Visiting Mazatlán with Kids

Kids love Mazatlán! The list below should help whether you are traveling here on holiday or whether you live here and are wondering about something new and different to do with your kids during school break. The to-dos are organized alphabetically.

  • Aquarium and bird show: The aquarium in Mazatlán is a lot of fun. The most exciting thing at the aquarium is you can swim with the sharks! In addition to the indoor marine exhibits there are entertaining bird shows held on an outdoor covered stage. Aquarium staff do most of the rescue of marine animals and birds here in town, so we all very much appreciate you supporting this venue.
  • Batting cages: On Avenida del Mar, right next to the double yellow towers (Las Gavias), is a batting cage called, “Wild Pitch.” There is now also a second one up on Avenida de la Marina in the new Mazatlán Golf Center.
  • Beach day: Pick a beach, any beach. You can get chair side service and lots of vendors at a hotel beach. You can dine on fresh, affordable seafood in a palapa/thatched hut on Playa Pinos. Make sand castles, pick up sea shells and sea glass, play soccer or football, volleyball or catch … You name it, you can’t go wrong with kids and a beach.
  • Bicycling: Biking along the malecón/oceanside promenade is gorgeous, easy and fun! From Valentino’s to the Pedro Infante Monument is about 4 miles one-way, it’s of course a very level ride, and safely out of the traffic. It’s easiest to borrow a bike from friends or your hotel if you can. Kelly’s Bike Rental used to be near the malecón, but now he’s moved up towards the marina so is a bit harder for the tourist to reach. Kelly (Güero) has a terrific mountain bike trail/course where he will gladly take older teenagers. He has bikes to loan out as well.
  • Bird watching, hiking and picnicking: The lush Estero del Yugo nature preserve on the north end of town makes for a day of hiking and bird watching. Bring a picnic lunch, binoculars, and your camera.
  • Boogie board: Bring your own, or buy one at one of the many shops along Avenida del Mar or Av. Camarón Sábalo. It’s a whole lot of fun!
  • El Bosque/City Park: Located one block off the malecón, this park has a large pond with waterfowl, swing sets and climbing gyms, a small zoo, and a walking trail. There are play areas in small parks throughout the city, though I recommend you check their safety beforE letting your kids climb up and slide down.
  • Bowling: Space Bowling, up on the north end of town near Marina El Cid, has fun laser-light bowling at night, and makes for good refuge if you happen to be here during rainy season.
  • Boxing: Older teenagers and young adults may enjoy a night of boxing. Our boys love it, as you get up close and personal to the boxers. I imagine the ring card girls don’t hurt their eyes either 🙂 Held on Friday nights about once every month, downtown in the Cancha German Evers.
  • Catamaran: You can have one of the playeros take you and your family out for a cruise around the bay for very little cash. Watch the sea lions (Mazatlán is their southernmost point), cruise past Bird and Deer Islands, see the city from the sea. A boat ride is always fun. We also have sailboats, or you can go out on a party boat and enjoy music, dinner or sunset.
  • Climb the lighthouse: One of our very favorite family activities, we do this once a week. The climb only takes about 20 minutes, and the view from the top is gorgeous!
  • Dolphin, whale and sea lion watching Also one of our favorite activities! DEFINITELY do this if you are traveling here! You can read our blog post about this trip.
  • Fishermen: Sitting near the pangas/boats at Playa Norte beach in the morning, watching the fishermen bring in their boats, unload and sell their fish, can make for a very enjoyable morning for a family.
  • Fly a kite: Buy one anywhere, and spend a few hours flying it on the beach. Enjoy some ceviche, fresh fruit or turnovers/empanadas from a strolling vendor, and maybe some live music from a passing band.
  • Horseback riding: There is nothing like a family horseback ride on the beach, or through a forest of palm trees. Rent horses on the north end of town at Playa Bruja, or out on Stone Island.
  • Inline skating: That 4-mile malecón is calling your name! You and the family can of course walk it, or you can rent skates in Olas Altas at the Looney Bean coffee shop.
  • Island day: Spending a day at either Deer Island (one of the three islands in the bay) or Stone Island (it’s actually a peninsula) feels like going back in time to a simpler, more charming era. Pretend you’re shipwrecked, or that you own your own private piece of paradise. On Stone Island there are plenty of restaurants with lots of adult beverages; the beach is great for kids as the ocean is pretty calm. On Deer Island you can get a few things to eat or drink. You can get tours to either island that include banana boating, snorkeling or jet skiing; Stone Island tours often include horseback riding. Stone Island has an affordable water ferry (about US$3 round trip per person).
  • Kayaking: Rent a couple of kayaks on the beach in front of one of the hotels, and enjoy some terrific family time paddling in the bay.
  • Movies: Movie theaters in Mazatlán are MUCH more affordable ventures than they are north of the border. If you don’t speak Spanish, be sure to see a subtitled movie rather than one that’s dubbed. Cinepolis is in the Gran Plaza; Gaviotas is an older theater near Valentino’s in the Golden Zone; and the two Cinemexes are in the main part of town on Insurgentes Street.
  1. Cinépolis 
  2. Cinemas Gaviotas
  3. CinemexMaz
  4. CinemexToreo
  • Paint ball: For some weird reason, paint ball is called “Gotcha” in Mazatlecan Spanish. The nearest location is Master Gotcha located behind Casa Country in the Golden Zone. Closed on Tuesdays, check their Facebook page for specials.
  • Parasailing: Before I parasailed I never imagined I’d enjoy it as much as I did! It is amazingly fun and exciting! Book a trip on the beach in front of your hotel.
  • Port: Watch the workings of the port from the Mirador or the Old Observatory. Drive, walk or bike up Paseo del Centenario to either of these places, and you will be rewarded with incredible views of the city of Mazatlán and the workings of its port. See the loading and unloading at the docks, the boats of the largest shrimping fleet in the Americas, as well as the tuna fleet.
  • Sea turtles: Release baby sea turtles, or see their mothers lay eggs. Sea turtles come in to the beach to lay their eggs starting in late August or September every year. It is an amazing process to watch, but please don’t bother the nesting Moms! You can read a blog post about the sea turtles here. If you call the aquarium you and your kids may be able to participate in a release of baby sea turtles, which the kids also really love.
  • Skate park: Bring your skateboard, rip stick, BMX bike or inline skates, or just your eyes and good humor to watch the festivities. The Skate Park is next to the outdoor gym in Playa Norte. We did a blog post about it.
  • Snorkeling: Playa Norte has a sheltered beach, just south of the swim club and the outdoor gym, which has pretty interesting snorkeling: lots of colorful fish and sea glass. On Deer Island you can snorkel for octopus or scallops.
  • Surfing: Many kids would love to learn how to surf! In Mazatlán there are a few options: Mazatlán Surf Center, Jah Surf School, Puras Olas, or just do a web search.
  • Swimming: This would seem to be a no-brainer. In the pool, in the ocean, Mazatlán is a swimmers’ paradise. Something our family loves is, in the early morning, to go down to Playa Norte and watch the swim club swimmers do their ocean swims. Many are grandmas and grandpas and boy can they swim! In November each year the club does a Travesía, during which swimmers swim out to Deer Island!
  • Swim with the sharks: The aquarium offers this cool activity. There are plans to swim with dolphins, but as of this blog post that’s not yet an option. But swimming with sharks sounds so cool and dangerous (yet isn’t)!
  • Tide pools: One of the BEST activities ever, on the planet, for families with young children. Bring a book of tide pool life along with you, put on some water shoes, and take a walk when the tide is out along the beach south of Valentino’s. Starfish, crabs, tadpoles, sea urchins… Gotta love it!
  • Video arcade: Ok, I don’t like going on vacation to have the kids go to an arcade, but I do remember traveling to Prague and having my kid beg for laser tag, so it happens. The best video arcade that I know of is in the Gran Plaza shopping mall. There is also a small, “cooler” one for teenagers just north of Valentino’s, on the second level.
  • Water park: If the kids want more slide action than the hotel pool can provide, take them up to Mazagua, on the north end of town on the way to the Hotel Riu or Emerald Bay.
  • Zip line: Huana Coa gets incredibly high reviews on TripAdvisor. While we haven’t gone on this one, if your kids are into this, it sure sounds like fun.
In addition to the above year-round activities, there are also terrific seasonal events that you should try not to miss. These include:
  • Carnaval/Mardis Gras (a very family-oriented five days)
  • MotoWeek, a huge gathering of motorcycles from around the continent. Includes concerts, an expo and a huge parade.
  • ExpoCar, usually held in December, this is a car show and, I guess, drag racing event. Exhibitions, concerts, and lots of burning rubber.
  • La Frasca/Shrimping in the estuary A once-in-a-lifetime experience for families, occurs only during shrimping season. You will need a car or driver and to speak Spanish or have an interpreter or guide.
  • Day of the Dead, altars and callejoneada parade
  • Easter Week processions
  • AeroFest, usually held in November along the malecón
  • Revolution Day
  • Independence Day, especially “El Grito” the night before in the main Plaza downtown
  • Look for signs for special events such as Monster Truck shows, Lucha Libre, circuses (one going on somewhere in town at least once/month), carnavals/fairs (5-7 every year), NBA exposition games, etc….
  • There are also “cultural” events such as bullfighting (held occasionally) and cock fighting (held all the time at various venues). Look for signs or ask around when you are in town if you are interested.
I’ve only included things right here in town. If you have something I should add, please let me know. There are also loads of things to do outside the city—small pueblos to visit, the petroglyphs at Las Labradas… Those will have to be for another summary post. 🙂
Enjoy your holiday! Or, rest assured that the kids will go back to school, eventually, ja ja.

 

About Dianne Hofner Saphiere

There are loads of talented people in this gorgeous world of ours. We all have a unique contribution to make, and if we collaborate, I am confident we have all the pieces we need to solve any problem we face. I have been an intercultural organizational effectiveness consultant since 1979, working primarily with for-profit multinational corporations. I lived and worked in Japan in the late 70s through the 80s, and currently live in and work from México, where with a wonderful partner we've raised a bicultural, global-minded son. I have worked with organizations and people from over 100 nations in my career. What's your story?

10 thoughts on “Visiting Mazatlán with Kids

  1. This list would be wonderful for all visitors with children. I am updating my book, "Mazatlan IS Paradise." Would you mind if I shared it with my readers while giving you credit?

  2. That would be fine, Chuck. I am happy if readers will find it helpful. Please use the blog url. Thanks and glad to hear you're re-publishing! You also saw that there are a few posts here about coming to Mazatlán with school kids–choosing schools. They might be helpful as well. I trust you are well; haven't seen you in quite some time! Happy Year of the Dragon!

  3. Thanks, Diane–will do. I just saw your CONREHABIT trip on your blog–sweet! I just made a deal with Bodie Kellogg to do my pictures for the book re-write in exchange for a percentage of royalties going to CONREHABIT.

  4. Bodie's doing such a great job with the photo art pieces. I am so happy to see it; great addition to the Mazatlán art scene. I'm sure the book will look great. Links to the posts on choosing schools that I mentioned:http://vidamaz.blogspot.com/2010/01/moving-to-mexico-mazatlan-with-kids.htmlhttp://vidamaz.blogspot.com/2011/02/high-schools-and-foreign-residents-in.htmlhttp://vidamaz.blogspot.com/2011/06/three-years-in-mexico-with-junior-high.htmlI hope some of it might help. Good luck with the new edition!

  5. Hey there, I just got back from Mazatlan and the last morning there I heard about the November swim to Deer Island. I cannot find any info on this and am interested in giving this a shot. Your blog is the only reference I have located. Do you have any info on this or know whom I may contact? Thanks so much! :)Shae

  6. Dear Shae, the Club de Natación on the malecón coordinates it, to the best of my knowledge. I can ask there, and I also have a few friends who participate. As you know, here things tend not to be planned very far in advance, but I can get you contact info so you can check. I am in Bogotá on business for a couple of weeks, but when I'm back home in MZT I will check and get back to you. Thanks! It's a terrific event. I'm not up to the swim, but I have hoped to go out in kayak to accompany those who get tired and need refreshment. BTW it's called the "Travesía."

  7. Shae, my friends tell me this year's Travesía Annual will be November 1. They all say this with all confidence. Since that's a Thursday, my best guess is it will be Sunday November 4. Show up at Playa Norte, at the swim club, about 7 am or a bit earlier. They swim every day, so when you come down it would be good to get there early on a Thursday or Saturday morning to get to know the group. They said there is now a US American involved in the swim club, and that they'd put me in touch with him. If I hear more I'll let you know. It is sooooo much fun each year! Definitely worth doing if you are able to swim that far.

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