Visit Rosarito Beach for an old-fashioned beach vacation, a cool movie-making theme park and amazing arts and handicrafts.
Bienvenidos! Mi casa es su casa. The saying “My home is your home” embodies the infectious warmth of Mexico’s Rosarito Beach resort. A playground for all ages and all tastes, it is located 22 miles south of the California – Mexican border and stretches across 20 scenic miles of Baja California’s beautiful golden Pacific coast. Life the way it used to be, refreshingly friendly and unhurried, still exists in this magical retreat.
Reigning as a Mecca of every imaginable fun activity for the whole family, it’s a place where everyone can have a great time doing a lot or a little. The glistening soft sand beaches and gently rolling surf lure sunworshippers, swimmers, and surfers — and spring breakers in March and April. And it’s a paradise for the family fishermen, as the waters off Rosarito hold great chance for success.
For those who are up for more excitement there’s beach volleyball, rock climbing, mountain biking, all terrain vehicle rentals, hiking along the low bluffs and beaches, horseback riding and walking trails — from laid-back to extreme — for all ages and abilities.
Fun Family Excursions
Acquaint yourself with a leisurely stroll Downtown. With only three traffic lights in the entire city, everything of interest for poking around is in walking distance. Shopping along the main street, Boulevard Benito Juarez, you will find clusters of tiny curio shops that sell souvenirs, rustic arts ‘n’ crafts, leather goods and clothing, all waiting for eager bargain-hunters. Dollars and pesos are accepted.
Just a few miles south, the whole family will delight in exploring the magic of moviemaking touring Xploration, the new theme park in Fox Studios Baja. Wandering among some of the largest waterfront movie sets in the world, including those built for “Titanic,” “Planet of the Apes” and “Master and Commander,” will make memorable family photos.
Wannabe actors, directors and producers will love visiting the interactive sound effects studios to learn some tricks of filmmaking, and viewing the fascinating prop rooms. The tour of “The Titanic” set is followed by a video clip that includes the building of the ship intermingled with actual footage from the movie. Souvenirs, T-shirts, posters and videos are available for purchase in the Gift Shop.
Popotla, once know as a tiny coastal fishing town, has evolved into a cross-cultural Bohemian Art Route with galleries and craft shops showcasing talented local artists. There’s a heady mix of professional decorative arts and high quality fine arts: paintings, pottery, colorful tile, metal, glassware, furniture, statues and fountains fill myriad roadside shops. Shipping is available, prices are extremely reasonable and credit cards are accepted.
Puerto Nuevo Lobster Village, known as the lobster capital of Baja, is a tiny resort town and fabulous dining destination. Get to enjoy the famous mouthwatering Puerto-Nuevo-style lobster still prepared from the original 1956 recipe at the Puerto Nuevo II Restaurant. Kid’s dishes are available and include the classic chicken fingers, fish fillets breaded or fried quesadillas with flour tortillas and burritos. Strolling Mariachi bands add to the atmosphere playing traditional Mexican music tableside.
The legendary Spanish Colonial Rosarito Beach Hotel (866/ROSARITO) is a favorite family-owned and family-friendly destination, featuring the same Old World graciousness and courtesy that made it famous in the 1920’s. During Hollywood’s Golden Age it played host to royalty including Ali Kahn, Mexican presidents and screen legends including Rita Hayworth, Spencer Tracy, Lana Turner, Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra, and Gregory Peck among other luminaries.
We really enjoyed our room, one of 500 spacious oceanfront rooms and suites that can comfortably house two to six people. Along with a seasonal kids activity program during summers and holidays, good recreational facilities and a choice of restaurants, the hotel also accommodates families with two large pools and children under 12 stay free policy. Kayaks can be rented, and a fun excursion is to ride past the waves to the two small islands in front of the hotel. Body surfing, boogie boarding, horseback riding, or driving an ATV across the dunes is popular here too.
Time out for the adults! For the golf lovers the hotel can arrange a round at the spectacular ocean view links at Real Del Mar or Bajamar located on the scenic road south of Rosarito. For the ultimate relaxation and pampering with your choice of massages, body treatment and facials, indulge yourself in the hotel’s magnificent European-style Casa Playa Spa set in the original mansion.
We liked the informal all day, family-style dining in the Azteca restaurant, where a full menu of Mexican foods and international cuisine is served. Grown-ups will especially enjoy reading the small golden plaques placed around the area, highlighting visiting celebrities’ favorite tables. (Gene Tierney’s was table 18). The formal Chabert’s Restaurant set in the resort’s founder’s historic mansion (along with the Spa) is acclaimed for its culinary excellence and impeccable service, and offers sumptuous French, Mexican and Mediterranean cuisine, along with a selection of the finest local Mexican wines.
Getting there is easy, because this town is less than an hour from downtown San Diego. If you will be arriving at the San Diego International Airport, pick up your pre-arranged rental vehicle at any one of the major car rental services. To get to Rosarito Beach, take Interstate 5 (or 805) south to the Mexican border where required Mexican auto insurance can be easily purchased. Follow the signs to Rosarito/Ensenada, which will put you on the scenic toll road for approximately 23 miles, through the tollgate. The first exit in Rosarito Beach gets you right in the heart of town.
As of March 2010, a new Metropolitan Police force using cars marked with PolicÃa TurÃstica Metropolitana has been working between the three cities of Tijuana, Rosarito Beach and Ensenada. They aim to calm tourist fears of the increasing drug violence in Mexico’s border areas. Nonetheless, travelers are advised to remain vigilant and only drive on the busier streets; see the U.S. Department of State website for current travel advisories.
If you do not want to rent a car, an easy connection is the Mexicoach (619/428-9517) which provides direct connections from various locations including Old Town Visitor Information located at 2415 San Diego Avenue in San Diego; or take highway I5 or 805 south to the last US exit in San Ysidro where you can park at the “Border Station Parking” and pick up the Mexicoach. Visit their website or call for schedule, rates and locations. Either way that you arrive, please remember that US passports are required of every family member.
For information about the area as well as music festivals, sports events and activities throughout the year, visit or call the Rosarito Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau (800/962-BAJA). Note that English is spoken at the main tourist areas and dollars are accepted everywhere.
Photos by Mel Greenberg
This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question, and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.