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In its glitzy heyday in the 1950s, Acapulco was best known as a getaway for Hollywood stars like John Wayne and Frank Sinatra. The glitz and glamour of those days may be long gone, but Acapulco never really lost its sizzle. This Mexican port city's flashy discos are packed nightly, and hotels rise up along miles of sandy beaches that trace beautiful Acapulco Bay for nearly 4 miles. Mountains ring the city, providing a spectacular backdrop for candlelight dining and the famously fearless Le Quebrada Cliff Divers.

Things to Do

No first-time visit is complete without seeing La Quebrada Cliff Divers plunging from high cliffs into a narrow gorge, much as they have since 1934. You can see the show from public viewing areas or the terrace at El Mirador Hotel. The Fuerte de San Diego, built in 1616 to protect Acapulco from pirate attacks, houses a museum tracing the port's history. Nearby the city's main square, the zócalo, is lined with cafes and shops.

Nightlife and Entertainment

Acapulco's renowned nightlife kicks off around midnight and stays in high gear until the wee hours. The younger crowds flock to the hotel zone where rowdy Disco Beach and the cave-like Baby-O are beachside favorites. Big, upscale clubs catering to the chic are concentrated on mountainside Las Brisas, including Palladium, with breathtaking bay views, and the multi-leveled El Alebrije, with its mammoth dance floor.

Restaurants and Dining

For romance and panoramic views, head for the hills. Overlooking Puerto Marques, Zibu mixes Mexican and Thai influences; try the shrimp in ginger and mango sauce. Set in a hot-pink hillside home, Su Casa offers big margaritas and shrimp with garlic and spices. More casual eateries, many specializing in fresh-caught shrimp, snapper and bass, are packed into the hotel zone. Among them, El Zorrito serves local fare such as pozole, a white hominy stew that's a Thursday lunch tradition in Acapulco.

Active Pursuits

You can play any number of ways on Acapulco's 12 miles of beaches, from the south end at oceanfront Punta Diamante to the north at low-key Pie de la Cuesta. Go scuba diving, deep-sea fishing for marlin and swordfish or float above the bay by parasail. Glass-bottom boats depart from Caletilla to Roqueta Island for snorkeling, sunning and hiking to an old lighthouse. All kinds of sailing vessels run sunset cruises on the bay and into the open ocean.