We can’t get enough of Mexico’s wine country, Valle De Guadalupe. As our readers know, it’s become an annual tradition for me and my husband to visit each January to celebrate our anniversary.
But what isn’t there to love? It’s a quick (and gorgeous) 90-minute drive from San Diego, has delicious food, hundreds of wineries and high-end accommodations. While a weekend there isn’t exactly cheap, it’s still a bargain compared to California wine country like Napa or Santa Barbara. We love a deal!
This year, I put together an action-packed 3 day itinerary full of wine and tequila tasting, horseback riding and yoga. And clearly, not all these activities at once! Check out our itinerary below and soon you’ll be ready to make the trek.
DAY 1 – DEPART SATURDAY, SAN DIEGO TO WINE COUNTRY:
We recommend waking up early and getting in a work out in — you know, before gorging for 3 days in wine country! But clearly, we have no self control as we headed straight for Cravory Cookies at the Little Italy Mercato farmer’s market. Check out our timing below —
- 8:40 AM, join a 45-minute megaformer (aka Lagree Pilates) class at Elevate Pilates in San Diego. They recently opened a new studio near the waterfront by Little Italy. Get ready for the Lagree shakes and feel the burn.
- 9:15 AM, Grab coffee, explore Little Italy Mercado
- This is one of our favorite farmer’s markets in the country, which takes over Little Italy every Saturday morning.
- 11:00 AM, Drive to Valle De Guadalupe
- 12:30-2:00 PM, grab a table for lunch at Planta Baja Restaurant or Terra Noble Restaurant.
- These spots are just 3 minutes driving from each other, so you can check both out.
- They might not look like much from the outside — located just off the main highway — but the seaside view out the back is what makes it so special.
- 2-3:30 PM, Drive along along the wine route allowing plenty of time for stops along the way.
- First stop: Sample some cheese at Cremeria Los Globos. The shop has been around for over a decade, yet we’ve missed it every time until this trip. Clearly, there are so many hidden gems in Valle De Guadalupe like this.
- Stop #2: Grab a slice at El Apple Pie Cafe. You can’t argue that it doesn’t describe exactly what you’ll get! It’s located just a few doors down from the cheese shop.
- Stop #3: This one is for all of you who like freebies. I mean, who doesn’t? Sol De Media Noche (translates to Midnight Sun) is a little tough to find at first.
- This is a big market, hidden behind a restaurant/winery on the busy strip. Walk behind the building along the highway and you’ll find a marketplace packed with all kinds of shops, free wine and cheese samples.
- Every person gets a free tray of cheese samples that pair well with the free samples of wine.
- 4 PM, Take a tour of Vena Cava Winery, constructed out of recycled wooden boats.
- If you’re staying at La Villa Del Valle ($325 USD per night), all tastings are included in the price. Just make sure you arrange it prior to your stay
- The road to Vena Cava (and the hotel) is rough. It’s best suited for SUV’s, but my Hyundai Elantra has made it every year. Though, it definitely gets a beating!
- 5-6 PM, Check into La Villa Del Valle. This is perfect timing to enjoy some “botanas” or light snacks and a glass of wine. This is included in your stay every night. We just love hanging out by the fireplace and relaxing (and that’s a rarity on the trips I plan).
- 8 PM, Dinner reservation at the on-site restaurant Corazon de Tierra
- We absolutely love this restaurant, located on the grounds of La Villa Del Valle. There is nothing like just parking the car and not having to go anywhere else once we arrive.
- The multi-course dinner is around $90 USD per person, including tax and tip.
- 10 PM, Relax in the the room at La Villa Del Valle. It’s so gorgeous, you’ll want to spend some time here.
DAY 2 – SUNDAY, ADVENTURES IN ENSENADA:
- 10 – 2 PM, Join a thrilling guided tour with ATV Ensenada. Check out our full-feature story here.
- We don’t take travel planning lightly, and always do a ton of research ahead of our trips. I was impressed by all the positive reviews for ATV Ensenada and it’s owner Emilio.
- They offer several tours, but we liked the variety of the ATV and horseback riding tour, which also included a stop at a Tequila tasting room.
- 3-4 PM, Drive back to the hotel and refresh for the evening. I was literally covered in mud!
- 5-6 PM, Enjoy the free snacks and a glass of wine at La Villa Del Valle.
- 6 PM, Check out El Cielo Winery, located a short drive from the hotel. This is one of the newest hotels/wineries in the area. The night we went, they were hosting a special lunar eclipse party with telescopes to check it out.
- 7-9 PM, Grab dinner at Restaurante Pancracia inside the hotel Agua de Vid.
- The space is stunning — be sure to check out the rooftop bar and the art gallery, which is located behind the restaurant inside re-purposed shipping containers.
- 10 PM, It’s another early night — at least for us. But we just love relaxing in our room. It’s one of the few times we just unwind on a vacation.
DAY 3 – MONDAY, THE WINERIES OF VALLE DE GUADALUPE
- 9:30-10:30 AM, morning yoga, offered at La Villa Del Valle.
- We love waking up and getting some yoga in to stretch our muscles. Plus, you’ll feel a lot less guilty drinking all the wine!
- 10:30 AM, Enjoy some delicious breakfast, included in your stay.
- 12 PM, Depart the hotel and visit 2 more wineries.
- Stop #1: Las Nubes Bodegas y Vinedos, a large winery that sits high above the valley. This ranks as one of our favorite wineries we’ve visited. The quality of the wine here is top-notch, and lacks the saltiness that many of the wines in this region tend to have.
- Stop #2: Check out Bruma Winery
- We had no idea what to expect here, but were blown away by the experience in a good way.
- This winery is located on the grounds of Casa 8 hotel, which we’ve tried to book several times (unsuccessfully), but they never responded to our requests. It left a very bad impression, but I’m so glad we decided to check out their winery, which is more like a tasting among pieces of artwork.
- Our guide was really sweet, but not everyone speaks English here. Kevin is fluent, but it might be a difficult tour for non-Spanish speakers.
- 3 PM, it’s time to head back home to LA, sadly.
- We highly recommend getting global entry with Sentri. This allows you to get through the border significantly faster. For example, our wait was just 10 minutes with Sentri while the regular border crossing time was 2 hours.
- 7 PM, Stop for dinner along the way back. We love checking out the ethnic food options in Anaheim, such as at Koftegi in Little Arabia. We had a hard time deciding, so ordered what felt like half the menu.
- 8 PM, there is still room for dessert, right? Just minutes down the road, you’ll find Tocumbo Ice Cream, which specializes in flavors from Mexico. This is a family-run operation and Kevin basically tried every flavor. They were all so good — and not your typical options.
SHOULD WE DRIVE TO MEXICO?
I figured I’d wrap up this feature by answering the #1 question we always get for our Mexico stories — is it safe to drive there? Are we insane? Tijuana traffic (and all those pesky roundabouts) can get hectic. And the dirt roads (like above) are somewhat common in wine country. But so far, my Hyundai compact has made it every time!
Driving in Mexico really isn’t anything to get too worked up about. In fact, the road just south of Tijuana is one of the most beautiful stretches of highways I’ve ever driven. Driving from the US is mostly a breeze, especially if you stick with the toll roads. It’s the only GOOD way to do it. Just look for the highway labeled “cuota” (or “fee” in English) towards Rosarito. Just remember to bring some US dollars (in small denominations) to pay the tolls. You can never have too many $1 or $5 bills. Also, we recommend timing your drive during the day. Besides, you won’t want to miss the views along the way.
Finally, you’ll need to purchase separate car insurance online since most car insurances do not cover you in Mexico. The cost for car insurance is about $15-$20 USD a day. Each year, I’ve gotten the basic package with a company called Baja Bound. Be sure to print out a copy in both English and Spanish (which is offered upon checkout). Beyond that, you’ll be all set. Seriously, once you’re on the highway and passing the spectacular wineries in Valle De Guadalupe, you’ll realize you got all worked up for nothing.