Located just a half hour south of the San Ysidro border, Rosarito has been a favorite weekend escape for decades. The beautiful beach and small town have always attracted summer visitors who come to relax on beach, surf the great breaks, and enjoy fresh seafood. And with a new underwater dive park, new state center for the arts, large convention center north of town, and its first SCORE off-road race this month, Rosarito has grown into an exciting year-round destination. Rosarito also makes a wonderful base for exploring other parts of northern Baja like Tijuana, Valle de Guadalupe, and Ensenada. Visitors can enjoy staying on the beach while being a short drive to all of the major cities and wine region of Northern Baja.
Start your day with some classic huevos rancheros on one of the lush patios at El Nido restaurant, a mainstay in Rosarito since 1971. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, this restaurant is a favorite for classic Mexican food on Rosarito’s main drag.
Enjoy a beach day. One of the main draws for Rosarito is the expansive Rosarito Beach. Eight kilometers long, the expansive beach is the center of life in Rosarito when the weather is warm. On summer weekends, the beach is packed with families who come to spend the day swimming, playing, and relaxing. The beach buzzes with activities like horseback riding, ultralight planes, and ATV riding. The Rosarito Pier, located just in front of the Rosarito Beach Hotel, is great for fishing and a popular surf spot.
Grab a quick lunch of arrachera perrones (Sonoran-style skirt steak tacos served with beans and melted cheese in flour tortillas) at the popular Tacos El Yaqui. Just east of the main drag, this spot has been serving up tasty food since 1984 and is popular with locals and tourists.
Catch sunset looking out at the Rosarito Beach and Pier over a margarita at beachcomber bar at the Rosarito Beach Hotel. The iconic hotel is the most prominent landmark in Rosarito, one of the most recognized hotels in all of Baja. The hotel first opened to the public in 1925 and has attracted famous guests over the years such as Orson Wells, Gregory Peck, Spencer Tracy, and beauties such as Marilyn Monroe, Lana Turner, Kim Novak, and Rita Hayworth, prompting the declaration painted over the lobby entrance stating “through this door pass the most beautiful women in the world.”
For dinner, head to the south end of town to enjoy a traditional Mexican or steak dinner at Tapanco. The restaurant has expanded over the years to include an outdoor patio area and café as well as an upstairs bar called Why Not?. Alfredo, the owner, is a welcome presence at the restaurant, greeting customers and making sure that everyone has an incredible experience.
Get out and get active. Surfers will want to head to any of the great surf posts in the area like K38 or Baja Malibu. Divers will want to head to Parque Submarino Rosarito, Rosarito’s first artificial reef and underwater park. Just off shore from Puerto Nuevo, the park consists of a sunken Mexican navy battle ship, the Uribe121, which the government sank in November 2015. The ship is divided into different areas of interest for underwater exploration; a sculpture garden, an homage to Titanic (the movie was filmed at the nearby Baja Studios), replicas of prehistoric art, and a ship graveyard.
For those who prefer cardio in the form of shopping, check out the Mercado de Artesanías with over 100 stalls selling souvenirs like Mexican blankets, silver, jewelry, ceramics and glassware. For more curios shopping, tile, ceramics, ironwork, or wood furniture, head south of town on the free road to the shops along Boulevard Popotla. For a more upscale shopping experience, Fausto Polanco carries upscale traditional Mexican furniture and textiles. A visit to the curated showroom featuring Hacienda-style Mexican furniture and beautifully refined rustic pieces feels almost like visiting a museum.
Rosarito has its own new colectivo of outdoor food stalls located in front of the Hotel Festival Plaza called Plaza Food Fest. Beloved Rosarito eateries such as Betuccini’s and El Gaucho Argentino have small stands here as well as a handful of other options. The Cerveceria Tinta Negra stall is one of the best spots in town to try local Baja craft beers. Patrons order from various stands and can enjoy their food at the outdoor tables as they people watch along Rosarito’s main drag.
After lunch, take some time for wine tasting. Many people don’t know that Rosarito has its own winery, and that it’s making exceptional wine. Claudius has a tasting room up on the hill near the SHARP factory and can accommodate wine tastings for special occasions or if you call ahead. They also have a wine school where participants go to weekly classes and end up making 25 cases of their own wine.
Enjoy dinner looking out onto the beach at Los Pelicanos, which offers a rustic and intimate atmosphere and views of the expansive Rosarito Beach just out the window. Traditional Mexican dishes have attracted a crowd of locals and visitors for decades.
For those who are in search of what’s left of Rosarito’s club scene, Papas & Beer or Iggy’s are the two big nightclubs that still remain down on the beach. For a tamer experience, Beer Nights has a good selection of artisan beers from Mexico and the U.S. It’s a low-key locals spot with live music on certain nights.
Check out Rosarito’s vibrant art scene. Rosarito’s new state center for the arts, Centro Estatal de las Artes, CEART is a large and modern space for galleries, exhibitions, workshops, bookstore and cafeteria. The vibrant Rosarito art scene is highlighted here through photography, painting, sculpture, dance, music and theater. The full calendar of their many events and exhibitions can be found on their Facebook page.
Seafood lovers with an adventurous spirit will want to head just south of town to the fishing village of Popotla. Here visitors can watch the fresh catch being brought into the beach and try seafood dishes like ceviche, sea snail, giant spider crab, sea urchin, and the special pescado zarandeado where the fish is butterflied, lathered with mayonnaise and ancho chili, and then grilled. Weekends are extremely busy at Popotla so try to visit during the week if possible.
Head down to K38 to catch sunset and enjoy dinner in a fun environment at Baja Calypso. There’s often live music on the weekends (Quino from the reggae band Big Mountain is a regular), so check their Facebook page to see what may be going on.
Rosarito Beach Hotel
Most visitors choose to stay at the Rosarito Beach Hotel because of its prime location and large property. DBTC members receive a 10% discount on stays at Rosarito Beach Hotel.
While there are many options for hotels in town, many people opt to rent a house or condo along the beach in the greater Rosarito area at places like La Jolla Del Mar, Las Gaviotas, or Club Marena.