San Felipe is a quiet town, even in the high season, but there are a few ‘must-dos, must-sees’ that top the list. Keeping in mind that the best months of the year to visit are October through May, here are some ideas.
Among the spots to visit near the downtown area is the Neri Church, built in 1712, that represents the city’s mulatto population. It has artisan work of that century, gilded walls and ornate decoration.
Virgin of Guadalupe shrine
Also, a must is the famous Virgin of Guadalupe shrine situated near the malecon. From it, there is a lovely view of the city and the sea, and the fishermen as they head out or back from their travails. Walking to the shrine, along the Avenida Mar de Cortez which runs parallel to the beach, you’ll find taco stands, restaurants and shops.
The malecon is the ‘sea walk’ that runs along the shoreline. Pick your favorite bench and just watch the gentle waves lapping the shore. You’ll be treated to a passing parade of vendors and, at certain time of the day, you’ll get to watch fishermen unload their catch…you might even get to buy some of it!
Valley of the Giants
Located about 15 kilometers south of town, the San Felipe-Puertecitos tourist corridor has a singular beauty and offers something for everyone, from spectacular sunsets to incredible hiking trails in desert terrain. This is where you will find the Valley of the Giants—gigantic cardon cacti, 40-50 feet-tall and estimated to be more than a thousand years old, that stand as towering setninels in the desert. They are unique in the world, and have become a source of pride for Baja Californians. Also in the region are the skinny ocotillos, palo verde, palo fierro and other types of flora.
On the Mexico side of the international border, near Yuma, Arizona, Algodones holds the odd distinction of being a town of pharmacies and doctor’s offices. Here, each year in the fall, is held a major ‘snowbird’ event welcoming flocks of Canadians and North Americans escaping winter in their regions. There is also a special fiesta hosted by the mayor in San Felipe to welcome the visitors. During this period and through March, traffic increases dramatically in San Felipe, with SUVs and mobile homes swooping in like flocks of seabirds.
San Felipe is sandwiched between the sea and the dramatic Sierra San Pedro Martir mountains, the tallest in Baja Calfiornia. The highest point is Cerro de la Encantada, 3096 m (10,158 ft).Also known as Devil’s Peak, this is the highest point in the state of Baja California, as well as the entire peninsula, and is often scaled by rock climbers.
South of town, and sometimes a bumpy ride, is Puertocitos. This area is known for its off-the-grid residents, as well as for geothermal hotsprings in the area.