A trip south of the border can be the perfect family vacation, couple’s retreat or way to unwind on your own. If you are looking for an option for getting away that is still close to home but that yields gorgeous vistas, miles of stunning beaches and plenty to explore, consider Baja California, Mexico. By spending plenty of time planning what you will see, where you will go and where you will stay, you can remain safe, have a fun time and enjoy a stress-free vacation at any time of the year.

Exploring Baja California, Mexico

Baja California is the long, narrow piece of land on the west side of Mexico that lies directly south of California. Recognized as the second longest peninsula in the world, this 775-mile stretch of land offers some of the most beautiful beach views that you could imagine. Baja is the perfect place to visit whether you like to surf and swim, hike and explore, enjoy local cuisines or relax beachside. With over 800 varieties of fish in the Gulf of California, the narrow body of water between the Baja and mainland Mexico, it is also a great place for seeing wildlife. If you visit at the right time of the year, you may even be able to catch sight of the elusive gray whale or photograph sea turtles in their natural habitat.

Europeans first discovered Baja California in the 1500s, but visitors did not start flocking here for quite some time. Today, Baja is composed of two Mexican states officially known as Baja California and Baja California Sur. The southern part of the Baja, known as Baja California Sur, has fewer residents and visitors than its northern counterpart does.

You can still see the traditional Spanish and Mexican traditions at play here. While many areas of the peninsula cater to the needs of visitors, you will notice traditional architecture with stucco homes and stores. In addition, the food is one of the main draws for many visitors. Seafood of all sorts, including fish tacos and the area’s enormous margaritas, are vital to try if you are looking for the traditional experience.

When to Visit Baja

The great news about Baja California is that there is not really a bad time to visit. While temperatures are definitely hotter in the summer than they are in the winter, they generally stay below 100 degrees, and cool evening breezes make sunset walks on the beach quite pleasant. If you want to escape from winter in the U.S., a trip to Baja will let you relax in temperatures between 60 and 75 degrees during the day. Of course, for the best temperatures, consider traveling in the spring or fall. If you are coming for the wildlife, consider a trip between January and March when you can snap photographs of gray whales.

Best Spots to Visit in Baja

If you want to see all of this gorgeous peninsula, consider a road trip up and down the entire length of it. While this will take a week or two to complete depending on how many stops you make, it will yield the best photographs and the most appreciation for the area’s natural beauty. However, if you do not have that much time, consider a stay in one of the area’s friendly towns.

If you want to stay closer to home, consider heading to Tijuana, a thriving city just over the border. You will find plenty of amazing dining and shopping options here, including numerous artistic corridors. If fishing or surfing is more your style, consider a stay in Ensenada, a beach city with incredible surf. Nearby, you can find La Bufadora, a huge marine geyser that is a favorite spot for tourists.

If you are willing to head farther south, Los Cabos is probably the most well-known city in Baja, famous for its many resorts and the gorgeous rock formations around its beaches. If you are looking for a more laidback place to stay than one of the expensive, all-inclusive resorts, you can find plenty of family-friendly hotels for all budgets as well as many activities for nature lovers.

While the Pacific Ocean is the siren call for most travelers to Baja, do not forget about the eastern coast, which lies along the Gulf of California, also called the Sea of Cortez. This is the perfect spot for kiteboarding and windsurfing as well as diving with sea lions at Los Islotes. You will also find gorgeous Cabo Pulmo National Park, numerous World Heritage islands and San Ignacio Lagoon, which make perfect daytrips.

The SWISSGEAR 5888 ScanSmart Laptop Backpack is a great option if you want to carry personal belongings with you on day trips as you explore the Baja region. With plenty of room for your notebook computer and tablet as well as such travel essentials as a water bottle, sweater, camera and snacks, this comfortably padded ScanSmart travel backpack will also give you enough room for any souvenirs you pick up along the way. Mesh interior pockets help you separate your belongings while the front pocket gives you a convenient space for storing items you use frequently, such as your keys. If you are flying, you will love the lie-flat TSA-friendly compartment for your laptop. In addition, you will not have to worry when carrying this backpack all day on hiking trips or while exploring outdoor shopping plazas. The ergonomic suspension system combined with the airflow back panel keep your shoulders limber and your back cool all day long.

Swissgear 5888 ScanSmart Laptop Backpack
Swissgear 5888 ScanSmart Laptop Backpack
Swissgear 5888 ScanSmart Laptop Backpack
Swissgear 5888 ScanSmart Laptop Backpack

Where to Stay in Baja

The Baja offers plenty of hotels and resort options to meet any budget. Plus, you can even try camping out on the beach thanks to the limited camping laws if you are willing to rough it a bit. However, for a more upscale and unforgettable experience, consider the new Four Seasons and Ritz Carlton hotels that have recently opened on the eastern gulf or the Montage Los Cabos in one of the most popular zones. More budget-friendly options throughout the peninsula include Las Rocas Resort and Spa just south of Rosarito and Quintas Papgayo in Ensenada.

How to Pack for Your Trip

Whether you are traveling by car or by air, you need to make sure that you keep your luggage to a minimum when visiting the Baja. After all, you want to be spending more time on enjoying your experience than you are on keeping up with your belongings. Consider packing everything that you need in a single piece of luggage and carrying some personal essentials in an additional carry on or travel backpack.

The SWISSGEAR 7366 Expandable 3-Piece Hardside Luggage Set gives you three sizes of matching hardside cases that are perfect for packing for a family. This durable spinner luggage offers convenient 360-degree wheels and steel telescopic handles for maneuvering through airports and parking lots and zippered packing pockets for keeping your belongings well-organized. The 18-inch carryon will fit perfectly in airplane luggage bins if you choose to fly to Baja while the 23-inch and 27-inch expandable luggage provide you with plenty of room for clothing, shoes and personal care items. The elastic tie-down straps will keep your belongings from shifting during travel.

Swissgear 7366 Expandable 3pc Hardside Luggage Set
Swissgear 7366 Expandable 3pc Hardside Luggage Set

Baja California has long had a special draw for visitors. Today, it is no different with plenty of resorts primed to help you have the time of your life. Consider traveling here for amazing adventure, plenty of sunshine and an incredible brush with nature.