Small though it may be-at last count, the population was less than 15,000-the Magical Town of Loreto, with its remote feel and incredible scenery, was tailor-made for a laid-back romantic escape.
Located in the state of Baja California Sur, about a six-hour drive north from Los Cabos, this unique getaway is also way ahead of the curve compared to many others its size in terms of quality lodging and dining: think boutique hotels and small (but posh) resort properties, and no shortage of delicious local spots for every budget, many specializing in Mexican dishes and the freshest seafood caught right offshore.
Loreto, though, owes its main allure to a combination of its history and Mother Nature. This was the very first capital of Spanish California and the site of the first mission established by the Jesuits in 1697. Loreto is, in fact, the start of the Missions Route (La Ruta de las Misiones), a historic corridor that follows the King's Road (El Camino Real) north along the California peninsula all the way to Sonoma, California.
Along with the Mission of Our Lady of Loreto, there are a total of seven buildings in town, dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries, that are considered historical monuments by the federal government-not bad for such a tiny town!
Hand-in-hand walks around this quiet town for cute "this is us" snaps, with stops at an open-air café or a trip to browse through the charming markets, are a must. But the most unforgettable part of any couple's vacation in Loreto will the great outdoors. The area's striking desert landscape is hemmed in by the towering Sierra de la Giganta to the west and the deep blue waters of the Sea of Cortez to the east, home to a jaw-dropping array of marine life.
With its protected islands, the 797-square-mile Loreto Bay National Marine Park is just offshore, and there are several outfitters in town who can organize a kayak for two to take lovers on the adventure of a lifetime. The proximity of the coast to small estuaries and some of the islands is a huge plus-there's even the option of camping under the stars!
The park requires a small user fee, but in return, couples get the chance to truly get up close and personal with flying manta rays, leaping dolphins, hundreds of seabirds, shimmering schools of fish and some of the most stunning sunsets available on this Big Blue Marble.
When is the best time of year to visit? It's a great place to go year-round (though very hot in summer), but it's at its most magical from January through March, when the whales come to breed and relax in the warm waters of the Sea of Cortez: we're talking orca, humpback, pilot, gray and more, not to mention the world's largest mammal, the great blue whale.
Getting to Loreto is easy: Alaska Airlines has two-hour direct flights from Los Angeles four times a week (perfect for a long weekend getaway) and there's a seasonal flight from Calgary that flies out weekly during high season from November through May (check schedules for details).
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