Over the past decade, Mexico’s Valle de Guadalupe has taken its rightful place in the international food and wine scene. Located just 70 miles from the Mexican/Californian border in Ensenada Municipality, Baja California, the area boast over 200 vineyards, numerous restaurants, countless gourmet food trucks, and enough outdoor activities and scenery to keep you happy from dawn to dusk. Here’s our pick of the 20 best things to do in Valle de Guadalupe.
20. Surf at Playa de San Miguel
As walkingmexico.com says, Valle de Guadalupe has a lot to offer wave lovers. The area is surrounded by dozens of beautiful beaches to explore. If you want adventure, head for the island of Todos Santos to experience the legendary ” Mortal Wave.” Playa Hermosa and Playa Tres M are also worth checking out, whether for lazing around in the sand and splashing around in the surf.
19. Take to the skies on a hot air balloon trip
The Valle de Guadalupe is beautiful enough at ground level, but seeing it from the skies takes things to a whole new level… literally. If you want to enjoy some incredible aerial views, a slice of adventure and some sensational wine to boot, why not enjoy a hot air balloon trip? Tours are offered daily and include transportation from the takeoff and landing zones along with a free bottle of wine and snacks to enjoy during the trip. Prices vary depending on the number of people per party, but you can expect to pay between $150 – $400 per person during the week, and a little more during the weekends.
18. Explore the canyons of El Salto de Santa Rosa
Located just a short drive away from Valle de Guadalupe on the road to Tijuana are the canyons of El Salto de Santa Rosa. You’ll need to pay 50 pesos to enter, but it’s well worth the price. After parking at the ranch that guards the entrance, you’ll need to hike down a path peppered with flowers to reach the canyon. From there, you can explore the ranges and rocks by foot or, if you’re feeling up for something a little more adventurous, sign up for a rappelling experience.
17. Stay overnight at the bubble hotel
Campera Hotel Burbuja, or the “bubble hotel,” as it’s known locally, is a centrally based hotel that promises a completely unique hotel experience. Tucked away in the heart of a vineyard, the accommodation consists of 12 swanky bubble tents that offer the last word in luxury. All of the tents come with a full-size bed, a private bathroom, and luxurious amenities, while two even have a private jacuzzi on their terrace. The tents are transparent, allowing you to enjoy the magnificent views. Don’t worry if you’re shy though – each comes with full curtains to safeguard your privacy, along with hay-like walls that separate each tent and stop anyone from being able to see inside.
16. Tour the Museo Histórico Comunitario
Recommend by Frommers as one of the best things to do in Valle de Guadalupe, the Museo Histórico Comunitario is small but delightful, with an informative collection of displays on both the indigenous Kumiai culture of the region and the influence of early Russian immigrants in the Valley of Guadalupe. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm.
15. Join in the festivities at the Annual Harvest Festival
If you happen to be visiting Valle de Guadalupe in late August, you’re in luck. Each year in late August and early September, the town celebrates Las Fiestas de la Vendimia (Harvest Festivals). There’s always a ton of activities and events to get involved in, including the blessing of the grapes, tastings, live music, dancing, classical music concerts, Masses celebrating the harvests, and a communal, country-style Mexican meal. It’s always entertaining, so be sure to join in the festivities if you get a chance.
14. Tour the Museo de la Vid y el Vino
Fro wine buffs, no visit to Valle de Guadalupe is complete without a tour of the Museo de la Vid y el Vino. As Sic Mexico explains, the museum offers visitors the opportunity to learn about the history, industry, and identity of wine, along with its relationship to art. You’ll discover all about the first evidence of winemaking in the world, and how wine has been used by different cultures and civilizations over the years. You’ll also get to enjoy a couple of tastings and explore the themed garden.
13. Take a horseback ride
If you want to connect with nature and enjoy some sublime scenery, take the advice of explorevdg.com and book a horseback riding tour of the valley. Along the way, you’ll pass through lush nature preserves and vineyards, encountering a vast array of native plants and wildlife. Depending on the tour operator you book through, food and wine are usually included as part of the package.
12. Enjoy a helicopter ride
To enjoy wine county from a different angle, take to the skies on a helicopter tour. Watching the scenery unfold below as you move through the clouds is breathtaking. To make it an even more memorable experience, most tours come with the added benefit of a wine tasting.
11. Visit the animals at Zoologico Parque del Nino
A zoo might be the last thing you’re expecting in the heart of wine country, but Valle de Guadalupe has one and it’s pretty impressive too. Zoologico Parque del Nino is exceptionally well maintained, with friendly keepers and a range of activities on offer. Although it’s not huge, it’s home to a sizeable variety of different animals, including sea creatures, bears, lions, tigers, reptiles, and more besides. Guided tours are available and special events take place regularly throughout the year. There’s also a number of experiences available, including a VIP experience where you and up to five companions can help feed the animals or even become a trainee zookeeper for the day.
10. Discover the food scene
Food and wine go together like a horse and carriage. Most wineries operate their own restaurants, which are worth the visit even if you don’t partake in any of the wine. The town is also packed with standalone restaurants to visit, including the exceptional Raw Oyster Bar – a must for seafood fans. If you’re in town at the beginning of October, be sure to check out the Valle Food and Wine Fest. It was established in 2017 by Carolina Carreño, a food writer, and Nancy Silverton and Javier Plascencia, two chef-restaurateurs, and is always a fun experience for foodies.
9. Indulge in a spa treatment
If touring the wineries has given you achy muscles and sore feet, take the load off at Viniphera. Named as the best spa in Valle de Guadalupe by BajaScape, it offers a variety of treatments using organic products (many of which are made from grape seed extracts) in a wonderfully relaxing environment. If you’re craving head-to-toe pampering, try the “Viniphera” package, which includes a sauna in a french oak barrel on the rooftop terrace overlooking the valley, hydration with wine salts, a hand and feet scrub with grapeseed, and a relaxing hand and foot massage with resveratrol. Lunch and wine are included as part of the deal.
8. Take a motorbike tour
If you’re in the mood for some adventure, why not do as The Viking Abroad recommends and explore the region on a motorbike tour? Tours are available through Monkey Business Tours and are suitable for both amateurs and experienced riders alike. There’s a wide variety of tour options available, and you can even customize your itinerary if there are particular places you’d like to visit. Safety gear is thrown in as part of the package, along with a backpacking checklist and information on seasonal events you might like to check out.
7. Go on an off-road adventure
If you’d like to take a different approach to touring the vineyards than usual, do as thingstodopost.org recommends and sign up for an off-roading adventure with Off Road Tours Valle de Guadalupe. The experience lets you combine exploring the rugged vineyard landscape with wine tastings. Tours are accompanied, so are suitable for beginners as well as experts, and will take around 2 hours in total.
6. Take part in the Ruta del Vino Bike Ride
Exploring Valle de Guadalupe on bike is a wonderfully relaxing way to enjoy the region’s landscape and enjoy some exercise. There are numerous places around town that offer bicycle rentals, so don’t worry if you didn’t bring your own. If you consider yourself to be something of a pro, you could even put your skills to the test at the annual Ruta del Vino Bike Ride, an annual road race and fun ride that takes place each July.
5. Fly through the skies on a ziplining adventure
If you’re a thrill-seeker, Valle de Guadalupe has exactly what you need to get your adrenaline pumping. The Nest Zip Line Baja is an exciting adventure park that offers intrepid visitors the chance to take to the skies on over 2 miles of zip lines and suspension bridges. The views are out of this world, letting you enjoy the valley from a very different and very unique perspective. Although it’s nail-biting for first-timers, it’s completely safe, and after a few minutes, any nerves will be overtaken with the exhilarating rush of the experience.
4. Make your own wine at the Interactive Oenological Laboratory
If you’ve ever wanted to have a go of making your own wine, put your talents to the test at the Interactive Oenological Laboratory. Here, you’ll learn all about the various processes that go into making a bottle of your favorite vino, along with the characteristics of different grape varieties. Once you’ve got the theory out of the way, you’ll have the chance to put your knowledge in action as you’re guided through creating two wines, which you can then taste, bottle, design labels for, and take home as a reminder of your visit.
3. Tour the Museo Comunitario del Valle de Guadalupe
Back in 1905, 100 Russian families were granted political asylum by the Mexican government. When they first arrived in the Guadalupe Valley, they made their living cultivating wheat. Pretty soon, they realized there was more money in wine than there was in wheat and established the area’s very first winery. Although many of the families later emigrated to Russian communities in the US during the Cold War, most of the region’s inhabitants are descended from that first group of Russian colonists. To find out more, visit the Museo Comunitario del Valle de Guadalupe, a fascinating place with a huge selection of displays and artifacts from the period. While you’re there, be sure to tuck into some traditional Russian food at the adjoining restaurant.
2. Enjoy breakfast at La Cocina de Doña Esthela
If you want to tuck into the best breakfast in Valle de Guadalupe, do as valledeguadalupemexico.com recommends and head for La Cocina de Doña Esthela. Unassuming and welcoming, this authentic little restaurant is run by Doña Esthela Martínez, who gets up every morning at dawn to begin preparing some of the tastiest breads, corn tortillas, barbacoa, and coffee you’ll find in town. The doors open at 8 am each morning. If you can, stick around for lunch – it’s just as sensational as the breakfast. Once you’ve filled up on as much food as you can stuff down, burn off the calories with a stroll around the farm grounds. There’s even a playground in the backyard for the kids to enjoy.
1. Take a tour of the wineries
Obviously, you can’t visit Valle de Guadalupe without touring the wineries. The area boasts over 200, with each offering something a little different from the others to make a visit worthwhile. With so many places to visit, planning an itinerary can get stressful, but you’ll find plenty of tour companies that will organize the entire thing for you. As an added benefit, they’ll supply the driver, letting you taste the goods without having to splash out a fortune on taxi rides.