Photos: Marvelous Mexico

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  1. Tempting Tulum

    The Mayan City of Tulum, Mexico is located on the Caribbean Sea coast of the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico. (Ml Sinibaldi / Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. View from Palenque

    Tourists sit atop a pyramid in Palenque, set in the foothills of the Tumbal mountains of Chiapas Mexico. (Marco Ugarte / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Blessings in Chiapas

    A tzotzil child walks in front of the church of San Cristobal de las Casas in Chiapas. (Matias Recart / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Luxury in Puerto Vallarta

    The terrace on the Celestial Suite is seen at Hacienda San Angel in Puerto Vallarta. (AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Ancient stories

    This photo shows details of a Maya stone, relating the coming to power of governor Sir Jupiter Humenate and dated 613 AC, found in Tonina, Ocosingo, Chiapas. (Janet Schwartz / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Mexico magic

    Mexico City, the capital city of the nation of Mexico. (Diego Goldberg / Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Musical Mexico

    A mariachi band play on a punt at the Floating Gardens of Xochimilco in Mexico City. (Danny Lehman / Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Cool Cancun

    Cancun, Mexico is ranked as one of the top international vacation destinations. The beaches of Cancun have been completely restored following damage caused by Hurricane Wilma in 2005. Travelers will find its newly renovated resorts, restaurants, beaches and attractions better and even more accessible than ever. (Business Wire) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Isla bonita

    The ferry landing on Isla Mujeres, Mexico. Isla Mujeres is a tiny island mere miles from the Yucatan coast, and feels a world away from Cancun's hustle and bustle. Isla Mujeres, thriving in its own tourism, manages to maintain the feeling of a small fishing village. (Anja Schlein / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Soccer and bullfights

    Estadio Azul (left), a soccer stadium; and Plaza Mexico, the world's largest bullring, in Mexico City. (Danny Lehman / Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Azure Cortez

    People kayak in the Bahia de Loreto National Park, in the Sea of Cortez, Mexico. (Terry Prichard / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
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updated 2/1/2007 5:39:40 PM ET 2007-02-01T22:39:40
CYBERTRIPS

Head south of San Diego into Mexico's Baja California on your next vacation and discover a warm, sunny world of beaches and deserts, hot new resorts and historic villages, and plenty of places to just relax and forget about winter. And with the Pacific on one side and the Sea of Cortez on the other, there are great places for salt water fishing and whale watching.

You can drive the whole 800-mile length of the peninsula. But don't forget, if you fly you'll need a passport to return to the U.S. Visit the State Department and look for "Traveling to the Caribbean, Bermuda, Panama, Mexico or Canada" for details, plus links to health and safety tips.

Many people just blast all the way south to the tip of Baja and Los Cabos — the area including the well-known Cabo San Lucas. Go to "Things to Know" and then "About Los Cabos" for history and profiles of Cabo San Lucas, which has fishing, nightlife and beaches, and San Jose del Cabo, which touts its relaxed, more traditional atmosphere. In between, the aptly named Tourist Corridor has resorts, golf and more beaches. If you need to ask, the "What to Do" section has details on everything from spas and dining to tours, ecotourism and diving. That section also describes beaches, including El Medano — "several miles long" — Costa Azul for surfing and Santa Maria for snorkeling. Before you finalize your plans, check the hotel section for "Webpromos" and package deals.

But if you went straight to Cabo, you'd miss a lot of scenery and attractions along the way.

The peninsula's northern state, Baja California, shows you some of what's available with a photo gallery. And if you have the time, there are suggestions for itineraries, including Route of the Missions, Wine Country, a Hunting & Fishing Route and a Rural Route for the adventurous. Unfortunately, they don't provide maps for each of them. Some travelers might be wary of their walking tour for the border city of Tijuana, but you might consider the ones for Rosarito, Tecate and Ensenada, where one of the suggested destinations is the Riviera del Pacifico Cultural Center, a former gambling casino it says was supposedly financed by Al Capone. And click on "Bahia de Los Angeles" for fantastic whale watching in a series of coastal lagoons.

Before you cross the border, study that Web site's "Information" section, especially for its details on safety, permits, shopping and "Getting into Baja California." Then start clicking on the entries under "Destinations" for links to the tourism Web sites of the cities of Ensenada, Mexicali, Rosarito, Tecate, Tijuana and San Felipe. If your kids aren't looking forward to the trip, tell them about the Foxploration theme park at Rosarito, part of the movie studio complex used for "Titanic" and other ocean epics.

You might also give a look to the Baja Guide for extra insights on the highlights of the peninsula, like the shrimp tacos at the pier in Ensenada and local sea kayaking, bird watching at San Quintin (settled by English colonists), and the laid-back, relaxing atmosphere of Loreto.

Stop by the Mexico Tourist Board to see if you they have any other ideas you can use. Click on "About Mexico" and then "Baja California," And while you're there, study Northern Mexico and the Pacific Coast for some possible future extended side trips.

© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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