After living in Tijuana for about a year, I have gotten to know the city pretty well. I’ve checked out all of the top tourist sites, visited dozens of bars and restaurants, and explored almost every neighborhood. I have absolutely fallen in love with this city. In this guide, I list the 29 best things to do in Tijuana. I’ll also outline a few interesting day trips from Tijuana.
A Brief Intro to Tijuana
Tijuana is the 5th largest city in Mexico with a metro population of about 1.8 million. The city is considered a cultural center of the country and claims to be “the most visited city in the world.”
Unfortunately, Tijuana has a bit of a bad reputation. For almost a decade, tourism dried up and the city became quite depressing. Reports of violent crime and scams scared many people away from visiting.
Now, the city is back and better than ever. Tijuana is right in the middle of a major Renaissance. Trendy restaurants, bars, cafes, and breweries are opening up all over town. The city is rebuilding infrastructure and making improvements all over.
Even in the year that I have lived here, I have seen major changes happening. Now is the perfect time to come visit Tijuana. Here are some of the best sites, attractions, and restaurants that the city has to offer:
Tijuana Cultural Center (CECUT)
Opened in 1982, the Tijuana Cultural Center (CECUT), is the most recognizable building in the city. The structure was designed by the famous architect Pedro Ramírez Vázquez. Because of the unique round design, it is often called ‘La Bola’ or the ball. Over 1 million people visit here each year.
CECUT features a museum, 360° IMAX cinema, event hall, cafe, aquarium, garden, and bookshop. The permanent exhibition of the museum focuses on the early history of the Baja Peninsula.
The cube-shaped building nearby (El Cubo) hosts international exhibitions. The cinema shows a variety of movies and documentaries, usually premiering four films per year. Different festivals and events are always being held at the center complex.
For a list of events, movies, and exhibitions, check out the schedule on the CECUT website.
Location: The Tijuana Cultural Center is located at Paseo de los Héroes 9350, Zona Urbana Rio Tijuana.
Price: 48 pesos (about $2.50) for museum general entry. Free entry on Sundays. Occasionally, they hold an exhibit or concert in the courtyard which is also free to enter.
Avenida Revolución is Tijuana’s famous tourist street. It’s the main road passing through downtown. Many of Tijuana’s best bars, restaurants, cafes, breweries, and souvenir shops line the avenue. Here you will also find some of Tijuana’s famous sites such as the Monumental Arch and Tijuana Zebras.
Even though the area is incredibly touristy and kitschy, it’s well worth a visit. Avenida Revolución is bustling with people at all hours of the day and night. For the best experience, start at the northern end of Avenida Revolucion, near the arch and Plaza Santa Cecilia and take an 8 block stroll down the entire street.
It’s worth walking down Avenida Revolucion at night as well. The clubs open up and blast music into the street. The party begins. Avenida Revolucion is a great spot to experience some of Tijuana’s legendary nightlife.
Tip: Watch your pockets while walking around Tijuana. My phone was pickpocketed when I was walking home from a bar one night. Luckily I was able to get it back. For more info on safety, check out my guide: Is Tijuana Safe? Avoiding Common Scams and Crime.
Visit Playas de Tijuana and go to the Beach
Playas de Tijuana is the beach town part of the city. It’s a neighborhood lying right on the shore of the beautiful Pacific Ocean. Here you can take a stroll along the boardwalk, enjoy some fresh seafood, view some incredible murals, shop for souvenirs, and lay out on the sand and watch the waves.
You can find some excellent restaurants and beach bars in Playas. Definitely try the fish tacos. Baja is famous for them. Fresh oysters, clams, ceviche, and shrimp cocktails are also available at a reasonable price. Street stands sell juices elotes, and other snacks. Playas is an excellent place to spend the day. It’s got a completely different vibe than California beach towns.
At the northern end of the beach, you will find El Parque de la Amistad (Friendship Park). Here, you can see the border fence extending 300 feet (about 90 meters) into the Pacific Ocean.
There is a special place in the wall where friends and families can hold hands and speak in person across the international border. The US side of the wall is controlled by the US Border Patrol. The Mexican side does not limit access.
Location: Playas de Tijuana
Museo de las Californias
This museum is part of the Tijuana cultural center but I feel that it deserves a point of its own. The permanent exhibit at the museum focuses on the history of the Baja Peninsula and the state of California.
Here, you’ll view over 200 pieces showing the history of the region from prehistoric times through the middle of the 20th century. This includes folk art and artifacts from the Cochimí and Yuman native groups who inhabited the region, models of pre-hispanic cities, and a replica of a 16th-century Spanish ship.
La Catedral Metropolitana de Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe
This is Tijuana’s biggest cathedral and is located right in the middle of downtown. The church holds a Mass service every day. The doors are usually open for tourists to walk through and have a look around. Inside, you’ll see a beautifully painted ceiling, chandeliers, and stained glass windows. The clock rings every hour.
Outside the cathedral, you’ll find a walking street lined with shops and restaurants. On the weekends the surrounding streets are set up with street food stands and a people selling a variety of goods.
Location: 2da. 7982, Centro, 22000 Tijuana, Just a few blocks away from Avenida Revolución.
Watch a Bull Fight at Monumental Plaza de Toros
Bullfighting is an exciting cultural event that has been taking place in Mexico since the 16th century when Spain imported the tradition. Recently, bullfighting has seen a major decline in popularity. Many people find it to be barbaric, cruel, and inhumane. After all, the bull is killed at each fight.
As a result, many people would like to see the tradition ended. The Government of Baja California has even considered passing legislation to prohibit bullfights. Because of changing sentiment, only a handful of bullfights are held in Tijuana each year. This means you’ll have to plan your trip accordingly if you want to catch one. I recommend doing this sooner rather than later as I believe the days of bullfighting in Tijuana are numbered.
For more information about bullfighting in Tijuana, check the excellent article “Tijuana’s Last Days of Bullfighting” from Roads and Kingdoms. It provides some fascinating information about the history, current state, and future of bullfighting in Tijuana. If you don’t care to see a bullfight in Tijuana, it is worth your time to view the iconic stadium.
- Monumental Plaza de Toros (Bullring by the Sea)- This is Tijuana’s iconic bullfighting stadium. It is located near the beach in Playas de Tijuana at 551, Playas de Tijuana, 22504. This stadium opened in 1960 and holds over 21,000 people.
- Caliente Plaza de Toros- This is Tijuana’s new bullfighting stadium located on the edge of downtown at Blvd. Agua Caliente 12027, Hipodromo Agua Caliente, 22024.
Plaza Santa Cecilia
This colorful plaza is one of the oldest parts of the city. It is located at Avenida Revolucion and First Street, near the base of the Millennium Arch. Here, you can find a variety of bars, restaurants, souvenir shops, and street stands.
A large stage sits near the center. During the weekends, you’ll see mariachis playing traditional music in the plaza. Sometimes you can catch a Mexican music and dance performance.
The area is very touristy but it is worth walking through. Particularly to view the old arches behind that stage. These contrast nicely with the modern arch and are part of the original construction of the city. The area is also nicely decorated in a very colorful Mexican style.
Check out the Wax Museum
This small museum features wax sculptures of many famous American and Mexican celebrities, politicians, and historical figures. Sculptures include Sylvester Stalone, Bill Cosby, Freddie Kruger, Carlos Santana, Bill Clinton, and many more. Some sculptures look pretty good. Some look so bad it’s funny.
The wax museum also includes an interesting Mexican history room containing photos and sculptures relating to the region. This is a tiny museum but is well worth an hour or so to visit. Entry is cheap and it’s conveniently located downtown.
Location: The Wax Museum is located just off Avenida Revolución near the arch on Calle 1 (Artículo 123) 8281, Zona Centro, 22000. It’s a bit tricky to find if you’re not familiar with the area so you may want to check the map.
Price: 25 pesos or about $1.50 for general admission.
Go Watch Lucha Libre
Lucha Libre is Mexican style professional wrestling. It is a freestyle wrestling event where anything goes including a variety of impressive holds and aerial maneuvers. This is a hugely popular event all over Mexico. The sport is similar to American style wrestling with one major difference: the fighters wear colorful masks. For an example of what you’re in for, check out this Youtube video.
Matches are held at several venues throughout Tijuana. A few events are held each week around the city. For information on tickets, fight times, locations, and the fighters check out:
I’m not a wrestling fan so I didn’t know what to expect from Lucha Libre. I ended up having a blast. It’s a great place to have a beer and just enjoy the crazy show that these guys put on.
Location: The most popular and largest venue for Lucha Libre is the Municipal Auditorium Fausto Gutierrez Moreno. It is located at Boulevard Gustavo Díaz Ordaz s/n, Fracc. El Paraíso, El Paraiso, 22024.
Price: Tickets prices vary depending on the event. Expect to pay about 100-200 pesos ($5-$10) for a general admission ticket. For better seating or VIP expect to pay 500-1000 pesos ($25-$50).
Visit MUCOTI (Museo del Coleccionista de Tijuana) and MULLME (Museo de La Lucha Libre Mexicana)
This multi-level museum features two distinct sections. The first floor is a pop culture museum. Here, you’ll see collectibles from the past 70 years including toys, food and drink containers, magazines, promotional materials, and models of iconic pieces of Mexican pop culture.
If you are a fan of Lucha Libre, be sure to check out the second section of the museum which houses MULLME, the world’s only Lucha Libre museum. This section holds a private collection of over 6,000 Lucha Libre related pieces including memorabilia, masks, photos, merchandise, and hair that was ripped from heads of luchadors after a defeat. If you enjoy watching Lucha Libre, this is a great place to learn more about the history of the sport and its fighters.
Location: MUCOTI and MULLME are located in the same building at Calle Hermenegildo Galeana 8186, Zona Centro. The museum is only open on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm.
Price: 50 pesos (about $2.60)
Eat at Caesar’s Restaurant
Famous for the invention of the Caesar salad by Italian chef Cesar Cardini, Caesar’s restaurant has been serving Tijuana since 1927. Nobody knows for sure if the Caesar salad was actually invented here, but we do know that they make a great one. The restaurant specializes in French style cooking. This place is well worth a visit as it’s part of Tijuana history.
Location: Caesar’s is located downtown at Av. Revolución 1059, Zona Centro.
Price: The famous Caesar salad costs 135 pesos (about $7). This place is pretty pricey. That is to be expected as is a tourist attraction. You can see Caesar’s full menu with pricing here.
Eat Some Street Tacos
A visit to Tijuana isn’t complete without trying out some of its famous street tacos. At this point, I have traveled pretty extensively in Mexico and eaten at dozens of different taco stands. I can honestly say that Tijuana has the best tacos in Mexico.
Taco stands can be found set up on street corners and sidewalks all over the city. Sometimes you’ll wake up and a new one will pop up seemingly out of nowhere. They are all excellent.
Types of Tacos
- Carne Asada- Grilled beef
- Al Pastor- Roast pork
- Pescado- Fish
- Birria- Meat stew. Usually goat
- Cabeza- Meat from the head of the cow
- Carnitas- Shredded pork
- Chicharrón- Fried pork rinds
- Chorizo- Spicy pork sausage
- Lengua- Beef tongue
- Pollo- Chicken. Usually grilled
- Suadero- Stewed meat. Usually beef
- Tripas- Stomach or Intestines
My personal favorites are tacos al pastor. This is the reddish meat you see slowly rotating vertically in front of an open flame. Before the meat is cooked, it’s marinated with chiles and lime. It is sometimes garnished with pineapple.
Another popular choice is fish tacos. They were invented about 60 miles south in Ensenada and are famous in the region.
The best Tijuana Taco Shops
- Tacos el Franc- This is probably the most popular taco joint in Tijuana. It’s not really a stand, rather a restaurant. They’re always busy.
- Tacos Las 24 Hours- This is probably the most famous taco stand in the city. It’s located in a bit of a seedy area in Zona Norte but the tacos are killer. It’s definitely worth the walk down there. They are located at Av. C Niños Héroes 588, Zona Nte.
- Tacos El Paisa- This popular shop specializes in tacos de birria or stewed goat meat.
- Los Albañiles- This is another popular Tijuana taco stand located just west of downtown at Calle Benito Juárez 2da 7352, Zona Centro, 22000.
- La Taqueria Vegiee- This shop serves up a variety of vegetarian and vegan tacos. One of their more popular options is the portabella mushroom taco. They are located in Telefonica gastro park.
- Taconazo- This popular chain has 5 locations throughout the city. They serve a variety of Mexican foods but are most well known for their tacos.
- La Mojaritta- This place serves up some of the best fish tacos in the city.
- Tijuana Jr.- Another excellent choice for fresh fish tacos.
- Various street taco stands- Throughout the city, you’ll see dozens of roadside stands serving up fresh street tacos. Some are better than others. Try several to find your favorite.
Price: Most street taco stands in Tijuana charge about 15-20 pesos (75 cents-$1) per taco. Some types cost a bit more, like fish tacos. Some places serve small, cheap tacos for 7 pesos. For less than 5 dollars you can get 2-4 tacos and a soda. I think this is a pretty good deal for an authentic Mexican lunch.
Go to a Xolos Soccer Game
Tijuana has a professional soccer team! Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles de Caliente or The Xolos was founded in 2007. In 2011 they were promoted to Liga MX, Mexico’s professional league.
Location: Estadio Caliente in Zona Rio
Price: Decent seats start at around $30 (around 570 pesos). You can buy tickets online on Viagogo.com
Visit Parque Morelos
Tijuana isn’t the greenest of cities. In fact, it’s mostly grey and brown. To escape the concrete jungle, head over to Parque Morelos.
Opened in 1987, this large city park offers walking and biking trails, a small zoo, playground, and even a lake. They also have a small train to transport you around the park.
Take a Tour of the City
If you don’t feel comfortable walking around by yourself or you’re in a hurry, an organized tour is a great way to see Tijuana. Most of these tours are run by a local guide who knows the city like the back of their hand. They can introduce you to parts of Tijuana that you’d never find by yourself.
Most Tijuana tours pick you up in either San Ysidro or San Diego and accompany you across the border. From there, they’ll guide you around the main sites in the city. A major focus of these tours is usually food so be sure to show up hungry.
Some of the most highly rated Tijuana tour companies include:
- Tijuana Walking Tour- This company hosts tours multiple times per week. They offer a walking tour, taco tour, cultural tour, and private tours.
- Turista Libre- This local company offers private and group tours in their own bus. The tours are based on a theme and run on a rotating schedule.
Price: Basic group walking tours start at around $20 per person.
Appreciate the Street Art and Architecture of Tijuana
Tijuana is known as a cultural center of Mexico. The city is full of murals, graffiti, sculptures, street art, and interesting buildings. As you travel around the city, take some time to appreciate the art and design. Some sites to check out include:
- Tijuana Cultural Center (CECUT)- The round building, often called la bola or the ball, is probably the most recognizable building in Tijuana. The ball, which houses an IMAX theater, was designed by Pedro Ramirez Vazques and Manuel Rossen Morrison. Another interesting building called The Cube was opened nearby in 2008. It is also part of CECUT.
- Pasaje Rodriguez- This small walking street is lined with colorful street art and murals. The street has a hipster kind of vibe with bookstores, coffee shops, microbreweries, art galleries, fashion boutiques, live music, and more. Pasaje Rodriguez is located in downtown just off Avenida Revolucion.
- Tijuana Arch- This arch was built in the year 2000 to celebrate the turn of the century. It lies at the end of Avenida Revolucion. Suspended inside the arch is a giant clock.
- Downtown- As you walk around downtown, you’ll encounter various pieces of graffiti and street art.
- Playas de Tijuana- You can view some beautiful murals on the walls near the boardwalk.
- Statues and monuments- One of the most famous is a statue of Abraham Lincoln. Evidently, Lincoln was against the Mexican-American war and was friendly with Mexican president Benito Juárez. This statue is located on the third roundabout away from the border on Paseo de los Heroes. Throughout the city, you’ll stumble upon a handful of incredible statues and monuments celebrating Mexican and American history.
Grab a Meal at Telefonica Gastro Park
This trendy outdoor food court is located in Zona Rio. The park gets its name from the Tijuana telephone company located next door. Telefonica Gastro Park serves up some of the best, most innovative foods in the city.
The dining space is surrounded by various food trucks. Here, you can find tacos, seafood, Greek food, coffee, craft beer, hamburgers, barbecue, breakfast food, desserts, and much more. This is a great place to go with friends, enjoy a beer, and sample some new foods.
They also have an excellent selection of vegan options which are sometimes difficult to find in Tijuana. I’ve been told that the vegan tacos are almost indistinguishable from the real thing.
Tijuana is famous for its colectivos or food courts. This one is, by far, the best and most varied. In the center of the food court, there is picnic bench style seating. During the weekends, they have live music and other events. For more info on upcoming events, check out their Facebook page here.
Location: Telefonica Gastro Park is located at Blvd. Agua Caliente 8924, Centro, 22000
Price: Food here is a bit pricey but not unaffordable. Expect to spend about $10-$15 for a decent meal and a beer or two.
Take a Picture with a Tijuana “Zebra”
You may be surprised to learn that Tijuana is famous for it’s Zebras. Not real zebras, rather donkeys painted with stripes to look like zebras. This tradition goes back to around 1914 when the donkeys were painted with stripes so that they would show up better in photographs. Why they needed to be photographed I don’t know. Even though photography technology has improved since then, the tradition has remained.
These days, this tradition is a bit controversial. Some people think it’s tacky and others think it’s kind of cruel making the donkey stand out in the hot sun on the sidewalk all day. You decide. Tijuana Zebras are also known as Tijuana Zonkeys.
Location: You’ll see several carts set up with the zebras as you walk along Avenida Revolución.
Price: Looking is free as the zebras are just standing on the sidewalk. Expect to pay a dollar or two for a photo. You can also feed the zebras.
Visit the Red Light District
Just south of downtown lies Tijuana’s famous red light district. The area is also called Zona Norte or Calle Coahuila. Here you will find the city’s strip clubs, brothels, dive bars, and massage parlors. This area isn’t for everyone but it is an interesting part of the city to take a walk through. The two most popular clubs are Hong Kong and Adelitas.
Go Shopping at Plaza Río
This is the largest shopping center in the city. Plaza Río is an American style open-air shopping mall with over 100 stores. It was opened in 1981.
Here you will find many popular Mexican and American chain stores including bars, clothing stores, restaurants, a department store, a supermarket, and a movie theater. Occasionally the plaza hosts events like live music or holiday-themed parties. The anchor stores of Plaza Río are:
- Soriana- A large Mexican supermarket chain.
- Sears- The American department store.
- Cinépolis- A Mexican movie theater chain.
For a directory of all of the shops in Plaza Río, check out their website here.
Location: Plaza Río is located Zona Río near the Cultural Center at Prol Paseo de los Heroes 96-98, Zona Urbana Rio Tijuana, 22010
Price: Free to enter
Visit El Popo Market
This is a traditional Mexican market located in downtown Tijuana. El Popo Market is housed in a covered walking street. Here you can find locally made handicrafts, candies, fresh fruits and veggies, fresh Mexican cheeses, chilis, herbs, nuts and much more. This is just a small market but it’s worth walking through if you’re already strolling around downtown.
Location: El Popo market is located at 22000, Calle Benito Juárez 2da 8053, Zona Centro.
Price: Free to enter
Check out Tijuana’s Craft Beer Scene
For a while now, San Diego has been known for having one of the best craft beer scenes in the US. Now, its neighbor to the south has developed a scene to rival it. If you’re into craft beer, Tijuana has some of the best. Prices are reasonable as well. High-quality microbreweries have popped up all over the city in the past few years. Here are a few of the best.
- Cervecería Insurgente- This is probably the most popular craft brewery in Tijuana. Their beers have won several international awards and are being served in the US.
- Mamut- This brewery is known for serving excellent quality beer at reasonable prices. Their taproom is decorated with interesting murals and an awesome wooly mammoth sculpture.
- Border Psycho Brewery- This family-owned brewery sells some of the most widely distributed beers in Tijuana. They offer seven beers on tap dive bar styled tasting room in Plaza Fiesta.
- Norte Brewing Company- This is one of the highest-rated breweries in the city. They have won multiple awards with very little marketing. They are known for their dark porter. The taproom is a bit hard to find but it offers excellent views of downtown.
- BCB Tasting Room- This large, upscale tasting room offers over 300 Mexican and international beers.
- Cervecería Tijuana- These guys produce some of the most widely distributed beers in Tijuana. One of their most popular beers is called Bufadora Black.
To read more about Tijuana’s growing craft beer scene, check out my guide: The Best Craft Breweries in Tijuana
Tijuana History Museum (El Museo de Historia de Tijuana )
This museum is appropriately housed in one of Tijuana’s oldest buildings, the Old Municipal Palace. This building, which was built in 1921, was the original location of the Tijuana local government until 1986.
In 2006, the city restored the building and opened the Tijuana History Museum. Here, you can learn about the rich history of the city of Tijuana and the surrounding area. The museum contains historic photos and documents relating to the local people, economy, nature, sports, art, and more.
The Tijuana History Museum is very small but well done. Along with the permanent exhibit, they also have some interesting rotating exhibits so there’s always something new. It’s a nice place to stop by while you’re exploring downtown. I should note that most of the exhibits are in Spanish.
Price: Free entry
This is a traditional Mexican market located in Zona Rio. Here, you can find goods from all over Mexico including piñatas, candy, caramel, flowers, chilis, Mexican cheeses, souvenirs, and much more. Food stands are set up nearby selling tacos, ice cream, elote, coconuts, and other delicious Mexican snacks from other parts of the country.
Prices here are pretty reasonable as this market is a bit less tourist-oriented. This is an excellent one-stop-shop for all of your souvenirs for your trip to Tijuana. For more information about Mercado Hidalgo, check out their Facebook page here.
Price: Free to enter
Plaza Fiesta is an outdoor mall or colectivo where every business is a bar, brewery, or restaurant. Here, you can barhop all night without ever leaving the plaza. There are dozens of venues to explore including sports bars, dive bars, nightclubs, and punk bars. They even have a few interesting themed bars like El Depa which is designed to look like an apartment right out of the 80s.
For exploring Tijuana’s craft beer scene, Plaza Fiesta is the place to go. Around a dozen microbreweries have tasting rooms set up in the plaza where you can sample their newest brew.
This is my favorite place for a night out in Tijuana. It’s a safe, convenient place to barhop. You can experience a range of bars and brews without having to leave the plaza. It’s also conveniently located in Zona Rio.
For a more extensive writeup about Plaza Fiesta, check out this excellent article from LA Weekly.
Location: Plaza Fiesta is located directly across from Plaza Rio at Erasmo Castellanos Q. 9440, Zona Urbana Rio Tijuana, 22010
Price: Compared to California prices, this place is a bargain. Expect to pay $3-$5 for a beer. The plaza is free to enter.
Mision 19 is Tijuana’s best fine dining restaurant. When many people think of Mexican food, they expect it to be cheap. Rice, beans, tortillas, and salsa come to mind. Chef Javier Plascencia will change your mind and prove that Mexican cuisine is truly world-class. View their current menu here.
To read what the New York Times had to say about Mision 19, check out the article “Master of a New Tijuana.”
Price: For a fine dining restaurant, this place is incredibly affordable. Expect to pay around $80 for a tasting course and wine.
Take a Picture of the Monumental Arch
Probably Tijuana’s most recognizable landmark, the Monumental Arch was built in the year 2000 to celebrate the new millennium. A giant clock hangs from the center. The arch lies at the north end of Avenida Revolucion about a mile south of the border.
This is a great landmark to help keep you oriented within the city as you can see it from a distance. You can even see it from the US. The arch is also called the Tijuana Arch, Millenial Arch, or Monumental Clock.
Cool off at Albercas El Vergel Waterpark
‘El Vergel’ is Tijuana’s biggest waterpark. This crazy place has been in operation since 1964. They started with a single pool and slowly added slides and attractions over the years. These days, they have 13 pools including a wave pool and lazy river. They have multiple slides, food vendors, music, secure lockers for your belongings, a kid’s area, games, and more.
Recently the park went viral on social media with the introduction of the notorious 42 foot tall, 100-foot long ‘Slip N Fly’ slide which launches rider off a ridiculously steep incline at the bottom of the slide. Check out this Youtube video of the Slip N Fly to see what I’m talking about.
Price: For some reason this place charges by height rather than age. Tickets cost 180 pesos for anyone over 1.31 meters tall.
Location: Camino Al Vergel 1, Alamar, 22110. The best way to get here is probably by taxi or Uber. The park lies just a few miles outside of the city center.
For more info on attractions and pricing, check out the Albercas El Vergel Waterpark website.
Go See a Movie
Movie tickets are an absolute steal in Tijuana. You can watch a new release movie in a big, air-conditioned theater for 40-60 pesos (about $2-$3). That’s less than a quarter of the price of the same ticket just across the border in San Diego.
For a few pesos more, you can enjoy more comfortable reclining seats and a meal while you watch the movie in the VIP section. Prices for VIP tickets cost between 100-110 pesos ($5-$6). Food is not included but prices are reasonable. Many theaters also serve beer!
You can find movie theaters all over the city. My favorite is Cinépolis in Plaza Rio. They are located at Paseo de los Héroes 9550, Zona Urbana Rio Tijuana, 22320 This location offers both regular and VIP sections.
For more Mexican movie experience, check out Cine Tonala. This theater shows some of Mexico’s famous art-house movies. They also show live music, stand-up comedy, and cultural and art events. Check out the Cine Tonala website for their schedule.
Try Your Luck Gambling at Casino Caliente
If you’re feeling lucky, why not drop a few pesos at Casino Caliente. This place has slot machines, table games, and even sports betting. This ain’t Vegas. It’s just a small casino but it is a fun place to have a look around and play a few games. Gambling in a foreign currency is an interesting experience. They also sell food and drinks that you can enjoy while you’re gambling.
Location: Casino Caliente is located downtown at Av. Revolución 931, Zona Centro, 22200
Price: Free to enter
This is one of the few great things to do in Tijuana with kids. El Trompo is an interactive children’s museum that focuses on science and technology. In each of the six different halls, kids can participate in experiments, tests, and creative activities to learn about biology, electricity, weather, states of matter, and other scientific concepts.
For more info and pricing, check out the El Trompo website.
Just 13 miles down the coast from Tijuana lies the chill Mexican beach town of Rosarito. In the past, this was a popular getaway for Hollywood stars. For a time, it became a popular spring break destination. These days, it’s a bit more laid back. Rosarito is a great place to go to get away from the big city. Here, you will find hotels, seafood restaurants, condos, and a beautiful beach.
Getting to Rosarito is easy. From Tijuana you can:
- Drive- If you have your own car, you can simply take the toll highway 1. The ride will take about 15-30 minutes depending on traffic in Tijuana.
- Uber- You can order an Uber to pick you up right at the border. The ride will cost $15-$20.
- Take a bus- From the border, you can walk to the ABC bus station downtown. Buses leave to Rosarito several times throughout the day.
- Take a colectivo- Shared buses and minibusses travel between Tijuana and Rosarito all day. You can catch one of these colectivos downtown. The ride should only cost a few dollars.
Located about 60 miles down the coast from Tijuana is the seaside city of Ensenada. This famous city is known for being the birthplace of the fish taco as well as the starting point for the Baja 1000 race. Ensenada also has one of the region’s most important commercial, fishing, and cruise ship ports.
Things to do in Ensenada
- Eat- The city is known for its excellent seafood. Definitely try the fish tacos.
- Go fishing- Sportfishing is a fun way to spend an afternoon.
- Take a stroll- Being a cruise ship port, Ensenada is pretty touristy. The city center is friendly and walkable.
- Wine tasting- Ensenada is a popular starting point for tours to Mexico’s famous Valle de Guadalupe wine region.
How to get to Ensenada
- Drive- This is the easiest option. A well-maintained toll road will take you there quickly and efficiently. You don’t even have to stop in Tijuana.
- Take a bus- Buses leave hourly from Tijuana central bus station every couple of hours.
Visit Valle de Guadalupe
Mexico’s wine region, Valle de Guadalupe, lies just 70 miles (113 km) southeast of Tijuana. Here, around 100 wineries produce 70% of Mexican wine. This is basically Mexico’s version of Napa Valley. Valle de Guadalupe one of the fastest growing wine regions in the world.
Spend an afternoon enjoying the spectacular reds. Explore the beautiful scenery of the valley. This region is known for its unique Baja Mediterranean fusion style cuisine as well.
If you don’t want to make the trip to Valle de Guadalupe, the next best option is to go wine tasting in one of Tijuana’s wine bars. A couple of the best wine bars in Tijuana include:
- G Salinas Enoteca- This place carries a handpicked selection of some of the best wines from Valle de Guadalupe.
- Baja Terra- This sophisticated little place offers a great selection of Valle de Guadalupe wines. It’s also a great spot for a date.
Visit a Doctor, Dentist, or Pharmacy
Medical tourism in Tijuana is booming. Because the price of healthcare has gotten so high in the US, many Americans chose to travel to Tijuana take advantage of reasonably priced prescriptions, medical care, and dental care. For example, many prescriptions cost less than half of what they do in the US. Dental procedures are around 30% cheaper on average. The quality is the same plus you get to make a vacation out of the trip.
For more information, check out my guide: Healthcare in Tijuana for Americans: Visiting a Clinic, Going to the Dentist, and Buying Prescriptions.
A Few Tips for Visiting Tijuana
- Bring your passport- If you cross on foot, you’ll need it to get into Mexico. You’ll also certainly need it to return to the US. Either the book or card style is fine.
- Bring pesos- You almost always get a better deal by paying in pesos. You can change dollars for pesos at one of the currency exchange booths in San Ysidro before you cross. You can also withdraw pesos from any ATM in Tijuana. Be sure to notify your bank or credit card company that you plan to use your card in Mexico first. For some card recommendations, check out my guide: The Best Credit and Debit Cards for International Travel.
- Check the wait time at the border before crossing- During rush hour and on holidays, there can be a several-hour wait to cross. You can check the current wait at the US Customs and Border Protection website here.
- Spend the night- Most tourists just spend the day then head back to San Diego. For the full Tijuana experience, spend the night and enjoy the legendary nightlife.
For some more tips, check out my guide: 25 Mexico Travel Tips.
Where to Stay in Tijuana
- Hotel Ticuan- This historic mid-range hotel is centrally located in the city on Avenida Revolucion.
- Tijuana Marriott Hotel- Probably the most upscale hotel in the city, the Tijuana Marriott is located in Zona Río.
- Hotel Lucerna Tijuana- Another popular more upscale option. Hotel Lucerna is located in Zona Río.
- LifeStyle Hostel- This is the best-rated hostel in Tijuana. They are located in Playas de Tijuana.
- Hostel California- This one is conveniently located near the border.
- Mi Casita de Colores- Another well-rated hostel. Unfortunately, the location is a bit far from the city center.
One thing to remember when making a trip to Tijuana is the fact that your health insurance from back home most likely won’t cover you in Mexico. For that reason, you may want to purchase travel insurance for your trip to Tijuana.
I like World Nomads. I have used them for pretty much all of my international trips and have had good luck with them. They can cover you in the event of a theft, injury, or medical emergency. For more information and a free quote, check out my travel insurance page.
Tijuana is growing and changing at such a rate that there is always something new and exciting to do. New restaurants, bars, and cafes are opening up all over the city. The beautiful Pacific Ocean is just a few miles from the city center. Best of all, Tijuana is convenient to reach from all over Southern California. After living here for a year, I can say that I love this city.
For information on transportation to and around Tijuana as well as info on the visa, money, and more, check out my Ultimate Guide to Visiting Tijuana.
If, after your trip, you end up falling in love with Tijuana as I did, check out my guide: Moving to Tijuana as an American.
Have you visited Tijuana recently? Share your experience and suggestions in the comments below. I’m always interested to hear about new places to check out and new restaurants to try!