180km (112 miles) SE of La Paz; 33km (20 miles) NE of Cabo San Lucas; 1,760km (1,091 miles) SE of Tijuana

No matter how sprawling its big-box outskirts, San José remains, at its heart, an old-fashioned colonial town. Low-slung, heavy stone colonial houses painted tropical fruit colors and fixed with wrought-iron balconies open on to courtyards humble and grand; in the town's small centro histórico, little has changed since 1730, when Jesuit missionaries founded the town. Today it's a redoubt of Mexican artisans and artists and North American and European expatriates, pursuing late-life ambitions in the arts, food, and hospitality in the sun, and remaking San José in their own upscale boho image.

The latest manifestation of San José's destiny is the Art District, an officially designated and funded section of the centro of galleries, shops, and restaurants in historic buildings; the Thursday Art Walk is the district's weekly social event, with food and drink specials and gallery open houses.