With world class food, beautiful oceanside views, a charming downtown and strong margaritas, the city of Ensenada has something for everyone. Located just 80 miles south of San Diego in Baja California, Mexico, Ensenada’s beautiful port and convenient location often draw visitors from all over the world.
We’ve spent a few weekends in Ensenada and have loved it more and more every time. The downtown areas are beautiful and safe, the people are very friendly and helpful, and we’ve found that many people speak pretty good English. It’s an incredible cultural experience with very reasonable prices–we can’t recommend visiting enough.
So without further ado, here are our 15 favorite things to do in Ensenada, Baja California:
1. Visit the Tara Garden
The Tara Garden is one of Ensenada’s most beautiful hidden gems. Perched on the edge of a hill overlooking the downtown area, visitors can get some of the most breathtaking views in all of Ensenada. We recommend getting up early to beat the crowds and watch the sunrise over the city. It’s a view fit for a queen–or rather, a princess.
The centerpiece of Tara Garden is a stunning 20-foot sculpture that depicts the Tibetan princess Tara, a female enlightened figure in the Himalayan region. She represents inherent qualities of wisdom, compassion, joy and equanimity. It’s incredible seeing this meaningful statue in person.
2. Go Wine Tasting in Valle de Guadalupe
A short 30 minute drive from Ensenada is Valle de Guadalupe, a picturesque wine region that produces nearly 70% of Mexico’s wine. Surrounded by beautiful sloping mountains on all sides, each winery along “La Ruta del Vino” is more beautiful than the next. Plan to spend at least an afternoon in Valle de Guadalupe since there are countless amazing wineries to visit.
3. Take a stroll along Av Adolfo López Mateos
Av Adolfo López Mateos is one of the main streets in Ensenada’s charming downtown area. Just blocks from the ocean, this street has great restaurants, cute storefronts and–of course–plenty of places to stop and enjoy a margarita. You can also relax and take a break on a bench and enjoy the prime people watching that Ensenada has to offer.
4. Try the street food
If it’s good enough for Anthony Bourdain, it’s good enough for me! The incredible Anthony Bourdain endorsed street food in Ensenada is to die for–enjoy everything from fresh ceviche to fried fish tacos, all for only a few dollars. A few of our favorite places are La Guerrerense and Mariscos El Guero de Ensenada.
5. Visit the Riviera of Ensenada
The Riviera of Ensenada is a beautiful cultural center that houses a museum, gift shop, and bar–all in an old luxury hotel. The architecture alone should be enough to warrant a visit to the Riviera of Ensenada. It’s free to walk around and enjoy the property and visit many of the rooms inside. Enjoy!
6. Get a margarita from Hussong’s Cantina, the birthplace of the margarita
When we first heard that the birthplace of the margarita is rumored to be at Hussong’s Cantina in Ensenada, we had to go! Walking into this old sawdust floor bar, we couldn’t have been more excited for an authentic margarita experience. While it seemed that plenty of tourists also had similar ideas, we still loved the blended margaritas that Hussong’s has been serving up for over 100 years.
7. Visit La Bufadora, Ensenada’s marine geyser
A short drive from Ensenada onto the tip of the Punta Banda peninsula is La Bufadora, an epic marine geyser. Time your visit to this phenomenon near high tide and you’ll witness ocean water build up into sea caves, exploding onto visitors in dramatic bursts. Marine geysers are extremely rare, so make sure to stop by La Bufadora if you get the opportunity.
8. Get the all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet at Hacienda San Angel
All-you-can-eat Mexican breakfast buffet? Yes, please! There’s no finer place in Ensenada to stuff your face for breakfast than Hacienda San Angel. Inside, you’ll find beautiful chandeliers and white table cloths and outside, pristine grounds with beautiful, manicured gardens. But really, the food will be the best part of your experience at Hacienda San Angel. Our favorite dishes were the Chilaquiles and Tamales. Yum!
9. Take a Walk Along the Port of Ensenada
The best place to take a walk in Ensenada is on the paved walkway along the port. Dubbed “Malecon,” take a leisurely stroll along the water for some truly magnificent sights. Many cruise shops dock at the port of Ensenada, and you may even get the chance to see one docking like we did!
10. Try the Tortilla Soup at El Meson de Don Fernando
I’m a huge soup fan, and the tortilla soup at El Meson de Don Fernando was the best I’ve ever had. It was warm and flavorful, and the crispy tortilla strips were the cherry on top. It’s the perfect thing to eat if you’re looking for a light lunch or dinner.
11. Order the wine smoothie at Covelli Pizzas
Covelli Pizzas is a great Italian restaurant for a romantic dinner for two. While the pizzas are absolutely delicious, they aren’t the only thing that’s legendary at Covelli Pizzas. They also make a killer wine smoothie. I’ll be honest, I only ordered the wine smoothie because I had seen a pretty picture of it on Google while researching our dinner plans. But I promise, it tastes even better than it looks!
12. Visit a Fish Market
Ensenada is known for its fresh seafood–using it for signature dishes like ceviche and fish tacos. And while a fresh fish market might not smell the best, it’s actually a pretty cool experience seeing where all the locals buy their fresh fish. We strolled through Mercado Negro and really enjoyed the experience. Bonus points if you actually buy something and cook it for dinner!
13. Stop by Cafe Torino for a cup of tea
There are a ton of great coffee shops in Ensenada, but our favorite is Cafe Torino. It has a very convenient location, plus they have very comfy seating and a great atmosphere. To unwind after a long day, we stopped by Cafe Tornio for a cup of green tea. They also had some very tempting looking desserts for all you chocolate lovers out there…
14. Catch a live music performance at La Concha Musical
La Concha Musical is a public music pavilion located right on Ensenada’s water front. There weren’t any performances scheduled while we were there, but it looks like a beautiful venue to catch a performance if anything is playing while you are there.
15. Try the Pina Colada at El Patio Ens
Lastly, we couldn’t finish this list without including the best place to get a Pina Colada in Ensenada: El Patio Ens. This modern bar and restaurant is a great place to grab a drink if you are looking to sit down before dinner, and their Pina Colada is truly delicious. If you like Pina Coladas…
There are a ton of epic things to do in Ensenada regardless of your interests. If you’re a foodie like us, you’ll be in heaven whether you’re eating street food or dining at fancy restaurants. If you’re an architecture buff, you’ll be wowed at the Riviera of Ensenada. Fascinated by culture and religion? The Tara Garden is the place for you!
And don’t forget to check out our video of our adventures in Ensenada:
Don’t forget to check out these other posts from Baja California that you may like:
- Perfect Baja California Itinerary: Roadtrip to Tijuana, Rosarito & Ensenada
- Wine Tasting in Valle de Guadalupe, Baja California’s Breathtaking Wine Country
- 16 Incredible Things To Do In Tijuana, Mexico
- Best Chinese Restaurants in Mexicali, Baja California
- 7 Amazing Places To Eat In Tijuana
- Popotla Fishing Village: Beachside Seafood in Mexico
- La Bufadora: Exploring Ensenada’s Marine Geyser
- 19 Amazing Things To Do In Rosarito, Mexico
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