Ensenada Mexico Cactus Valley Baja California
Ensenada Mexico Cactus Valley Baja California

6 Enchanting Ensenada Day Trips

8 Hours Of Things To Do In Ensenada, Mexico

By Mary Luz Mejia | Published on August 24, 2022

When faced with eight hours to spend in a richly historic and beautiful town like Ensenada, you've got to make every minute count. Ensenada day trips involve soaking up the sun, sipping libations, and seeing the wonderful landscape of this region. Add these must-see vacation day trip ideas to your itinerary for the ultimate Ensenada travel experience.

1. Walk In The Ensenada Sunshine

When you pull into port in Ensenada, your first welcome to this beautiful region of Mexico is a massive Mexican flag waving proudly in the sea breeze. As you disembark from your ship, your first "to do" begins by taking a walk along the Malecon (boardwalk). With the piercing-blue Pacific to one side, you're in a prime spot to amble along and watch the local fishing boats busily mill around the port. You'll get a glimpse into the everyday life of Ensenada locals, and see where the deliciously fresh seafood you'll enjoy later comes from.

2. Meet Mexico's Founding Fathers

Make your way to the considerable Plaza Civica, and head toward the gleaming trio of golden head statues (from which the locals derived the name La Plaza de Las Tres Cabezas — the plaza of three heads).

The statues represent three historically significant Mexicans, starting with Venustiano Carranza, El Primer Jefe, the "First Chief" who was instrumental in the Mexican Revolution. Next, Manuel Hidalgo, a Catholic priest who also played a leading role in the Mexican Revolution. Finally, Benito Juarez, arguably the most powerful Mexican in history, was Mexico's first indigenous president, serving for 14 years. The golden statues and glinting sun combine to present a unique Instagrammable photo op.

3. Reel In The Freshest Mexican Seafood

Continue walking towards the Mercado de Mariscos (Seafood Market), take a deep breath and notice how clean the air smells, a sign of a fresh catch. Toward the back of the market, you'll find multiple local restaurants offering more sensational seafood like octopus, calamari, and even sea snails — seafood makes up some of the best food in Ensenada. If you didn't overindulge at the market, head over to one of Anthony Bourdain's favorite street food stalls, La Guerrerense. This is Ensenada food at its finest where Doña Sabina Bandera has been serving crisp and fabulous ceviche tostadas. If you want to taste the legend's creations, plan ahead as the lines tend to be long, and when they run out of freshly caught fish, the stand is done for the day.
If you prefer your dining more formal, head to the sleek and modern restaurant at Hotel Punta Morro for an upscale taste of Ensenada's seafood as you enjoy stunning views over the bay.

4. Visit The Birthplace Of The Margarita

At around 125 years old, Hussong's is one of the oldest bars in Baja California, and even has a sister outpost in Las Vegas. Like many during the late 1800s, original owner Johann (John) Hussong arrived in Ensenada in search of gold. A series of events put John in the position of running a bar just temporarily. Long story short, it still stands today.

Hussong's is also the (likely) birthplace of the much-loved and consumed margarita. Legend has it that barkeep Don Carlos Orozco mixed equal parts tequila, damiana and lime and served it over ice in a now-iconic salt-rimmed glass to none other than Margarita Henkel, the daughter of the German ambassador to Mexico. Take yourself down to the cantina, avoiding the strutting pigeons as your feet crunch across the peanut shell-covered floor, and enjoy the live music (as well as a two-for-one drink if your timing is lucky).

5. See The Local Geyser Of Ensenada

One of the most enchanting Ensenada day trips takes you 17 miles south of Ensenada to La Bufadora (The Blowhole) at the Punta Banda peninsula. Get your phones ready to catch the world's second-largest marine geyser shoot water over 60 feet in the air! Nature lovers of all ages get a thrill out of seeing this force of nature at work when ocean waves crash into a partially submerged sea cavern that causes air and water pressure to build. The explosive exit that launches water stories into the air is fun for all — family travel tip; remember your raincoats!

6. Sample The Grapes Amongst The Cacti

There are only three fully paved roads on The Wine Route. With its 120 wineries, this makes your wine exploration accessible via dusty, snaking roads. Forty minutes outside of town lies the Valle de Guadalupe, a premium wine region not far south of the U.S. border, which you should add to your list of day trip ideas in Ensenada. Head to Bodega Santo Tomas to sample impressive, bold reds. A fan favorite is the Ensamble from Paralelo vineyards: an inky-black and complex blend of barbera, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, petite sirah and zinfandel. Also popular is Vena Cava, with its food truck permanently parked outside, the much larger Monte Xanic, with its onsite restaurant, and the charming artisanal Vinicola Tres Mujeres. With its all-female team of winemakers, this winery experience, which includes a tour of a wine cave, has been described as intimate and magical. As far as Mexico day trips go, visiting Ensenada for a quick getaway is one that tops the list of travel vacation ideas.
Experience the magic of this Mexican region for yourself on a cruise vacation to Ensenada.


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