While many of Mexico's border towns have a dubious reputation, Mexicali retains a Mexican essence that is subtler than busy crossings like Tijuana and Ciudad Juarez. Most Mexicali visitors are en route to San Felipe on the Baja Peninsula or day-trippers down from California. Those with time to spare can enjoy this city's sights in an easy afternoon.
Check out La Chinesca, Mexico's biggest Chinatown for some diet variation, or wander around historic buildings for a glimpse of Mexicali's past. Chose between the graceful matador and wily bull at a bull fight if a round of golf sounds too sedate.
Wash off the dust of with a trip to Guadeloupe Canyon, 50 miles southwest of Mexicali. Here, earthy desert tones are broken by the outline of big horn sheep and come with a healthy dose of solitude. There are two dirt roads that lead to the canyon, and while both can get a bit rough after a heavy rain, the reward is a long soak in a natural hot spring and picturesque waterfalls and palm trees. Pitch a tent for the night to make the most of this isolated oasis.
Mexicali is 118 miles east of Tijuana and 45 miles from Yuma, Arizona.