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Step ashore in Ensenada, Mexico's second-favourite cruise destination, which lies just south of San Diego across the border. Here you'll find remarkable vineyards, magnificent beaches and a host of Mexican culture concentrated in one place. Take a tour of the cosmopolitan city centre, spend some time around the surfer's havens along the coast, or head out into the countryside of Baja California during your visit.
Ensenada is well known as the gateway to some of Mexico's best wine country, and visitors to the area will find plenty of choice when it comes to wine-tasting cruise excursions. Be sure to look around the city's former casino too, where you'll find the city's museum, gallery and folk music all under one roof.
Riviera del Pacifico
If you find yourself short for time during your visit to Ensenada, the Riviera del Pacifico is something of a one-stop shop for history, culture and art in the city. Once known as the Hotel Playa Ensenada, this former casino enjoyed a real 1930's heyday and was supposedly a big draw for Prohibition-era gangsters from north of the border. Today you'll find the bar and ballroom much as they were back in the day, and you might even get the chance to see a mariachi band perform before heading around the museum, gallery and gardens which are all part of the complex.
Ensenada is well known for the quality of its wine, and a tour of the region might well give you the chance to take a look around renowned vineyards and wineries. See the Cetto winery, set against the hills of the Guadalupe Valley; the vivid yellow Casa Dona Lupe vineyard, where you'll have a walk-through of the entire wine-making process; and the elegant premises of Bodegas de Santo Tomas, complete with a gallery of paintings produced in the Santo Tomas Mission.
The perfect antidote to the heat of Mexico is a scenic trip to the coastland about twenty miles south of Ensenada – home to La Bufadora, a hundred-foot marine geyser which regularly draws tourists to the area. The geyser is active every minute or so, when waves trap an air pocket in the caves of the rocky cliff face. Once the wave recedes, the air pocket rushes out and sends a jet of seawater soaring into the air with a booming, thunderous sound – to accompany your quite probable drenching.
Great traditional souvenirs are easy to come across during your time in Ensenada, and the focus here is definitely on arts and crafts. Spend some time browsing the central gallery and you'll find a range of baskets and squat, earthy red pottery, handmade by some of the region's indigenous peoples.
Treat yourself to some real Mexican eating during your visit to Ensenada. Spend some time around the city and you'll find plenty of places to take a seat and enjoy a burrito or an enchilada; or pop into one of the welcoming cafes here before you agonise over what to try first – the doughy, sweet-smelling churros on your plate, or the fragrant, freshly-ground coffee steaming beside them.
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