Escaping Minnesota during the long winter months is something many of us long for once the long dark days of winter have nestled in.
When I was invited to visit Mazatlan to check out the revitalization of this sun-drenched destination, I jumped at the chance. One visit was by sea and one by air. The last time I explored the city was in the early 90’s, so my expectations naturally went into re-call mode. I can vividly remember beaches filled with scantly dressed Spring Breakers doing tequila body shots while dancing to the music of Vanilla Ice.
Well ladies and gentleman…things have changed. If you are looking to relive the days of “Hammer Time”… Mazatlan just may not be your warm weather destination. The Mexican resort city has successfully done a face-lift refreshing this beauty on the Pacific. Mazatlan has also re-branded the sunshine destination with a concentrated effort on attracting a more discerning refined clientele. The majority of the hotels now actually require guests renting a suite to be 25 or older. This move clearly eliminates the option of packing a hotel room with multiple 18-year-old bro’s fist pumping each other while “all the single ladies” twerk along to “milkshake” by Kelis. Come on we certainly all remember those days!
Be experimental and follow the lead of locals…you won’t be disappointed.
If you are weighing family spring break options, you may want to consider Mazatlan. There is also good news for Minnesota winter escape artist’s; Sun Country has launched seasonal direct flights from the Minneapolis St. Paul airport to Mazatlan. In just over four hours you will be transported from the teeth chattering cold and snow of the bold north to the white sand beaches and palm trees of Mazatlan. My travels took me from traveling along the Mexican Riviera on a Princess Cruise, where I visited the city spending a day exploring the highlights of Mazatlan, to returning a few weeks later for a four day crash course immersion on all the city has to offer tourists in search of a sunshine adventure.
Time for a little Q & A with me:
So where exactly is Mazatlan, Mexico?
Mazatlan is located on Mexico’s western shore at the foot of the Sierra Madre Mountains where the Sea of Cortez meets the Pacific Ocean. The city is the second largest city in the state of Sinaloa.
What is the weather like in Mazatlan during the cold Minnesota winter?
From January to March you will find temperatures to fluctuate from a very comfortable high 70’s to low 80”s.
What about accommodations – where did you stay?
During my 4-night visit I stayed at the all-inclusive El Cid Moro Beach Hotel where I was pleased to find that there were pools for families
as well as adult only options. If you consider yourself a foodie, there were plenty of choices from casual to fine dinning. The guest rooms were well appointed and spacious.
I am all about location when I book a hotel. How was the location?
It was a perfect – centrally located along the area known as the Golden Zone. The zone is very popular with tourist for its many shops, restaurants and white sand beaches.
How are the Mazatlan Beaches?
If you are looking for beach options Mazatlan checks that box with 12 miles of beaches.
Tell me about the food?
Mazatlan is known as the shrimp capitol of the world making Mazatlan a great destination for seafood lovers. Spend time exploring the street food in Mazatlan. During lunch and dinner you will find street carts and make shift food counters serving amazing ceviche, tacos, quesadillas and burritos. Many of the items
were new to me, and certainly not a staple on a Taco Bell menu board. Be experimental and follow the lead of locals…you won’t be disappointed.
Okay it’s time for a little exercise – any recommendations?
After indulging in local cuisine you may be itching for a cardio work out…head to the El Faro Lighthouse, which has been shinning a light over the Pacific Ocean since 1879. The lighthouse rests at a 500ft elevation and is about 350 steps to the base. Depending on your cardio conditioning the hike with its amazing views takes about 30 minutes each way.
Okay I’m sold on the sunshine and beaches, but what other activities would you suggest?
Be sure to stroll along the boulevard called the Malecon to Diver’s Point where you will find high divers performing acrobatic plunges into the surf from a 59 ft. high ledge. You will also find many places to duck in for a coffee or an afternoon cocktail while gazing upon the islands off the shores of Mazatlan. Take note of Deer Island where you will see pelicans and colonies of resting sea lions sunning themselves on nearby rocks.
Stone Island is a short 10-minute drive from the city but it definitely has a completely different vibe. The Island is a very popular destination for tourists looking for a respite from the busier lifestyle apparent in the city of Mazatlan. The area offers visitors an opportunity to relax and enjoy a piña colada in a hammocks, or in the shade under an umbrella at one of the many beach front restaurants. Stone Island is also the perfect destination for those looking for an adrenaline rush. Guests will find merchants happy to take guests out on excursions to explore the Pacific on banana boats, catamarans and wind surfers.
A visit to Mazatlan is not complete without spending time strolling through the old downtown district known as El Centro. Take time to admire the Moorish and Gothic architecture of the Cathedral Basilica built in 1856. The Cathedral is the only Roman Catholic Church in the world that has the Star of David displayed in each of the Cathedrals 28 stained glass windows. While walking through the historic streets, spend some time at the Plaza Machado in the area knows as the Centro Historico. Surrounding the plaza you will see the French and Spanish influence in the architecture of the hotels, shops and restaurants. The area is also home to the beautifully restored neoclassic Angela Peralta Theatre. The theatre is named after the famous singer that died of yellow fever after performing at the theatre.
Whether by ship or by sea today’s Mazatlan is a welcome oasis from using those arms to scrap windshields to using those arms to slather on suntan lotion…oops sunscreen right? See you on the scene!