Plan your perfect La Paz getaway
By Fernando Rodriguez
Don’t get me wrong. I love Los Cabos. But there’s nothing like a weekend away in La Paz. The capital of Baja California Sur is also home to some of the state’s best food, most beautiful scenery, and biggest attractions (we’re talking whale sharks).
Our weekend itinerary kicks off Friday evening. along the city’s malecón (boardwalk), which is always populated with families—local and visiting—enjoying views of the Sea of Cortés. The 2-mile stretch boasts a dizzying array of wonderful cafés, coffee shops, restaurants, and stores.
The recently renovated Mariscos El Molinito (www.mariscoselmolinito.com.mx) is the premier fresh shrimp restaurant in the Southern Baja. It serves tasty ceviche tacos, shrimp cocktails, fresh oysters, and fish served a variety of ways. Guests are even welcome to order a newly caught fish that can feed up to seven. Another excellent dinner option is Bandidos Grill (612-128-8338), located a few blocks north of the malecón. The alfresco barbecue spot serves the best burgers in La Paz as well as tasty onion rings, jalapeño poppers, chicken strips, and teriyaki sandwiches. Everything’s reasonably priced and, even cooler, prepared under the hood of an old truck turned grill. Insider tip: The shrimp fettuccine made with the owner’s mother’s secret Alfredo sauce is awesome.
The night continues at Tailhunter (www.tailhunter.mx), Jonathan Roldan’s three-story restaurant and bar with incredible views of the sea. There’s live music on the weekends, and, come football season, this is a favorite hangout among Duck fans who flock here to watch games on the nine flat-screen plasma TVs. Try the traditional Mexican plates or something from the select menu of Hawaiian dishes.
You can’t visit La Paz without also venturing out to Espíritu Santo, a UNESCO World Heritage site a short boat ride away from La Paz. You’ll see whales, dolphins, sea lions, and sea turtles. You can swim, and snorkel, too. Tour schedules vary, but you’ll want to rise early to get ready for a day of on- and in-the-water adventure. Two of our favorite operators that offer expeditions to the archipelago are Sun Rider (www.sunridertours.com) and Cabo Expeditions (www.caboexpeditions.com.mx.) Contact them directly to see where you can start the trip, whether from Cabo San Lucas or La Paz. The sights are incredible, and you’ll also be well fed to keep up your energy for all the fun.
The outdoor courtyard dining area at Las Tres Virgenes (612-123-2226) is considered one of the best in La Paz. Salads are prepared tableside and served with excellent house-made sauce. There’s a lot to recommend, including the braised pork shank, New York steaks, chicken rolls, smoky, mesquite-grilled octopus, grilled tuna, and yellowtail tacos. There’s an excellent selection of Baja California wines—expensive but worth it. The location is absolutely lovely, and the atmosphere magical.
For a nightcap, head to Apostolis (www.restaurantapostolis.com). Local musicians often play on its courtyard, a cozy, romantic setting for such tasty starter seafood servings as mussels in white wine, calamari, and crab.
I’m a late riser and enjoy nothing better than a laid-back, mid-morning breakfast at Kiwi Restaurant (612-123-3282), an unassuming gem right on the malecón. Relax under palm trees as waves break just below and you nosh on Mexican or American-style breakfasts and coffee.
Looking for something easier to take on the go? The Bagel Shop (612-125-5878) is the most wonderful place for, you guessed it, freshly baked bagels. The assortment here ranges from sesame with blueberry cream cheese bagels, to waffles, salads, coffee, juices, eggs any style, smoked fish, and smoked marlin. With its friendly, bilingual staff, the Bagel Shop exudes a small-town, this-is-your-neighborhood vibe. Enjoy a casual breakfast or get the bagels to go before you hit the road.
Before you leave, you ought to spend a little of the afternoon at Balandra, a beach roughly 20 minutes south of La Paz. The warm seawater never reaches higher than an adult’s waist, and you can walk the 200–300 yards from one end of the beach to the opposite side without ever having the water reach higher than your chest. The calm, clear water is perfectly suited for children to play and swim, and there is a small taco truck nearby for snacks and water. Also good: There’s plenty of parking, but the beach does get crowded on Sundays. So the earlier you come, the better.
Where to Stay
There are several great places to stay in La Paz, but our favorites include El Moro Hotel (612-122-4084), which is located at the southern end of the malecón. Enjoy free Wi-Fi, a swimming pool, a furnished terrace, and hot tub. El Moro’s on-site Café Gourmet has solid American-style food, and you’re just a short walk from the downtown restaurant scene.
Hotel Perla (612-122-0821) is conveniently situated right in the heart of downtown. It offers an outdoor pool, sun terrace, and Wi-Fi in every room. The landmark hotel also has free parking on-site.
The old-fashioned Baja Bed and Breakfast (www.bajabedandbreakfast.com/wp) is just two blocks from the malecón. Rooms start at around $70 U.S., and you can take advantage of the small pool, hot tub, and free Wi-Fi.
Now tell us: What is your favorite thing to do in La Paz? Let us know on Facebook at www.facebook.com/loscabosmagazine.