Ensenada Travel Guide
Shopping The eyes of avid bargain-hunting tourists glitter when they see Ensenada's broad shopping avenues. The shops are literally bursting with a massive array of Mexican arts and crafts from elegant Taxco silver jewellery in the boutiques of the Avenida Lopez Mateos to a selection of 'below $5' curios in the stores along First Street. Best buys to look out for in Ensenada are leather goods (bags, purses, jackets, belts etc.), hand-blown glassware, woodcarvings, and ceramics. Those who enjoy local colour can browse through the bustling Los Globos flea market where occasional treasures can be found. Due to its popularity as a cruise port, Ensenada offers great shopping opportunities, but it can be very expensive.
Restaurants No matter what your taste in food, from hamburgers to haute cuisine, you will find it while on holiday in Ensenada. However, because of its seaside location and local fishing industry, nearly all restaurants offer some sort of fresh seafood on the menu, and most include traditional Mexican fare. Highly recommended is a visit to the fish market (known as the 'Black Market') where delicious and cheap fish tacos are sold at several stands. Lunches are best enjoyed at one of the myriad sidewalk cafes: relax and watch the passing parade of people along a leafy boulevard while sipping a glass of wine. When it comes to dining, the choice is vast. Manzanilla in the port area is a great place to try local cuisine. Those hankering for formal dining can enjoy award-winning French cuisine at El Rey Sol on Avenue Lopez Mateos. For a taste of the traditional, fun comes along with the food at Bronco's Steakhouse, which serves a great Mexican buffet at weekends.
Nightlife Holidaymakers will enjoy the nightlife in Ensenada, which sizzles after dark, especially during weekends, with discos, karaoke bars and cantinas rollicking into the early hours. An unmissable night spot is Baja's oldest cantina, Hussongs, which was established in 1892 as a stage coach stop and is still partying today in traditional Mexican style. Tourists should spend at least a few hours at Hussongs, swigging margaritas as mariachis stroll the sawdust-strewn, rough wood floors.
Activities When it comes to sightseeing the most popular spots are the town's showpiece 'Riviera' centre, originally a casino owned by renowned boxer Jack Dempsey in the 1930s and now restored as the cultural and social centre of Ensenada; the Bodegas de Santo Tomas winery, where tastings and tours are offered at its downtown premises; the Malecon (waterfront promenade) where sea lions congregate; and the Ventana al Mar Park with its massive Mexican flag. There are also several small museums. Close to downtown there are some small, pleasant beaches, and along the adjacent coast some of the best beaches on the Baja Peninsula can to be enjoyed, offering a huge variety of recreational facilities from surfing and sailing to jet-skiing and scuba diving. Horse riding on the beach is very popular. Trips out of town include visits to La Bufadora, an amazing ocean blowhole, which shoots water dozens of feet into the air. Whale watching trips are also a great option. In addition, Ensenada has a packed events calendar, including the famous Baja 1,000 off-road races, regattas, cycling events, a seafood fair and the annual Mexican Mardis Gras.
Negatives Being something of a tourist Mecca, Ensenada tends to be more expensive than other towns in Mexico.