A visit to Tijuana makes for an excellent day trip. The city is famous for its wild nightlife. It’s also packed full of Mexican culture. In recent years, Tijuana has also become an amazing food and drink destination. In this guide, I’ll list the 34 best things to do in Tijuana. Under each destination, I’ll include the cost and location. I’ll also share a few interesting day trips you can take from Tijuana.
In Tijuana, there is something for everyone including museums, shopping, restaurants, bars, clubs, parks, beaches, galleries, sporting events, outdoor activities, and more. There are activities for singles, couples, and families.
At this point, I’ve been living in Tijuana for about a year. During that time, I have gotten to know the city pretty well. I’ve visited all of the top tourist sites. I’ve sampled countless bars, restaurants, and street food stands. I have also stayed in many hotels and lived and multiple neighborhoods. I have absolutely fallen in love with this city. In this guide, I’ll share my knowledge and help you plan the perfect visit to Tijuana.
A Bit of Info About Tijuana
Tijuana is the 5th largest city in Mexico and one of the fastest growing with a metro population of about 1.8 million. The city is considered a cultural center of the country. Tijuana claims to be “the most visited city in the world” because around 50 million people cross the border into the city every year.
Unfortunately, Tijuana has earned a bad reputation due to the high rate of crime that the city has experienced. For over a decade, tourism dried up and the city became quite depressing. Reports of violent crime and scams scared many people away from visiting. Crime is still an issue. Check out my guide to staying safe in Tijuana for more info.
Over the past few years, Tijuana has gone through a major Renaissance. Trendy restaurants, bars, cafes, breweries, and food stands are opening up all over town. The city is building infrastructure and making improvements all over. Safety is improving. Tijuana is back and better than ever. It is no longer a dusty border town.
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 tourist sites, museums, attractions, and restaurants that the city has to offer:
Table of Contents
1. Tijuana Cultural Center (CECUT)
2. Avenida Revolución
3. Playas de Tijuana
4. El Popo Market
5. Plaza Río
6. Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe
7. Pasaje Rodríguez
8. El Trompo Museum
9. Caesar’s Restaurant
10. The Monumental Arch
11. Watch Lucha Libre
12. MUCOTI and MULLME Museum
13. Eat street tacos
15. Plaza Santa Cecilia
16. Casa de la Cultura
17. Parque Morelos
18. Telefonica Gastro Park
19. The Wax Museum
20. Albercas El Vergel Waterpark
21. Mercado Hidalgo
22. Tijuana History Museum
23. Watch a bullfight
24. Street art and architecture
25. Zona Norte
26. Mision 19 Restaurant
27. Craft beer tasting
28. Watch a Xolos soccer game
29. Casino Caliente
30. Plaza Fiesta
31. Go to the movies
32. Take a photo with a Zonkey
33. Take a Tour
34. Go to the dentist
Places to Visit Near Tijuana
Valle de Guadalupe
1. Tijuana Cultural Center (CECUT)
The Tijuana Cultural Center (CECUT), is one of the most recognizable places in the city. The complex is divided into three sections.
The main building, called La Bola, is known for its unique spherical design and sand color. The structure was designed by the famous architects Pedro Ramírez Vázquez and Manuel Rosen Morrison. It was built in 1982.
The Tijuana cultural center features a museum, 360° IMAX cinema, 6000 seat event hall, restaurant, aquarium, garden, and bookshop. Over 1 million people visit here each year to learn about the history and culture of Baja California.
The permanent exhibition of the museum, called Museo de las Californias, focuses on the early history of the Baja Peninsula and the U.S. State of California.
Inside the museum, you can view over 200 pieces showing the history of the region from prehistoric times through the middle of the 20th century. A major focus of the museum is the native people of the region. The museum also covers the Mexican War of Independence and the Mexican Revolution.
You’ll see local art, photographs, artifacts, and reproductions. This includes folk art and artifacts from the Cochimí and Yuman native groups who inhabited the region, artifacts from pre-hispanic cities, and a replica of a 16th-century Spanish ship. There are also replicas of the rock paintings that are found in Sierra de San Francisco.
The cube-shaped building, called El Cubo, hosts international exhibitions. The IMAX cinema shows a variety of movies and documentaries. Four films premier here each 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.
The Tijuana Cultural Center is located in Zona Río, about 1.3 miles from the border. The address is: Paseo de los Héroes 9350, Zona Urbana Rio Tijuana, 22010 Tijuana, B.C. Here is the location on Google Maps.
Tickets cost 48 pesos (about $2.50) for general museum entry. Entry is free on Sundays. Occasionally, an exhibit or concert takes place in the courtyard. These are usually free to enter.
2. Avenida Revolución
Avenida Revolución is Tijuana’s famous tourist street. This is the main road passing through Zona Centro (downtown Tijuana). The avenue is lined with bars, restaurants, cafes, breweries, souvenir shops, hotels, street food stands, galleries, street art, and pharmacies.
Here, you will also find some of Tijuana’s famous sites such as the Monumental Arch and Plaza Santa Cecilia. Around the plaza, you might see some live musicians playing Norteño music. This colorful avenue is the heart of Tijuana. It’s a great place to take in the sights, sounds, and colors of Tijuana.
For the best experience, start at the northern end of Avenida Revolucion, near the arch then take an 8 block stroll down the entire street. Also, take a walk down Santiago Argüello and Calle Primera. These walking streets intersect Avenida Revolucion at the arch.
Avenida Revolucion is a great place to shop for souvenirs. You’ll find a range of shops selling handicrafts including leather goods, silver jewelry, clothes, pottery, lucha libre masks, toys, figurines, tequila, and much more.
Avenida Revolucion is also a great place to grab a bite to eat. You’ll have a wide range of options including street food stands, casual tourist restaurants, the iconic Caesar’s, and fast food.
It’s worth taking a walk down Avenida Revolucion at night as well. The bars and clubs open up and blast music into the street. The party begins at around 10 pm. Avenida Revolucion is a great spot to experience some of Tijuana’s legendary nightlife. The street is bustling at all hours of the day and night. Here is the location of Avenida Revolucion on Google Maps.
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.
3. Visit Playas de Tijuana and go to the Beach
While visiting Tijuana, it’s easy to forget that you’re on the coast because most of the city’s attractions sit a few miles inland. Playas de Tijuana is the city’s westernmost neighborhood. It sits right on the shore of the beautiful Pacific Ocean. A trip to Mexico wouldn’t be complete without visiting the beach.
This laid-back neighborhood is a great place to take a stroll, enjoy some fresh seafood, shop for souvenirs, and lay on the sand and watch the waves. This is also a perfect place to watch the sunset.
Playas de Tijuana has one long beach that stretches around 4 km from the border to Puente la Joya. Along the northern end of the shore, you’ll find a beautiful malecón or boardwalk where you can stroll or bike. The boardwalk is lined with restaurants, cafes, bars, food stands, shops, and murals.
Probably the most interesting site to see in Playas de Tijuana is the border fence at the northern edge of the beach. From the beach, you can see the fence extending 300 feet (about 90 meters) into the Pacific Ocean.
At the northern end of the beach, you will find El Parque de la Amistad (Friendship Park). This unique binational park straddles the border. The border fence bisects the park. There is a special section of the fence where friends and families can meet and speak in person across the international border. The US side of the wall is controlled by the U.S. Border Patrol. Access is not limited on the Mexican side.
You can find some excellent restaurants, street food stands, and beach bars in Playas de Tijuana. Definitely try the fish tacos. Baja is famous for them. Fresh oysters, clams, ceviche, octopus, 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. Particularly if you’re traveling with family or children. The neighborhood has a completely different vibe than Southern California beach towns. If you don’t have time to travel south to other popular beach towns such as Rosarito and Ensenada, I highly recommend a visit to Playas de Tijuana.
4. Visit El Popo Market
This traditional outdoor market is a great place to learn about the local culture in Tijuana. Here, you can shop a wide range of locally produced products. You’ll also learn about some of the products that locals buy and sell in Tijuana. El Popo Market is housed in a covered walking street. It’s located in downtown Tijuana.
At El Popo market you can find locally made handicrafts, cured meat, candies, fresh fruits and veggies, fresh Mexican cheeses, sun-dried chilis, herbs, spices, nuts, cookware, candles, soaps, jewelry, souvenirs, and much more. You can also buy fresh food ready to eat such as tacos, sliced fruit, corn, juices, etc.
This is a small local market. You can walk through in just a couple of minutes. It’s popular among tourists because it’s conveniently located downtown. El Popo market is located just a block and a half east of Avenida Revolucion on Calle Benito Juárez (Segunda). Here is the location on Google Maps. A walk through El Popo Market is a great way to take in the sights, smells, and colors of Tijuana.
5. Go Shopping at Plaza Río
Plaza Río is an American-style open-air shopping mall. This is the largest shopping center in Tijuana. It covers more than 73,500 square meters and has over 100 stores. The mall opened in 1981. Plaza Río is located in Zona Río, near the Cultural Center.
Here, you will find many of your favorite Mexican and American chain stores. There are bars, clothing stores, restaurants, coffee shops, department stores, a supermarket, book stores, banks, and a large movie theater.
A few popular businesses you’ll find in Plaza Río include Soriana hypermarket, Cinépolis movie theater, Sears, Starbucks, and McDonald’s. For a directory of all of the shops in Plaza Río, check out their website here.
Plaza Rio is very family-friendly. Occasionally the plaza hosts events like live music or holiday-themed parties. This is also a great place to grab a bite to eat. You’ll find a range of Mexican, American, Italian, and Chinese restaurants here. It’s also a nice area to take a walk around.
Plaza Río is located Zona Río near the Cultural Center on Paseo de los Heroes Zona Urbana Rio Tijuana.
6. La Catedral Metropolitana de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe
Tijuana’s main cathedral, Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, is located right in the middle of downtown in Plaza Bicentinario. Built in the early 20th century, this was the first catholic church in the city.
The church’s design uses a mix of colonial and neo-classical architecture. It features two towers with square columns and crosses on the top, a clock, and an image of Our Lady above the entrance.
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.
To the right of the cathedral, you’ll find a small walking called Pasaje Bicentenario. This cozy street is lined with small shops and restaurants. On the weekends Plaza Bicentenario and the surrounding streets are set up with small carts where people sell selling fresh produce, souvenirs, food, etc.
Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe is located at 2da. 7982, Centro, 22000 Tijuana, Just two blocks west of Avenida Revolución.
7. Pasaje Rodríguez
Pasaje Rodriguez is a covered alleyway in downtown Tijuana that is lined with art, bookstores, coffee shops, bars, restaurants, souvenir shops, galleries, fashion boutiques, hole-in-the-wall shops, and more. This cozy and colorful street has a hipster kind of vibe. It’s a great place to take a stroll, enjoy the art and culture, and grab a coffee or beer.
The best part of Pasaje Rodriguez is the art. The walls and metal shutters are all painted with spectacular murals. Many of the vendors sell beautiful hand-made goods such as jewelry, paintings, pottery, and textiles. Occasionally, a live band plays at one of the cafes.
Pasaje Rodriguez is a great place to whitness the revitalization of Tijuana. Originally, the alleyway functioned as a covered shopping area. Over the years, it fell into disrepair. In 2009, the alley was opened for a few days for a local art festival. Young artists and entrepreneurs took the dilapidated alley over and developed it into the colorful and welcoming place that it is today.
The best time to visit Pasaje Rodriguez is during the first Friday of every month. A festival, party, or exhibition is usually hosted on this day. Evenings are also a great time to visit. All of the shops are open and the street is very active.
Pasaje Rodriguez is located in downtown Tijuana. The entrance is on Avenida Revolucion. Here is the location on Google Maps.
8. El Trompo Interactive Museum
El Trompo is an interactive children’s museum that focuses on science and technology. It is popular among both locals and tourists alike. This is one of the best things to do in Tijuana with kids.
The museum promotes a hands-on approach to learning about science and technology. A wide range of scientific concepts are covered including electricity, computer programming, astronomy, the environment, robotics, biology, physics, and more.
The four-story museum contains six different halls (salas in Spanish) and over 100 pieces to explore. In each hall, kids can participate in crazy science experiments, fun activities, and games that test their reasoning, understanding, and creativity. There is also a staff member in each hall who can help explain the exhibits.
The museum also hosts cultural and science shows, conferences, book presentations, films, and concerts in their 4000 seat outdoor auditorium.
El Trompo is located to the southeast of Tijuana, near Parque Morelos. Here is the location on Google Maps. General entry costs 59 pesos (about $6). There is a 20 peso fee for parking (around $1). For more info, check out the El Trompo website.
It’s important to note that the museum is geared toward Spanish speakers. Some exhibits may be difficult to understand without Spanish.
9. Eat a Caesar Salad at Caesar’s Restaurant
Did you know that the Caesar salad was invented in Tijuana? As the story goes, restaurateur Cesar Cardini wanted to serve dinner to some friends. He didn’t have much to offer them so he decided to serve what he had on hand. He tore some romaine lettuce into small pieces and mixed up a dressing with olive oil, egg, garlic, Parmesan cheese, and Worcestershire sauce. The result was a delicious salad.
In 1927, chef Cesar Cardini opened Caesar’s Hotel in downtown Tijuana. The salad was added to the menu of the hotel restaurant and named in his honor. Caesar’s Restaurant still serves the famous Caesar salad to this day.
Nobody knows for sure whether or not the Caesar salad was actually invented in Tijuana, but we do know that Caesar’s Restaurant makes a great one.
Waiters prepare the famous Caesar salad tableside. The famous Caesar salad costs 135 pesos (about $7). This place is pretty pricey. That is to be expected as is a tourist attraction.
Of course, the restaurant serves other food as well. Caesar’s restaurant specializes in French-style cooking. You can view their full menu with pricing here (this is a PDF link). This place is well worth a visit as it’s part of Tijuana’s history.
If you’re visiting Tijuana in early June, consider attending the annual Caesar Salad Festival. It takes place on Avenida Revolucion in front of Caesar’s.
Caesar’s Restaurant is located in downtown Tijuana at Av. Revolución 1059.
10. Take a Picture of Tijuana’s Monumental Arch
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.
The Arch is a great place to start your trip to Tijuana. While standing at the base, you’re at the corner of Avenida Revolucion and Calle Primera. You can see Plaza Santa Cecilia to the southwest. This is the heart of Tijuana.
The Arch is also a great landmark to help keep you oriented within the city as you can see it from much of the city. You can even see it from the border. The arch is also known as the Tijuana Arch, Millenial Arch, Monumental Clock, or simply El Arco.
11. 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.
The fights are hugely popular 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 to expect, check out this Youtube video.
Lucha Libre 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 The Crash Facebook Page and Lucha Libre de Tijuana Facebook Page.
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.
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.
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).
12. 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 can 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 wrestling, be sure to check out the second floor which houses MULLME, the world’s only Lucha Libre museum. This museum 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.
MUCOTI and MULLME are located in the same building in downtown Tijuana on the corner of Avenida Revolucion and Calle Hermenegildo Galeana. The address is Calle Hermenegildo Galeana 8186, Zona Centro.
The museum is only open on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm. Entry costs 50 pesos (about $2.60).
13. Eat Some Street Tacos
A visit to Tijuana isn’t complete without trying out some of its famous street tacos. I have traveled pretty extensively in Mexico and eaten at dozens of different taco stands. I can confidently say that Tijuana has the best tacos in Mexico.
A few of the most popular types of tacos to try while visiting Tijuana include:
- Carne Asada- Grilled beef
- Al Pastor- Roasted pork
- Pescado- Fish
- Birria- Meat stew. Usually goat
- Pollo- Chicken. Usually grilled
- Carnitas- Shredded pork
- Chicharrón- Fried pork rinds
- Chorizo- Spicy pork sausage
- Lengua- Beef tongue
- Suadero- Stewed meat. Usually beef
- Tripas- Stomach or Intestines
- Vegan- Filled with mushrooms, plant-based meat, or cooked veggies
I highly recommend you try some fish tacos while visiting Tijuana. They are a local specialty. They were invented about 60 miles south in Ensenada and are famous in the region.
The Best Tijuana Taco Shops
Taco stands can be found set up on street corners and sidewalks all over the city. Most restaurants also serve tacos. A few of the best taco joints in Tijuana include:
- Tacos el Franc- This is probably the most popular taco joint in Tijuana. They’re always busy.
- Tacos Las 24 Hours- This is one of the most famous taco stands in the city. It’s located in a bit of a seedy area in Zona Norte. Their tacos are killer. They are located at Av. C Niños Héroes 588, Zona Nte.
- Tacos El Paisa- This popular shop specializes in tacos de birria.
- Los Albañiles- This is another popular Tijuana taco stand located just west of downtown at Calle Benito Juárez 2da 7352, Zona Centro.
- 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. They’re located by the beach in Playas de Tijuana.
- 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. Try several to find your favorite.
Most street taco stands in Tijuana charge about 15-25 pesos (75 cents-$1.25) per taco. At a restaurant, you might pay a bit more. For around than 5 dollars you can get 2-3 tacos and a soda. I think this is a pretty good deal for an authentic Mexican lunch.
14. Enjoy the Nightlife
Tijuana is famous for its wild nightlife. Since the days of prohibition, Americans have been crossing the border to Party in Tijuana. Over the years, it’s become a bit of a tradition.
There are a wide range of nightlife options in Tijuana. You’ll find everything from nightclubs to dive bars to strip clubs to wine tasting and everything in between.
Avenida Revolucion is the most popular nightlife destination for visitors. Here, you’ll find pubs, bars, taprooms, and nightclubs. In Zona Rio, you’ll find some more upscale options as well as some larger nightclubs. Along Calle Brasi, you’ll find some trendier establishments. If you’re looking for gentlemen’s clubs, head to Zona Norte. This is one of North America’s largest red light districts.
15. Plaza Santa Cecilia
This colorful plaza is one of the oldest parts of Tijuana. It is located at the intersection of Avenida Revolucion and Calle Primera, near the base of the Millennium Arch.
Around this lively plaza, you’ll find a variety of bars, restaurants, souvenir shops, pharmacies, and dentist offices. The businesses here all cater to tourists. The staff is usually English speaking.
A large stage sits near the center of the plaza. During the weekends, you can catch live music and dance performance. You’ll often hear mariachis playing traditional music around the plaza.
Plaza Santa Cecilia is historically significant as well. While wandering through the plaza, be sure to check out the crumbling brick arches near Calle Primera. These are the remains of Tijuana’s original construction. They create an interesting contrast with the modern shiny metal Millennium arch nearby. Old meets new. This is really the birthplace of Tijuana.
The plaza is also colorfully decorated. You’ll see plenty of Mexican flags and colors. Red, white, and green streamers hang from wires above the plaza. This is a great place to take some pictures to help you remember your trip.
This area is very touristy but it is worth walking through. Plaza Santa Cecilia is located here.
16. Casa de la Cultura de Tijuana
Casa de la Cultura is one of Tijuana’s oldest and most iconic buildings. It was designed by Guerrero Preciado in the early 20th century. The architect modeled the building after a school in Yuma, Arizona. The large brick building features a beautiful facade with large columns.
The building was originally used as an elementary school. During WWII, it was used by the military as a “centro de organización”. In 1975, it was declared a cultural site in Tijuana. In 2014, it was listed as a historical site in the state of Baja California. It is also considered a site of historical heritage in Mexico.
Today, the Casa de la Cultura is used as a cultural center. While visiting, you can walk around the grounds, appreciate the architecture, and learn about the history of the city. The grounds outside are also a nice area to walk around. If you’re interested in dance, classes are frequently offered here. Various cultural events are hosted here throughout the year as well.
17. 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, a playground, and several gardens. There is even a small lake where you rent boats. There is also a small train to transport you around the park. Around the park, you’ll find a number of food stands where you can grab a cheap and tasty lunch.
This is a public park. It’s free to enter. Parque Morelos is located in the southeast section of the city. Here is the location on Google Maps.
18. Grab a Meal at Telefonica Gastro Park
Telefonica Gastro Park is a trendy outdoor food court that serves up some of the most unique and innovative foods in the city. The park gets its name from the Tijuana telephone company located next door. This is a great place to go with friends, enjoy a beer, and sample some new foods.
Here, you can find a wide range of international and local options including tacos, seafood, Greek food, ramen, burgers, BBQ, fusion food, breakfast food, desserts, and more. You’ll also find an excellent selection of vegan and vegetarian options which are sometimes difficult to find in Tijuana. Many of Tijuana’s best craft beers are served here as well. There are also a couple of great coffee shops.
Most of the food and drinks are served from food trucks. There are also a couple of pop-up restaurants and kiosks. In the center of the park, there is a nice family-style seating area.
Tijuana is famous for its colectivos or food courts. This one is, by far, the best and most varied. During the weekends, they have live music and other events. For more info on upcoming events, check out their Facebook page here.
Telefonica Gastro Park is located in Zona Rio at Blvd. Agua Caliente 8924, Centro, 22000. Food here is a bit pricey but not unaffordable. Expect to spend about $10-$15 for a decent meal and a beer or two.
19. 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. The wax museum also includes an interesting Mexican history room containing photos and sculptures relating to the region.
The sculptures vary in quality. Some look pretty realistic. Some look comically bad. This is a tiny museum. It takes less than an hour to walk through and see everything.
The Wax Museum is conveniently located in downtown Tijuana on Calle Primera, about a block from the arch. The address is Calle 1 (Artículo 123) 8281, Zona Centro, 22000. Entry costs 25 pesos or about $1.50 for general admission.
20. 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, the park offers 13 pools including a wave pool and lazy river. They have multiple waterslides, 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 riders 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.
Albercas El Vergel Waterpark is located at 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 some reason this place charges by height rather than age. Tickets cost 180 pesos (around $9) for anyone over 4 feet tall.
For more info on attractions and pricing, check out the Albercas El Vergel Waterpark website.
21. Go Shopping at Mercado Hidalgo
Mercado Hidalgo traditional Mexican market located in Zona Rio. This is an authentic market where many locals shop for food and goods that they use in their homes. It’s a great place to immerse yourself in the local culture of Tijuana.
At Mercado Hidalgo, you can find goods from all over Mexico including piñatas, candy, flowers, fresh fruits and veggies, dried chilis, Mexican cheeses, textiles, pottery, handicrafts, toys, souvenirs, appliances, artwork, and much more. Food stands are set up selling tacos, ice cream, elote, coconuts, and other delicious Mexican snacks from other parts of the country.
This is an excellent one-stop shop for all of your souvenirs for your trip to Tijuana. Prices here are pretty reasonable as this market is a bit less tourist-oriented than the downtown markets.
22. 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. Built in 1921, the building was the original location of the Tijuana local government until 1986. In 2006, the city restored the building and opened the Tijuana History Museum.
The Tijuana History Museum is very small but well done. 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.
Along with the permanent exhibit, you can also view some interesting rotating exhibits. There’s always something new to check out here. It’s a nice place to stop by while you’re exploring downtown. I should note that most of the exhibits are in Spanish.
The Tijuana History Museum is located at Calle 2ª s/n, Zona Centro, 22000 Tijuana. The museum is free to enter.
23. 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 the Spanish imported the tradition. Many people associate bullfighting with Tijuana as it was once an incredibly popular event in the city. There is even a stadium named for the event called the “Plaza de Toros.”
Recently, bullfighting has seen a major decline in popularity. Many people find it to be barbaric, cruel, and inhumane. This is understandable as the bull is killed at each fight. As a result, many people would like to see the tradition end. 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. If you wish to view a bullfight, I recommend planning your trip sooner rather than later as the days of bullfighting in Tijuana may be 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. For information on bullfighting events and tickets, check the Tijuana Bullfights Facebook page or the Border Bullfights website.
Bullfights are held at two different locations in Tijuana. Monumental Plaza de Toros (also known as the Bullring by the Sea) is Tijuana’s iconic bullfighting stadium. It is located near the beach in Playas de Tijuana at 551, Playas de Tijuana. This stadium opened in 1960 and holds over 21,000 people. Caliente Plaza de Toros is Tijuana’s newer bullfighting stadium located on the edge of downtown at Blvd. Agua Caliente 12027, Hipodromo Agua Caliente.
If you don’t care to see a bullfight in Tijuana, it is worth your time to view the iconic stadium.
24. 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. Nearby, you’ll see El Cubo or the cube, another recognizable building.
- Tijuana Arch- This giant shiny metal arch was built in the year 2000 to celebrate the turn of the century. Suspended inside the arch is a giant digital clock.
- Murals of Pasaje Rodriguez- This small walking street is lined with colorful street art and murals.
- Murals of Playas de Tijuana- You can view some beautiful murals on the walls near the boardwalk.
- Monuments along Paseo de los Heroes- Along this road, you’ll find a series of 5 statues and monuments located in the center roundabouts in the center of the road. On the north end, near Plaza Rio and CECUT, you’ll find Monumento México. A couple of blocks south, you’ll find the Monument to Emperor Cuauhtémoc. A few blocks south, you’ll find a statue of President Abraham Lincoln. If you continue walking south, you’ll find the Monumento al General Ignacio Zaragoza. A couple of blocks south, you’ll see Monument to President Lázaro Cárdenas.
25. Visit Tijuana’s Infamous Red Light District (Zona Norte)
Just north of downtown lies Tijuana’s red light district. The area is known as Zona Norte or Calle Coahuila. Here you will find the city’s strip clubs and brothels as well as a range of bars. A couple of the more famous clubs include Hong Kong and Adelita’s.
This area certainly isn’t for everyone but it is an interesting part of the city to take a walk through and grab a drink. It is also one of the city’s most touristy neighborhoods. It’s important to note that this area isn’t family-friendly.
This area can be a bit dangerous, so take some normal precautions against robbery and pickpocketing while walking around here. I was inside a bar during an armed robbery here. Police presence is high here but crime still happens.
26. Have Dinner at Mision 19
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. To read what the New York Times had to say about Mision 19, check out the article “Master of a New Tijuana.”
For a fine dining restaurant, this place is incredibly affordable. Expect to pay around $100 for a tasting course and wine. That’s a bargain compared to what you would pay for a similar dining experience just across the border in San Diego.
Mision 19 is located at Misión de San Javier 10643, VIA Corporativo Zona Urbana Río. You can view their current menu here.
27. Check out Tijuana’s Craft Beer Scene
San Diego is known for having one of the best craft beer scenes in the US. Over the past few years, Tijuana has developed a scene of its own 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. A few of the best include:
- 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 in their 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 offers excellent views of downtown.
- BCB Tasting Room- This large, upscale tasting room offers over 300 Mexican and international beers. It’s a great place to sample a variety of Mexican beers.
- Cervecería Tijuana- These guys produce some of the most widely distributed beers in Tijuana.
To read more about Tijuana’s growing craft beer scene, check out my guide: The Best Craft Breweries in Tijuana
28. 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.
The Xolos play at Estadio Caliente in Zona Rio. Here is the location on Google Maps. Tickets are pretty affordable. Decent seats start at around $30 (around 600 pesos). You can buy tickets online on Viagogo.com
29. 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.
In Tijuana, you can bet on all major sports leagues including the NBA, NFL, college sports, and more. There are no tax withholdings on winnings in Mexico. All casinos are cashless. You load money onto a card to play with. You can cash out when you’re ready to leave.
Casino Caliente is located downtown at Av. Revolución 931, Zona Centro. The casino is free to enter. You do need to be 21 years old and have a valid photo ID in order to play any games.
30. Plaza Fiesta
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 write-up about Plaza Fiesta, check out this excellent article from LA Weekly.
Plaza Fiesta is located directly across from Plaza Rio at Erasmo Castellanos Q. 9440, Zona Urbana Rio Tijuana. Compared to California prices, this place is a bargain. Expect to pay $3-$5 for a beer. The plaza is free to enter and walk around. Most of the bars and clubs do not charge a cover.
31. 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 and 120 pesos ($5-$6). Food is not included but prices are reasonable. Many theaters also serve beer!
If you don’t speak Spanish, be sure to check the language before you buy a ticket. Most Hollywood movies are shown in English with Spanish subtitles. Some are dubbed into Spanish.
You can find movie theaters all over the city. My favorite is Cinépolis in Plaza Rio. This large theater is located at Paseo de los Héroes 9550, Zona Urbana Rio Tijuana. This location offers both regular and VIP sections.
For a 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.
32. Take a Picture with a Tijuana “Zebra”
You may be surprised to learn that Tijuana is famous for its Zebras. Not real zebras, rather donkeys painted with stripes to look like zebras. Tijuana Zebras are also known as Zonkeys.
Supposedly, 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.
Tijuana Zebras are a bit controversial. Some people think it’s tacky and others think it’s kind of cruel to make the donkey stand out in the hot sun on the sidewalk all day. You decide. Personally, I think it’s kind of sad but it’s part of the culture.
You’ll see Tijuana Zebras as you walk along Avenida Revolución. They usually have a colorful cart next to them where you can pose. They also have some straw and water sitting in front of them.
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.
33. Take a Tour of Tijuana
Maybe you don’t feel comfortable walking around Tijuana or crossing the border by yourself. Maybe you only have a couple of hours to spend in the city. In these cases, an organized tour is a great way to visit the city.
Most Tijuana tours pick you up in either San Ysidro or San Diego and transport you across the border in a private vehicle. Some tours meet in downtown Tijuana. 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. You’ll also have a chance to do some souvenir shopping. After the tour, they’ll drop you off back at the border. Some take you all the way back to your hotel.
Most tours are run by local guides who grew up in Tijuana. They can introduce you to parts of the city that you’d never find by yourself. A couple 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.
- Border Tours- This company offers tours of Tijuana as well as a number of other destinations in Baja California.
Basic half-day group walking tours start at around $20 per person. Expect to spend $60-$120+ for a premium full-day tour with private transport. You can also hire a private guide and design your own tour.
34. Visit a Doctor, Dentist, or Pharmacy
Medical tourism in Tijuana is booming. Because the price of healthcare has grown so high in the US, many Americans chose to travel to Tijuana to take advantage of reasonably priced prescriptions, dental care, and medical care. If you’ve been putting off your annual checkup, consider getting it done in Tijuana.
Many prescriptions cost less than half of what they do in the US. Dental procedures are around 30% cheaper in Tijuana on average. Doctors’ visits, medical treatments, and surgeries are significantly cheaper as well.
The quality of care is generally very high. As a bonus, you get to make a vacation out of the trip.
For more information, check out my guide: Healthcare in Tijuana for Americans.
The Best Places to Visit Near Tijuana
Tijuana is a great place to spend a couple of days. If you’re spending more time in the area or taking a road trip through Baja, you might consider exploring the surrounding area. There is lots to see and do in Northern Baja. In this section, I’ll outline a few interesting places to visit near Tijuana.
Just 13 miles (20 km) down the coast from Tijuana lies the chill Mexican beach town of Rosarito. This is the first resort area you’ll encounter after crossing the border. It’s essentially a suburb of Tijuana.
In the past, Rosarito was a popular getaway for Hollywood stars including Orson Welles, Katharine Hepburn, and Rita Hayworth. These days, it’s a bit of a spring break destination. It’s also a great place to go to get away from the big city of Tijuana. Here, you will find resort-style hotels, a beautiful beach, a number of bars and clubs, and some excellent restaurants.
The main draw to Rosarito is the beach. It’s much longer and wider than Tijuana’s. The sand is better too. If you’re a fan of watersports, this is the place to go. You can swim, surf, paddleboard, kayak, or fish in the ocean. It’s also possible to rent ATVs or go horseback riding on the sand. There are beach volleyball courts as well.
Rosarito is also a great destination if you’re looking for a resort experience. You can stay in the iconic Rosarito Beach Hotel. This large resort sits right on the ocean. It has multiple pools, restaurants, and beach bars. This historic place has been in operation since 1925.
Along the beach, you’ll find a range of bars and clubs. The most famous club is called Papas and Beer. Rosarito is a popular destination for American spring breakers.
Getting to Rosarito is easy. From Tijuana, you can drive, take a taxi, take a taxi de ruta (shared minibus), or take a bus. To drive to Rosarito, simply hop on Highway 1. This toll road will take you there in 20-30 minutes. A taxi ride from Tijuana to Rosarito costs $15-$25. If you’re on a budget, a taxi de ruta costs just 21 pesos (around $1). You can also catch a bus from the ABC bus station near the border.
For step-by-step instructions, check out my guide to traveling from Tijuana to Rosarito.
Just south of Rosarito lies the costal village of Puerto Nuevo. Since the 1950s, this area has become famous for its lobster. In fact, it’s sometimes referred to as the ‘lobster village’ of Baja California. Every October, a lobster festival is held in here.
In the restaurants in and around this tiny town, over 100,000 lobsters are eaten each year. One of the most popular dishes is lobster tacos. they’re served on flour tortillas with refried beans. Of course, you can also get a traditional boiled lobster tail. Pair your lobster with a local wine from the nearby Valle de Guadalupe.
The beaches around Puerto Nuevo also offer some excellent surfing. Just north of town there is an excellent beach break.
Located about 65 miles (104 km) down the coast from Tijuana lies the seaside city of Ensenada. The trip from Tijuana to Ensenada takes about 1.5-2.5 hours depending on the mode of transport you take and traffic. A visit here makes for a great day trip or weekend trip.
Ensenada is the third largest city in the state of Baja California with a population of around half a million. It was the capital of the Baja Territory from 1882-1915. Today, Ensenada is home to one of Mexico’s most important commercial, fishing, and tourism ports.
Ensenada is a popular tourist destination for road trippers, cruisers, and domestic tourists. Over 4 million people visit the city per year. Some of the best things to do here include:
- Eat and Drink-Ensenada is an excellent foodie destination. The city is famous for its excellent seafood. Definitely try the fish tacos. Supposedly, they were invented here.
- Take a stroll- You’ll find a beautiful strip of restaurants and small shops along the waterfront. There is also a large park near the harbor called Ventana al Mar.
- Go surfing- Just north and south of the city, you’ll find some excellent surf spots including 3 M’s, Stacks, and California Trailer Park.
- Go fishing- Sportfishing is a fun way to spend an afternoon.
- Visit La Bufadora- This is a natural blowhole that is located about 24 miles south of Ensenada.
- Go whale watching- Between December and April, Gray whales migrate through the waters off the coast.
- Visit Caracol Centro Científico y Cultural- This is an interactive science museum and planitarium located in central Ensenada.
- Watch the Baja 1000- This off-road motorsport race starts in Ensenada.
- Attend carnival- Ensenada hosts a large carnival celebration every year.
- Watch the Newport to Ensenada Yacht Race- The race ends in Ensenada.
- Attend the Grape Harvest Festival- The region’s wineries set up stalls and offer tastings at this festival every August.
From Tijuana, you can drive or take the bus to Ensenada. To drive there, simply hop on Highway 1 south. This toll road takes you directly to Ensenada. Busses depart from Tijuana Linea station and the central bus station hourly. For step-by-step instructions, check out my guide to traveling from Tijuana to Ensenada.
Wine Tasting in Valle de Guadalupe
Mexico’s top 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 is one of the fastest-growing wine regions in the world. It is also becoming a hugely popular tourist destinations.
Spend an afternoon enjoying the spectacular wines. Explore the beautiful scenery of the valley. Stay in a comfy bed and breakfast. Sample the region’s unique Baja Med cuisine.
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. One of the best wine bars in Tijuana is G Salinas Enoteca. This place carries a handpicked selection of some of the best wines from Valle de Guadalupe. Baja Terra is another excellent option. This sophisticated little place offers a great selection of Valle de Guadalupe wines. It’s also a great spot for a date.
A Few Tips for Visiting Tijuana
- Bring your passport- You’ll need it to enter Mexico and return to the US. Both book and card style passports are accepted. You can no longer visit Mexico with just a driver’s license or birth certificate.
- Spend pesos- Even though dollars are accepted everywhere in Tijuana, you’re always better off paying in pesos. You always get a better exchange rate when you pay in pesos. You can change dollars for pesos at one of the currency exchange booths in San Ysidro before you cross the border. Alternatively, you can withdraw pesos from any ATM in Tijuana. For some card recommendations, check out my guide: The Best Credit and Debit Cards for International Travel.
- Spend the night- Many tourists just spend a few hours in Tijuana then head back to San Diego. For the full Tijuana experience, spend the night and enjoy the legendary nightlife.
- Check the wait time at the border- During rush hour and on holidays, the wait to cross the border from Tijuana back into the US can be well over 2 hours. Before you head to the border, check the current wait at the US Customs and Border Protection website here. You can save some time by crossing late at night or early in the morning. The wait to cross into Mexico is much shorter. Usually less than 15 minutes.
For some more tips, check out my guide: 25 Mexico Travel Tips.
Where to Stay While Visiting Tijuana
There are loads of hotels and motels in Tijuana. Most of them are fine but you do have to be a bit careful while booking low-budget properties. There are a couple of reasons for this.
First is security. You don’t want to stay in a sketchy neighborhood. Some parts of Tijuana become dangerous at night. I have also heard stories of visitors having items stolen out of their rooms while they were out. Noise can also be an issue if you’re staying downtown or in Zona Norte. Dishonest managers can also try to overcharge you when you check out. Cleanliness can be an issue as well in some low-end hotels.
You can avoid all of these issues by staying in a reputable hotel in a touristy area. It’s also a good idea to read some reviews before you book. If you spot any negative reviews about theft or bed bugs, keep looking.
There are some excellent hotels in Tijuana. A few of the best include:
- Hotel Ticuan- This historic mid-range hotel is centrally located in the city on Avenida Revolucion. The location is excellent. Prices are reasonable as well.
- Hotel Lucerna- This luxury hotel is located in Zona Rio, just two miles from the border. It’s a great option for families. This is one of the more popular hotels in the city.
- Tijuana Marriott Hotel- This is probably the most upscale hotel in the city. It’s a great place to stay if you’re looking for a predictable chain hotel experience. The Tijuana Marriott is located in Zona Río.
- Dali Suites- This mid-range hotel is a great choice if you want to stay within walking distance of the beach.
- Paris Hostel- This hostel is conveniently located downtown. This is a great choice for backpackers and budget travelers who don’t mind staying in a dorm. Private rooms are also available.
- Hotel Pacific- This budget hotel offers clean and basic rooms, wi-fi, parking, and 24 hour reception.
Airbnb is also an option. I always used to stay in an Airbnb when visiting Tijuana. Over the past few years, prices increased substantially. These days, it’s cheaper and more comfortable to stay in a hotel in most cases. If you’re planning to spend more than a week in Tijuana, you might be able to score a good deal on Airbnb with a weekly discount.
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. For that reason, you may want to purchase travel insurance.
I like World Nomads. I have used them for pretty much all of my international trips. 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.
Final Thoughts About the Best Things to do in Tijuana
Tijuana is growing and changing at such a rate that there is always something new and exciting to do. New restaurants, bars, clubs, and cafes are opening up all over the city. The beautiful Pacific Ocean lies just a few miles from the city center. Within a couple of hours’ drive of Tijuana, you’ll find some spectacular beach towns as well as Mexico’s premier wine region. A visit to Tijuana makes for an excellent day trip or weekend trip.
Best of all, Tijuana is convenient to reach from all over Southern California. You can easily drive to the border, park, and walk across. From San Diego, you can take the trolley directly to the border. It’s also possible to travel to Tijuana by Greyhound bus.
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.
After living here for a year, I can say that I love this city. 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!
More Tijuana Guides from Where The Road Forks
- Is Tijuana Safe? Avoiding Common Scams and Crime
- How to Drive to Tijuana
- How to Park for Free at the Tijuana Border
- Tijuana Police Corruption: How to Avoid Paying Bribes
- Inside a Tijuana Bar During an Armed Robbery
- How to Walk Across the Border to Tijuana
- Traveling from San Diego to Tijuana by Bicycle
- Taking Taxis and Using Uber in Tijuana