p.m. 

Head to the cliffs to watch divers jump into the sea from upwards of 50 feet, while enjoying a mango raspado (flavored shaved ice). If you look across the street, you’ll notice a red gate – Devil’s Cave. According to legend, the devil lingers inside and traps those who try to trespass. Before the gate was installed, people would explore the caves, however, many of them would never resurface. 

cliff divers mazatlan

8 p.m.

Catch a show at the Angela Peralta Theater. Originally opened in 1874, the theater was set to be demolished in 1980. However, due to a group of devoted locals who fought for the structure to remain open, on October 23, 1992, after years of restoration, the theater reopened, and initiated Historic Center’s revival. With approximately 800 seats, guests are transported to the prestige world of superior theaters with European influences. Named after the famed Mexican opera singer Angela Peralta, who died from the yellow fever epidemic that ravaged Mazatlan in the late 1800s.

10 p.m. 

Following the show, explore Plaza Machado, a beautifully restored plaza featuring street vendors, performers and spectators.

plaza machado


8 a.m.

Climb nearby El Faro, the world’s highest natural lighthouse standing at 157 meters above sea level. Following the 30-minute trek, bottled water and refreshments await at the top, as well as an unobstructed view of Mazatlan.

10:30 a.m.

Enjoy a late breakfast at the oldest continuously operating waterfront restaurant in Mazatlan, El Shrimp Bucket, located at the start of Paseo Olas Altas. A staple of Mazatlan since the 1960s, El Shrimp Bucket will continue to serve newcomers and old timers for years to come. 

12:30 p.m.

Take a pulmonia – Mazatlan’s open-air taxis – and head to the Central Market, Mazatlan’s main marketplace for fresh produce, meat, candies, t-shirts and souvenirs. Roughly a third of the size of the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, there is plenty to explore. Referred by locals as the “Iron Palace,” 143,000 kg of cast iron; 38,000 kg of wrought iron; 49,530 kg of corrugated iron sheets; and 584 cubic meters of masonry were used to build the structure.

central market mazatlan

2 p.m.

After resurfacing from Central Market – hopefully with a few dollars still left over – walk to the Immaculate Conception Cathedral, located just steps from the marketplace. The stunning structure, completed in 1899, is filled with the typical Gothic arches and Renaissance-themed domes, and interestingly features a Star of David in each of the 28 stained glass windows, which are a symbol of gratitude to the wealthy Jewish family that helped fund the church’s construction during a financially unstable period of Mazatlan’s growth. Also look for the organ that was built in Paris by Aristide Cavaille-Coll, one of the greatest organ builders of the 19th century.

cathedral mazatlan

3:30 p.m.

Rest at Casa Lucila’s infinity pool with a Pacifico and shrimp tacos. The rooftop oasis features an expansive view of the ocean.

5 p.m.

Walk to the Museum of Art, where many local and national artists display their work. The intimate museum is situated alongside various boutique shops and other art galleries, which make for an effortless afternoon of perusing. Notable stops include Casa Etnika, located on Sixto Osuna 50; Nidart, located on Libertad 45; Mazatlan’s Farmers Market, located at Plaza Zaragoza; and Mexicolors Gallery, located on 59 Sixto Osuna.

7 p.m.

Enjoy a dinner at Casa 46 or El Presidio. Casa 46, tucked in a restored colonial structure, houses countless plates featuring prominent Mazatlecos, as well as quotes from famous singer-songwriter Fernando Valades lining the walls. El Presidio offers an al fresco dining experience in a once-abandoned building that was thoughtfully restored to reflect original details. Both restaurants are located in the Historic Center, and are easily accessible by foot or pulmonia.

Courtyard at El Presidio | Photo: El Presidio

Courtyard at El Presidio | Photo: El Presidio