Between the Sierra de la Laguna and the Pacific coast of Baja California Sur lies a beautiful, Magical Town that enchants and excites at every step: Todos Santos.
Colorful, warm, and full of life, it is the cradle of painters, sculptors, artisans, poets, and intellectuals and the gateway to experiences as rich as varied.
After living in Los Cabos for a few years, I was lucky enough to explore this town.
So here are some of the best things to see and do in Todos Santos, a destination like no other.
How to get to Todos Santos, BCS
This Magical Town is located 82 km from La Paz and 76 km from Cabo San Lucas in southern Baja California Sur.
The easiest way to get there is to take a direct flight to La Paz or Los Cabos and then ride a bus or rent a car.
If you can, I recommend renting a car. It’s much cheaper (taxis are very expensive in Cabo Land) and you can move around more easily.
TIP: Many little hidden towns and beaches are only accessible by car.
Weather and best time to travel to Todos Santos
Todos Santos has a privileged climate all year round, with mild temperatures in all four seasons.
However, if you don’t love the heat, avoid going between May and August; if you want to avoid the rain, don’t go between July and September (although it doesn’t really rain much).
Where to stay in Todos Santos, BCS?
Despite its size, you can find good hotel offers, with accommodations of various styles and categories.
Undoubtedly, one of the best options to stay in Todos Santos is the Guaycura Hotel, housed in a beautiful historic building in the heart of town.
Its 14 rooms and suites await you with cozy decor and details such as L’Occitane amenities and handcrafted Mexican furniture, ideal for an exceptional stay.
At the same time, it has an exclusive beach club, a wonderful spa to pamper you, and three succulent culinary experiences, including a restaurant overlooking the sea.
Did I forget to mention Hotel California?
Of course not. Please read below for full details about this legendary Hotel…
What to see and do in Todos Santos?
As you will discover many little things on your own, as I did, I will list the most common ones for you to do here.
Strolling through its streets
The first thing to do in Todos Santos is to stroll through its streets without haste and aimlessly.
In this picturesque magical town, you will discover beautiful colonial buildings and emblematic sites that have given rise to countless legends, such as the Hotel California, which has inspired the Eagles song.
You will also find spectacular works of art and murals everywhere, ideal for taking a good picture.
If you have time, take a tour of the General Manuel Márquez de León Theater, running since 1944, the town’s main cultural venue.
Enjoy its creative and local gastronomy
Todos Santos is an ideal place for good food lovers.
On the one hand, its great restaurants offer creative and delicious proposals, with novel concepts such as farm-to-table menus focused on local products.
Of the many options available, one of the best is Oystera, an attractive restaurant that fuses signature cuisine, sea flavors, music, and design.
On the other hand, the town stands out for its succulent seafood, prepared exactly as you like it.
Another alternative that never fails is the restaurants of the Guaycura Hotel, such as El Mirador Oceanview, with a Mexican-Mediterranean fusion, or the Sky Lounge Bar, with a succulent menu of Mexican dishes and bar mixology with local ingredients.
Want something more traditional? Be sure to try the mango ate, jams made with organic products, and locally produced fruits, such as mangos and papayas.
Discover Todos Santos’ artistic side
Another of the best things to do in Todos Santos is to explore its fantastic art galleries and designer boutiques, where talent, magic hands, innovation, and tradition go hand in hand.
Here you can buy many unique pieces to take home, from Mexican handicrafts to contemporary art.
You may want to read: La Ventana & El Sargento, Mexico: A Small Paradise in Baja Sur
If you’re lucky, you can meet and talk with local artists and learn about what inspires and motivates them.
Take a tour of the Sierra de la Laguna Biosphere Reserve
Nature and wildlife lovers can take a tour of the Sierra de la Laguna Biosphere Reserve.
Just a few minutes from the magical town of Todos Santos is this extensive and wonderful natural reserve, one of the great jewels of the peninsula.
Some of the activities that can be done here are hiking and walking, mountain biking, horseback or ATV riding, wildlife observation, and visiting the town of San Antonio.
Visit the Mission of Nuestra Señora del Pilar
Todos Santos is home to two historic missions, both of which are worth visiting for their beautiful architecture and fascinating history.
The first is the Mission of Nuestra Señora del Pilar, on the Plaza de Armas, built by the Jesuits in 1723 and dedicated to the Virgin of Pilar. Today it is the religious heart of the town and is known as the “Todos Santos Mission Church.”
Travel back in time at the Todos Santos Regional History Museum
Want to learn more about the town’s past? Then take a tour of this interesting museum, divided into five areas: old town photography, contemporary photography, Pinacoteca, regional history, and the replica of a ranch house.
Living the beach to the fullest is a must in Todos Santos, Baja Sur
Just minutes away, there are some of the best beaches in the state. They come in different styles, depending on what you’re looking for.
For example, Los Cerritos Beach is known for its waves ideal for surfing -or taking a surfing lesson-; and Punta Lobos Beach, famous for its sunsets and waves.
Another activity worth doing in Todos Santos is the release of turtles, carried out between November and January by groups such as Tortugueros Las Playitas.
In addition to being part of this beautiful natural event, you can learn more about these fascinating creatures.
Fiestas and festivals
An endless number of events are celebrated throughout the year, such as the Art Festival and the Todos Santos Film Festival, held in March.
In addition to these two internationally renowned festivals, there are also all kinds of celebrations dedicated to gastronomy, history, music, and popular festivities.
If you visit anywhere between late November and April, you must see the whales.
These marvelous marine giants travel from Alaska to the warm waters of the Baja California peninsula every year.
*Several tour companies operate all over Baja.
Hotel California in Todos Santos, the place that inspired The Eagles song
OK, as I mentioned earlier, now it’s time to talk about what I think is the most emblematic symbol in Todos Santos:
The Hotel California
A place that harbors a mysterious legend and was believed to be the protagonist of the song that made the Eagles world famous.
For several years a legend claimed that, beyond embracing travelers’ dreams, this hotel had inspired the famous American band Eagles to write the song.
According to this legend, in the 1960s, Don Henley (founder of the Eagles) visited Todos Santos and stayed at the Hotel. It is said that he met a beautiful receptionist.
The woman took him to her room, offered him complimentary wine, and struck up a pleasant conversation with the musician.
After a while, the young woman left with the promise to return and bring the wine. However, that never happened.
Noticing the prolonged absence, Henley asked one of the managers about the girl. The answer disturbed him for the rest of his stay; the girl was actually a ghost who occasionally appeared to offer wine and company to lonely travelers.
The history of the Hotel California in Todos Santos
Besides the legend that places the birth of Hotel California in one of Mexico’s paradisiacal destinations, there are other versions.
One of them assures that the melody refers to the hotel that appears on the album’s cover of the same name, which was released in 1976.
According to another version, the song alludes to Satanism. However, Don Henley has denied all these theories and mentioned that they actually referred to the decadence of the time as well as to the abuse of harmful substances since, without realizing it, the group had reached a place from which it was difficult -if not impossible- to get out.
Despite the inconvenience that arose with the American band, it is a place full of tradition, mystery, and history.
It was founded in 1948 -and inaugurated in 1950- by a migrant of Chinese origin known as Mr. Wong.
In addition, Wong was the first person to bring ice to Todos Santos. This turned out to be a complete and successful novelty since no other place could offer cold beer.
Sometime later, Mr. Wong himself opened the first gas station in town.
Later, despite its importance, the place fell into decline, and in 2001, a couple of Canadians decided to buy it.
They were Debbie and John Stewart, who were in charge of recovering that historic site and giving it the life it boasts today.
A mysterious legend
According to the story, Mercedes’ ghost (the receptionist girl) has wandered around the hotel for several decades.
Dressed as a receptionist, the woman appears every night in room number 6: the room where she was murdered during a satanic ritual.
Mercedes offers free wine to guests and pleasant, charming company. As time passes and the glasses are consumed, unexpected visitors begin to arrive in the room.
Everyone is dressed in clothes from different times and places as if there were a diplomatic meeting going on there.
In the end, the party goes on until the tired victims realize it is impossible to leave the place. Although, if the guests are lucky, they will be warned in time.
According to the story, if they spend the night there, they will never be able to leave.