Those looking to take a break from the lively things to do in Mazatlan will find the charming rural pueblito of El Quelite to be the perfect escape. Small but packed with culture and tradition, the town was founded in the 1800s and is filled with colorful streets, historic buildings, lush vegetation, and oh-so-delicious Mexican food.
It won’t take long to explore this little town, but here are the best eats and spots around town, as well as the top things to do in El Quelite
The Best Restaurants, Activities and Things to Do in El Quelite, Mexico (Sinaloa)
1. Eat at El Meson De Los Laureanos
One of the best parts about traveling to a new place like El Quelite is discovering and trying new food. And at the town’s El Meson De Los Laureanos, you will see (or rather TASTE) why the restaurant is loved by Mexicans and tourists alike.
Since 1995, Los Laureanos has made a name for itself as one of the best restaurants in Sinaloa using “grandma’s recipes.” From chilorio (chili-fried pork) to bistec ranchero (ranch steak,) they serve traditional Sinaloan dishes that will surely make you say muy rico!
And don’t get me started on the place itself— colorful tablecloths and murals, chickens scurrying around at your feet, there’s always something fun and fascinating to see everywhere. Add to that its homely vibe and friendly staff (especially the owner, Dr. Marcus Osuna), a meal at Los Laureanos is definitely a one-of-a-kind gastronomic experience.
2. Try Fresh Tortillas at Bolis
Bolis is a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it kind of place, but I hope you don’t. You’ll find it on the main drag, and if you’re lucky they will be making fresh tortillas when you arrive. Do yourself a favor and pop into the tiny shop and buy your one (or a dozen!).
3. Take the Path to Capilla a San Judas Tadeo
The Capilla a San Judas Tadeo is a chapel at the top of a small hill in El Quelite dedicated to St. Jude Thaddeus. What makes the place worth the walk up for visitors are the picturesque views of the townscape from up high. You can even see the Quelite River from there.
The entrance to the path leading up the chapel is unmarked, so it’s pretty easy to miss. From the town arch, follow the main road (Benito Juarez) until you get to a “crossroad”. Take the left one to get to the path.
4. See Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church
Dating back to the 1800s, this small but lovely church at the town’s heart serves as a place of worship for the local Catholics, with the Virgin of Guadalupe as their patron saint.
A garden greets visitors through its gates before meeting the church’s simple yet elegant facade. Inside, you’ll find statues and paintings of Biblical figures on both sides of the walls. At the center, near the altar, hangs the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe.
5. Take a Selfie at the El Quelite Sign
Nothing screams “I’ve visited El Quelite!” than a mandatory selfie at its colorful sign, found just beside the Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church.
Whether it be the church and garden as your backdrop or the colorful houses and cobblestone road, you’ll have plenty of angles to play around for that picture-perfect shot.
6. Watch Some Ulama
If you’ve watched the American animated film back in 2000 called The Road to El Dorado, you might remember a game played in the film where they pass a ball through a stone hoop on the wall. This game is called ulama, an ancient ballgame played by the Mayans and Aztec, and El Quelite happens to be one of the remaining towns in Mexico who keeps the sports alive.
You can think of the game as a cross between basketball, soccer, and volleyball, where two teams pass a heavy rubber ball (which can weigh up to 9 lbs/4 kg) to each other using only their hips. Although the rules vary, a score can be made if you either shoot the ball through the hoop (which is rare and hard to do, by the way), the other team fails to return the ball back, or if the ball touches the other team’s back wall.
They usually play ulama matches in El Quelite during the weekends, however you can also check with the Sinaloa Office of Tourism in Mazatlán for any upcoming matches if you want to watch one during your trip.
7. Tour the Town on Horseback
Exploring the cobbled streets and colorful houses in El Quelite on foot is nice. But if you want the feel of a true rural experience, touring the town on horseback is the way to go.
It’s also not that hard to find one to hop on, as you’ll find horses for riding almost everywhere, especially in tourist-heavy spots like outside Los Laureanos. There are even small horses and donkeys for the kids!
8. Shop for Handicrafts
Bringing a piece of a place like El Quelite back home with you is one of the best things to serve as a remembrance of your trip. Being steeped in culture and history, you don’t want to miss out on their unique handicrafts.
One of the best places to get your hands on these is at Diseño Bazaar Centro Artesanal, which is found along the main road a few blocks before the El Quelite sign and the church. Here you’ll find different handmade goodies such as clothing, decorations, kitchenware, and other knick knacks, all as colorful as the town itself. But, there’s typically street vendors all along the main road too.
9. How to Get to El Quelite
Getting to El Quelite is fairly easy (only a 40+ minute drive), which is why it is a popular day trip destination for tourists visiting Mazatlan. There are several ways to get here: renting a car, taking a bus/taxi, or booking a tour. Here are a couple top tours to choose from:
From authentic Mexican food to houses full of color, El Quelite’s rich culture and history are worth exploring and experiencing. For such a small town, it sure has a lot of things to do and offer that will keep you busy for an afternoon.
Best Tips for Visiting El Quelite, Mexico
Getting There: Mazatlán Gen Rafael Buelna Airport is a major hub and most airlines will fly into it. You can easily check for the best fare deals at Skyscanner, which also has the option to choose ‘cheapest month’ as the departure to find the lowest priced dates to fly to your destination. From the airport to Mazatlan, you can use the airport buses, taxis and eco-taxis. If you’re wondering how to go to El Quelite, the simplest method is to take an Uber, Taxi or Rent a Car from Mazatlan.
Where to Stay in El Quelite, Mexico: If you want to get the full experience in El Quelite, then stay in town at a local place like Hotel Villa Quelite. But, El Quelite is also a quick drive from Mazatlan, so most people just stay there and do an afternoon in the city. Pueblo Bonito Emerald Bay is a great choice in the Mazatlan district. For a hotel with a little more extravagance, book a room at the Pueblo Bonito Emerald Luxury Villas & Spa. Or search some great deals on hotels of your choice at Booking.com. If you’re looking for more of a home atmosphere (or are traveling with a group of people), head over to VRBO that has houses, apartments and even just a room for rent in every price range.
Getting Around: Driving in a new destination can be a bit of a challenge, but if you choose to rent a car, RentalCars.com has great deals. If you are not renting a car, there are plenty of other options. Taxis are available all over the city.
- Salsa and Tortilla at El Quelite Village Private Vehicle
- Agave Distilled Factory and Salsa Combo Tour Private Vehicle
- Half-Day Tour to Tequila Factory and Villages from Mazatlan
Insurance: It’s always a good idea to travel fully insured so you are protected in case of trip cancellations or medical emergencies. You can check out pricing at Travelex Insurance.
Universal Adapter: Your American plugged equipment will need an adapter. I use the Celtic Universal Adapter, which has brought me around the world with no problems.