San Jose del Cabo is the quieter, more overlooked of the Cabos…except on Thursday evenings. Every Thursday night, downtown San Jose turns into a vibrant art market, with street performers, art vendors, and traveling margaritas. If you are in Los Cabos on a Thursday, the San Jose art walk is not to be missed.
What it is
Every Thursday from November to June, the streets in old town San Jose shut down starting at 5 pm. Stores stay open late, vendors wander around selling ice cream and souvenirs, and the main plaza becomes an outdoor bazaar. Artists of every stripe set up booths where you can practice your negotiation skills and take home a memento of your trip.
Each week is a true mix of locals and tourists, with packs of local teenagers skateboarding, families ambling around the plaza, and tourists shopping and eating.
The art walk centers around the plaza, with stores and restaurants on the surrounding streets opening their doors
When is the San Jose Art Walk?
The art walk happens every Thursday evening from 5-9 pm (though we’ve seen it go much later into the evening) from November to June. Things really get going after dark, so in the spring and early summer months, you won’t see much activity until 7 pm or later.
How to get there
The best way to experience the San Jose art walk is on foot. I strongly recommend taking an Uber to the art walk rather than driving, as the streets are narrow and parking is limited even on normal days. With streets shut down for the festivities and the extra people coming in, parking is hard to find. If you choose to drive, be prepared to walk several blocks and circle around for a while looking for parking. If you have the ability, it is much less stressful to take an Uber and let them drop you off.
There isn’t an address for the art walk per se, because it goes for several blocks. Any Uber will know where to go, and there is an address on Google Maps if you need to plug something in. Google Maps is very reliable around Cabo and you should have no trouble using it.
What to do at the San Jose art walk
Here are the top 5 things to do at the art walk:
- Shop for art and souvenirs – Dozens of stores sell handicrafts from textiles to home furnishings to clay sculptures. Save your shopping for Thursday night and get everything you need at once. If you’re looking for original art, head to the plaza and the booths displaying artwork, chat with the artists, and keep your money local.
- Take a picture with the San Jose sign – Like many tourist cities in Mexico, San Jose has a large, colorful sign that is Insta-worthy. Take your turn to pose in the letters!
- Visit the church – if it’s open, take a respite from the crowds and slip inside for a moment of reflection. Just remember to be quiet and respectful.
- Get a margarita to go – Los Tres Gallos offers a walk-up bar serving margaritas in several flavors to take and enjoy as you wander the streets. If you prefer beer, step around the corner to the patio at Baja Brewing Company, where you’ll find an IPA, an amber ale, a raspberry ale, and an oatmeal stout, all available only in Mexico.
- Eat dinner on a patio – San Jose is full of fantastic restaurants, and you should definitely come hungry to the art walk. Whether you’re having a sit down meal to the sounds of mariachi or sampling from the many food carts in the plaza, there is something for everyone.
Is the art walk safe?
Despite what you may read, I feel that Mexico – and Cabo is particular – is quite safe. I travel there frequently as a solo female and have never had any concerns about my safety. During the art walk in particular, there are police on foot wandering the plaza and traffic cops directing traffic.
The streets are well lit around the plaza, though the further out you get, the dimmer the sidewalks will be. There is really no concern about pickpockets, but I always recommend a cross-body bag with a zipper. Your biggest issue may be calculating correct change with the many street vendors you buy from!
The only trouble you may run into is in parking your car, if you choose to drive. Make sure you park in a legal spot, do not block anyone’s driveway, and keep all valuables out of sight. Lock the doors and you will be fine.
What to buy at the San Jose art walk
This is a great place to do your souvenir shopping. Many of the stores carry the same style of items, and it can be hard to hunt through them to find hand-made pieces vs mass-produced ones.
Some of the most interesting things you’ll see in the stores are catrina sculptures, skeletons dressed up like people and depicted doing everyday activities. I personally love the Mexican culture’s approach to death and celebrate Dia de los Muertos in my own home each year. Catrina dolls represent the idea that our loved ones are never really gone, and we can interact with them anytime. There are metal versions, but my favorites are the elaborate matte black skulls and skeletons covered in roses and other flowers.
Similar to the catrinas, you can find alebrijes in many stores. These fantastical creatures are often made of wood and are brightly colored. Contrary to the movie Coco, they didn’t start out as spiritual guides. Rather they started when an artist had fevered dreams of mythical creatures and began creating the animals of his dreams when he recovered.
You will also find textiles for sale, from pillow covers to table runners to cloth napkins and blankets.
If it’s dishware you are looking for, I have two favorite styles – talavera from Puebla and a more geometric / dot style from Guanajuato. Both are available in San Jose, but look carefully at the imprint on the bottom of the pottery to see if it is handmade or machine made. The styles that are highly lacquered and brightly painted tend to be more machine made.
Regardless of how your souvenirs are made, you should plan to spend more than you’d expect if you’re buying in downtown San Jose. There aren’t bargains to be had with as much volume as they do, and haggling is not expected. You will pay what the sticker says, though if you hang around a store long enough looking indecisive, you may be able to knock off 10-20%.
Where to eat
You can find just about anything at the art walk. One of my favorite experiences is eating at the street vendors in the plaza. You will find all kinds of options there, including:
- Street corn – corn with crema, cheese, hot sauce, lime, and salt
- Agua fresca – fresh juices, usually flavored with hibiscus (called jamaica in Spanish), orange, or horchata (sweet rice)
A family of 4 can easily eat at the street carts for $20 total, including everything I listed above. And the best part is that everything (except the churros) is naturally gluten free. There are vegetarian and meat options for the tamales, and different sauces for the churros. You needn’t worry about food safety or getting sick from the street food – they only use filtered water and the turnover is so high that no food sits for more than a few minutes.
If you want something more upscale, check out Tres Gallos or Jazmin’s. Tres Gallos has a huge tree running through the middle of the dining room and a rooftop patio. Mariachi stroll the tables – if you want them to play you a song, be prepared to tip ~$10-$20.
Tips for the San Jose art walk
I have 3 main tips for making the most out of your trip to the San Jose art walk:
- Bring cash – you can pay with card at most of the established stores, but if you are buying street food or art from one of the plaza vendors, you will need cash. Pesos and dollars are accepted, but you will get a better exchange rate with pesos.
- Make a dinner reservation – you will be stuck with the street food (and trust me, this is not a hardship!) if you do not make a dinner reservation on Thursday evenings. For some restaurants, you may need to plan several weeks ahead, and the grace period at the more popular restaurants is short. Show up on time and have your entire party with you when you check in.
- Leave the car at the hotel – To ease your stress, don’t drive to the art walk. Ubers are easy to get, safe, and you will save so much time not searching for parking.
So there you have it! Everything you need to know to have a wonderful night at the art walk. Planning your trip now? Don’t miss our packing list for 4 days in Cabo.