Las Playas de Rosarito is fairly young, as far as cities are considered. In 1995 it was transformed from a suburb of Tijuana into the city now commonly referred to as Rosarito Beach, or Rosarito.
It’s a short 20-minute drive south of Tijuana and only 36 miles from downtown San Diego. There are so many things to do in Rosarito Beach it is best to plan for at least two nights when you visit.
The heart of Las Playas de Rosarito is the Rosarito Beach Hotel. It was a hotspot for Hollywood stars such as Rita Hayworth, Katharine Hepburn, and Orson Welles in its heyday.
The hotel itself is arguably the foundation of current day Rosarito as the descendants of the hotels’ founder pushed to establish the city. The Hotel was originally a hunting lodge.
Now it’s a 500-room resort and the area’s most popular hotel. Even more amazing is that it’s still family-owned three generations later.
Save Big on Your Trip to Rosarito
Read Reviews of the Best Hotels in Rosarito on TripAdvisor
A Perfect Day in Las Playas de Rosarito
While visiting the Rosarito Beach Hotel is a must, there are so many more fun things to do, see, eat and discover in Rosarito. Here are a few of my favorites!
WHERE TO EAT & DRINK IN ROSARITO
To begin your perfect day in Rosarito, start off with breakfast at Las Rocas Hotel. During my last visit, I stayed there and had one of the best versions of my favorite morning dish, chilaquiles (fried tortillas smothered with red or green salsa and simmered, then topped with eggs or chicken and then drizzled with sour cream and cotija cheese).
Their restaurant, Café del Mar offers colorful indoor seating or you can sit outside and breathe in the ocean air from their patio.
For lunch, there are several places I would recommend, starting with El Nido. El Nido originally opened in 1971 as a bar but today it feels like a cross between a restaurant, jungle and vintage shop.
As you eat, you’re surrounded by plants, vines, waterfalls, fountains, art, and artifacts. To top things off, you can watch fresh tortillas being made, just to make your mouth water a little bit more.
The steaks at El Nido are the main draw. The carne asada is justly famous, with the bacon-wrapped filet mignon perhaps a step behind. If you do happen to arrive for breakfast, their machaca and quail egg dish is my top choice.
If you’re a taco enthusiast, lunch at Tacos el Yaqui is a must.
The owner, Felipe Nunoz who goes by the nickname Yaqui, (he is Yaqui Indian from Zacatecas in Northern Mexico) and knows how to make a mean carne asada taco (also known as Tacos Perrones). He started with a food cart in 1984 that eventually became so busy, he opened up a restaurant. It’s now one of the most famous tacos joints in Baja.
Another favorite spot of mine is Ollies where you can find Rosarito’s best pizza. Their dessert menu takes the cake with a Nutella pizza!
Last, I would suggest Susanna’s, which I have visited several times and have reviewed on my blog. Susanna’s is just down the block from El Nido.
You can choose to sit on the patio and soak in some rays, or eat in the main dining room and be entertained by the chefs cooking in the open kitchen.
Everything is made from scratch. My mouth is watering just thinking about their food! From the custom-made Rosarito furniture to the scrumptious food, to murder mystery dinners in the restaurant’s cellar, get to Susanna’s if you’re heading to Rosarito. Or better yet, go to Rosarito so that you can visit Susanna’s.
For dinner, there are lot’s of choices including Sussana’s and El Nido, but if you are in the mood for a deep sea treat, you must head a few miles south to Puerto Nuevo.
This little village is famous for its traditional lobster dinner. There are around 30 restaurants in the village, but my favorite is La Casa del Pescador.
They have been family owned since 1970, their food delicious and have wonderful waiters. They also have an outstanding view of the Pacific Ocean — especially at sunset. Lobsters are served with handmade tortillas, beans, rice, and melted butter as well as chips and salsa.
Order a margarita and you have a perfect meal!
Enjoy a Margarita
You can find a margarita at any restaurant in Rosarito, but the most infamous place to enjoy this famous cocktail is the bar at the Rosarito Beach Hotel. If you want more of a party scene head to Papas and Beer, which is as big a full city block and is said to be the largest beach nightclub on the west coast.
THINGS TO DO IN ROSARITO
Whether you’re a beach bum, gallery-goer or super shopper, there’s a little bit of everything in Rosarito to keep you occupied and entertained.
Head to the Beach
Rosarito Beach used to be reserved for Hollywood’s film sets, but today everyone from locals to vacationers enjoy the sand and sea. The main beach is wide and long. It’s great for taking a stroll or for a jog.
Of course, it’s also a great place to relax and soak up some rays. In summer, the water is warm enough for swimming and you might even find enough waves for boogie boarding.
Here you’ll find vendors selling everything from Mexican blankets to food and jewelry. The vibe is laidback and the sunshine is nonstop.
There are plenty of stores and stalls to browse through on Boulevard Benito Juarez, the town’s main street. Nearby, and next to El Nido, you’ll also find a large Mercado with nearly 100 stalls selling crafts, clothes, kitchen dishes, and everything else you could want.
If you are in the mood for candy or simply looking for an interesting store to explore head a few blocks further to Dulceria Ayala. This store sells all kinds of Mexican candy as well as spices, dried fruit, pure vanilla, honey, pinatas, and lots more!
For the tequila connoisseurs, a visit to Mercado del Mar will tickle your tongue. To find it, you must first navigate through a small market. Once inside, you’ll find another very large room with a massive selection of Baja California wines, different liquors, and 350 types of tequila.
In total there are over 1,000 different types of liquor in the store. Don’t forget to leave room in your suitcase when packing!
Explore Furniture & Art Galleries
La Carreta, found in the Artisinal Corridor, is a family-run custom handmade furniture store that has been in business for 47 years. Thanks to La Carreta, Rosarito has become famous for handmade furniture. Bring a photograph of something you’d like made and they will craft it for you.
There are several art galleries in Rosarito. A must see for Rosarito’s art fans is Polo’s Gallery. It’s been open for an impressive 25 years and is home to 15 artists’ original work from Baja. There are also pieces by international artists.
Another gallery not to be missed is Klein Art that offers a variety of paintings and sculpture.
Monte Cristo’s Art Gallery is another studio not to miss. He focuses on equilibrium and balance in his work and uses a signature line down the center of every person in his paintings to symbolize imbalance.
If welding is your catches your interest, La Iguana is a metal furniture store owned and run by Edgar, who is also the mayor of Rosarito. He uses rod iron from Guadalajara to make everything from beds, chairs and patio furniture, to doors and lamps. Edgar learned carpentry from his grandfather and today he makes cold-forged welding by hand.
As you wander in and out of the galleries, you’ll find that many of the artists are hard at work on their next piece. It’s a great opportunity for any art lover to see a piece come to life.
Go On a Zip Line Adventure
If you’re with the kids or enjoy a bit of adventure yourself, then I’d suggest heading to Pikin for a ride on the zip lines and a rope course with a vertical drop. In fact, they have a campground, 2-9 person bungalows, restaurant, swimming pool, and children’s playground as well.
Catch the Sunset
WHERE TO STAY IN Las Playas de ROSARITO
On my last visit to Rosarito, I stayed at Las Rocas Hotel which is located in south Rosarito. The hotel opened in 1989 and has 72 rooms (40 standard and 32 suites).
There is a spa on-site, with organic products made in Baja, and services such as massage, facials, and mani-pedis. There is also an excellent pool, and let’s not forget its stunning location on a cliff overlooking the ocean.
NOTES ON ROSARITO & BAJA CALIFORNIA
There are, as with any destination, some things to note about traveling to Rosarito, Mexico. US dollars are accepted everywhere in Rosarito so you won’t need to purchase Pesos, unless you will be taking the local bus. Credit cards are widely accepted.
Tap water is not safe to drink, however, most restaurants serve bottled water, with the choice of aqua mineral or aqua natural (flat).
It is safe to walk around during the day. As with any new place, make sure you’re alert and aware of your surroundings. There is no standard height for curbs and the sidewalks are full of cracks, so keep your eyes scanning around and below you.
At night, it’s recommended to drive or take an Uber or taxi, which are safe and reasonably priced. You can ask for a restaurant or hotel to call a cab for you. If you choose to drive, street signs are well-lit, and you won’t have heavy traffic to contend with.
Another thing to consider if you’re driving is car insurance. Most American insurance policies don’t cover areas outside of the US. Mexican car insurance can be purchased by the day from AAA online or through vendors a few miles north of the border, off Interstate 5.
Make sure to have your passport, regardless of the length of your trip. You can cross into Mexico at the San Ysidro border in Tijuana. With the proper documentation, it is a simple process to leave the States, however, returning can be tiresome. Best time to cross the border is before 9am or after 9pm on the weekends.
Fun Fact: Titanic & Other MOVIES SHOT IN ROSARITO
Playas de Rosarito has been the production site for several feature films including James Cameron’s Titanic. In fact, the makers of Titanic built a set for the epic blockbuster that is now called Baja Studios and sits on 46 acres with more than 3,000 feet overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
It’s been the production site for several feature films since Titanic, including Tomorrow Never Dies, Pearl Harbor, Weight of Water and Master and Commander: The Far Side of The World. Rosarito has also been a prominent location for season 2 of AMC’s Fear The Walking Dead.
Want More about Rosarito?
I visited Rosarito with a few travel blogger buddies and you can find their article here:
- Where To Eat, Drink, Stay And Things To Do In Rosarito, Mexico
- Where to Eat, Stay and Play in Rosarito
A huge thank you to Rosarito for their generous hospitality. I enjoyed this visit as a professional blogger, but as always, all opinions my own.
WHEN TO VISIT ROSARITO MEXICO
The weather in Rosarito is the same as San Diego, which means any time is great to visit. More than weather, you want to plan your trip around the border and when lines will be shorter. High season is considered to be summer, all U.S. holidays and weekends year-round.
If you enjoyed this article about Best things to do in Rosarito Beach, Mexico, you’ll also love Where to eat, Play and Stay: Top Things to do in Puerto Peñasco, Mexico.
Traveling To Rosarito Mexico Soon? Here are a few tips:
How to get there: Rosarito is a short 20-minute drive south of Tijuana and only 36 miles from downtown San Diego. Cross the border at San Ysidro and then follow the signs to Las Playas (The Beaches). If you are flying, you can fly into San Diego International Airport, or Tijuana Airport.
Where to stay: There are many places to stay in Rosarito Mexico. There is a wide range of hotels, from budget to luxury. For a luxury hotel that won’t break the bank, I recommend the Rosarito Beach Hotel. which is currently the #1 hotel on Tripadvisor. For a mid-level hotel, I suggest the Las Rocas Resort & Spa. You can also check HotelsCombined for the best Rosarito, Mexico Hotel Rates.
What to pack: Rosarito offers world-class wave action; with renowned surf spots along the coast, so you might wanna bring your Surfboard with you along with Rash Guard and Sunscreen. If you plan on surfing in cold water, then ear plugs are a must. Watershoes are great item to pack on a beach vacation. They take up little room when packing and great if you end up at a beach that is rocky or with very hot sand.
Rosarito, Mexico Trip Essentials
6 Indispensable Items to Pack for a Rosarito Beach Vacation
- Get the 2017-18 Gringo’s Guide to: Rosarito Beach-La Mision-Valle de Guadalupe-Ensenada: Every thing you need to make a successful visit to Norte Baja
- Bring a good quality mirrorless camera for getting those beautiful Rosarito beach landscape shots. I use the Sony Alpha a6000 .
- Summers are sometimes hot in Rosarito, so make sure to bring Neutrogena Sunscreen, Broad Spectrum Spf 45
- A great cross body travel bag. Cross body bags prevent theft and are much easier to access.
- Don’t forget sunglasses for the beautiful sunny days. A.J. Morgan Unisex Sunglasses are a great choice and very affordable!
- Water shoes are a great item to pack for any beach vacation. They take up little room when packing and great if you end up at a beach that is rocky or with very hot sand.
Read More About Mexico
Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.
Alexa Meisler is the editorial director of 52 Perfect Days. Born in Paris, France she has since lived in Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Portland, Oregon. She currently resides in San Diego with her husband and son where they enjoy exploring California and Mexico.
Travel has always been a part of her life; traveling to such places as Morocco, Tangiers and Spain as a young child as well as taking many road trips to Mexico with her grandparents as a young girl. Since then, she has traveled abroad to locations such as Russia, Taiwan and throughout Europe.
Prior to working at 52 Perfect Days she was a freelance travel writer; focusing on family and women’s adventure experiences.