Colorful city sits atop a hill next to the ocean with road below in Mazatlan. Mexico.
Colorful city sits atop a hill next to the ocean with road below in Mazatlan. Mexico.

7 Memorable Mazatlan Day Trips

How To Spend 8 Hours In Mazatlan, Mexico

By Eben Diskin | Published on August 24, 2022

Finding a tropical beach getaway vacation in Mexico isn't exactly difficult. While tourists flock to the most well-known destinations for a reason, you may be seeking an experience where you can really immerse yourself in the culture, cuisine and history. That's what makes Mazatlan day trips so appealing to travelers.

From feeling the breeze on the iconic Malecón sea wall to drinking in the vibrant colors of Plaza Machado and indulging in street food as flavorful as it is aromatically rich, there are plenty of things to do in Mazatlan with a day to enjoy these vacation ideas.

1. Stroll The Malecón

If you cruise to Mexico and only have limited time to spend in on vacation in Mazatlan, it's best to start on the thoroughfare that connects the water to the city itself. The Malecón is the longest seawall and roadway in Mexico, spanning 13 miles along the city's coastline. It runs north from Olas Altas beach through many of Mazatlan's most historic and vibrant neighborhoods, and it's always teeming with activity — from the sounds of live music performers to the energy of runners and cyclists. Renting a bike is probably the most fun way to travel the Malecón.

2. Explore The Centro HistÓricO

Diving into the heart of the city itself, Centro Histórico (or Old Mazatlan) is the perfect place to get a taste of Mazatlan's culture and history. You can take a pulmonia — a local open-air taxi cart — or simply wander the cobblestone streets and admire the colorful buildings, many dating back 500 years. The neighborhood is also full of art galleries, museums and boutique shops. Make sure to visit Plaza Machado, perhaps the most visually stunning — and some might say "Instagrammable" — spot in Mazatlan. Filled with bristling palm trees and defined by colorful colonial buildings and lively music, the 19th-century plaza remains a popular gathering place for locals to this day.

3. Explore The "Islands"

When you cruise to Mazatlan, you'll likely notice three offshore islands, and you may feel the urge to explore them. Deer Island is a popular site just a short ferry ride away. It's famous for its white-sand beach and calm waters perfect for kayaking, swimming and paddleboarding — all of which are among the best things to do in Mazatlan. The island also has an unobstructed view of the city skyline.

Stone Island is another of the city's islands and ideal for Mazatlan day trips. It's technically a peninsula, not an island, but you'll forget the geographical particulars once you immerse yourself in its otherworldly dark-sand beaches and forest of palm trees. Reachable via ferry or water taxi, the island is known for ATV excursions, banana boat tours, snorkeling and horseback riding. There are also beach huts and restaurants that rent out lounge chairs.

4. Take In The Sweeping Views

With only one day here, take in all of Mazatlan at once from one of the many vantage points in the city. You can enjoy some pretty stunning sights from the beaches and islands, with the best perspective being from El Faro, a lighthouse built in the 19th century. The lighthouse is still operating today and sits on a hill 525 feet above sea level. The hike to reach it is steep and challenging, but you'll be rewarded with unparalleled views of the city and coastline.

5. Indulge In Mazatlan's Street Food

Street food is often the best way to get a taste of any city's most authentic cuisine, and Mazatlan is no exception. When visiting Mazatlan on a cruise vacation most travelers and foodies alike talk about the food from here being best known for its; charcoal-grilled chicken, fresh ceviche, chili-lime corn, as well as hot dogs wrapped in bacon. Street food is in abundance all over the city; you may even find some people selling food out of their house windows. If you're fortunate enough to be visiting for the day, spend an afternoon hopping from food truck to sidewalk vendor for some of the best food in Mazatlan.

6. Immerse Yourself In Authentic Mexican Dining

If you'd prefer a sit-down meal over touring the street food scene, there are plenty of restaurants serving up an elevated dining experience. For fine dining, check out El Presidio, which serves classic Mexican cuisine in the stone courtyard of a 19th-century house. For a view while you eat, head to Casa 46, which offers views of historic Mazatlan alongside a feast of varied international cuisine. If your cruise stops in Mazatlan, you may feel rushed trying to explore the city — but if you happen to have some extra time and are looking for day trip ideas beyond Mazatlan, head to El Quelite. In this small town, just an hour outside of Mazatlan, you'll find El Mesón de los Laureanos, a true Mexican dining experience with a menu defined by locally grown ingredients. Come for the amazing food and stay for the atmosphere that includes a menagerie of local birds, iguanas and cats.

7. Try Local Tequila: Learn Of Its Culture

Of course, it wouldn't really be a trip to Mexico without a healthy dose of tequila. This region gives you the perfect opportunity to spend a half-day experiencing the best tequila in the world. Check out nearby villages like La Vinata, which has the oldest tequila distillery in the state of Sinaloa, La Noria. Here, you'll find one of the largest blue agave plantations in Mexico, and El Quelite, the home of another distillery. At each destination, you'll have the opportunity to taste local tequila, witness the distilling process and learn the long history of tequila.
Enjoy a beautiful travel day trip to Mazatlan on your next vacation cruise to Mexico, discover more of its wonders and related ports of call.


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