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Rosarito (to La Misi�n):
Rosarito is a favorite weekend destination for Southern Californians, especially 18-20 year old college kiddos. I think that when all of the tourists invade Southern California in the summertime, the So. Californians escape to Rosarito, and parts nearby. The area can be enjoyed for it's hopping nightlife, its romantic activities, or a combination of the two. Recently, hotel prices during the peak summer months (weekends) have risen dramatically because of increased demand to visit the area, both by Americans and local Baja Californians (Tijuana, Mexicali, etc.). Expect my room rate estimates below to be low for this peak period.
The area boasts beautiful beaches, and excellent surfing. The nightlife here really gets outrageous on summer weekends, especially at Papas & Beer.
To the south 12 miles, you'll find the lobster restaurant village of Puerto Nuevo, home of 20+ restaurants serving what else? Puerto Nuevo-style lobster!!! Just beyond are the Cantamar Sand Dunes, and another 7 miles (or so) beyond is the excellent beach at La Misi�n / La Fonda.
Motel Sonia -- Clean, bare rooms, hot showers, in a location close enough to the nightlife that you could crawl home easily. If you just want a room with a bed, close to the "action," as inexpensively as possible, this is your place. No reservations accepted, first-come-first-served. Budget
Hotel Los Pelicanos -- On the beach, about 6 blocks from the nightclubs. Rooms are clean and fairly nice, those overlooking the ocean are more costly, those without the view are quite a great value. Very good restaurant on the premises overlooks the ocean as well (although slightly overpriced). 661.20445 Budget to Moderate
Motel Villa de Lis -- A block from the beach. Basic place, and rooms on the second and third floor have ocean views. Rooms have cable T.V. and heaters. About 4 blocks from the nightclubs. For a room with an ocean view, it's hard (or impossible) to find one for less $$. 661.22320 Budget
Motel Paraiso Ortiz -- Just south of the Rosarito Beach Hotel, and next to Renee's Sports Bar. Single-level facility that has some units that overlook the beach. Actually one of the better values in town. Swimming pool on the premises. 661.21020 Budget to Moderate
Quinta Pacifica -- Beachfront 2 bedroom condo's available through Quinta del Mar. 23 units located about a mile from the nightclubs, and close to the convention center and Caliente Sports Book. True beachfront accommodations in this small complex with a small pool and hot-tub, as well as parking lot security. 661.21215 Deluxe
Hotel California -- Fairly clean, and somewhat near to the action. 661.22550 Moderate
Rosarito Beach Hotel -- Very historic property. Good location, but currently overpriced. The better rooms are the suites close to the beach. 800-343-8582 Deluxe
Hotel Festival Plaza -- The rules, governing the guests, stop this from being a great recommendation, BUT it's new, clean, and "modern." Most rooms overlook the ocean. 800-453-8606 Deluxe
Hotel Las Rocas -- An absolutely elegant property. Located 6 miles south of Rosarito on the old highway (there is no exit nearby from the toll-road) at approximately Km. 38. Excellent location over a rocky beach that makes for excellent tidepool exploration at low-tide. There is excellent surfing nearby and the restaurant on-site is very good. One of the nicest facilities in northern Baja. 800-733-6394 Deluxe
Hotel Newport Baja -- Currently overpriced, this property is located next to the village of Puerto Nuevo (Newport), approximately 12 miles south of Rosarito. Nice location on a narrow sand beach. Great weekend brunch here (good value!). 800-582-1018 Deluxe
Hotel La Fonda -- A fun "roadhouse" on the toll-road (at the "La Misi�n" exit) approximately 19 miles south of Rosarito, this place is known for its restaurant and weekend crowd, but the rooms here are what make it unique. No two rooms are alike. There's no place else quite as personal as this in all of Baja. Located on a bluff overlooking (and having access to) one of the prettiest sand-beaches in the area. Decent surfing right out front. The suites here (a little higher $$) have a private balcony, and either a kitchen (for 4 people) or sunken fireplace and/or tub (for 2). No phone. This place fills up fast (weekends), so make your reservation early! To do so, show up in person about a month ahead of the date you want to stay, or else you need to mail your request, along with a check, and await confirmation about two weeks later. Mailing address: P.O. Box 268, San Ysidro, CA 92073 Moderate
Puerto Nuevo Lobster Restaurant Village -- I prefer the tiny, family-owned and run Restaurant Chela's (outside photo -- dinner photo) on one of the side streets. Puerto Nuevo #1 is the original, and is probably still the most popular. The Miramar is another family-run favorite, and Ortega's (tall building on the right at the end of the street into town) or Puerto Nuevo #2 would be two of the better places to go if paying by credit card. Moderate
Popotla Fishing Village -- Located 4 miles south of Rosarito on the old-highway, the road accessing this village is on the immediate south side of the new movie studio (of Titanic fame). Drive right through the arch at the highway (dirt road). This village has approximately 25 different restaurants with different offerings daily, depending on what's being brought in with the daily catch. Walk around and see what types of seafood are on display, and available at that location that day. Fresh Sea Urchin is available for a fraction of what it costs in Asian Markets in Southern California. Restaurants on the right offer views of the open ocean crashing on the rocks, those on the left have views of the bay, its returning fishermen, and the village itself. This is likely what Puerto Nuevo was like 40 years ago. It's acceptable to B.Y.O.B. Budget
Just for the Halibut Fish Tacos -- Typical fare as outside-type vendors, except they use 100% vegetable oil (not lard) to cook in. This location follows similarly the concept of Orange County, California based taco-store chain Wahoo's with inscribed pictures of notable surfers lining the walls. Located "kitty-corner" from the Festival Plaza. Budget
Vince's -- Two locations in town. Excellent location(s) for seafood. Mostly locals. Budget
Ortega's Buffet -- The original Ortega's Restaurant at the north edge of town has now been converted into a buffet restaurant, and is an excellent value. Budget
El Nido Steakhouse -- Not overly-spectacular, this location of the chain (others: San Felipe, Loreto) offers great atmosphere, with friendly staff, and a capable steak/seafood menu. Moderate to Deluxe
La Ma�anitas -- Is a high palapa-roofed restaurant located at km.31 of the free (old) road leading south of town. Opened in May of 1998. Good selection of salads, chicken, steaks, pork, fish & typical mexican plates, including birria and pozole. Try the marlin tostadas. Breakfast menu is available from 8am-1pm, and the restaurant closes at 10pm. Budget
The nightlife goes off here over the weekends in the summertime. Best spot to let it all hang out: Papas & Beer (outside photo) is far and away the top place to boogie 'til your buns are sore (located at the foot of the beach, just down the street from the Festival Plaza). Expanded in 1997, there are numerous dance floors (including on the sand volleyball court) and various levels to explore (as well as check the view of the ocean or the crowd). As mentioned, there's a popular sand volleyball court to use during the day, or early evening, as well as an artificial rock-climbing wall. If the line at Papas & Beer is too long at night, double back to the Rock 'N Roll Taco, housed in a former radio station, where Wolfman Jack became famous with his "outlaw" broadcasts to Southern California (I'd tell ya' the years, but I haven't a clue.... heck, I wasn't even born yet, so can you blame me?). The RnR Taco is lively, but just not quite the same as P&B.
There are always other establishments trying to lure the crowd headed to Papas & Beer, but usually they fail in their attempts. Currently the "contenders to the throne" are: Boom boom, Club Tequilas, Peanuts 'n Beer, Rock-N-Roll Lobster, and Planet Rosarito. The last is in the former burned out building on the north side of the Festival Plaza (which would be an excellent location for the right type of establishment). The Rosarito Beach Hotel has various bars that offer dancing and kareoke. The Hotel La Fonda (19 miles south of Rosarito) usually has a small crowd at the bar weekend evenings (with live entertainment), some dancing.
El Museo Cantina at the Hotel Festival (near the street) is a neat place to stop in for a drink. Be it a margarita, beer, or to try a few of the numerous types of tequila available, even a local one made in Ensenada with rattlesnakes ("Tequila de la Vibora"). El Museo ("the museum") touts itself as having the "world's largest tequila collection" (although Pancho's Restaurant in Cabo San Lucas might disagree) and there are many odd bottles of tequila on display across the walls inside. Good place to sit back, eat some peanuts (cacahuates), and sip some tequila. As of late-1997, the management of the Festival expanded this location into the adjacent store-space and have now added a small dance floor, two pool tables and a second bar.
Shopping -- Not only are there the standard shops along the main street through town, there is an open-air market hidden back in behind some of the store-front shops on the west side of the street (just north of the El Nido Steakhouse). Excellent selection of blankets, crafts, leather goods, and places with stained glass and candle/potpourri stands/holders.
Example of some of the things you'll find at the Rosarito open-air market.
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Last revised: June 21, 2002
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