55km (34 miles) S of San Diego; 29km (18 miles) S of Tijuana

Just a 20-minute drive south of Tijuana and a complete departure in ambience, Rosarito Beach is a tranquil, friendly beach town. It also gained early renown during the U.S. Prohibition, when the elegant Rosarito Beach Hotel catered to Hollywood stars. This classic structure still welcomes numerous guests, despite the fact that its opulence has lost some luster. Hollywood has likewise played a major part in Rosarito's recent renaissance -- it was the location for the soundstage and filming of the Academy Award-winning Titanic. The Titanic Expo museum -- now called Xploration -- here continues to draw fans of the film. At time of research, a film shoot had closed the studio to the public. Get current ticket and schedule info at tel. 661/614-0110.

Two roads run between Tijuana and Ensenada (the largest and third-largest cities in Baja) -- the scenic, coast-hugging toll road (marked CUOTA, or 1-D) and the free but slower-going public road (marked LIBRE, or 1). For safety reasons, we recommend you use the toll road -- Rosarito is close enough to Tijuana that some of the city's street crime has made it here, and the public road has been the site of some carjackings in recent years. If you're not driving, you can take a shuttle from the last trolley stop in San Ysidro. Mexicoach (tel. 619/428-9517 in the U.S., or 664/685-1470 locally; www.mexicoach.com) offers shuttle rides for about $10.