Tijuana Travel Guide
Welcome to my Tijuana Travel Guide! I hope you've seen my quick video guide before reading here for a more detailed post! I spent a nice Sunday afternoon exploring some areas of Tijuana when we drove down to San Diego. If you're curious about the process of walking across into Mexico, how the customs process is or just what Tijuana is all about, you are in the right place. Tijuana, Mexico is a food haven and is undergoing a culinary revolution and innovation. Below I've mapped out my experience getting there and plenty of places to check out to take in the culture and cuisine.
Grab your passport and let's head to Baja California, Mexico. Before you go be sure to convert some cash into pesos and park your car at the Border Station Parking lot for around $8 for the day. Getting there, we took a bus service for about 10 dollars roundtrip, paid in cash. It was not worth it however because it is a time consuming process. Most of the time is spent waiting for people loading and unloading their belongings (luggage, etc) in the bus. I've detailed the experience below.
First everyone gets picked up at the border station parking lot and the bus shuttle drives us to the border. Once here, everyone must get off the bus, taking their belongings and luggage with them. On foot, we are then required to fill out a form and go through customs. This process goes pretty quickly dependent on how busy the station is. We went on a Sunday afternoon so it could be take more time during peak days and hours. At this point, you have officially landed in Mexico.
From here people are asked to have their bags scanned and you walk to the bus and wait for everyone to go through this process and load things back on the bus in Tijuana. From here the shuttle drives into Tijuana before stopping once again to ask who is going to Avenida Revolución or Revolutionary Avenue. At this point all the tourists, yes tourists, raise their hands and are asked to get off the shuttle. From here we get on a smaller shuttle and are driven directly to Avenida Revolución. The drop off point was a tequila/liquor store and we are given a map of the street and possible times at which we can come back to go back to the United States.
By foot, the process is a lot quicker as we learned coming back. We missed the shuttle so we took a taxi to the PedWest Pedestrian Bridge connecting Mexico and the United States. Please note that PedWest only grants access northbound into the United States from Mexico. From here you just walk all the way across up some ramps and the glass enclosed bridge until you walk down some stairs into a customs station. It can be a long walk so be prepared. This process is very quick during off-peak hours but be prepared for long lines if it is peak hours. At last, you are back in the United States before you know it. Of course the PedWest station is next to a duty free shopping center and not too far from the border station parking lot.
To go southbound, there is the Eastern entrance which grants access both northbound and southbound. It is a similar process although it may take longer because there are less lanes here. Below I have linked walking directions to both ports of entry in relation to the parking lot.
Also known as Revolution Avenue. This long street has many street vendors, stores and dining options. Along Avenida Revolución lies Caesar's Hotel; the birthplace of the original Caesar salad. On Avenida Revolución you can find tons of shops with leather goods, vanilla, tequila and more. I highly recommend converting your cash into pesos before crossing into Mexico to avoid any issues with inconsistencies. After a nice walk down Avenida Revolución, the famous Tijuana Arch that towers over the city will be straight ahead.
A short taxi ride away is the Centro Cultural Tijuana or Cultural Center of Tijuana. The architecture of this building is stunning against the blue skies. The The OMNIMAX theatre is a large IMAX theatre housed inside the dome. Behind this is a building with various arts and culture exhibitions. There is also a botanical garden in the back to stroll around. The cultural center also maintains library adjacent to the giant dome in addition.
At the end of Plaza Rio there is the Food Garden Market housed in a separate building behind the cinema. It takes about 10 minutes to walk unless you go through Plaza Río, an open air shopping center, at a leisurely pace. This food hall is filled with numerous delicious food options and has a very nice ambiance away from the tourist attractions on Avenida Revolución. Choose from Baja Californian inspired ramen at Tajima or classic Mexican dishes at the various stalls such as La Escondidita. Afterwards indulge in some outstanding ice cream/popsicles at Ciadely Ice Cream. Ciadely has a variety of fresh fruit flavors, delicious chocolatey options and more. I personally enjoyed their kiwi pop which had a fresh kiwi in the center. I must come back for some more delicious ice cream for sure.
Other great options for a longer visit:
Caesar's is known for their Caesar Salad as mentioned before.
Av. Revolución 1079, Zona Centro, 22350 Tijuana, B.C., Mexico
A cute coffee shop with some interesting flavors. Come for happy hour for some crafted cocktails at the Brik 10 location.
1, Calle Decima 208, Zona Centro, 22000 Tijuana, B.C., Mexico
I really want to come back to Tijuana and try some tacos here. It's on my list for my next trip. The food looks delicious but unfortunately the trip here would have taken too long since it was further into Tijuana and we needed to get back to San Diego by a certain time.
Sonora 3808-2, Chapultepec, 22020 Tijuana, B.C., Mexico
Las Ahumaderas or Taco Alley
Anthony Bourdain has featured this famous alley with various taco vendors. This is definitely on my list for next time. If you aren't too full from all the delicious options above, come here for some authentic tacos.
Avenida Guillermo Prieto 9770, America, 22044 Tijuana, B.C., Mexico
Drive up north 30 minutes from San Ysidro and you'll find yourself in Sunset Cliffs Natural Park. The views are stunning at sunset which is why they are so famous. Grab a picnic basket or blanket and settle in to watch the sunset. It's the perfect way to end your day if you are only visiting Tijuana during the day. Sunset Cliffs gets packed so I recommend getting there early to snag a spot and be prepared for traffic afterwards as everyone leaves.
Next time I visit Baja California, I really want to plan for Rosarito and try their famous fried lobster. We originally had plans to visit a resort there but due to unforeseen circumstances and some uncertainty, we cancelled that leg of our trip. It is definitely on our list for the future when everything aligns! Let me know if you have any questions down below! Although my trip was short, I managed to explore quite and bit and would love to come back to Tijuana in the future. Tijuana is a hidden gem and I highly recommend checking it out if you are ever in San Diego and have a passport!