When I mention that I like to vacation in Los Cabos, I’m often teased about tequila shots at Cabo Wabo or how many days I’ve wasted at The Office on Medano Beach. But that’s Cabo San Lucas. When I think about Los Cabos, I envision the quaint and colorful streets of San Jose Del Cabo 30 minutes away along the Sea of Cortez.
Historically sleepy a mission town where wealthy retirees would go to stock their nearby vacation homes, San Jose has grown into a lively destination brimming with culture. I love gallery hopping through its narrow streets, chatting up shop owners and artists, and sipping margaritas along the way.
San Jose may not be a party town, but Hotel El Ganzo proves it’s anything but boring. With its rooftop pool, underground recording studio, and chic, modern aesthetic, this spot oozes cool. And it’s a great destination even if you aren’t staying there: I like to swing by for sunset cocktails, or to catch a live set from one of Mexico’s indie recording artists.
Price: $$ Reserve
This 115-room tropical paradise 10 minutes outside of town is the antithesis of boobs and body shots. Enjoy VIP-caliber amenities including five-star restaurants, a welcome tequila, and one of Cabo’s few swimmable beaches, but keep your head up: migrating whales pass closely enough to see their spouts and tails slaps without binoculars. My favorite feature: the super casual beach bar, where you can sip artisanal margaritas with your toes in the sand.
Price: $$$$ Reserve
This sprawling outdoor restaurant is part of an organic farm and spa nestled into the hills just outside of San Jose. Getting there is part of the adventure: keep your eyes peeled for wandering cows as you navigate bumpy dirt roads. Once you arrive, the magic begins. Order a Farmarita (a traditional margarita infused with seasonal fresh juice) to sip as you browse local handicrafts and house-made organic toiletries while you wait for your table to be ready. When you hear your name called, the hostess will lead you through a dreamscape of shoulder-high kale plants, live music, and an outdoor movie theater (complete with vintage popcorn stand) to get to your table. The menu changes seasonally, but my go-tos include the pork chop and wood-fired pizzas.
Price: $$$ Reservations Strongly Recommended
Always full and especially crowded during Art Walk, what initially looks like a small, homey taco joint opens up to a large outdoor seating area with an elevated stage hosting some of the best local bands in Los Cabos. Sip mescal flights from carved jicara and munch on arguably the best tacos al pastor in southern Baja. I always hold onto my menu after I order; these tacos are so good, I always find room for at least one more.
Price: $ Reservations Recommended
Nestled inside the Casa Natalia Hotel, the bar at this outdoor restaurant serves the best margaritas in San Jose. Sip flavors including watermelon, cucumber and tamarind, all made with fresh juice, quality spirits, and minimal sugar. After a couple (trust me, you won’t be able to order just one), you’ll probably want a snack, which is a good thing because you’re missing out if you don’t try the ceviche or grilled octopus (when available). I love sitting at the bar and chatting with the bartenders. They’re happy to teach you anything you want to know about tequila, mescal, or how to order a spicy margarita in Spanish. (Una margarita picante por favor!)
Price: $$ No Reservations Necessary
Peruse a carefully curated selection of modern handicrafts from mainland Mexico at this impeccably arranged storefront. Shopping there is like entering a comfortable, yet enviably chic, modern home with the warmest of hosts; the service here is impeccable. My finds have included hand-loomed wall hangings, a brightly colored woven chair, and an ornately embroidered shawl.
With two levels packed to gills with everything from tourist tee shirts to hand-painted pottery, Curios Carmela THE place when you’re searching for treasures to take home. There is so much stuff that it can be overwhelming, but you’ll be hard pressed to find better prices or quality, particularly when it comes to embroidered table linens or basketry. The last time I was in, I stocked up on boho beaded bracelets to give as holiday gifts….although I ended up keeping most for myself.
Wander through two floors of modern art in a wide range of styles from former graffiti artist Andres Garcia Pena‘s ironic bullfighting series to Lee Chapman‘s fanciful, folkloric paintings to Michael Carlyle‘s series of cubist portraits. It’s rare that I walk into this gallery without seeing something that makes me pause.
The streets of San Jose transform into one huge gallery every Thursday evening from November through May, with vendors serving snacks and artists showcasing their newest pieces. This is a great time to wander the galleries, as it’s an opportunity to talk directly to the artists who are showing in San Jose’s man galleries.
Thursdays 5-9p, November – June Free
Learn the basics of authentic Mexican cuisine at one of Flora Farms’ three weekly cooking classes. The $100 class fee includes instruction, lunch, a farm tour, and a craft cocktail. If you like to cook, it’s an absolute must.