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5 Baja California Destinations To Visit From SoCal

by
Feb 16th, 2024

Baja California is a day’s trip from Southern California, and it’s well worth a visit! 

From vibrant nightlife to great surfing to wineries, food, oases and more, there’s so much to see and do in this neighboring Mexican State. 

Travel safety 

It’s no secret that the U.S. has travel advisories in place for visiting Baja California. So, while there are plenty of beautiful places that are great for visitors to visit, make sure that you’re fully aware of the risks of traveling through the region. 

As stated in the U.S. Department of State’s Mexico Travel Advisory, travelers to Baja California should remain on main highways and travel only in the daylight hours. Keep your gas tank full, your phone fully charged and avoid remote locations. 

Other tips from the DOS:

  • “Keep traveling companions and family back home informed of your travel plans. If separating from your travel group, send a friend your GPS location. If taking a taxi alone, take a photo of the taxi number and/or license plate and text it to a friend.”
  • “Do not display signs of wealth, such as wearing expensive watches or jewelry.”
  • “Be extra vigilant when visiting banks or ATMs.”
  • “Use toll roads when possible and avoid driving alone or at night. In many states, police presence and emergency services are extremely limited outside the state capital or major cities.”

All that being said, let’s dive into some of the cool places you can visit in Mexico from Southern California!

Baja California travel destinations

Ensenada

Though it’s known as a surfer’s haven, Ensenada isn't your typical beach town. Sure, it has sandy stretches and stunning Pacific Ocean waves, but it also boasts a vibrant culture, a rich history and a whole lot of adventure potential. Think of it as a laid-back city with a fun, wild side.

First things first, hit the beach! Whether you're a surfer catching waves at Playa La Jolla or a sunbather soaking it in at Playa Ensenada, the ocean breeze and endless blue horizon are guaranteed to be relaxing. Craving adventure? Explore the rugged beauty of the surrounding areas on an ATV tour through the Guadalupe Valley wine country, or hike the scenic trails of Punta Banda, where you might even spot playful seals.

History buffs can delve into Ensenada's past at the Museo Ensenada and the Riviera de Ensenada Cultural Center, both housed in a stunning art deco hotel. Don't forget to wander through the bustling Mercado Negro — a traditional market where you can score local crafts, fresh seafood and maybe even a cool handmade piñata.

Ensenada is also a haven for fresh seafood tacos, succulent carne asada and mouth-watering aguachiles, so foodies will not get bored here! Don't miss out on sampling local specialties like lobster machaca and the melt-in-your-mouth queso fresco.

The city’s nightlife is as vibrant as its colorful, sun-soaked afternoons. The city’s waterfront boardwalk, known as the "malecón,” is strung with lights, filled with music and overflowing with food and drinks. You’ll never want to leave!

Tecate

You may recognize this locale’s name from the famous beer of the same name — which is brewed right here in Tecate!

About 30 miles inland of the sandy beaches of Baja California and right on the U.S./Mexico border, Tecate is a laid-back mountain town with rich history, stunning outdoor recreation and enough food and drink to keep you here forever. Tecate's claim to fame is its namesake beer, and a tour of the Tecate Brewery is a must for any hophead. It’s so easy to get to, in fact, that you can park in the U.S. and walk through customs right to the brewery itself! 

Once you’re done, walk back over into the U.S. and take your 4x4 up the fierroad to Tecate Peak. How neat!

Guadalupe Canyon Hot Springs

If you’re looking to experience some absolutely stunning desert scenery from a true Baja oasis, then this tucked-away little park is the place to go. 

The main attraction is, of course, the hot springs! There are 14 campsites, each with its own private hot spring pool heated with geothermal waters. 

Afterward, set up camp at the park and spend some time hiking and birdwatching in the rocky desert hills of the rugged mountains. The canyon is home to a variety of desert plants and animals, including cacti, coyotes and rattlesnakes, so there’s plenty to see for nature lovers. 

Note: this destination is in a remote area, so travel in large groups during daylight hours or go with a trusted guide. 

Valle De Guadalupe

Considered to be the Napa Valley of Mexico, this up-and-coming region offers a delightful blend of gastronomy, adventure and laid-back Baja vibes. 

Over 100 wineries dot the landscape, each offering unique varieties and stunning settings. Sip on bold Cabernet Sauvignon at Monte Xanic, savor the innovative blends at Bruma or explore the family farms at L.A. Cetto. Don't miss the chance to meet passionate winemakers and learn about the region's burgeoning wine scene, too!

Rosarito

Rosarito Beach is a haven for sunbathers and surfers, while adventurous souls can catch thrills riding the waves at Zippers, a world-renowned surf spot. 

If you live in our Southern California apartments, then a trip to Baja California is a must-do. Mexico is a fabulous place to visit and is full of amazing people, great food, fascinating culture and long-lasting memories to be made. Be smart about your travel, make good decisions and, above all, have fun!

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Featured photo by Josue Michel on Unsplash

Author of Article

Colleen Ford is a South African who now lives in Spokane, Washington. She loves to travel, camp (in warm weather) and bake.

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