Answers from Our Experts (1)
The best way to get the real Baja experience is to drive it from tip to tip. It's a legendary odyssey that illustrates just how majestic and rugged the Baja terrain really is. The journey is doable in as few as three days but can easily consume an entire week if traveled at a leisurely pace. But contrary to what the monster-tired Baja 1000 racers would have you think, the well-maintained Transpeninsular Highway makes it doable in any rental car.
We suggest the following route: From San Diego, cross the border early into Tijuana and head to Ensenada, Baja California's northernmost port city about 80 miles south on the Pacific Coast. Do fish tacos by the docks at the Mercado Negro seafood market followed by a round of pint-size yet extremely potent margaritas at Hussong's, a Wild West cantina that claims to be the birthplace of Mexico's cocktail ambassador. Stop for the night just south of the Baja California Sur state line in Guerrero Negro and soak up the surreal vistas at the abandoned lighthouse and salt refinery south of town the next morning.
From there the road cuts across the peninsula to Santa Rosalia, a storybook mining town on the Sea of Cortez that was originally colonized by the French in the 1800s. Its mix of Mexican and European architecture — which includes a metal church supposedly designed by Eiffel (of Eiffel Tower fame) — make it one of 56 historic preservation sites in Mexico and the only in Baja California Sur. Get a good night's sleep before moving on to spend an afternoon on the vacant beaches of Mulege, whose turquoise waters serve as the go-to spring break spot for Baja Californians looking to escape the annual migration of gringos gone wild that once roared into Tijuana and Rosarito. From there, it's another six hours to La Paz, the state capital, and just two more to Los Cabos.