Of all of the places to travel, tiny Loreto would not have made my list of fun places for kids. But after traveling to the seaside town, nestled in the rolling desert hills of Mexico’s Baja California Sur, I can’t imagine families shying away from the cozy town.
Loreto’s Tasty Treats
With a population of only 14,000, Loreto is a sleepy town—very sleepy. Wandering the streets, there is hardly a soul in sight; most are fishermen and they spend their time down at the marina. It gives you a thrilling feeling, like you’re the only ones in town, and makes it peaceful to stroll through Loreto’s downtown area. Children will love the brightly colored buildings, painted in shades of blue, orange, pink and yellow.
One thing that Loreto definitely doesn’t lack is authentic restaurants, ready to serve their best tacos and margaritas. Most have patios so you can sit outside and enjoy the sunlight. The delicious Mexican food won’t be lost on little ones, but once you’ve eaten, take them for a real treat—ice cream.
La Michoacana is an ice cream lover’s paradise. The freezers are filled with endless flavors of popsicles and ice cream bars. Pick a flavor, any flavor! Enjoy simple flavors like vanilla, chocolate or strawberry? Craving something different like mint chocolate chip or mango? You can even get cream-based bars with whole strawberries or kiwi inside, or chocolate covered bananas. Kids will go nuts over the options.… especially the treats covered in peanuts, sprinkles or coconut. They also make mini ice cream bars that are the perfect size for little ones. I’ve had ice cream in Mexico before, but the quality of the ice cream at La Michoacana is off the charts.
Seeing the Sights
Loreto was the first Spanish settlement in Baja California and served as the capital of Las Californias for 80 years after the village was established in 1697. To take in some of the history the town holds, visit the old-fashioned capitol building. Kids will be enthralled with the life-size paintings that line the walls. Continue down the main walkway to the Mission of our Lady of Loreto, which is also the start of El Camino Real, a famous path connecting the Spanish missions from Loreto to Sonoma, California.
Inside the mission, keep quiet (locals may be praying) and take a peek at the statues and the gold altarpiece. The mission is also home to a museum that will teach you more about the local culture.
Between the two buildings is a long walkway covered by beautiful archways formed by trees with deep green leaves. It is a picturesque place to stroll while you and your brood meander through shops carrying a variety of handcrafted Mexican products like textiles, artwork, ceramics, jewelry and smaller trinkets.
Flock to the Marina
If your children start to get bored while shopping, head over to the waterfront. They will get excited over the sheer numbers of pelicans that swarm the area, perched atop the numerous fishing boats in the marina or flying over the water. While the kids watch the pelicans, you can take in the stunning view of crystal clear deep blue water and the Islands of Loreto on the horizon.
Kids will want their photos taken in front of the massive shark and sea lion statues before you walk along the shoreline. Let them splash in the water for a bit to cool off—the beach, especially, is one of Loreto’s fun places for kids since the water is warm on the gulf side of Baja. You can also walk out on the rocks in the marina before heading back to town.
Making Loreto Your Home-Away-From-Home
One of the most important parts of any vacation is where you’ll be staying. In Loreto, there are basically two options.
If you prefer to stay in the heart of this sleepy fishing town, consider the Posada de las Flores. Located right across from the municipal capital, Posada de las Flores is a hacienda-style hotel painted in a gorgeous rose pink color. When you enter through the heavy wooden doors, you find yourself in a courtyard with a fountain in the center. An iron chandelier hangs overhead while bright green potted plants sit on the edges of the room while fuschia bougainvillea climb the walls. A spiral staircase leads to additional floors, ultimately ending at the rooftop, where you will find a pool and a small restaurant. Spanish and Mexican styles come together in the rooms, where wooden furniture and colored textiles spice up the décor.
If you prefer to stay somewhere with a laid-back resort atmosphere and plenty of activities for the kids, check out Villa del Palmar. While it’s a little ways out of the city, their shuttle regularly brings guests in and out of Loreto. This fantastic resort has its own beach, complete with kayak and paddleboard rentals, a designated kid’s pool and a kid’s club that educates children and offers plenty of arts, crafts and activities for little ones to enjoy. The resort also has a Presidential Suite that can sleep up to 12 so it’s a great fit for large families traveling together.