La Paz historical area can be easily walked around, with very manageable hills. Walking through the downtown area can be as quick as one day, to full two days if visiting some of the museums.
Walking Through La Paz History
The bay in La Paz first came under the Old Continent’s eyes on May 3rd, 1535 when Hernán Cortés a arrived and started a colony. He named the area Santa Cruz but as he encountered years of logistical issues, he left the place to itself. The name of La Paz was given by Sebastián Vizcaíno when he arrived arrived in 1596.
However La Paz did not develop for a long time, the desert climate and dry land was not a prime location to grow culture and thus until the 19th century. Even though a Jesuit mission settlement was briefly built and occupied from 1720 to 1750, the desert conditions and the Indian opposition made it hard for the land to be developed. The city started to officially develop around 1811. With an expanding pearl farming economy, La Paz became a more important urban settlement in Baja California.
The pearl diving industry helped La Paz develop to from mid-19th century to mid 20th-century and set the city as the capital of Baja California Sur since 1830. This brought the different architecture of the historical buildings in La Paz.
We walked through the city over two days. Not that it takes that long to discover the historic downtown but we took our time and stopped in coffee places and small side restaurants as we did. Part of the streets sit on the hilltop and can be a bit of a challenge for seniors, families pushing child strollers, or anyone with walking difficulties. The streets are relatively short and can be however accessed while taking your time like we did with my in-laws.
Casa de Gobernio
The old building hosts today local artists, performances and displays. Located by the Jardin Velasco on Calle 5 de Mayo, it sits opposite of the Catedral de Nuestra Senora de La Paz.
Catedral de Nuestra Senora de La Paz
Built of red stone in 1861 on the site of the first mission, the church has beautiful stained-glass windows. About 50 years after, the two towers were added to the existing structure.
Museo de la Ballena
This museum will open officially in Spring 2016 and will include five different exhibitions around the grey whales which live around La Paz. The goal of the museum is to promote the conservation of the whales, through studies, sound effects and informative displays.
Located at the corner of Belisario Dominguez and 16 de Septiembre, it hosts tourist information and a small store.
Posada San Miguel
This small hostel is opposite the Centro Cultural and has wonderful mosaics. Make sure to enter the building to see the courtyard which is also high in colors.
Downtown Colorful Houses & Street Art
La Paz Downtown is filled with colorful houses and street art. Wandering from one street to another is a great way to discover the artsy feel of the town.
Shell Statues Band
A cute band of shell statues playing instruments
Other sites to check include the Museo de Antropologia y Historica, the Tamal Gallery, the Calle de 16 Septiembre.
Built along the Paseo Alvaro Obregon, the 5-km long Malecon is a popular place for locals and visitors alike. Families stroll on a Sunday afternoon. Joggers run in the early hours of the day. Couple go on romantic walks under the sunset. In short, the Malecon is a must-see while in La Paz.
Have you visited La Paz before? Any other tips to add? Let us know! If you are visiting this lovely town in Baja California for a few days, check out our other top things to in La Paz, or go swimming with whale sharks in the Sea of Cortez, or give a hand at kiteboarding in La Ventana as a day trip.