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Ensenada is the third largest city in Baja California. Located just 78 miles south of San Diego, Ensenada is known as a top cruise ship destination and the heart of a wine country regarded as the best in Mexico. The port of Ensenada is an important fishing and cruise ship port that supports some of the best sport fishing in Mexico and provides a safe harbor for hundreds of sailing vessels each year during the Newport to Ensenada International Yacht Race, billed as the largest international sailing event in the world.

The biggest draw in Ensenada is the world renowned Baja 1000 off-road race held every year in late November. Its little cousin, the Baja 500, is held in early June. Off-road enthusiast use Ensenada as a staging point to explore Baja year round, and there are many off-road groups and tours that come down every year.

For nature lovers, Guadalupe Island off the coast of the city is one of the best places in the world for observing the great white shark. The island has been a wildlife sanctuary since 1975, and supports an array of aquatic animals including the Gray Whale, the Guadalupe Fur Seal and California Sea Lion. Whale watching has developed as a major tourist draw due to the gray whales annual migration from Alaska to the lagoons of Baja California Sur. Between the months of December and March, and back again in the months of April and May, whales can be seen just offshore from the coast of Ensenada. Just south of the city on Highway 1 is located the second largest of three know marine geysers in the world. Known as La Bufadora, (the Blow Hole) is one of Ensenada’s top attractions every year.

Perhaps Ensenada’s hottest tourist spots are the major wine valleys of Valle de Guadalupe, Santo Tomas and Ojo’s Negro. Founded by Russian immigrants in the late nineteenth century, Guadalupe Valley has become a tourist Mecca for wine lovers from around the world. Currently, about 90% of Mexico’s wine production comes from the valleys of Guadalupe and Santo Tomas. Many of the local wineries offer tours and tastings and in August there is a two week long wine festival in Ensenada featuring a series of cultural and culinary events called the Fiestas de la Vendimia (Wine Harvest festival). This event attracts people from all over the world and should not be missed.

As for night life, there is a reason so many cruise ships pass through Ensenada. Calle Primera, (first street) is the place to be on the weekends, with shops, restaurants, hotels, bars and popular night clubs of every size and type located on every corner. Home to the famous Hussong’s Cantina and Papas and Beer, Calle Primera has something for everyone. The Ensenada Carnaval is one of the nation’s largest and thousands of people fill the streets for six days and nights of nonstop partying and excitement.

Whether you want to experience whale watching or simply enjoy a picnic in the wine valley, Ensenada is the jewel of Baja and should be included on everyone’s summer list of places to go.

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