Welcome to my inaugural post of my new Travel section of the blog. Here, I will feature trips I’ve taken, whether they be staycations within southern California, out-of-state trips, or even overseas trips when I get the time to do that. While I am a veteran with the food posts, I’m still new to the travel aspect of it so please bear with me while I find my footing. In this first post, I am featuring a trip I took to Rosarito not long ago. I had written about all the culinary options in previous posts, but here, I will be focusing on the other aspects of the trip.
When I first moved to southern California, we took a day trip across the border where we walked from San Ysidro to Tijuana and explored Avenida Revolución, a very touristy part of TJ. Although I did venture past that area for a little bit, I was excited to return again until the three hour wait to cross back into the United States with a six-year-old in tow.
This trip to Mexico was different. A group of us were picked up by van from San Ysidro, and we crossed the border very quickly — well, after they stopped to check our vehicle. After a few toll booths, we were at the Rosarito Beach Hotel within 40 minutes of leaving San Ysidro.
I did not notice that the hotel was situated in the middle of the city until the next day. The hotel resembles an old hacienda and the entrance to the lobby reads “por esta puerta pasan las mujeres mas hermosas del mundo” which translates to “through this door pass the most beautiful women in the world,” a statement which pays homage to all the Hollywood celebrities who visited including Marilyn Monroe, Lana Turner, Joan Bennett and Kim Novak.
The Rosarito Beach Hotel first opened to the public in 1925. In 1932, the grand hotel foyer was constructed, as well as 50 additional rooms, the Salon Mexicano Ballroom and the Azteca restaurant. Owner Manuel Barbachano wanted to build a mansion on the ocean worthy of his wife and family and thus, a mansion was erected where the hotel’s Casa Playa Spa and Chabert’s restaurant sit.
Since then, a new tower has been built — where we stayed — offering expansive rooms with a living area, which serves as an extra bedroom if you have children or other guests.
If you’re interested in surfing, Locales School of Surfing, in conjunction with the hotel, offers personalized lessons for kids and adults, group lessons, summer camp as well as rental equipment. You can find more information on the surfing packets offered here. Or, there is horseback riding right on the beach should you choose to do that.
If you’re into wine tasting, there are several ways to enjoy this as well. Claudius is Rosarito’s one and only winery and is situated in a remote area which would be hard to find if you’re not familiar. For more information, please click here for my post on Claudius and food options in the area.
Drive further south and you’ll find Baja’s wine country. Guadalupe Valley (Valle de Guadalupe) is only 37 miles from Rosarito and home to more than 20 wineries. On the way, you can stop at Sol de Media Noche. While there are wines for tasting here, I definitely loved the local products such as cheeses, olive oils, and sauces much more. *I suggest visiting on your way back if you plan to purchase items to bring home*
In Valle de Guadalupe, we visited ALXimia, whose wines have made their way to Orange County — wines are offered at Anepalco’s in Orange. Even if you’re not interested in wine tasting, the incredible design of this building is breathtaking and worth stopping for.
But we were here to taste the wines and you won’t be disappointed both in quality and variety. The Alvarez family owns and operates this winery with three brothers at the helm — Alvaro is the vintner while Manuel handles the operations. If they’re on site, they’ll be wandering around talking to guests and showing them around.
Another way to enjoy the wines is to sit outside on the patio and enjoy a meal by celebrity chef Martin San Roman at La Terrasse while sipping on one, or all of the wines at AIXimia. The expansive view with the open air kitchen makes for perfect al fresco dining.
Valle de Guadalupe is a perfect day trip from Rosarito should you wish to make your central point there. Besides the Rosarito Beach Hotel, there are two other options you might consider. Puerto Nuevo Hotel and Villas also sits along the water about 10 minutes south of Rosarito. Offering ocean view rooms or villas it is located in the town of Puerto Nuevo, also known as “lobster village” with a myriad of restaurants featuring affordable lobster items on the menu.
Las Rocas Resort & Spa is situated on the rocky bluffs of the Pacific ocean and offers stunning views which is an ideal spot for those looking for a romantic getaway or wedding venue. The hotel offers great packages for an overnight or weekend getaway with dinner, breakfast and/or spa treatments.
One of the best part about staying at one of these hotels is that they will provide you with a “fast pass” which allows you to bypass the regular line at the border and whiz to the fast pass lane. It took us 20 minutes on this particular visit to zip past immigration and back to San Diego. This is the only way to travel to Mexico, unless you are in possession of a Sentri Pass, which gets you through the express line regardless of whether you’re in a car or traveling on foot.
For more information on traveling to Rosarito, please visit: www.rosarito.org
If you are looking for a guide to take you around, take a look at Tours In Baja on Facebook, or their website (which is in Spanish here. Our guide Fernando accompanied us on both our trips and is very knowledgeable with the history and background of many destinations.