Despite being the seaside capital of Baja California Sur, La Paz often gets overlooked by the majority of folks who come here to visit Los Cabos.
But as you’ll soon find out, La Paz is an incredibly underrated city offering ton of activities for all ages and should not be skipped.
Not only does La Paz have a more local scene authentic to a “real Mexican city,” but it also has a very long bucket list of things to do. I lived here for months and barely scratched the surface!
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links that may earn me a small commission should you decide to click through and make a valid purchase (at no extra cost to you). Thanks so much for your support!
Actually, you might have heard of La Paz before. It was once referred to by Jacques Cousteau as the “Aquarium of the World.”
Indeed, La Paz’s claim to fame is perhaps its world-class scuba diving.
Here, in the biodiverse Gulf of California/Sea of Cortez, you can snorkel or dive with all types of marine life—from sea lions to whale sharks to giant manta rays to even hammerhead sharks—but there’s much more to La Paz than its water activities.
La Paz, despite being the capital of the sultry southern state of the Baja Peninsula, oozes a laid-back coastal town vibe.
Tucked away between its flat, wide lanes and around its local squares you’ll find a multitude of quaint boutiques, hole-in-the-wall eateries, lively bars, historic buildings and art museums, cozy cafes, and lots of colorful street art.
But that’s not all, there’s even more to do on La Paz’s doorstep.
There are the El Mogote dunes for sandboarding and off-roading, the Sea of Cortez and La Paz Bay for snorkeling with whale sharks, diving or swimming with sea lions, kayaking—and beyond—and not to mention plenty of beautiful, golden-sand beaches like Balandra for lounging and hiking.
Having lived in La Paz as a digital nomad (and returning for another long-stay stint this year!), I have been fortunate to discover some of the best things to do in and around the city.
Whether you are in La Paz for just a few days or a few weeks, my guide provides the ultimate list of activities, attractions, and things to do and see (both on and off the beaten path) while you’re here.
Let’s all do our part to visit La Paz responsibly—please be mindful of your impact!
The Best Things to Do in La Paz, Baja California Sur
1. Stroll, Skate, Rollerblade, or Bike the Seaside Promenade
La Paz wouldn’t be the same without its beautiful and breezy seaside promenade, also known as the La Paz Malecón.
Paved with smooth concrete and peppered with palm trees, park benches, palapa umbrellas, playgrounds, and artistic statues emblematic of La Paz—from marine creatures to Jacques Cousteau—the La Paz Malecón is the perfect place to soak up the vibe of the lovely Baja Sur capital.
The best way to explore the Malecón is to stroll it on foot or rent skates/rollerblades. There is also a bicycle-only lane in case you feel more secure on two large wheels than on eight small ones!
You can rent roller skates/blades, skateboards, scooters, bikes, or the little truck tricycles at these locations:
- Adso & Nara / Renta Patines & Bicis
- Wave scooters MX
- City Bike
- TIM Rent a Bike
The La Paz Malecón stretches for about 2.6 kilometers or about 1.5 miles. To walk the whole length would take you somewhere between 35–45 minutes one-way.
On the southern end of the Malecón lies the La Paz Marina, where you’ll find a couple of seafood restaurants including one shack on the beach, plus shops and condos.
On the other (northern) end of the promenade lies the Marina Palmira home to even more businesses including hotels, boat clubs, plus a dive shop.
In between these two endpoints, you’ll discover a whole slew of restaurants, bars, and shops.
The heart of the Malecón, between the Muelle Fiscal (Port of La Paz) and the Kiosko del Malecón, is where all the action happens.
2. Hike to the Top of Cerro de la Calavera for Sunset
At the northern end of the Malecón, just beyond the Marina Palmira, towers an interesting-looking hill.
If you look closely, this hill has a few archways and holes, which make for an incredibly scenic and interesting place to visit.
After a scuffle between the two men at the top of the hill, they took a tumble, and in her immense grief and fear of retribution by her tribe, the girl threw herself off the cliff to join the men in their fate.
The legend is that since that day, this hill took the form of three skulls.
The trail to reach the archways on this hillside is up a somewhat steep, rocky path. Watch your step, as there are fire ants, loose rocks, and prickly cacti.
If you keep going up this footpath past the skulls, or follow the gravel road that winds around the back of the hill, you’ll reach the top of the hill.
You can read more in my guide to hiking Cerro de la Calavera in La Paz here! 🥾
3. Dive with the Sea Lions of Los Islotes (Jun–Aug)
One of the absolute must-do activities unique to La Paz is to swim/snorkel or dive with juvenile sea lions off the islet of Los Islotes in Espiritu Santo National Park.
The sea lion colony of Los Islotes is one of La Paz’s claims to fame. There are only a handful of places in the world where you can scuba dive with sea lions—and La Paz tops the charts!
Scuba diving with sea lions offers a more immersive experience than snorkeling on the surface, as you can really see the playful way the sea lion puppies behave and interact underwater; they pick up rocks, twirl around divers, and chase each other—it’s such a fun and sweet world to witness up close!
Important Note: The sea lions breed during the summer months and therefore visiting the island/diving/snorkeling with the sea lions is forbidden from June through August.
That said, if you’re not a certified diver you can still swim and snorkel with the sea lions.
- If you go scuba diving in La Paz, you can expect to pay around $200 for two dives, one with the sea lions and possibly a shipwreck or another dive site.
- If you go snorkeling with the sea lions, expect to pay around $125–$150. In many cases, you can book a snorkeling tour through a dive center, however, you can also easily book a sea lion snorkeling tour online on Viator (with Sunrider Tours).
4. Chow Down on Baja Fish Tacos
You cannot visit La Paz and not enjoy Baja-style fish tacos!
La Paz is one of the best cities in Baja California Sur for food, especially seafood. If you eat fish, you will melt over how good the seafood is here.
My favorite go-to for fish tacos in particular is El Estadio located on the corner of Calle 5 de Mayo and Calle Independencia. It’s a very local place, but extremely popular so expect a line at lunchtime! Cost $20–40 MXN pesos per taco or quesadilla.
If you can’t make it to El Estadio, don’t fret; there are so many places in La Paz to grab a fish taco, here are my other top recommendations for tacos and seafood in La Paz.
- Claro’s Fish Jr
5. Swim with Whale Sharks in La Paz Bay
A highlight of my time as a digital nomad in La Paz was getting to swim and snorkel with whale sharks.
Whale sharks are the largest species of shark in the world, and the experience of swimming (hurriedly!) alongside this ancient creature is something metaphysical.
Whale shark season in La Paz starts typically in October and lasts through March or April.
We went in early December and the water was already getting pretty cold and choppy, so if you can go closer in October or November when the whale sharks just begin to feast in the La Paz Bay, perhaps the better!
Tours for swimming with the whale sharks vary depending on group size, but you can expect from $60–$120 per person.
You can read more about this incredible experience in my guide to responsibly swimming with whale sharks in La Paz. 🦈
6. Taste Mezcal at the Cozy Mezcalería Bar, La Miserable
If you haven’t tried mezcal in Oaxaca (or in another state in Mexico!) yet, then you have the chance to right here in La Paz.
And for mezcal tastings, there’s no better mezcaleria in La Paz than the cute and cozy La Miserable bar.
You’ll find artisanal mezcal here from not just Oaxaca but from across Mexico. And not only is the mezcal worth raving about, but so are the snacks, atmosphere, and service.
We always have a fantastic time when we go and it’s always a pleasure to see the staff.
Oh, and if you get the chance to chat with the owner, Carmen, ask her to tell you about the inspiration behind the name!
7. Explore the Historic Center in Downtown La Paz
The historic center of La Paz is my favorite place to stroll around in the afternoons and evenings because it’s always alive with local activity.
There is a lot to visit as a tourist as well. You can pop inside the Museum of Art during the day and then enjoy a busker, live concert, or dancing in the evenings on the Jardín Velasco square.
One of my favorite buildings in this area is the Teatro de Juárez (see the next thing to do!) and the neighboring Centro Cultural de La Paz.
Tons of La Paz’s best restaurants and cafes are also tucked away on the side streets in the historic center.
Don’t miss out on the delicious pastries and lunch at La Masa Panadería (one of my favorite cafes in La Paz), the fresh-made pasta at the Italian-Uruguayan Locos Por la Pasta, and the Centro Cultural de la Paz (among so many others)!
8. Catch a Show at the Teatro Juárez Performing Arts Theatre
Established in 1910, over a hundred years ago, the understated and beautiful Teatro Juárez Performing Arts Theatre is a cultural icon of La Paz.
It got its start as a theatre and cinema but went abandoned for years. It wasn’t until 1997 that actions were taken to restore it to its former glory.
Today, you can enjoy theatrical performances from cinematic shows to ballet to storytelling and live concerts, plus more. Signs are typically posted on the front doors when an event is upcoming.
In short, going to the theatre is a fun and budget-friendly thing to do in La Paz for culture and theatre lovers! Shows typically rely on donations or have entry fees between $5–$10 USD ($100–$200 pesos).
9. Go Sandboarding & Off-roading in the El Mogote Sand Dunes
If adrenaline is what you seek, then go sandboarding in La Paz—you won’t regret it!
We had so much fun on this half-day trip to the sand dunes at El Mogote located just 30 minutes outside of downtown.
Tours depart in the morning or afternoon and will cost around $80/pp but it’s definitely worth it if you want to go off-roading in the dunes and then practice sandboarding.
The views that you get of the gorgeous landscape surrounding La Paz …..
10. Day Trip to Balandra Bay & the Beaches North of La Paz
La Paz has a beach right off the seaside promenade, but the best beaches near La Paz are actually north of the city.
One of the most popular beaches to visit is Balandra Beach. To be fair, Balandra is more than a beach; it’s also a bay and it has protected mangroves.
Nonetheless, Balandra along with Playa Tecolote, Pechilingue, and others, are must-sees if you’re looking to escape to the beach when in La Paz!
You can reach the beaches north of La Paz easily by bus. To get to Balandra takes around 30 minutes and costs around $60 MXN pesos per person. You can also split the cost with a friend and take an Uber/Didi (it doesn’t cost much more).
The only downside to Balandra is its popularity, especially on weekends. If you want to snag one of the free palapa umbrellas then plan on going early.
Beaching it up around La Paz is a must-do because the water is so clear and warm (during the summer/fall), and you can snorkel and see a lot of fish.
11. Play Giant Chess & Catch Live Music in Piedras y Pájaros Park
A little-known place to visit in La Paz is the Parque de Piedras y Pájaros (Stones and Birds Park).
And inside this unassuming spot of serenity in the city is a human-size chessboard! If you’ve ever wanted to play chess so big you have to pick up the pieces with your whole body to move them, now’s your chance. ♟️
Sure, playing chess might not be your go-to if you only have a few days in town, but it’s really a fun thing to do in La Paz if you’re sticking around for a while.
Plus, on Friday evenings you can usually find a free live concert in this park, organized by the local community in coordination with local artists or the La Paz Music School.
Regardless of how much time you have to spend in La Paz, this quaint park has a lot of character. There is a poem about the bird stone statues that decorate the central fountain, plus some shady tables and benches—perfect for a mid-day lunch break or journaling session!
- Park open 8 AM to 8 PM in summer, 7 AM to 6 PM in winter
- Free live music on Friday evenings
- Located between Calles Madero and Belisario Dominguez
Dinner recommendation: Just opposite this park is one of our favorite places to eat in La Paz—Casa Nopal & Tiger Club (upscale Thai/Mexican fusion!).
12. Learn About Mexican Folk Art Inside the Museo del Arte (Free)
A free thing to do in La Paz is to visit the beautiful and spacious Museo de Arte de Baja California Sur (Museum of Art of Baja California Sur, ) located right on the Jardín Velasco square (just opposite the Nuestra Señora de La Paz, Cathedral of Our Lady of La Paz).
You might expect there to be “more to see” inside this giant building, but the exhibitions are spaced out and feature a mix of modern and folkloric art from across Mexico’s indigenous peoples, states, and religious beliefs.
In addition, two exhibits can be found on the ground floor. One features a wall of paintings that are interactive with an app you download on your phone. The artist, Ivan Guaderrama, is known for his creative, colorful, and inspiring pieces that “come alive.”
At the back of the museum lies the other exhibition; a very large (and long) mural of “Baja through time” on that you’ll want to just stare at. It’s quite moving.
The museum entrance is free and if you have a large bag, you can place it in the lockers provided at the entrance.
13. Shop at the Outdoor Farmer’s Market on Saturdays/Tuesdays
If you happen to be visiting La Paz on a Saturday or Tuesday, then stop by the organic artisanal market which takes place on Calle from around 8 AM to 2 PM.
It’s only a small street, but there are about 50 stalls or so selling everything from tamales to vegan cheese to ground coffee to plants to handmade jewelry to upcycled swimwear to homemade kombucha — and more!
Most of the time there is live music, busking, or performers which makes it extra fun and lively.
We always go to stock up on organic fruits and veggies and snag some of the best homemade bratwurst sausages (made by a German who moved to La Paz).
If you’re only spending a few days in La Paz, you might not prioritize the market over another activity. However, if you’re a digital nomad in La Paz or an expat, you’ll definitely want to swing by and get connected!
PS — The location is quite a ways down the La Paz Malecón if you’re coming from the northern end but if you walk there via the seaside promenade, it is a lovely way to spend the morning!
Tip: Before or after you stock up at the market, grab brunch at Dulce Romero located just a block away. It’s one of our favorite go-to brunch spots in La Paz.
14. Enjoy Open Mic Music at the Local Library or Cafe
Another little-known thing to do in La Paz on Sundays is head to the Allende Books bookstore in the historic center for Open Mic afternoons.
If you are eager to connect with the local community in La Paz, enjoy some music, and support a local bookstore, head here!
Sundays at 3 PM on Calle 21 de Agosto.
Drink Craft Beer & Watch the Sunset at Harker’s Rooftop Bar
Harker is one of the best rooftop bars in La Paz and a fun thing to do is grab a drink and watch the sunset. It’s where both locals and tourists hang out, especially at sunset and even more so whenever there’s a football (soccer) match on.
They serve typical American-Mexican food like smothered nachos, tacos and burritos, and other pub grub favorites like chicken wings and pizza.
And while the food ain’t bad (it’s actually fairly decent if that’s the style of food you’re craving), Harker’s main draw is its fun atmosphere, craft beer on tap, and rooftop views.
That said, Harker’s is definitely a bit more pricey for hanging out and drinking. Beers on tap are around $100+ MXN pesos or about $5–6 USD and food is priced around $200 MXN per plate. But again, those fiery sunsets won’t watch themselves!
You can also organize a few of the popular tours like snorkeling and sandboarding through Harker, though again, expect the prices to be catered more touristy prices.
15. Explore Downtown La Paz’s Hidden Street Art Murals
There are over two dozen beautiful murals painted around the walls and buildings around downtown La Paz! Many of them are marine or sea themed, and are just so fun to find!
There aren’t any tours you can book online just yet, but if you head to Peach Café and inquire inside, there’s a contact there who offers guided art mural tours of La Paz.
The cafe even sells a little map if you want to go the DIY route!
16. Step Back in Time at the Regional Museum of Anthropology & History of Baja California Sur
If you pay attention, during your time in La Paz you may start to notice art around town depicting black and ochre-colored painted human or wildlife figures.
If you think this oddly looks like prehistoric human cave paintings, they are! And they were created by the indigenous nomadic tribes who hunted and gathered seasonally across the southern peninsula.
You can learn all about these cave paintings—considered among the most important and finest in the Western Hemisphere—and more inside La Paz’s grand Regional Museum of Anthropology & History of Baja California Sur.
The museum is open from 9 AM to 6 PM every day and costs $45 MXN admission.
Further reading about the cave paintings and burial sites:
17. Glamp on Espiritu Santo Island
One of the best adventurous things to do in La Paz is go glamping on Isla Espiritu Santo.
What better way to soak up the sun and immerse yourself in the wilderness than on an uninhabited island where you can see humpback whales, dolphin pods, sea lions, and all sorts of birds?
One company, Todos Santos Eco Adventures (TOSEA), offers the chance to do just that with their “pop-up, zero-waste” Espiritu Santo eco-glamping adventure called Camp Cecil.
For 2 nights and 3 days, you go off-grid and camp in beautiful tents right on the beach of the island. Get homecooked meals made for you, sip on margaritas, swim, snorkel, and disconnect to reconnect.
While that all sounds absolutely amazing, the best part is that they do it with environmental preservation in mind.
That’s right, the entire trip is carbon neutral, everything is packed in and back out, and is Leave No Trace “approved.” Sustainable adventures? Yes, please!
If you have an extended stay in La Paz and can fit this experience in, don’t miss it! The cost is $375 per person, per day.
18. Indulge in the Best Sushi in La Paz
There are so many sushi restaurants in La Paz, almost more than Mexican street tacos! 😅
But not all sushi joints are created equal; if you enjoy gourmet sushi then head to Hana Sushi.
It’s by far the best place for sushi in La Paz (maybe even in Baja, but let me try a few others first before fully owning that statement!).
I’d recommend only coming here though if you’re ready to eat well and not mind your wallet. The sashimi and nigiri prices range from around $60 to $150 + per piece so it can get expensive fast.
We always treat ourselves and end up spending around $75 USD / 1500 MXN for two cocktails or drinks, miso soup, one entrée to share (dumplings, for example!), and a few tuna nigiri.
While that’s not bad for authentic sushi on this side of the ocean, it’s definitely more $$ than what you can pay to eat more locally.
19. Grab a Cuppa at Doce Cuarenta Coffee Shop
Normally, I wouldn’t highlight grabbing a cup of coffee in a city as a thing to do, but in La Paz, it’s kind of a staple activity for both locals and visitors.
Everyyyyone knows about Doce Cuarenta—it’s the go-to coffee spot in town. (That said, it’s not my favorite cafe. If you’re looking for more coffee shops in La Paz, read here!)
If you stick around town long enough, you’ll start to notice that there’s an interesting “night coffee culture” in La Paz—or at least there is at Doce!
So while you can expect students and digital nomads in La Paz to fill up the tables during the mornings and afternoons, it’s the locals who fill it at night and make it abuzz (Doce Cuarenta closes at 10 PM and it’s almost always full!).
20. Kayak or Stand Up Paddleboard Off the Malecón
One of the perks of La Paz is its right on the water. And even though the sea just off the city isn’t super great for swimming and snorkeling, there are a few stretches of sandy beach where you can launch a paddle board or kayak from!
Like clockwork, every night at sunset, we see kayakers and paddlers out in the La Paz Lagoon/Bay. Even during midday, thanks to the shallowness near the promenade, you’ll see avid swimmers or paddlers quite a ways away from the shore enjoying the sun and the vivid azul waters.
Most people bring their own boards, but you can rent them right in front of the water from places like Harker (and next to Harker).
The best spots for launching are off to the right of the Kiosko, or where there is a cluster of palm trees.
21. Play Fair Games at the Annual La Paz Carnival
Each year, La Paz City plays host to the annual Carnival featuring fair games, food trucks, live music and concerts, a parade, and more!
So if you’re in the city around February, an unmissable thing to do is enjoy the La Paz Carnival—this is an event that attracts folks from all over Baja Sur.
Around sunset/early evening, the event is entirely family-friendly with lots of fair games for kids and even children’s shows. However, after the colorful parade and truck floats, the city’s bars come alive and La Paz Carnival can turn into one giant fiesta! 🇲🇽
The carnival in La Paz lasts for several days, so if you’re around, you won’t be able to miss it as it takes over the upper half of the malecón.