A Spanish expedition in 1533 discovered Bahia de La Paz - the beautiful bay on which the city of La Paz is situated. As the city occupies the southeastern corner of the bay, it is possible to view spectacular sunsets across the water from most points in the city.
Settling La Paz was not an easy accomplishment for all who tried. Hernan Cortes failed after an expedition led by one of his lieutenants was decimated by unfriendly natives. Jesuit missionaries finally settled the city some two hundred years later after the natives succumbed to the diseases brought by Spanish settlers.
The territorial capital was shifted to La Paz after a hurricane destroyed Loreto in 1829. Living up to its long historical tradition, La Paz today is the capital of the state of Baja California Sur.
AIRLINES - Aero California and Aero Mexico have daily flights to La Paz. You can fly to Cabo San Lucas with Aero Mexico, Alaska, America West or Mexicana and take the bus up to La Paz. (allow 4 hours) From Cabo International Airport take the shuttle or a taxi into San Jose del Cabo ($6) and then the next bus to La Paz ($6) Ten buses a day run from 7am to 8pm. The eastern route is shorter but makes more stops.
CAR RENTALS - Available at the airport. Ask your travel agent.
Museo Regional de Antropologia e Historia (tel 01152-(112)-2-01-62) at the corner of 5 de Mayo and Ignacio Altamirano shares the history of the peninsula from prehistory to the Revolucion of 1910. The gift shop sells ceramic pieces and replicas of Aztec, Toltec and other pre-columbian people's art works. Pieces are interesting and not expensive. Some are handmade, some are from a cast or mold.
Teatro de la Ciudad at the corner of Gomes Farias and Legaspy is part of the Unidad Cultural Profesor Jesus Castro Agundez. The large, modern building has a library, an art studio and a children's arts and crafts workshop. The theater offers musical and theatrical presentations. See a local newspaper for the current schedule. (tel 01152-(112)-5-19-17)
Cathedral de Nuestra Senora de la Paz at the corner of Revolucion and 5 de Mayo. The cathedral, built in 1861 replaces the original mission built by Jesuit missionaries in 1720.
Plaza Constitucion (Jardin Velazco) is the small city square opposite the cathedral. The city block is enclosed by 5 de Mayo, Revolucion de 1910, Madero and Av. Independencia.
Local artisans are tucked away but worth seeking out. Familia Ibarra sell delicately colored ceramics from their work studio in front of their home on Guillermo Prieto between Republica and Iglesias. Mrs Ibarra paints the plates, bowls, plaques and more in a variety of geometric, Aztec and floral patterns. You can buy from the shelves or have something custom made, ready in a week or two.
The 'weaver' as he is commonly known has a shop called Artesania Cuauhtemoc on Abosolo between Jalisco and Nayarit. Fortuna Silva supervises his weavers at work. You can purchase ready made carpets, wall hangings, yard goods and clothes. Some work is imported form Guatemala but there is a good selection of work made by the gentleman himself.
Probably the most notable annual celebration in La Paz is Carnaval, held six days before Ash Wednesday. The happy event features parades, music, costumes food stands and dancing. The La Paz carnival is a family event with children participating on the floats and families with their picnics lining the streets.
Fiesta de La Paz held May 3rd is the anniversary of the founding of the city and a popular event for locals.
Because La Paz is a large center it has perhaps the best shopping on the peninsula. Stock up here if you are traveling through. There are corner stores, supermarkets, department stores, pharmacies (many concentrated around the public market), auto parts, marine supplies and hardware stores (although True Value is there, the Mexican hardware stores are more reasonable and much more fun. Each one seems to have its own specialty such as plumbing or cement building supplies) Large outlets take charge cards or exchange US dollars.
Marina de la Paz located at the foot of Legaspy sells a handy six page address and phone list of services primarily for boaters.
Groceries can be purchased at the public market at the corner of Revolucion de 1910 and Degollado, open seven days a week with its fresh produce, meat, seafood and drygoods. Two major supermarkets offer American products, sometimes at double US prices: CCC on Abosolo at Colima and Supermercados Aramburo with branches at Madero and Hidalgo, 16 de Septiembre and Altamirano and Durango between Ocampo and Degollado. You can buy most specialized goods here. The government subsidized grocery store, ISSTE Tienda at Altamirano and Bravo has the best prices in town for packaged goods and liquor. Natural foods can be purchased at El Quinto (Dominguez at Independencia), at Los Girasoles (Revolucion de 1910 between Hidalgo and Moreles) and at Tonantzin (5 de Mayo and Serdan)
Most shops are on or close to the Malecon. Away from the Malecon you will find small leather shops and vendors that sell ironwood carvings. Shop around so you know your prices. There are bargains to be had and street vendors drive a hard but friendly bargain. Casa Maria on Abosolo between Jalisco and Nayarit has the best quality artesanias including art and furniture.