La Fonda, Baja California.
by Lily Glass comment


La Fonda, Baja California. / sfgirlbybay

If you’re looking for a quick, affordable weekend getaway that’s totally Instagram-worthy but not over-hyped, with delicious food and all the fresh margaritas and coconuts you want, the Baja California town of La Fonda is your place. I had such a great experience there that I’m a little hesitant to even share because I want to keep it all to myself.

An easy and scenic four-hour drive from Los Angeles, the town of La Fonda is just an hour south of the Mexican border. The colors are as fantastic as you’d hope and the food as delicious. Within minutes of checking in to our Airbnb on the hillside of La Misión, we answered a knock on the door to find a neighbor selling fresh hot tamales. Check.

surfers on a beach in La Fonda / sfgirlbybay

We visited in between the holidays which apparently was the perfect time to avoid any crowd. Our first two meals were on the patio at the “Original” La Fonda Restaurant (just one door down from the current La Fonda Restaurant). The day’s menu items were carefully scripted onto an a-frame chalkboard sign and each table romantically candle-lit with the view and sounds of the waves crashing just below. We enjoyed a large lobster dinner with rice, beans, fresh chips and salsa and margaritas for four at a total of $30.

Just a mile or so south of the hotel La Fonda you’ll find a miniature Santa Monica pier environment set up on the beachfront. Locals and travelers alike stop at a handful of colorful fruit stands ready to mix up a piña colada or mango smoothie. You can rent a horse and trot down the beach at sunset. There was even a guy giving rides on what looked like a home-made motorized hang-glider (we just watched).

fruit stand in la fonda, baja california / sfgirlbybay

My friend and I brunched at the La Fonda Restaurant (huevos rancheros and chile verde with coffee, fresh o.j. and bread for $12), while we watched our husbands surf below. We shared the patio with a handful of other guests and the waiters very patiently and graciously helped us with our attempts at ordering in Spanish.

If you find the energy to remove yourself from the beach and are in the mood to explore, a short drive south will drop you in  the port town of Ensenada. Head due east for wine country. And for those souvenirs, our best shopping experience was at Puerto Nuevo, the “Lobster Capital of Baja,” about twenty minutes north of La Fonda. Come hungry and ready to barter (respectfully, of course). Eager shopkeepers comically lure you into their stores with coffee tequila and good prices and restaurant representatives will follow you down the street doing their best to convince you that they have the best lobster in town. Lots of handmade gifts, quirky souvenirs and ridiculous candies.

roadtrip to La Fonda, Baja California / sfgirlbybay

Everyone took dollars and we were thankful to find most folks spoke enough English for us to get by. However, it was apparent that they appreciated even our most vulgar efforts of speaking Spanish so if you can brush up on your high school Spanish skills before you go, do it. We were told that it’s ideal to hit the border around 11am but we lingered at a few stops on our way back only to realize one of us had forgotten his passport back at the house (oops) so we hit the border city of Tijuana right at dark which wasn’t great. Pretty poor signage combined with the congested traffic made it quite the adventure to even find the border line. And then once we were in it, it took about three hours before crossing back into the U.S. Thankfully, wedged in between the lanes there’s an abundance of fresh churro stands and ice cream carts and hot tamales ready to be purchased and passed through your car window. We even got out and tried on a few ponchos while we waited. So come ready with small bills, a card game and maybe a movie or two downloaded to pass the time. Adios, amigos.

the beach in La Fonda / sfgirlbybay

rock formations in La Fonda, mexico / sfgirlbybay

dolphin sculpture in La Fonda / sfgirlbybay

green palm leaves in La Fonda / sfgirlbybay

pink house in La Fonda, mexico / sfgirlbybay

mexican flag flying in La Fonda / sfgirlbybay

beachfront town of La Fonda / sfgirlbybay

pink and white campers in La Fonda / sfgirlbybay

La Fonda, mexcio beach / sfgirlbybay mexican architecture in La Fonda / sfgirlbybay

trip to La Fonda, Baja California / sfgirlbybay

surfers in La Fonda, Baja California / sfgirlbybay

airbnb accomodations in La Fonda, Mexico / sfgirlbybay

sunset on the beach in La Fonda / sfgirlbybay

• photography by lily glass.

13 responses to “La Fonda, Baja California.”

  1. I went to this restaurant when I was living in S. Ca. in my 20’s! Would love to go again – Have not been to Mexico since – how did you feel about car travel down there and safety in this part of Baja?

    • HI Patricia!
      My husband and I go just about every month to this area, I will tell you the toll roads are very easy to access and the safest way to get there! Most tolls are roughly $1.35-2.00, and to get to La Fonda I would say you hit two tolls. Dont forget your Mexican Car Insurance, we use and they give you photographic directions to get over the border and back! Have fun!

  2. Great post! You can avoid the long lines at the border if you leave early…like, by 8am. Crossing only takes 30min at this time!

  3. We are considering taking a family vacation there with our 4 young children all under 7 yrs, one an infant. Do you think it is a good or bad idea? We will be driving.

  4. I adore La Fonda. I was there in the 1970s and there was hardly anything there. The best margaritas! I will always remember the beauty, peace and tequila. I want to go back.

  5. Just came across your blog when I saw the picture of our door. Green house with the cactus! Great description of our beautiful town.

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