Memorial Day Weekend 2018 - My family and I headed on a road trip from San Diego to Ensenada in Baja California. It's approximately 2 hours south of the border. To be honest, I didn't know what to expect especially hearing about safety concerns in Mexico. Part of me was anxious, but another part of me was saying "Go, explore and don't be afraid...life is too short" and that is exactly what we did! Reality is, the rate of violence is higher in some US cities than it is down there, and I don't think I ever think twice before booking my trip home to Chicago.
Ensenada took my breath away! I had no idea how beautiful it was. I have lived here in southern California for over 13 years and never made it down there before!! The drive was very scenic with the ocean views on one side and the mountains on the other. Just beautiful!
You do need a passport to get back in the US and the wait at the border can take several hours so keep that in mind as you plan your trip. We recently got Global Entry which lets you go through the express line and avoid the wait at the border.
Where we stayed
For the first 2 nights (Friday and Saturday) we rented an airbnb in a 16 floor white building called Entremar . It is a beautiful 8th-floor residence with a wall of windows facing the Pacific Ocean, has 2 bedrooms, dining room, living room and full kitchen. Infinity swimming pool and Jacuzzi, 24 hr security, 2 vehicles parking. The place was spotless and the beds were really comfortable. There were many highly rated restaurants within walking distance so the location was perfect!
This video is in Spanish but you will get the picture of the location and the feel @49:00 seconds.
What to do
Visit La Bufadora
La Bufadora is a marine geyser or blowhole located on the Punta Banda Peninsula in Baja California, Mexico. The spout of sea water is the result of air, trapped in a sea cave, exploding upwards. ( Source Wikipedia)
Legend has it that in forgotten times, during one of the migrations to the warm waters of the south, a breeding gray whale that passed through the bay of Ensenada got separated from the group. While wandering lost, it got stuck between rocks and, in an effort to cry for help, decided to launch small and large jets of water into the air to alert its companions. Over time, this whale turned into stone and merged with the rocks in the place to what is now called La Bufadora.
Visit the wineries in Valle de Guadalupe:
For years I thought Temecula was the closest wine country to San Diego. Well next time, instead of heading north, head about 90 mins south of the border to find one of the world's most charming and upcoming wine countries called Guadalupe Valley. There are over a 100 wineries here. Each winery we visited had a unique ambiance, gorgeous views and the wine.... yummy! We checked out the following wineries:
El Cielo Winery & Resort- https://vinoselcielo.com/
Encuentro Guadalupe - http://www.grupoencuentro.com.mx/
CuatroCuatros - http://www.cuatrocuatros.mx/
Glamping at Cabanas Cuatro Cuatros
This was the highlight of our trip and an experience to remember for ever. It's basically camping but with out getting dirty! The word Glamping stands for "Glamours Camping". We arrived here on Sunday night with our friends, the Tovar family. Each family got a cabana fully equipped with everything and anything you need. The bathroom and shower were as you would expect in a hotel room. There was even a hairdryer! A fire place and a heater that will keep you cozy and warm all night. A fridge to bring in store food for breakfast/lunch etc... Each Cabana faces the winery and the views are gorgeous.
Kids had breakfast outdoor then rented bikes to ride around the winery
While you are here don't forget to visit BURA BAR. You take a shuttle to the top of the mountain where you get stunning views of the Pacific ocean as you sit at this beautiful restaurant/bar that has white linens and an amazing ambiance. Great place to get married or plan a party! It almost looked like Santorni, Greece!
Where to eat
What blew me away more than anything was the food down here! oh my goodness the food was so incredible. Call me ignorant, but I thought by going to Baja we will be eating fish tacos all weekend! Boy was I wrong! Ensanada has the best food I have ever tasted in my life and this is coming from someone who has traveled the world. Ensanada's dry/warm climate and it's distance from the ocean makes it feel very much like the Mediterranean region especially it's valleys. Because of this reason there was a fusion of cuisine called Baja-Med. Restaurants are farm-to-table using the freshest local produce picked from the gardens, fresh seafood, Mexican ingredients with Mediterranean and Asian twist. Doesn't that sound like heaven? well it is! I can't wait to go back just so I can try more places to eat. I also heard that many famous chefs have moved south of the boarder to start their own restaurants making Ensanada and it's valleys a foodie's dream.
We had dinner here on Friday night. Amazing food. Outdoor patio lightning with an amazing ambiance. Try their Ceviche, Risottos, Seafood Dishes, Ravioli .... everything on the menu was amazing!
La Flor De La Calabaza
We had breakfast here on Saturday morning. The food is farm to table, all organic and delicious! Everything in the restaurant is made out of recyclable material.
Planta Baja - Sky Bar - Carretera Ensenada-Tijuana Km 10322860 El Sauzal, Baja CaliforniaMexico
La Cocina de Doña Esthela
We met with our friends, the Tovar family here on Sunday morning for breakfast. The drive here was a little tricky as the road was not pavid and mostly a dirt road. The wait was over an hour long and I now I know why. This place is delicioso! I found the coffee here to be interesting. Its called Cafe De Olla which means coffee in a pot.
They also have a farm with animals and fresh produce. Talk about fresh! You can also pick up local fresh jam/jelly made fresh in the valley.
La Esperanza BajaMed
The chef at the restaurant goes out hunting for his meats! Everything here was delicious and fresh.
They bring the table to the farm. You are in a farm eating some of freshest most delicious food cooked by Michelin awarded chef Drew Deckman. You actually see him in the open area cooking you meal.
I am so thankful to have had this opportunity to discover this gem south of the border that I think everyone should experience. I am thankful for my hubby who did a lot of the planning to make this a smooth and enjoyable experience for us. It was such an amazing time with my family and our friends David and Adirana who's idea it was to go there over the weekend.
"The vibrant culture of Mexico is filled with unbelievable history and awe-inspiring culture. It’s rich land and cuisine have reached worldwide recognition. Mexico is vast in its art, music and friendly, amicable people. Mexico is also known for some of the worlds best destinations to vacation, with hidden gems of beaches, landscapes, deserts and jungles. Since, this trip took us to Baja California, I would like to invite you to visit Valle de Guadalupe and Tijuana. Yes, we have all partied one time or another in TJ or Rosarito... But, I invite you now to visit it’s culture, wines and cuisine. Days of hotdogs wrapped in bacon and burritos are over my friends. It’s time for handcrafted coffee, Med-Baja cuisine and world class wines. Baja has experienced what we call, a gastronomic renaissance attracting foodies from all over the world. Bienvenidos a Mexico my friends,
David & Adriana Tovar "
If you have any questions I can answer for you, please comment below
Thank you for reading!