Ensenada, Mexico has the fortune of being just far enough away that it avoids some of the security concerns towns closer to the Mexico/US border face but it is still close enough to be a perfect cruise ship stop. Whether you are coming through the Panama Canal, Hawaii, or simply a quick 3 or 4-day cruise from Los Angeles, Ensenada is probably on your itinerary if you are sailing from California. Here's why I enjoy visiting Ensenada, Mexico and you probably will too!
While only a few dozen miles south of San Diego, Ensenada is far from a dusty border town. It’s impressive waterfront and eclectic pier are truly a sight to see, while the locally-produced wine and coastal Mexican cuisine will linger pleasantly on your palate. Whether you’re a foodie or an amateur anthropologist, you’re bound to have an incredible time in this port city. Here are the top seven activities to include in your visit to beautiful Ensenada.
Stroll Along the Malecon
Like so many coastal cities, Ensenada shines brightest where the land meets the sea. The malecon in Ensenada is not any old waterfront, offering a variety of cultural and culinary delights that reflect the unique feel of the city. The mariachi musicians, taco carts, and drink vendors create an atmosphere that is lively, ebullient, and quintessentially Mexican. Check out the fish market for a taste of hectic Latin American action, and then try a lunch of local seafood at one of the restaurants along the water. The malecon is far from the only attraction in Ensenada, but it will be the first one you see and perhaps the most memorable.
Try Some Fish Tacos
Fish tacos might be on their way to dominating North American cuisine, but you don’t know what you’re missing until you try the real thing. Take advantage of any Spanish you know to ask a local for the best fish tacos on the street. Once you get up the stand, order however many tacos you want. You’ll be asked to choose between flour (“harina”) tortillas and the traditional corn variety. The tacos are traditionally eaten while standing around the cart, and you'll feel like a local among your fellow diners. You don't usually pay until you finish eating, so keep the tacos coming if you're hungry for more. If you’re up for an informal dining experience and determined to taste the best food that Ensenada has to offer, then you can’t go wrong with fish tacos from the street.
Check out the History Museum of Ensenada
Even if you’re not a history buff, you’ll likely find the city’s museum intriguing. For only two dollars, you’ll have access to exhibits showing the history of Baja California from prehistoric times to the present day. Commentary is provided in English and Spanish, making the museum an excellent learning opportunity. The surrounding gardens are also gorgeous, and the gift shop offers plenty of options for a cute, non-gimmicky souvenir.
Get Scientific at the Caracol Museum
If you’re more a science-person than a historian, then check the Caracol (“Snail”) Museum, with its wide variety of science-themed exhibits. From dinosaurs to global warming, drinking water to life under the sea, a diverse array of material is covered and explained in this new, modern museum. While it is certainly ideal for kids, there’s plenty on offer for adults to enjoy as well.
Meander Down the Avenida Lopez Mateos
This main avenue is the perfect place to shop and stock up on memorable souvenirs. Whether you’re after amusingly tacky (think massive Mexican hats) or stylish and smooth (gorgeous dresses and snazzy shirts), you’re bound to find what you’re looking for on this bustling street. Lopez Mateos is situated conveniently close to the pier, meaning you can check it out while killing time before reboarding your ship.
Tour the Local Vineyards
The region just north of the city of Ensenada is known as the “Valle de Guadalupe.” Not only is it stunning, but it also contains more than 100 wineries. A planned getaway from the city will include wine tastings, tours, and gourmet meals. The wine is universally-acclaimed, and the experience as a whole is unforgettable.
Hit The Countryside on an ATV
The city of Ensenada is surrounded by the gorgeous, often rugged terrain of Baja California. ATVs offer a unique and thrilling way to explore the natural surroundings. Tours can be booked from town, and they will take you through wine country, past hot springs, and over jagged hills. For the adventurous visitor to Ensenada, there’s no better way to experience the true lay of the land.