Las Playas de Rosarito, which is more commonly referred to as Rosarito Beach, or Rosarito is a short 20-minute drive south of Tijuana and only 36 miles from downtown San Diego. Rosarito Beach is a very popular destination for Southern Californians looking for a day south of the border in search of Mexico beach town fun! If you are ready to cross the border and have a Mexico adventure, we’ve compiled the best things to do in Rosarito!
Below I share my favorite restaurants, places to shop, the best Margarita in town, fun activities, and best hotels.
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Super Fun Things to do in Rosarito
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 of Rosarito.
It is a fairly small town, but there are so many things to do in Rosarito that a two-day visit is ideal.
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!
Save Big on Your Rosarito, Mexico Vacation
Check out the Top Tours & Day Trips from Mexico
Read Reviews of the Best Hotels in Rosarito, Mexico on TripAdvisor
My 13 Favorite Things to do in Rosarito
I absolutely love Rosarito. My first trip to Rosarito Beach was during my college years and I have been back countless times. There are so many things to do beyond drinking margaritas! There are great restaurants, galleries, shopping, beaches, zip lines, horseback riding and so much more. Here are my favorite things to do for a perfect day 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.
1. Enjoy the Best Margarita in Rosarito
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.
2. Head to the Beach
Rosarito Beach used to be reserved for Hollywood’s film sets, but today everyone from locals to vacationers enjoys 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.
The vibe is laidback and the sunshine is nonstop.
3. Haggle with Vendors
You’ll find vendors selling everything from Mexican blankets to food and jewelry along the beach as well as in the open-air market. Bartering or haggling is part of Mexican culture. And once you barter, you might find the process fun!
In general, you can offer about 40% off what you’re willing to pay. The vendor will then give you a new price. Don’t accept the next offer. Instead, offer an additional percentage off their new offer. Of course, this is all done with respect for the culture and person you are haggling with. If you speak some Spanish, use it. They’ll appreciate it.
4. Horseback Ride on the Beach
One of the most popular things to do during a visit to Rosarito is a horseback ride on the beach. Many of the horse owners walk their horses on the beaches of Rosarito and you can negotiate a price for 30 or 60 minutes. Otherwise, ask the concierge of your hotel for their preferred horse stables. Some offer rides that include riding the beach, into the hills and a stop at a taco shop.
5. Go Shopping in Rosarito
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.
6. Visit a Mexican Candy Shop (Dulceria)
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!
7. Buy Tequila
For the tequila connoisseurs, head to downtown Rosarito and visit Mercado del Mar. 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!
8. Eat Tacos
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) knows how to make a delicious 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 taco shops in Baja.
The carne and vegetables are grilled over an open flame and served in flour tortillas with your choice of toppings and salsa.
9. 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.
10. 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, a restaurant, swimming pool, and children’s playground as well. This is one of the best outdoor activities in Rosarito!
11. Visit the Rosarito Beach Hotel
If you aren’t staying at the Rosarito Beach Hotel, at minimum visit the hotel for a meal or a margarita. The hotel has a lot of history and has always been a popular place for Hollywood movie stars.
A sign above the lobby entrance says “Through this door pass the most beautiful women in the world.” Notable celebrities who visited The Rosarito Beach Hotel are Marilyn Monroe, Lana Turner, Joan Bennett, and Kim Novak.
Guests who have stayed at the hotel include Orson Wells, Edward G. Robinson, Robert Stack, Gregory Peck, Vincent Price, Robert Preston, Spencer Tracy, Anthony Quinn, Ali Khan (the son of the Shah of Iran), Rita Hayworth, Frank Sinatra, and Robert Redford.
12. Catch the Sunset
13. Party at Papas and Beer
If you want 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.
Located beachfront in Rosarito, Papas & Beer is the best adult playground in town. It has 7+ Bars, a Performance Stage, Pool, Sports Bar and much more!
Their slogan, “Party all day and night long just steps to the beach”, encompasses the vibe perfectly!
Address: Coronado 400, Playas Rosarito, 22710 Rosarito, B.C., Mexico
Where to Eat and Drink in Rosarito Beach
Best Breakfast 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.
Best Lunch in Rosarito
If you didn’t opt for lunch at Tacos el Yaqui, there are several additional places I recommend, starting with El Nido. El Nido Restaurant originally opened in 1971 as a bar but today it feels like a cross between a restaurant, jungle and vintage shop.
Tables in the many dining rooms are 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.
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 enjoy the beautiful sunshine, or eat in the main dining room and be entertained by the chefs cooking in the open kitchen.
Everything is made from scratch at Susanna’s. 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, Susanna’s should not be missed if you’re heading to Rosarito. Or better yet, go to Rosarito so `you can visit Susanna’s.
Best Dinner Options in Rosarito (Including Puerto Nuevo)
For dinner, there are lots of choices including Sussana’s and El Nido, which both offer the best fine wine options from Valle de Guadalupe.
If you are in the mood for a deep-sea treat like lobster, 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 is delicious and they have the most 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!
Get Your Guide offers tours from San Diego to Puerto Nuevo. This is a fun day tour that allows you to visit Mexico without having to drive your own car!
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.
Las Rocas Hotel
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.
Las Rocas hotels has two outdoor pools and three hot tubs with ocean views, as well as a small private beach. If you are looking for one of the best places to take in the beautiful beaches, there is nowhere better than a hot tub at Las Rocas.
Rosarito Beach Hotel
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 hotel’s 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.
The hotel has the best ocean views, a great bar, a wonderful restaurant and is the most historic building in Rosarito. It is truly a beautiful place and one of the best things to do in Rosarito.
Rosarito Beach House Rentals
I also suggest looking into VRBO. You can rent a luxury oceanfront retreat for as little as $113 per night.
Tips on Visiting Rosarito & Baja California
There are, as with any destination, some things to note about traveling to Rosarito, Mexico. Below are a few tips if you plan to visit Rosarito or anywhere in Baja California.
- 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.
- The best time to cross the border is before 9am or after 9pm on the weekends.
How Far is Rosarito from Tijuana?
Rosarito is a coastal resort city located in the Mexican state of Baja California. It’s a short 20-minute drive south of the United States border and the city of Tijuana. From downtown San Diego, it’s about a 35-minute drive.
Fun Fact: Titanic & Other Movies Filmed 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.
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 the weather, you want to plan your trip around the border and when lines will be shorter. The high season is considered to be summer, all U.S. holidays and weekends year-round.
Traveling To Rosarito Mexico Soon? Here are a few tips:
How to get from San Diego to Rosarito: 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.
What to Pack for a Rosarito Beach Vacation
- A Gringo’s Guide to Rosarito Beach, La Mision, Valle de Guadalupe & Ensenada (Great travel book!)
- Bring a good-quality mirrorless camera for getting those beautiful Rosarito beach landscape shots. I use the Sony Alpha a6000
- Summers can get hot in Rosarito, so make sure to bring Neutrogena Sunscreen, Broad Spectrum Spf 45
- A great cross body travel bagCross 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.
- Rosarito offers world-class surfing; with renowned surf spots along the coast, so you might wanna bring your Surfboard with you along with Rash Guard and ear plugs are a must (to keep the water out of your ears)
Day Trips from Rosarito, Mexico & Top Tours
I love to do a combination of exploring on my own as well as a few organized tours when I travel. I love to learn about the history and culture in a new location and tours with local experts is a great way to do this. I recommend Get Your Guide because you can cancel most bookings for free up to 24 hours before they start and their customer service is available 24/7 in multiple languages.
For less than an hour drive, Rosarito is a great international adventure from Southern California!
A few Top Tours in Rosarito, Mexico
Recommended Travel Resources
- Travel Insurance: World Nomads.
- Transport: AirfareWatchDog and Skyscanner (Best Sites to Research Flight Prices)
- Accommodation: Hotels.com and Orbitz
- Top Rosarito Hotel Reviews: TripAdvisor
- Cheap Flights to Mexico with Volaris Airlines
Read More About Mexico
- Where to eat, Play and Stay: Top Things to do in Puerto Peñasco, Mexico
- 3 Day Baja Mexico Cruise from Long Beach on Carnival Imagination
- Is Juarez Safe to Visit? Exploring a Mexico Border Town
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.