At first glance La Paz is a sprawling, slightly dingy city, but after an hour or so you'll discover there's a lot more to it. Laid-back, old-world beauty can be found on a stroll along the waterfront malecón or in the older architecture around the Plaza Constitución; chichi restaurants, cafes and bars cunningly hide in between the cracks. It’s a surprisingly international town – you’re as likely to hear French, Portuguese or Italian here as English or Spanish, and yet paradoxically it’s the most ‘Mexican’ city in all of Baja. Its quirky history includes American occupation and even being temporarily declared its own republic.
All in all, it's a great place to meander, and you can shop uninterrupted by touts’ invitations as you blend in to the urban vibe. The city makes a good base for day trips to Espíritu Santo, Cabo Pulmo and Todos Santos.
These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout La Paz.
A treasure trove of shallow azure inlets and sorbet-pink cliffs, Espíritu Santo is one of La Paz’s gems. It’s part of a Unesco World Heritage site comprising 244 Sea of Cortez islands and coastal areas, and is a worthy day trip. A number of operators run activities here, including kayaking and snorkeling.
The most beautiful in a series of beaches north of La Paz, Playa Balandra is an enclosed cove with shallow azure water that's great for toddlers. Kayaks and paddleboards are available for rent, and beachgoers can also explore tide pools, gaze upon Espiritu Santo and hike to neighboring coves.
La Paz's waterfront, with its wide sidewalk, tiny beaches, tourist pier, benches, sculptures by local artists and unimpeded sunset views, is the city's highlight. It stretches 5.5km, from the Marina de la Paz in the south to Playa Coromuel in the north. It started getting a face-lift in 2017 that will continue in stages over a few years.
This is a large, well-organized museum chronicling the peninsula’s history (in Spanish) from prehistory to the Revolution of 1910 and its aftermath.
The Teatro de la Ciudad, part of this large cultural center, is the main performance venue in La Paz.
La Paz’ largest religious monument; its 12m-tall altar is grandiose.
Across from the Jardín Velasco, La Paz’s former Casa de Gobierno is now the Biblioteca de la Historia de las Californias, a history library.