Now that temperatures are starting to cool off, the peninsula comes alive with plenty to explore and discover. From border to tip, Baja is full of natural wonders, cultural sights, culinary delights, and outdoor activities. Here are some of our favorite picks for trips this season.
Why We Love It: This sleepy border town has a quaint charm not found in most of Baja’s northern cities. The charming plaza is a peaceful place to spend the afternoon relaxing and listening to the mariachis. Just east of Tecate, El Vallecito offers some of the easiest access to cave paintings on the peninsula.
What To Do: No trip to Tecate (whether passing through or staying for a while) is complete without a trip to El Mejor Panadería de Tecate. Luckily the famous bakery is open 24 hours a day. With a growing food scene, Tecate is full of great places to eat like Amores, El Lugar de Nos, or El Cafecito de 3 Estrellas. When you’ve filled your belly, head to the Museo Comunitario de Tecate to learn about the Kumeyaay and the local history and culture.
Where To Stay: Santuario Diegueño offers luxury accommodations at reasonable prices and also features restaurant Asao on the property. If you can swing it, a stay at Rancho La Puerta, the world-famous destination spa and wellness retreat, Is a cathartic and transformative experience.
DBTC Insider Tip: The Tecate border crossing is one of the easiest and relatively shortest in Northern Baja and Tecate is one of the gateways to Valle de Guadalupe, which is located just a quick and easy drive down Mexico 3. There are also a handful of wineries in Tecate that are just starting to open tasting rooms to the public.
Why We Love It: As the capital of the state of Baja California (Norte), this business-centered town offers cheap rates for nice hotels on the weekends where visitors can enjoy a robust craft beer scene and the unique taste of Chinese food in Baja California.
What To Do: Check out La Chinesca, Mexico’s largest Chinatown and take an underground tour of the basements of Chinatown. When you’re finished, enjoy Mexicali-style Chinese food at one of the hundreds of Chinese food restaurants in town. Craft beer aficionados will appreciate Mexicali as one of the best spots on the peninsula to enjoy beer from one of the numerous micro-brewers in the city.
Where To Stay: The Hotel Lucerna is a lush sanctuary in the city. Hotel Araiza is another popular option for those looking for upscale accommodations at reasonable rates.
DBTC Insider Tip: Many people don’t know that Mexicali is Home to the Clamato cocktail, a clamato and vodka cocktail invented as a hangover cure at the Lucerna Hotel circa 1970. The famous cocktails is still served in the Piano Bar at the hotel today. To enjoy the sister beverage to the Clamato, the Chavela (made with beer instead of vodka) head to La Conga bar.
Why We Love It: Temperatures start to cool down in the fall making San Felipe a relaxing Sea of Cortez weekend escape from Southern California.
What To Do: San Felipe is a sleepy fishing village made for relaxing. Stroll along the malecón and enjoy a cold beer alongside some fresh shrimp and fish tacos. Take a day trip to check out the giant cardón cacti at the nearby Valle de Los Gigantes and cruise down to the tranquil shores of Bahía Gonzaga. See our San Felipe Three-day Getaway article for more ideas.
Where To Stay: Hotel Hacienda Don Jesus offers nice accommodations in town for an affordable price with a gated parking lot large enough to accommodate towing. Kids will enjoy the pool and picnic area.
DBTC Insider Tip: San Felipe and this part of the Sea of Cortez are home to the few remaining vaquita still alive. The struggle to keep these small dolphin-like marine mammals from going extinct has gained world-wide attention from the likes of Sea Shepherd to Leonard DiCaprio
Sierra de San Pedro Mártir
Why We Love It: Fall is a beautiful time of year to visit this high sierra pine tree escape, full of activities for outdoor enthusiasts from hiking and camping to world-class star gazing.
What To Do: There’s plenty of hiking throughout the National Park from easy day hikes to multi-day treks. The park is home to a California condor rehabilitation program and the rare birds can be seen up-close in the wild by visitors. Budding astrologists will enjoy visiting the National Observatory. See our guide to the San Pedro Mártir or check out Graham Mackintosh’s adventures in the park for more.
Where To Stay: If you don’t want to tent camp or stay in the rustic cabins at the park entrance, Rancho Meling is located less than an hour outside of the park entrance.
DBTC Insider Tip: With milder temperatures, fall and spring are the best seasons to hike Picacho del Diablo – the highest peak on the Baja peninsula at 10,157 feet.
Bahía de Los Ángeles
Why We Love It: Fall is a great time to visit LA Bay as the temperatures are cooling down and the impressively giant and docile whale sharks are present this time of year.
What To Do: Most people visit LA Bay to relax and get away from it all. If you’re looking for a little more action, there are plenty of opportunities for fishing or you can ask a local panguero to take you out in a boat to see the wildlife around the bay and the islands. To see the whale sharks, you can take a tour with a local provider, or venture out in a kayak on your own. When the winds pick up on the water in the afternoon, don’t miss the museum in town.
Where to Stay: Costa del Sol is a favorite right in town but the nicest accommodations in the area can be found at Hotel Los Vientos on the bay.
DBTC Insider Tip: In order to kayak out into the bay on your own to visit with the whale sharks, you are entering a biosphere reserve and required to have a day bracelet or annual passport. Discover Baja is now processing annual conservation passports so you can get yours through us in advance.
Why We Love It: With some of the most beautiful beaches on the peninsula, this picturesque bay provides multiple beaches with white sand and clear turquoise waters.
What To Do: Snorkel, kayak, relax, repeat.
Where To Stay: There aren’t many options right on Bahía Concepción outside of self-contained camping on the beach. Nearby Mulegé offers accommodations like the iconic Serenidad Hotel.
DBTC Insider Tip: There are numerous beaches along the bay, all offering different landscapes and activities. Try Playa El Coyote and Playa El Burro for rentals and more activities. Playa El Requesón is more remote and great for camping with fewer crowds. See Carla King’s Bahía Concepción guide for the insider scoop on the region.
Why We Love It: This charming town is full of colonial architecture, a lovely town plaza, history, and culture as well as a plethora of outdoor activities.
What To Do: Loreto is home to the first mission in the Californias as well as nearby San Javier mission that can be visited in a day trip. The area of the Sea of Cortez right off of Loreto is a designated protected marine park and it’s worth it to take a boat trip out to explore the marine life and unoccupied landscapes of the surrounding islands and beaches. See our Loreto Three-Day Getaway article for more.
Where To Stay: We love to stay at the intimate and relaxing Cabañas de Loreto. Be sure to book in advance.
DBTC Insider Tip: If you’d rather fly to Loreto for a quick escape, Tijuana has direct flights and the airport can be easily accessed from San Diego thanks to Flights to CBX.
Why We Love It: This chic colonial town is filled with art galleries, great restaurants, and gorgeous beaches with great surfing nearby.
What To Do: In town there’s plenty of shopping and eating to keep you occupied for days. Surfers will want to head out to the coast to any of the epic surf spots nearby. Todos Santos is a great place to volunteer with the sea turtle protection program or just view one of the hatchling releases. Read our Todos Santos Three-Day Getaway article for more.
Where To Stay: Enjoy the intimate and delightful La Bohemia Baja Hotel Boutique for a B&B experience right in town. Out on the beach, Villa Santa Cruz offers an unforgettable stay in a curated villa.
DBTC Insider Tip: We’re headed into peak season for Todos Santos and the region is comprised of small boutique hotels that fill up quickly. Always make hotel arrangements in advance.
Why We Love It: The Cabo Pulmo 5,000-year-old living coral reef provides some of the best diving and snorkeling on the peninsula. The reef is teeming with wildlife such as sea turtles, dolphin, parrot fish, angelfish, damselfish, mobula rays, sharks, and whales. The best all-around conditions for diving can be found in October and November.
What To Do: Diving and snorkeling are the focus here in this sleepy off-grid town. There’s a new Cabo Pulmo Visitor Center where kids of all ages will enjoy the interpretive exhibits.
Where To Stay: The Baja Bungalows or the Cabo Pulmo Beach Resort both provide small but welcoming accommodations.
DBTC Insider Tip: Because the reef starts right off of the shore, Snorkelers can snorkel from the beach without having to take a boat tour. Playa Arbolitos is the beach of choice for most snorkelers, but when the winds pick up in the afternoon, head over to the more protected Playa de Los Frailes.
Sierra de la Laguna
Why We Love It: This mountain range is home to a number of rich natural experiences from hiking to waterfalls and natural hot springs.
What To Do: Adventurous hikers can take guided multi-day trips, some leading up to the now dried-up lake from which the range derives it’s name. There are also plenty of hot springs and waterfalls such as Cañón de la Zorra and the Santa Rita hot springs that can be reached on your own for adventurous day trippers.
Where To Stay: To explore the waterfalls and hot springs, it’s easiest to stay in Los Barriles or on anywhere along the East Cape.
DBTC Insider Tip: Most guided hikes depart from the West Cape, while the hot springs and waterfalls that can be reached on your own on a day trip are on the East Cape side of the range.