Learn More About Mexican History And Culture At This Tourist Destination

These days, when you think of Acapulco, Mexico, you probably don't have the best impression. The beach town has garnered a poor reputation due to crime and street violence. Forbes reports that while the town saw a tourism boom between the 1940s and 1970s, Acapulco's drug cartels in the last 20 years turned the tourist destination into a "battleground." CBC News reported in 2017 that Acapulco was considered the world's fourth most violent city, largely due to their high homicide rates but low population. Fourth most violent city in the world sounds pretty bad, but as ABC News noted, it was ranked the second most violent city in the world in 2013. Yes, that means there has been progress.

CBC News reports that the once dangerous Mexican city has seen some revitalization due to the millions of dollars spent by investors to build new hotels, shopping strips, spas, even airport terminals, aimed at attracting tourists back to the beach town. The outlet spoke with tourists who stay in the resorts along the beach and they raved about the friendly locals, and the town feeling like a second home. It would seem it might be a mistake to avoid Acapulco due to its troubles, and the city offers opportunities to learn more about the Mexican culture and history. Here's all the reasons why you should put Acapulco on your Mexican itinerary.

Walk the old town square with the locals

The Baltimore Sun reports that the if you want more than just sand between your toes and sun on your skin, Acapulco is rich with culture and history. It recommends paying a visit to the Casa de la Cultura (House of Culture) where you can find an archaeological museum that details much of the city's long history far before it became 20th century beach hub. One Tripadvisor user gushed that you can experience pianist and violinist music in the center, giving you a calm and serene break from the city. There's also the opportunity to buy locally-made crafts in the center, which helps the local economy and local artisans. 

Zocalo, or the old town of Acapulco, is a must-visit if you're looking for the city's cultural and social heart. It's there where you will find street buskers, clowns, food markets, cotton candy, cute cafes, even mariachi bands Above that, the town square is a fave of the locals as well, making it an authentic experience for contemporary culture. Word on the street is that Friday and Saturday night is when the square gets bumpin' so make sure you add that to your itinerary.

Visit the 17th century former prison that's now a museum

More local history can be found in the 17th century former prison, the Fort of San Diego, which now serves the community as an historical museum and naval museum. It has detailed exhibits on the ramparts, towers, royal carriages, and even ship artefacts.

If you loved the 2002 Salma Hayek film "Frida" which detailed the life and loves of famed Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, then make sure you head to the Casa de Vientos, where her husband Diego Rivera had his artist studio in the last years of his life, creating public mosaics detailing the culture of Central American people. It's open to the public and not far from the Zocalo. More Rivera masterpieces can be found at the La Quebrada gallery. 

If you've got a rental car, make sure you drive the 150 miles northwest of Acapulco for the town that was mentioned in the 1994 famed movie, "The Shawshank Redemption," as a blue oasis. Yes, we're talking about Zihuatanejo, which boasts crystal clear waters and pristine beaches akin to Acapulco, but with less foot traffic, making for a more serene and calm experience.