Set in a valley in the Sierra Madre foothills, about a two-hour drive north of Mazatlan, Cosala was designated one of the Mexican Ministry of Tourism's Pueblos Magicos, or magical towns. These towns are part of a program designed to showcase quaint, historical places located near major tourist destinations.

Cosala was founded in 1562 as a mining town, and 2,000 of its buildings were built between the 17th and 19th centuries. Since its designation, the town has made a number of improvements that highlight its colonial charm: The winding streets have been repaved with cobblestones, adobe walls have been painted in bright colors, and wrought-iron street lamps have been installed.

There are approximately 250 colonial-era historic buildings in Cosala, making it a great destination for a rambling city walk. Along the way, visitors will see crafts for sale—look for Cosala's prized Ixchel-fiber weavings and baskets.

Religious sites include the handsome stone chapel of Guadelupe and the Church of St. Ursula (the patron saint of Cosala), whose spire towers above the picturesque main square (ask to see the centuries-old stone sundial).

On weekend nights, a folkloric dance troupe performs dances from all over Mexico at the Mining and History Museum (where exhibits are only in Spanish).

Two restaurants in town serve excellent food: el Sazon de Dona Tichi, in a romantic colonial-era building, and el Pueblito, which has a rooftop terrace with views. And the town has several hotels, including the Hacienda Quinta Minera, which is set around beautiful landscaped courtyards with fountains and a swimming pool.

Mazatlan-based Vista Tours offers nine-hour trips from Mazatlan to Cosala (with Concordia) twice a week and custom private tours.

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