There are a number of day trips that you can take from Mazatlan. From going to a real Mexican town (El Quelite) for breakfast to visiting a tequila factory (La Noria) to visiting ancient rock enscriptions (Las Labradas) to a town (Concordia) famous for wood furniture manufacturing to a town (El Rosario) famous for its church to a town (Durango) where many of the old western movies were filmed, there is a wide variety of day trips you can take from Mazatlan.
Located about 45 minutes north of Mazatlan is a quaint real Mexican town of El Quelite. People visit here to go to the restaurant, El Meson De Los Laurenos, for a fabulous Mexican breakfast. The restaurant has many rooms with many trinkets and displays (see photos below). You can walk around the town. There are a few shops, a few churches, structures, and statues to see. When we were last there, there was a little boy riding a donkey (see photo above) down the main street. We had to stop once at an army checkpoint along the way when we went. We are not sure if this checkpoint is still there. We would recommend that you only travel during the daytime. A day trip to El Quelite is well worth it for a fantastic meal and to see a real Mexican town.
La Noria is a traditional Mexican small town. People visit here primarily to visit the Las Osuna tequila distillery and agave plantation.
As of a few years ago, Durango, has become a day trip from Mazatlan. A super-highway to Durango with a large suspension bridge has been built which has cut the travel time to Durango from about 6 hours to about 3 hours now. Durango is a large city in the state of Durango. It is north and inland from Mazatlan. Many of the old-time western movies from Hollywood were filmed here. Although it is drivable, we would recommend that you take an organized tour from Mazatlan.