Before moving to LA, I lived in San Diego for about 10 years but also spent nearly every summer in San Diego growing up. I crossed the border regularly in my 20’s, either taking the trolley to the border and walking across or driving to the border parking lots and taking the bright red, hard-to-miss Mexicoach. I drove across more than half the time as well, usually because I was heading further than Tijuana. Although it has been a few years since my last visit (due to a hectic LA schedule), going to eat at some of the restaurants were the standout experiences for me. One of those restaurants I remember well was La Casa de Mole. Their chilaquiles were (and I’m sure still are) some of the best around. (Read some reviews here).
With a recovering economy, a greater sense of safety pushing revitalization of all kinds of eateries, San Diego Union-Tribune’s Border Reporter, Sandra Dibble has offered readers favorable introductions on the culinary buzz in Tijuana.
I asked a friend of mine, who lives in Tijuana and commutes to San Diego weekdays for his job, what he enjoys most about Tijuana. Here are a few of his favorite things:
“Tijuana has an amazingly vibrant arts scene. One of my favorite annual events is Opera en la Calle. The local Opera company has a 2-day street festival with a beautiful stage that goes all day long with all kinds of music and selected scenes from famous operas. It’s amazing. I always think, “this would never happen in San Diego.” A FREE outdoor festival celebrating OPERA! And the place is packed with people of all ages, rich and poor alike, young and old, families. It just makes me happy to be here. Or the annual book festival. Imagine the streets of the Gaslamp District closed down for three or four days to celebrate books and authors. Free to attend. That is what happens every year on Avenida Revolucion. Or something as simple as going to the movies – tickets are $3-4 and most are in English anyway, subtitled in Spanish, I love it, helps me to continue to learn Spanish. Better yet, try the VIP Theatres where for about $7 you can choose which seat you want from an electronic map of the theatre. And these seats are huge overstuffed leather seats that fully recline. Push the button next to your seat and a waiter arrives to take your order. Popcorn and Nachos of course, but you can also order sandwiches, crepes, sushi, a cocktail, glass of wine or dessert. When they arrive with the order a small glass table swings in front of you and small table lamps lights. It makes movie going a whole different experience. And the dining – the food scene has really taken off in Tijuana.”
Last year, Tijuana celebrated its 121st birthday and the Tijuana Committee of Tourism and Conventions developed a list of 121 things to do in the city.
Here are a few to get started:
- Dine at Mision 19, a Javier Plascencia restaurant
- See a movie on the IMAX screen at CECUT or attend a cultural event
- Eat a spicy shrimp taco at El Mazateño taqueria
- See an exhibit at El Cubo, the public art gallery
- Visit the wax museum, one of only two in Mexico
- Check out the embroidery and guayabera shirts at Hand Art on Avenida Revolucion
- Eat a molcajete at Los Remedios
- Enjoy a concert at El Foro/Palacio Jai Alai
- Take a yoga class and then have lunch near the ocean at Yogurt Place, a restaurant and yoga studio in Playas
- Visit El Trompo Interactive Museum
- Eat at Tacos el Gordo, a famous local taqueria with locations in San Diego, too
- Eat a torta at Tortas Washmobile, one of the city’s oldest food stands.
- Taste a slice at Pastel de Crepas de Tijuana, in Rincon San Roman
- See a Xoloiztquintles soccer game at Caliente Stadium
- Eat beet carpaccio and blue cheese at La Querencia restaurant, home of Baja-Mediterranean cuisine
- Enjoy Baja California wines closely in Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico’s most thriving wine region
Some other resources to help you learn more about what to do in Tijuana and beyond:
Discover Baja California – Tijuana (English)
See Tijuana (Spanish)
Tijuana City Tour (English)
Tijuana Online (Spanish)
This video below is in Spanish as well, but it will give you a good idea of some of the activities you can enjoy on a visit to Tijuana.
Also, if you have any suggestions or recommendations, please feel free to comment below.