Port of Ensenada
Port of Ensenada / iStock.com / waykoolphotog
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Cataviña Granite
Cataviña Granite / iStock.com / Sam Camp
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Sombrero / iStock.com / falonkoontz
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Guadalupe Valley Vineyard
Guadalupe Valley Vineyard / iStock.com / KGrif
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Traditional Mexican tacos
Traditional Mexican tacos / iStock.com / rez-art
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Our Review
Deal Expert / Travel Blogger

Mexico's northernmost port on the Pacific Coast mingles desert landscapes and golden beaches around broad Todos Santos (All Saints) Bay. The so-called "Cinderella of the Pacific" is also a thriving arts center and a boisterous spring break hangout for California college kids.

What We Love

Guadalupe Valley: Half an hour inland from downtown Ensenada, the valley has emerged as Mexico's leading wine-producing region over the past decade. Several of the three-dozen vineyards possess upscale restaurants that blend gourmet Mexican cuisine and great local wines.

Centro Social, Cívico y Cultural: The old Hotel Riviera del Pacífico — a 1930s retreat for the Hollywood elite and the place where the margarita was born — has morphed into a vibrant cultural center that stages concerts, art exhibits, and other events. But the real treats are the Spanish colonial architecture and lush gardens.

Best Known For

Calle Primera: Running parallel to the waterfront, "First Street" is the fulcrum of Ensenada eating and nightlife, including the legendary Hussong's Cantina and El Rey Sol Restaurant, a local favorite since 1947.

La Bufadora: The celebrated "Buffalo Snort" blowhole sends water shooting 70 feet into the air. According to local legend, the spray comes from a gray whale that was trapped beneath the rocks many moons ago.

Who It's Best For

Oenophiles: Connoisseurs of global wine will want to taste the many excellent reds and whites coming out of the Guadalupe Valley these days.

Aqua Addicts: Surfing, scuba diving, snorkeling, sailing, and deep-sea fishing count among the activities available along the northern Baja California coast.

Don't Say We Didn't Warn You

There Aren't a Lot of Photos Ops: Ensenada is not an especially photogenic city. Don't expect the sweeping panoramas of Acapulco or the dramatic geology of Los Cabos.

It's a Tourist Trap: Ensenada has made great strides in transforming itself from a seedy "border town" into a more upscale destination, but parts of the past linger downtown.