Valle de Guadalupe: What Are You Waiting For? (updated)
So for a few years you have been trying to plan a trip to Valle de Guadalupe to sip on the wines and chow down on some of that food that leaves you drooling over the Facebook photos your friends have posted. You are ready to get your mini adventure en route.
I have compiled a nice little list of my top 10 easy tips to get your trip together to make it super simple and worry-free. Whether you are going down for a day trip or plan on staying for the weekend, these tips will be good to bookmark for your visits in the future. Believe me. You will return again and again.
- Best times of year to visit Valle de Guadalupe
April / May : Spring is lovely because the weather is still cool but the sun is mostly shining in the valley and it is not yet overrun with large tour buses and masses of tourists. In late April each year, the Festival de Las Conchas y El Vino Nuevo introduces the celebration of shell fish & new wines.
Vendimia, a 25 year old, week-long, summer wine festival that includes concerts, lectures, dinners, festivals and more to celebrate the region. This time can be incredibly crowded but the activities available make the week a great time to experience the best of the region. Accommodations must be made well in advance.
October / November: The weather is amazing in the fall. The days are slightly cooler with a nice ocean breeze that makes its way through the valley. The summer traffic has died down but the season is still open.
- Best Days to Go: Wednesday, Thursday & Friday are my favorite days to go. For some reason, Tuesday is a day that MANY of the wineries close. Sunday/Monday returns can produce annoyingly long border wait times with the thousands of returning Americans. I love weekday trips that bring me back across the border before 8PM.
- Passport Card/ Global Entry/SENTRI: If you don’t already have a Passport Card, it might be a good idea to get one. You can apply for this form of a passport identification if you like and it will allow you to travel across borders via land, sea and foot. (Can’t use for air travel.)
The biggest benefit for my frequent trips across the US Mexican border is that the Passport Card allows me to use the READY LANE to cross back over the border. The Ready Lane cuts your border time wait. https://passportinfo.com/passport-card/
SENTRI: If you have a SENTRI CARD and you are traveling in a pre-approved car, your wait time can be 3 – 20 minutes. I have only ever waited 20 minutes on a weekend mid-day to evening crossing. There IS a special lane for SENTRI cars but EVERYONE in the car must have either a SENTRI card or GLOBAL ENTRY card to cross this way OTHERWISE the approved driver risks LOSING their SENTRI card altogether.
- Special Lanes: If you have the passport card, YOU MUST READ/SEE this post! It shows you EXACTLY how to get into the ready lanes to cross the San Ysidro border. Make NO MISTAKE. It is not clearly marked. http://www.discoverbaja.com/go/driving-directions/san-ysidro-ready-lane-directions/
SENTRI LANE – Watch this video to see how to get to the SENTRI lane via Padre Kino.
- Border Waits: This app/website will let you know the live wait times at border crossings. VERY helpful. https://bwt.cbp.gov/ or the app : CBP Border Wait Times for iPhones and Android devices
- Wine Route Map: Plan your trip with this website map. http://larutavcc.com/mapa/ Once you get to your first destination in Valle, ask for the Ruta de Vino map. It is a great resource.
- Read A Gringo in Mexico: After reviewing our Cur8eur reviews of chefs & restaurants in Valle de Guadalupe, get an idea of some additional places of interest that you might like to add to your itinerary during your visit. http://agringoinmexico.com/
- Mexican Auto Insurance: Most likely your insurance company does NOT insure you once you cross the border. If by chance your insurance does cover you, it may ONLY be within the tourist zone near the border crossing. CHECK YOUR INSURANCE COVERAGE.
You can get day insurance at this link. This is the insurance company that my GEICO insurance refers me to. CLICK HERE TO GET YOUR QUOTE. Approximate cost… $24 for two days
- Uber TJ: Don’t wanna drive yourself? No worries. You can use your U.S. UBER account to get around Tijuana, Ensenada & Valle for a reasonable cost. https://www.uber.com/cities/tijuana
FB forums: there is a lot of information available on the internet but I have found the BEST way to get a good feel is through others who have experienced Valle themselves. The Groups below are just a couple that are helpful. Feel free to read, ask questions and explore all that the Valle de Guadalupe region has to offer.
– Eating & Drinking in Baja
– Tijuana Makes Me Hungry