Discover San Jose del Cabo
The destination of Los Cabos is made up of two towns: Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo, as well as the twenty-mile corridor between the two. Cabo San Lucas is the more modern, more touristy area with a wide variety of modern resorts, popular restaurants, and nightclubs, and San Jose del Cabo is a quieter town with a history that stretches back to the 1700s.
Visitors who prefer a more authentic Mexican experience may be happier in San Jose. Those who are looking for an all-inclusive resort experience, and enjoying nights out on the town, will probably be better off in Cabo San Lucas.
Pictured here is San Jose del Cabo's main square, it's officially called Plaza Mijares, but often referred to simply as the Plaza. Here, at the heart of San Jose del Cabo, the town's historic colonial atmosphere, laid-back friendliness, and tranquility are evident. This is the ideal spot to begin your walking tour of San Jose.
San Jose del Cabo Town Hall
Located on the corner of Boulevard Mijares and Doblado Street, the San Jose del Cabo town hall is one of San Jose's historical landmarks. The building houses San Jose government offices, including the Mayor's office. The construction of the building began in 1888 and it was inaugurated in 1927. The clock tower was completed in 1930. The building underwent renovations in the 1980s. Just inside the door, you can see some murals depicting the region's history.
Jose Antonio Mijares: Cabeños Ilustres
In one corner of the town square, you'll undoubtedly notice the semi-circular monument behind a fountain with the words: "Jardin de los Cabeños Ilustres" which means Garden of Illustrious Cabeños. (A Cabeño is a person from Los Cabos). The monument features seven busts: Lieutenant Jose Antonio Mijares flanked by five other men and one woman.
Mijares is the only one of the personages honored here who is not originally from the area. Born in Santander, Spain in 1819, he traveled to Mexico City and became a Mexican citizen. He fought bravely in the Mexican-American war and in a battle in San Jose del Cabo in 1847, he led an attack against U.S. forces who were barricaded in the priest's house (now the site of the Casa de la Cultura) and surrounding buildings. He was able to seize the artillery, but was severely wounded in the process and died the following day. He is considered a Mexican hero, and besides this monument, the main street in San Jose del Cabo is named after him.
San Jose del Cabo Church and Mission
The parish church of San Jose del Cabo lies to the west of the main square, on the corners of Hidalgo and Zaragoza streets.
San Jose was the southernmost of the Jesuit missions established during the colonial period in the Baja Californias. The Mission of San Jose del Cabo Anuiti was founded by the Jesuit priest Nicolas Tamaral in 1730, with the hopes of creating a haven for ships undergoing the long journey to Asia. However, conflicts with local indigenous groups caused problems for the early missionaries. Father Tamaral was killed in an uprising known as the Rebellion of the Pericúes, in 1734.
The original mission was in a different location from the present-day parish church. Originally it was built near the estuary, where Plaza la Mision is located, and later moved farther inland to Santa Rosa. The church in its present location was built in 1840 but was reconstructed after the hurricane of 1918, though it preserves the original structure and some of its walls. The mosaic above the front portal of the church depicts the uprising in which Father Tamaral perished. By 1768 the missionaries had prevailed over the indigenous people, who by that time were virtually extinct. Following the expulsion of the Jesuits in the late eighteenth century, the mission was in the custody of the Dominican order.
San Jose del Cabo Church Interior
The mission interior is relatively simple but lovely and is popular for destination weddings. To the left of the main altar you will find an image of Saint Charbel Makhluf, and a rack in front of it which is full of colorful ribbons. People write petitions to the saint on a colored ribbon, and to give thanks they write on a white ribbon and tie it to the rack.
Regular services are held at 7 pm Monday through Friday, on Saturdays at 7:30 pm and on Sundays at 7 am, 10 am, noon, 6 pm and 7:30 pm. English Mass is held on Sundays at noon. Visitors are welcome.
La Panga Antigua Restaurant
Located at Zaragoza #20, La Panga Antigua restaurant is right beside the San Jose del Cabo church. A "panga" is a fishing boat, and the name is appropriate because this restaurant serves mainly seafood specialties, although the menu also features steaks, chicken with mole and a variety of salads. The restaurant's setting, in an outdoor courtyard with plentiful plants and an old panga against the far wall, is both pleasant and attractive, making it a quiet and romantic place for a meal.
The art district is one of San Jose del Cabo's main draws. Here you will find many art galleries located in a charming area which is perfect for strolling. If you time your visit right, you can attend the San Jose Art Walk which is held weekly on Thursday nights between November and June. This event is a collaboration between galleries in the Art District. Participating galleries invite guests to enjoy the evening strolling around the neighborhood, viewing art, and enjoying complimentary wine and snacks. Galleries remain open until 9 pm and many will have artists in attendance to meet with visitors.
Besides art galleries, there are many handicrafts shops in San Jose del Cabo, offering a variety of crafts from all over Mexico. If you can't find what you're looking for, head to Plaza Artesanos on Boulevard Mijares between Valerio Gonzales and Paseo Misiones, where you'll find vendors selling all types of crafts including ceramics, rugs, hand-stitched dresses, and silver items. The plaza is open daily from 9 am to 6 pm.
Mi Casa Restaurant
The original Mi Casa restaurant has been a Cabo San Lucas institution for over 20 years. The San Jose del Cabo location opened in 2010. You'll find it at Obregon #19 in the Art District. Both of the Mi Casa restaurants are established in hacienda-style buildings with large open patios and feature traditional Mexican decor with colorful tables and chairs, creating an ambiance that is relaxed and elegant. Wandering mariachis provide musical entertainment while you dine. This is a good place to enjoy Mexican food in a charming setting.
Transit of Venus
French astronomer Jean-Baptiste Chappe d'Auteroche arrived in Los Cabos in 1769 and created an observatory on the grounds of the San Jose del Cabo Anuiti mission, from which he viewed the transit of Venus across the sun. His mission was a success, but he died in an epidemic before he could return to France. The transit of Venus occurred again in June 2012, and this monument was put in place by the La Herradura astronomy club to commemorate the event.
Casa de la Cultura
The San Jose del Cabo Casa de la Cultura is an arts center located on Alvaro Obregón to the north of the main square. This site featured in the battle in which Jose Antonio Mijares distinguished himself during the Mexican-American war in 1847. Cultural events are held here throughout the year, generally with free admission. Colorful murals by local artists decorate both the outside and inside of this building.