La Paz, Baja, Mexico

 Cosmopolitan La Paz is a mix of laid-back, old-world beauty and chi-chi upscale trend. It’s surprisingly international – you’re as likely to hear French, Portuguese or Italian here as English or Spanish. Its quirky history includes American occupation and even being temporarily declared its own republic. Hernán Cortés established Baja’s first European outpost near La Paz, but permanent settlement waited until 1811.

Its rich pearl industry disappeared during the revolution of 1910–20. The beachside malecón, unique restaurants and funky stores make it a great place to meander, and you can shop uninterrupted by touts’ invitations. The city is a great hub for day trips to Cabo Pulmo or even Todos Santos. The port of Pichilingue receives ferries from the mainland ports of Topolobampo and Mazatlán, and the airport is served by several US carriers.

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