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Acapulco, Acapulco

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Mexico's insider take:

Acapulco looks its best after dark, when lights twinkle like constellations in the hills framing Bahía de Acapulco. (Under the harsh sunlight, Acapulco tends to look like the overcrowded and rather run-down city it is.) Old Acapulco, at the northwest side of the bay, is the most interesting neighborhood to explore. Here, sidewalk cafés edge the shaded zócalo, and there's a traditional bandstand where musicians occasionally play. The star-shaped Fuerte de San Diego at the edge of Old Acapulco towers above the cruise-ship pier and houses a must-see nautical museum, the Museo Histórico de Acapulco (Calle Hornitos at Calle Morelos; 52-744-482-3828). Behind the fort, the Casa de Máscaras contains a private collection of more than 500 ceremonial masks (Calle Morelos; 52-744-486-5577). It's best to take a tour to see all of Acapulco's far-flung historic buildings and the small archaeological site of Palma Sola, 15 miles to the north of town. For private or group tours, contact Constellation Services (Placa Condesa; 52-744-484-1988).—Maribeth Mellin

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