Todos Santos has a growing collection of boutiques that are fun to browse if you want to return home with gifts or something special for yourself. The quality is generally high, but note that most of the inventory in these stores comes from the mainland, not from Baja.
Most of the shopping centers around the historic district near the plaza. Upscale shops and galleries line the narrow side streets off Calle Topete, near the Todos Santos Inn. More affordable souvenir shops can be found along Calles Hidalgo and Márquez de León.
Home Furnishings, Gifts, and Jewelry
In business since 1994, Fénix de Todos Santos (Juárez at Hidalgo, tel. 612/145-0808, 10 A.M.–5 P.M. Mon.–Sat.) has a selection of handblown glass, Talavera pottery, equipal pig-skin furniture, and decorative tinware.
Emporio Hotel California (Juárez btw Morelos/Márquez de León, tel. 612/145-0217, 10 A.M.–7 P.M. daily) has a variety of apparel, jewelry, ceramics, coffee-table books, posters, and other gifts on display in a large storefront adjoining the hotel.
Mangos Folk Art (Centenario btw Topete/Obregón, tel. 612/145-0451, 10 A.M.–5 P.M. Tues.–Sat.) specializes in folk art from mainland Mexico, woodcarvings, and Guatemalan textiles.
Also on Centenario at Topete, Manos Mexicanas (tel. 612/145-0538, 10 A.M.–5 P.M. Mon.–Sat.) has arts and crafts from Guadalajara and Michoacan on the mainland, plus ceramics created by local artist Rubén Gutiérrez.
Joyería Brilanti (Centenario 24 btw Topete/Obregón, tel./fax 612/145-0799, www.brilanti.com, 10 A.M.–5 P.M. Mon.–Sat.) has a distinctive history as one of the earliest silver designers from Taxco on the mainland. Today the business is run by the son of the original founder, Ana Brilanti, who counted First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt among her distinguished customers. In addition to a beautiful selection of silver pieces, the gallery has sculptures and paintings for sale.
The smell of lavender wafts out of Heartsease, where Canadian Gwenn McDonald (Juárez at Hidalgo, heartsease [at] mts [dot] net, 10 A.M.–5 P.M. Mon.–Sat.) makes natural soap and skincare products. This is the place to get moisturizer for your face when the desert climate starts to take its toll. Gwen also makes a natural bug repellent that’s safe for kids. Call in advance to book a Swedish or Shiatsu massage or Reiki and foot reflexology (US$60 for one hour).
New in 2010, GotBaja (Juárez at Hidalgo, www.gotbajamaps.com, 9 A.M.–8 P.M. daily) publishes handy, free tourist maps for Todos Santos, La Paz, and the East Cape. The store sells souvenir T-shirts (including kids’ sizes), mugs, stickers, magnets, key chains, and the like.
Manos Mexicanos (Topete at Centenario, tel. 612/145-0538) carries pottery and other crafts made by artist Rubén Gutiérrez as well as other locally made goods such as Desert Soaps (www.desertsoaps.com) from the East Cape.
Boutique Santa Maria (tel. 612/145-0009, 9 A.M.–6:30 P.M. daily), located across from the Centro Cultural on Juárez, carries casual cotton apparel made on the mainland in Guadalajara. There are styles for men, women, and kids.
Arts and Crafts
For less expensive souvenirs, several vendors usually are set up near the plaza, though their names change frequently. Bazar Agua y Sol (tel. 612/145-0537) has jewelry, sculptures, pottery, and paintings. Credit cards are accepted here.
Pintoresco (Colegio Militar at Zaragoza, tel. 612/145-0222, cell tel. 612/158-8457, 10 A.M.–7 P.M. Mon.–Sat.) is divided into two locales in the same shopping gallery: The first features more tourist-oriented crafts from various parts of Mexico, including textiles, jewelry, and decorations; the second is next door and features fine art, all of Mexican origin. The gallery is at Local #5 in the shopping gallery on Colegio Militar at the corner of Zaragoza.
El Tecolote Books/Libros (Juárez and Hidalgo, tel. 612/145-0295, fax 612/145-0288, janethowwey [at] yahoo [dot] com, 10 A.M.–4:30 P.M. Mon.–Sat., 11:30 A.M.–3:30 P.M. Sun.) is a book lover’s shop—the kind of place that makes you want to run an independent bookstore in your retirement. The owner, Janet, stocks the shelves with a mix of foreign and Mexican periodicals, new and used paperback fiction, and hardcover design and coffee-table books, plus maps and a good section of Baja-related titles.
It’s no Borders or Barnes & Noble, but whether you want to read Tom Clancy or Graham Greene, chances are you’ll find something you like at this shop. Bilingual children’s books make a nice gift for kids. You can also buy books on tape and rent or buy movies. Besides the books, the store carries some art supplies. Note: Janet stays open seven days a week from Thanksgiving until the crowds dwindle in spring. After that, she reduces to five days a week for the duration of the low season.
Artist Studios and Galleries
The art scene in Todos Santos has come of age in recent years, with more than a dozen galleries representing internationally known artists from the United States and Mexico. Although the founder of the town’s artist colony, Charles Stewart, passed away in 2011, he is remembered fondly and the community continues to grow.
In a new location next to the Centro Cultural, Galería de Todos Santos (Juárez, tel. 612/145-0500, www.galeriadetodossantos.com, 11 A.M.–4 P.M. Mon.–Sat.), established in 1994, is one of the few in town representing both local and foreign artists and, accordingly, diverse styles. Among those represented here are owner Michael Cope himself, celebrated local artist Erick Ochoa, and the whimsical stylings of Jennifer Power.
Jill Logan creates the original oils and mixed media works featured in the Galería Logan (tel. 612/145-0151, www.jilllogan.com, 11 A.M.–4 P.M. Mon.–Sat., by appointment Sun.). Logan has an extensive education in fine art, and her work has been exhibited across the United States as well as in Mexico.
La Paz native Ezra Katz, known for murals and etchings featured in a number of Cabo San Lucas restaurants and hotels, has opened Galería Indigo (Juárez at Hidalgo, tel. 612/137-3473, 10 A.M.–5 P.M. Mon.–Sat. or by appt.), featuring John Comer, Lindy Duncan, Lesley Rich, and others in addition to his own artwork.
Galería/Studio de N. E. Hayles (Cuauhtémoc, tel./fax 612/145-0183, www.nehayles.com, 11 A.M.–4 P.M. Mon.–Sat.) displays unique paper-tile mosaics, multimedia art, and tables fashioned by artist-owner Nanette E. Hayles.
Galería Wall (Hidalgo and Colegio Militar, a few feet away from Café Brown, tel. 612/145-0527, www.catherinewallart.com, 11 A.M.–4 P.M. Mon.–Sat.) shows Mexican-themed original oils by artist Catherine Wall.
Gabo Galería (Márquez de León, btw Juárez/Colegio Militar, tel. 612/145-0514, gaboartist [at] hotmail [dot] com, 10 A.M.–4 P.M. Mon.–Sat.) features paintings by Gabo, who was born in Mexico, studied in Europe, and settled in La Paz in 1978. In the years since, he has played a major role in the art scene in La Paz and Todos Santos. His works are known for their bright colors and humorous style. Tours of his studio are by appointment only, while the gallery keeps regular hours.
© Nikki Goth Itoi from Moon Baja, 9th Edition