Baja California, Mexico is a beautiful playground just minutes from San Diego. There are many great tour companies who will guide you down to see great historical and cultural sights. Take in the spectacular coastline, grab a Puerto Nuevo lobster dinner, or see Mexico's fine wine country. Find out what documentation you will need for a smooth transition to and from Mexico and follow this link for the U.S. Department of States travel alert for Mexico.
Following are some popular offerings of Tijuana, Rosarito, Valle de Guadalupe and Ensenada that guests won’t want to miss.
Recognized as one of the world’s most visited cities, with more than 40 million border crossings each year, Tijuana Mexico bustles with activity day and night and offers duty-free shopping, authentic Mexican cuisine, dog racing, arts and culture, glittering night life and more.
Tijuana is a duty-free zone, making the city a shopping paradise. The rich and colorful culture of Tijuana can be discovered on Avenida Revolucion, the city's bustling main thoroughfare, where shopping and dining opportunities abound, like the legendary restaurant Cesar’s where the Cesar salad was created. A few minutes away, guests can also be immersed in traditional festive outdoor bazaars and plazas, including Mercado Hidalgo where local vendors sell everything from Mexican candy to food, and homeopathic remedies to piñatas.
The lowered peso and competitive merchants combine to provide bargains on a wide variety of products, including handcrafted jewelry, pottery and leather items. Bargain hunters can pay for their items with U.S. currency, pesos (obtained at any bank, automated teller machine or money exchange location), traveler’s checks or major credit cards. U.S. residents may return home with up to $800 worth of merchandise, including one liter of alcoholic beverages (purchaser must be at least 21-years-old), 100 non-Cuban cigars and 200 cigarettes. Some merchandise, such as certain fruits, vegetables, meats, dairies and products from endangered species, are not allowed into the United States, and prescription medication may require a U.S. prescription. Non-residents in transit should check with U.S. Customs before visiting Mexico to determine their allowances.
Dining is another favorite attraction in Tijuana, where many restaurants dish up fine Mexican and continental cuisine at a reasonable price. Visitors can taste the flavor of Mexico at a myriad of restaurants along Tijuana's major culinary districts—Avenida Revolucion, Caliente Boulevard, Paseo Chapultepec, Blvd. Sanchez Taboada and Paseo de los Heroes—and within popular local attractions.
The Tijuana Cultural Center (CECUT), which offers a look at Mexico's contemporary culture, colorful history and unique forms of artistic expression, features an IMAX Dome, performing arts theatre, botanical garden, museum, children’s area, restaurant and shopping arcade. Conveniently located less than a mile from the border, the Tijuana Cultural Center is a striking landmark on the city skyline with its globular Omnimax Theatre and surrounding buildings. English signage and bilingual guides make the Tijuana Cultural Center especially welcoming to international visitors.
Sporting events are also popular in Tijuana. Guests can enjoy watching greyhound racing or a soccer match with Tijuana’s own professional team Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles de Caliente, referred as Xolos (SHO-LOS).
At night, high-tech discos featuring state-of-the-art sound systems provide upbeat entertainment in Tijuana. Avenida Revolucion, La Sexta (6th Street) and the Rio Tijuana area (Tijuana's financial and retail center) are home to many of these night spots; some feature live music at no cover charge and inexpensive prices for beer, crafted mixed drinks, margaritas and even mezscal.
Guests who choose to stay overnight in Tijuana are invited to the luxurious Grand Hotel Tijuana. Situated in the center of Tijuana, the hotel is located just minutes from the border and boasts 422 rooms, seven suits, an exclusive floor for guests in recovery from medial tourism, a golf course, restaurants and bars, a business center and meeting facilities.
Located south along the coast from Tijuana is Rosarito, a young resort community known for its beautiful beaches, desert hills and warm hospitality. Here guests can relax or discover a variety of attractions, accommodations and shopping and dining and nightlife opportunities.
Shopping enthusiasts can find great deals throughout Rosarito on ceramics, curios, leather goods, baskets, clothing, jewelry and a variety of other items sold at the dozens of shops and outdoor markets around town. After a day of shopping, guests can indulge at one of Rosarito’s many fine restaurants, featuring Mexican seafood, Chinese and a variety of cuisine in between. Nearby the renowned Puerto Nuevo, south of Rosarito, is known as “Lobster Village” for its tasty crustaceans served with handmade flour-tortillas, beans and rice.
Rosarito is home to several luxurious world-class resorts as well as a number of other accommodation properties. The famous, oceanfront Rosarito Beach Hotel and Resort, located in the heart of Rosarito, is one of Baja California’s landmark resorts, offering two large swimming pools, beach volleyball, an arcade, horseback riding, a European-style spa, a 17-story new luxury condo-hotel and spacious guestrooms. The nearby Hotel Festival Plaza Rosarito offers deluxe accommodations, restaurants and lively nightlife. Residence Inn by Marriott ¾Real Del Mar Resort, located at the northern end of Rosarito, is an impressive golf resort offering upscale suites with ocean views, an 18-hole golf course, tennis courts, spa, gym and large swimming pool.
Located along the shore of the beautiful Pacific Ocean in the heart of Rosarito, Las Rocas Resort and Spa offers an elegant spa, guestrooms with ocean views, fine dining, three pools and a state-of-the-art fitness center. Just south of the resort, be sure to check out the original Taco Surf and K38 Surf Shop.
Considered the Napa Valley of Mexico, Valle de Guadalupe produces 90% of all their wine, paradise for wine aficionados. There are more than 50 wineries to explore ranging from artisan to boutique winemakers to large and small commercial vineyards.
In addition to offering wine tasting tours and pairings, some of the wineries are also home the best restaurants in the area serving gourmet farm-fresh cuisine like Corazon de Tierra by Chef Diego Hernandez which offers a daily changing six-course tasting menu featuring fresh organic ingredients grown in their garden or Javier Plascencia’s Finca Altozano featuring a kitchen and dining areas kept almost entirely outdoors.
The lodging options are as unique as the area, visitors can experience a “glamping” gateway at Encuentro and stay at one of their 20 stand-alone, contemporary one-room bungalows featuring no TVs or electricity, or enjoy a spa day and horseback riding at Adobe Guadalupe Vineyards & Inn, a bed and breakfast with six guest rooms where the price includes wine tasting and breakfast.
Located approximately 70 miles south of the international border, Ensenada is a convenient 90-minute drive from San Diego along a scenic toll highway, noted for its breathtaking ocean vistas and viewpoint rest stops. Known as one of the leading resort and commercial centers on the Baja peninsula, the region also boasts a protected harbor with modern port facilities and is home to visiting cruise ships and a large sportfishing fleet.
Sportfishing is one of Ensenada’s most popular activities for visitors throughout the year. Offering some of the best fishing in the Pacific, the Ensenada sportfishing fleet operates year-round and offers a wide range of fishing trips, from multi-day and long-range to full- and half-day excursions. Spring, summer and fall trips target yellowtail, white sea bass, calica bass, barracuda and bonito; winter trips target sand bass, rock cod and more than 50 species of bottom fish.
Visitors who prefer to stay on land can enjoy shopping for great bargains at shops and markets in the heart of Ensenada. After shopping, guests can enjoy delectable seafood and Mexican cuisine offered at fine restaurants along the beautiful bay. In the evenings, the streets come alive with the hustle and bustle of club-goers seeking the perfect nightclub to dance the night away.
Another popular Ensenada attraction is the La Bufadora (blow hole), situated on the southern end of Ensenada Bay. Guests watch in amazement at the natural rock formation where the sea explodes into a natural geyser.
Ensenada offers a variety of accommodations, from elegant resorts to serene campgrounds. The Bajamar Oceanfront Golf Resort, located along the coast, features an impressive 18-hole championship golf course, oceanfront guestrooms, pool, spa and meeting facilities. To the east, on the Sea of Cortez, guests can also relax in beachfront comfort at the Marina Resort & Spa in the small town of San Felipe¾the "shrimp capital of Baja California."