This Mexican Region Is Becoming A Major New Art Hub

And losing its infamous spring break reputation

While planning my first trip to Los Cabos, located at the tip of the Baja California Sur peninsula in Mexico, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. Having never been to Mexico, aside from an hours-long pit stop in Cozumel on a cruise (which, in my opinion, doesn't count), I, admittedly, had always thought that Los Cabos referred only to Cabo San Lucas, a resort town frequented by tourists and many a spring breaker, filled with a cluster of beachside bars and nightclubs with a bit of a rowdy reputation.

Upon arriving, besides my realization that I had just entered one of the most beautiful places I've ever had the opportunity to lay my eyes upon, I was delighted to find that this paradise has way more to offer than just palm trees and resort-side beaches.

The Los Cabos municipality refers to two separate cities—the above party-heavy Cabo San Lucas, and San José del Cabo, its much quieter counterpart with a historic downtown district and a bustling art scene, located just 30 minutes down the road from each other.

But Los Cabos, San José del Cabo in particular, is quickly becoming a reputable hub for the arts in Mexico, with many artists from Mexico City—and all over the world—flocking there to join the locals in its growing gallery district.

Tucked away into the tiny streets of San José del Cabo’s historic district, you’ll find gallery after gallery showcasing some of the best local and global contemporary works.

In Patricia Mendoza’s two galleries, she expertly curates an array of Mexico’s freshest talents. Ranging in various mediums and styles, Mendoza explores the unique visions from Mexican artists of all ages and backgrounds.

Patricia Mendoza Gallery in San José del Cabo

You’ll find colorful, politically driven works by Spanish-born, Los Cabos resident, Enrique Bascón, and sea-inspired sculptural masterpieces by Mexico City-born artist Julián García Forcelledo at his studio-gallery Arte Gallery. At Galeria Corsica, you’ll find fine artworks by more than 50 contemporary Mexican artists, including a breezy, open-roofed sculpture area.

The Art District Association boasts 14 major galleries, with more to come in the very near future. Amid the fine art, you’ll also find plenty of shops selling pieces by local artisans, like seed-bead-covered sugar skulls—pieces that travel easily and are a great place to start for beginner art collectors.

But to make the most of your time hitting all of the galleries San José del Cabo has to offer, be sure to head to the gallery district on a Thursday evening. Every week from November through June, the Gallery District Association heads up the Art Walk, where you can stroll through all of the area’s galleries while sipping wine and dining in all of the neighborhood eateries. 

In addition to Los Cabos’ bustling gallery scene, the annual Gala de Danza, a masterful blend of dance and music from both local and international talents, takes place right in the center of its resort community.

This year’s performance, which used the breathtaking, not-yet-opened Viceroy Los Cabos as its venue, featured some of the best local and international talents. The event opened with a song by mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves, followed by a number of notable performances.

New York City Ballet’s principal ballerina Tiler Peck performed George Balanchine’s ballet "Who Cares?" with dancer and Los Cabos native Andrés Zúñiga. Norwegian singer Angelia Jordan performed a chilling rendition of Amy Winehouse’s “Back to Black,” accompanied by Canadian dancer Tate McRae. American principal dancers Beckanne Sisk and Chase O’Connell performed Swan Lake, accompanied by 60 children from the community as swans surrounding the stage.

A scene from this year’s Gala de Danza, photo by Brodsky Productions

While there are plenty of picturesque resorts to stay in while vacationing in Los Cabos, Hotel El Ganzo is the place to stay if art is on your itinerary. 

The boutique hotel is located at the base of the Puerto Los Cabos Marina, boasting gorgeous views of the marina and a rooftop infinity pool and jacuzzi. While the hotel is certainly luxe, it has a certain cool, laid-back nature that puts you at ease. However, it’s the arts program that makes the property so unique.

El Ganzo invites artists to come stay on their property with the freedom of creating art for the hotel during their stay, whether that means painting the walls of the hallways, the lobby, or the building itself.

As you walk up to the property, you’ll notice the giant crown painted on the top of the building, a nod at Basquiat, by artist Desmond Mason. As you walk into the hotel lobby, you’re immediately greeted by an enormous, mixed media mural by artist Ciler. As you walk through the hallways, you’ll find additional paintings and sculptures of all sorts lining the hallways and each room. None of the works fall into a particular theme, as the artists are given complete creative freedom during their stay at El Ganzo. Which, in my opinion, makes things more interesting.

After dealing with the aftermath of 2014’s Hurricane Odile, the hotel was forced to start over following the damage, filling its walls with new art. Once the hotel is completely occupied with art? They’ll paint over it all and start again.

And it doesn’t just stop at the hotel. All across the grounds, including around the enormous marina its located on, you’ll find outdoor art—sculptures, paintings, and more—turning a morning stroll or bike ride to the hotel’s Ganzo de Playa Beach Club into an art walk in its own right.

Artist Scarlett Baily paints the walls of a hallway in Hotel El Ganzo

Downstairs, through a secret trap door in the floor of the bar, you’ll find a stairwell leading to a full music studio, which, as you would guess, invites some of Mexico’s—and the world’s—greatest talent to record there. Of course, these recording sessions also lead to live sets for guests, too. Recent guests include the likes of Brooklyn’s Savoir Adore and Australia’s Atlas Genius.

El Ganzo gives back to the community, too. The hotel opened a community center just across the street from its property, where they offer free art programs for the local children. Some of their work has even made its way into the hotel, and I must say, it’s pretty impressive. In a community with such a burgeoning art scene, educating the local children on the arts will only result in furthering its rapid growth.

So, as you find yourself planning your next beach getaway, looking for a little more culture and a little less party, look no further than Los Cabos for a true treat.