A Tourist Guide to Baja California State in Mexico

The Mexican State of Baja California

Vineyard and Winery in Baja California State, Mexico
Jorge Malo Photography | Getty Images 

Baja California State is Mexico's westernmost state and is located just south of the United States border, across from California and Arizona. The capital city is Mexicali, but other important cities include Tijuana, a famous shopping and dining city on the border just across from San Diego, Rosarito, a beach town, as well as Ensenada. Mexico's most important wine-producing region, the Guadalupe Valley, is located in Baja California, and more and more visitors drawn to do winery tours or to stay in the region while sampling and learning about Mexican wines. Other visitors may come for whale watching, or practicing extreme sports such as sandboarding (surfing down sand dunes). 

Quick Facts About Baja California State

  • Capital: Mexicali
  • Area: 44 475 miles² (71576 km²), 3.6% of the national territory
  • Topography: the Juárez and San Pedro Mártir mountain ranges stretch through the state; the highest elevation is Monte Picacho del Diablo at 10 170 feet above sea level (3,100 m)
  • Climate: predominantly dry and warm to hot with a cold season when temperatures can drop below freezing in the mountains. The northeast has a Mediterranean climate while the mountainous region is arid with wide variations of temperature (between 10°C and 30°C in a single day). More about the weather in Baja California
  • Flora: pine trees, cardón (giant cacti), agave and typical coastal vegetation
  • Fauna: puma, deer, sheep and a wide range of marine wildlife
  • Major Festivals: Fiestas de la Vendimia, a yearly wine festival in Ensenada held in August, and the Fiestas del Sol, Mexicali's annual festival in October

What To See and Do in Baja California:

Baja is bordered on the north by the US state of California, on the west by the Pacific Ocean, on the south by Baja California Sur, and on the east by the U.S. State of Arizona, Sonora, and the Gulf of California (Sea of Cortez).

The towns of Mexicali, Tijuana, and Tecate are major manufacturing centers located close to the US border. Tijuana, just 18 miles south of San Diego, is one of the main industrial, commercial and tourist centers in northwest Mexico and has the most transited border crossing in the world. Tecate is known for its famous beer brewery, while Ensenada is popular among tourists for fishing and surfing, as well as being home to Mexico’s premier winery Bodegas de Santo Tomás.

Much of the state is occupied by the Sonoran desert, but the area of the Guadalupe Valley, just two hours south of San Diego, just northeast of Ensenada, has a Mediterranean type climate. This area produces about 80% of Mexico's wines, and although it's just recently becoming well known, they have been producing wine in this region since the 1700s. Mainly producing  Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, Zinfandel, Malbec, and Barbera, the area is also home to a burgeoning culinary scene.

Farther south along the peninsula, the Parque Nacional Constitución de 1857 is a favorite stop for nature lovers who enjoy its marshy, pined Laguna Hanson. East of San Telmo, the Parque Nacional Sierra San Pedro Mártir has an extension of over 400 square miles (650 km²), comprising forests, granite peaks, and deep canyons. On a clear day, visitors can see both coasts from the Observatorio Astronómico Nacional, Mexico's national observatory.

Continuing on through the Desierto del Colorado, you arrive at San Felipe; once a tranquil fishing port on the Gulf of California (Sea of Cortés), it is now a very lively coastal town that offers good sportfishing and a white sand beach. Temperatures in summer are extremely hot while winters are very pleasant.

Bahia de los Angeles is the home to thousands of dolphins between June and December, and there are also large colonies of seals and many exotic seabirds.

How to get there:

The state's major international airport is Tijuana Rodriguez Airport (TIJ). If you're traveling by land, an excellent road system connects all major destinations of the state as well as the southernmost points of the peninsula.Many visitors enter Mexico at the San Ysidro / Tijuana border, and a new option for crossing the border is the Cross Border Xpress, a tunnel connecting the Tijuana airport with a terminal building in the United States.

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