With stunning natural beauty, whales, history and culture, hiking, wine and cheese tasting, and so much more, Ensenada, Mexico, is the best of Baja California. From ecological parks north of town to nearby Valle de Guadalupe wine country, here’s what you’ll want to do when you’re there.
Feel the Local Vibe
Soak up the essence of Ensenada with a walk along the town’s main shopping street, Avenida Lopez Mateos. Pick up a straw hat, locally made jewelry or a handcrafted blanket. Pop into a lively cafe for an iced coffee or sit outside at one of the charming restaurants for a casual lunch.
Walk along the Malecon, which stretches from the fish market to a lovely park. Sunrise and sunset are particularly beautiful, and quieter, times for a stroll, but no matter the time of day you’ll have fabulous views of the Bay of All Saints. Mariachi music makes for a festive vibe, sea lions and pelicans make themselves known, and local fishermen haul in their catch - all of which makes it feel very much like you’re a part of the fabric of daily life in Ensenada.
Learn the Local History/Culture
Take time to explore the history of Ensenada at the town’s intriguing museums and historic sites. The graceful, white Rivera del Pacifico building on the main stretch in town was a grand casino during the prohibition period of the 1930s to 1950s. Pop in for a tour to admire the beautiful tile work, murals, intricate ceilings and ornate paintings, or visit the monument’s open-air theater, restaurants, sculpture park and shop.
The former casino is home to the Ensenada history museum, where you can view exhibits detailing the Baja California story from prehistoric times, through European settlement, to present day. Interesting artifacts include beads, pots, baskets and various religious objects.
Can’t get enough history? Visit the Regional Historical Museum of Ensenada on Gastelum Street. The museum is located in one of Baja’s oldest buildings and has previously been used as a court, fortress, military barracks, school and prison. Here, too, you’ll find exhibits about the history of Ensenada, the original inhabitants of Baja California, artifacts from the Mesoamerican era and more.
Wine and Dine
Dine your way through Ensenada, starting at El Guerrerense for some of the best tostadas you’ll ever taste. This huge street stand is Anthony Bourdain-approved and boasts the popular sea urchin tostada. Don’t walk away without trying owner Dona Sabina’s world-class ceviche.
The Ensenada region is renowned for its wine country, so if you’re an oenophile, be sure to travel to Valle de Guadalupe, just north of the city, with more than 75 wineries. Tours include the top vineyards, a visit to the Wine Museum and, of course, the opportunity to try many yummy red wines.
The oldest winery in Baja California, Bodegas de Santo Tomas, opened in 1888, and produces award-winning wines. Sample as many as you please, alongside bread, cheese and chocolate. And speaking of cheese, don’t miss La Cava de Marcelo, the top cheese producer in Ensenada. Learn about cheese production, try samples with a paired glass of wine and linger for lunch of traditional Mexican cuisine with a modern twist.
Get into Nature
Get outside of town and into the natural beauty of Baja at the Canon Parque Ecologico. Hike and bike, all the while looking for the many species of birds flitting about. Take the trail to the top of the hill for incredible city and coastline views.
Or, go horseback riding at Rancho Los Bandidos in Domicilo, Conocido. You’ll follow a trail into the San Miguel hills for satisfying vistas of the coast, Salsipuedes Bay, Ensenada Bay and the Pacific.
If you’re visiting Ensenada between December and April, head out on the water for a whale-watching excursion. Be on the lookout for the grey whales that migrate from Alaska to Baja at this time. They’re particularly prevalent at the Bay of Todos Los Santos, where they’ll often swim right alongside the boat.
Don’t miss La Bufadora, the world’s largest underwater blowhole, on the Punta Banda Peninsula. Tide waters are swallowed into an underground cave, then spit out in a geyser that shoots 100 feet up in the air. It’s possible to kayak to the geyser, or take a tour from town and view it from land.
I can help arrange outings and reservations throughout Ensenada. Simply reach out and we’ll start the planning!