Tijuana (often affectionately called TJ), is a border city just south of San Diego that functions as the gateway to Mexico. It is home to the San Ysidro Port of Entry, the busiest land-border crossing in the entire world with 300,000 people crossing between the U.S. and Mexico each day. As the largest city in Baja, Tijuana is a major industrial and financial center of Mexico. It is also a city that often gets a bad reputation for things ranging from drunken gringos, cheap tequila and touristy zonkey rides, to violence and drug wars. For years, many people have been either repulsed by or afraid of Tijuana. But all of that is changing.
Tijuana had its first major growth period in the 1920s and 30s during the days of U.S. Prohibition when Americans would come down to Tijuana where they could legally gamble and drink. Everyone from gangsters and partygoers to Hollywood celebrities would come down to frolic. Tijuana became known as a place for hedonism and lawlessness, a reputation that stuck for decades.
But today, Tijuana is going through a cultural renaissance. Around 2007, when Americans started to feel afraid to come to Tijuana because of stories of violence, narcotrafficking and drug cartels, the city, which had relied on tourism as a major economic source, suffered greatly. Throughout Tijuana, establishments shuttered their doors and closed up shop. But then a beautiful thing happened – the Mexicans reclaimed their city. In place of the touristy bars and souvenir shops that had once populated Avenida Revolución and the downtown area, art galleries, gourmet restaurants and craft breweries opened. Chefs in Tijuana are leading the revolutionary Baja Med food movement in northern Baja, the downtown area is now a mecca for artists and musicians, and the city is a revitalized, cultural happening-spot. This gateway city is reestablishing itself as a worthy destination instead of just a border town for passing through. Don’t miss it.
Things to do in Tijuana Checklist:
-Check out the CECUT cultural center where you can take in an IMAX movie, visit the Museum, check out the aquarium or view any of the other rotating exhibits. Free entrance on Sundays.
-Walk along the boardwalk in Playas de Tijuana, taking in the beautiful beach, the bullfighting ring, and the fence dividing San Diego and Tijuana.
-Eat at Food Garden, an urban street food garden with mini-locations of famous Tijuana eateries.
-Stop by the famous Caesar’s Restaurant on Avenida Revolución to have a Caesar salad at the birthplace of the popular dish.
-Don’t miss the street tacos. There are tons of stalls and food carts everywhere with delicious tacos. Look for the carts or stalls that have a crowd of locals gathering around.
-Take a stroll through Pasaje Rodriguez where you’ll find an enclosed alley with small art galleries, performance spaces, cafes, and shops. Don’t miss the street art painted along the walls and closed shop doors.
-While San Diego has become the capital of the craft beer brewing industry, Tijuana is not far behind. You can check out a variety of regional beers at the Baja Craft Beers Tasting room, or try visiting some of the breweries directly like at Mamut or Cerveza Tijuana.
-Spend the afternoon on the famous Avenida Revolución street where you’ll find shops, restaurants, bars and pasajes to explore.
-Check out Mercado Hidalgo, a large Mexican market with fresh produce and meats, food carts, candy shops and restaurant supply store.
-Treat your palette to Baja Med cuisine, a fresh blend of traditional Mexican cuisine with Mediterranean ingredients, showcasing the fresh and local Baja produce, seafood and meats. Misión 19 or La Querencia are both world-class restaurants and local favorites.
From gourmet restaurants to the best street tacos in Mexico, there are tons of great places to eat in Tijuana. TJ is developing itself on a global level as a gastronomic destination, and leading the way for the Baja Med food movement that’s sweeping northern Baja. For more recommendations on restaurants and other things to see and do in Tijuana, check out the DBTC Blog for our stories on Tijuana.
Office of Tourism
Avenida Revolución between 2nd St. and 3rd St.
GPS: 32.535058, -117.036822
U.S. Consulate in Tijuana
Paseo de las culturas s/n Mesa de Otay
Delegación Centenario Tijuana, BC C.P. 22425
General Info: (664) 977-2000
Information and appointments for visas: (664) 140-6041
State of Emergency Department: (202) 647-5225 (24 Hours / 7 Days a Week)
Download Tijuana city maps from Cotuco with hotels, restaurants and points of interest listed: Map of Downtown Tijuana and Map of Playas de Tijuana
Baja’s Board of Tourism has Information about Tijuana and the independent Tijuana tourism websites www.venatijuana.com and www.descubretijuana.com are good as well.
Weather in Tijuana is moderate year-round and very similar to weather in San Diego. Average highs are in the high sixties during the winter and average highs reach the high seventies during the summer. For more details, see our Baja Weather Page. Current weather in Tijuana:
Looking for a place to stay in Tijuana? Check out our recommendations for Tijuana hotels, including those that give a discount to Discover Baja members!