Ensenada, Baja California Norte

Population: 260,000

Time Zone: Pacific Standard

Airport: Tijuana International (TIJ)

Elevation: Sea Level

Ensenada has garnered its reputation a weekend getaway destination for residents of Southern California. The other side of the coin is the face of a major fishing and commercial port where ships from as far away as China can be seen from the waterfront malecon, anchored in the deepest marina in Baja.

Just 70 miles south of Tijuana, this rapidly growing town offers hotels in all price ranges. Although none can be considered to be in the same category as the luxury resorts of Cabo or the major beach towns of mainland Mexico, Ensenada manages to hold its own in the tourism market. Most of the activity is centered near the waterfront as you enter town where the focus is usually on Hussongs, one of the best cantinas in the world. Founded in 1892 by a German immigrant, this rustic, relaxed bar caters to locals and gringos who come for the inexpensive drinks and a chance to take part in the history of this friendly establishment.

Boasting temperate climate and lots of rich soil, the region surrounding Ensenada produces the best wine in Mexico. Foodies will discover a number of fine restaurants, as well as street corner carts where you can enjoy fresh fish/oyster cocktails and tasty mesquite-grilled tacos.

The drive to Ensenada from Tijuana, along a four-lane toll road, is spectacular, with Big Sur-type views of the Pacific. The numerous world-class surf breaks attract board-riders looking for good, consistent waves. Several miles south of town is La Bufadora, the largest, natural ocean geyser in the world. Several campgrounds are available along the way.