Viva Los Cabos

Head for a long weekend on Baja's southern tip

At its busiest, Cabo San Lucas can seem a lot like Las Vegas: a little too crowded, a little too boisterous. At least, that's the rap the once-sleepy fishing village got in the early 1990s, when late-night hangouts like El Squid Roe drew flocks to the tip of Baja California.

Although the nightlife scene is still vibrant, we found plenty of options for couples and families interested in kicking back at a quiet resort or wandering a bit afield for a more authentic Mexican experience.

If you haven't visited in a while, you'll be surprised by the number of first-rate resorts. In the last few years, hotel and condo developments have spread themselves out on bluffs above the Sea of Cortez along the 18 miles of coast ― known as the Corridor ― separating Cabo San Lucas from the classy shops of San José del Cabo.

Another attraction is the booming cultural scene in artsy Todos Santos, an hour's drive north of Cabo. In less than a decade, it has gone from being one of those "hidden gems" to ground zero of bohemian Baja.

Balmy spring weather in Baja makes this an excellent time to visit, and convenient flights make it perfect for an exotic long weekend. ― David Lansing

To the tip of Baja

Be certain to bring your passport. If you rent a car (you won't need one if you stay only in Cabo San Lucas), U.S. insurance isn't valid, and Mexican insurance can add 20 percent or more to already high rental costs. To call local Baja numbers from the United States, first dial 011-52; English is widely spoken. Contact Los Cabos Tourism Board ( www.visitcabo.com or 866/567-2226) for complete travel information.

LODGING
The following accommodations are among our favorites in Cabo San Lucas, San José del Cabo, and Todos Santos.

El Encanto Inn. This quiet inn in downtown San José del Cabo is a short stroll away from the beaches and nightlife. From $69, suites from $79. www.elencantoinn.com or (624) 142-0388.

Esperanza. Opened last year, this luxury Auberge resort on the Corridor has two infinity pools that seem to drop off into the ocean. Suites from $550. www.esperanzaresort.com or (866) 311-2226.

Meliá San Lucas. Fronts lovely―and calm―Medano Beach and has great views of El Fin de la Tierra (Land's End), yet it's just a 10-minute walk from downtown Cabo. From $280. www.solmelia.com or (800) 336-3542.

Todos Santos Inn. After adding two air-conditioned suites, owners John Stoltzfus and Craig Sinel reopened this historic inn last fall. From $95, suites from $135. (612) 145-0040.