Reinventing Rosarito

Rosarito is trying to attract more families than partiers

By: Terra Judge

Widely known as a one-stop Spring Break party shop to the college crowd, Rosarito is now taking steps to break out of this box. By marketing its unique restaurants, family activities, wedding packages and new vibrant art community, Rosarito is hoping to create a new face for the destination, in order to draw a more upscale crowd.

Restaurants like the very special El Nido offer up sweet doughy tortillas, fresh guacamole and specialties like venison and quail raised on a 210-acre farm owned by the restaurateur. Even the building itself is an experience walls wrapped in branches and filled with antique stoves that burn wood grown on the same farm. Far from the omnipresent taco stand, this is the new face of the culinary world of Rosarito a yearning to keep the town eco-friendly and distinctive.

Family activities, in addition to the beach, include Foxploration Fox Studios Baja tour with props, costumes and sets from blockbusters like “Titanic” and “X-Men.” The entrance fee is $9 for kids under 11 and $12 for adults. Interactive tours are available and a free shuttle operates on weekends during the summer from the Rosarito Beach Hotel.

This hotel, dating from 1925, was once a hangout for the hot Hollywood crowd in the 1940s. It is now trying to attract a family clientele by allowing two children under 12 to stay and eat dinner free, as well as activities for kids such as ceramic painting.

Also featured at the hotel is a Mexican Fiesta on Friday and Saturday evenings (when occupancy is above 40 percent) with a buffet and traditional music and dancers. Kids are welcome and the dance floor is the place to be for families. Wedding packages can be found at almost every hotel and are a convenient option so close to the border. The 75-room Las Rocas Resort & Spa is a quiet place with an infinity pool and spa. The resort’s wedding package includes a three-course dinner, wedding cake, DJ and wedding-night suite as well as a view of the ocean crashing on the rocks below.

An art community is rising up in the region in response to a desire for handcrafted Mexican objects to furnish new condos. Carved wooden chairs, tables, dressers and handicrafts are available in small shops, and more formal art galleries are also popping up. Every Saturday at the Rosarito Beach Hotel the Polos Gallery presents an art exhibition and a live painter.

But the spring breakers won’t give up without a fight, and $5 two-for-one margaritas are still being hawked on the streets. What Rosarito does best is the kitschy a Las Vegas-style amusement park of Mexico. There is even a 70-foot man-made Jesus with arms outstretched to the sea, and a blinking airplane light atop his head. Horses for rent are lined up next to bright yellow taxis and metallic leather wrestling masks, and pinatas are for sale next to handcrafted sterling silver jewelry. Donald Trump is even planning his next luxury condo tower in the heart of Rosarito.

This blend of campy Mexican glitz and viable tourist activities is what Rosarito does best and shouldn’t shy away from. After all, the tourists don’t.


Foxploration 866-369-2252

Las Rocas Resort & Spa 888-527-7622

Rosarito Beach Hotel 800-343-8582