What to do in Tijuana
Playas de Tijuana
The Boardwalk in Playas de Tijuana is a link circuit of four miles of interconnected pedestrian bridges from the Azteca Park to the border with United States of America in the city of Tijuana. Here you can see the Mexican-American border run into the Pacific Ocean. Along the boardwalk you can see diverse art murals, shop from local artisans or enjoy a variety of Mexican snacks. On the main strip there are a variety of fresh seafood restaurants serving fish tacos, oysters, shrimp cocktails, ceviche, or aguachile at affordable prices.
Zona Rio is Tijuana’s business district, therefore packed with traffic and plenty to do. Tucked inside Plaza Rio Shopping Mall is one of the Tijuana’s most exciting projects, Food Garden – not your typical food court. Instead of food chains, we have stalls run by young chefs with different culinary proposals that are unique to Tijuana and the region.
Across Plaza Rio you find Plaza Fiesta, which is a densely packed area of drinking establishments. In 2014 there was a strong shift by the local craft beer scene to exhibit their beers in unique tasting rooms. With 10 different tasting rooms from breweries around the region, you can taste over 100 different beers any given day. It was best described by a friend, “it’s like a beer festival every day!”
Tijuana may be a city with very little remanence of traditional Mexican culture due to its short history, but what little we have can be found in Zona Rio. 1st we have our Cultural Center, or Centro Cultural Tijuana (CECUT) – La Bola for locals. Inaugurated in 1986, CECUT has grown over the years. Currently it houses a 3 story hall called El Cubo (The Cube) with rotating national and international exhibits. A permanent exhibit detailing the history of Baja California and Tijuana is situated next to el Cubo, where you will also find a botanical garden and an aquarium. The sphere itself (La Bola) is an IMAX dome screening natural or cultural documentaries.
Neighboring Plaza Fiesta is Mercado Hidalgo, Tijuana’s answer to a farmer’s market – before they were called that. Mercado Hidalgo is where locals and tourists come to experience a little bit of the real Mexico. Cenadurias (Mexican café), fruit stalls, vegetables, spicy candy, piñatas, mole paste, tortilla press and a never-ending assortment of spices from all over the country can be found here. It is extremely colorful so have your phone cameras ready. Don’t miss the coffee shop in the middle of the market with a chapel on the second floor, it is very inexpensive and brews exclusively Mexican coffee beans.
Centro translates to Center or Downtown. The real downtown of Tijuana is Zona Rio, but Avenida Revolucion remains the historic center of the city and its very soul. El centro comes to define the very essence of this city – from 1st street to 8th street along Avenida Revolucion. If you’re into people watching and the unraveling chaotic symphony that is Tijuana, have a drink in Praga Coffee House. If you want to enjoy a great meal and sip on tequila, try Cesar Restaurant. Walk along Pasaje Rodriguez to check out murals by local artists and have a beer at Mamut Brewery. Drag yourself up the elevator of parking lot along 4th St. up to the 5th floor to find Norte Brewing and enjoy a great view while sipping on their hoppy Penthouse IPA. Head to 2nd st for some hot chocolate and mole tamales at Casa del Cacao. Along 6th st you’ll find all the cool kids drinking in divey cantinas where it’s still allowed to smoke inside or walk half a block up into Colectivo 9 and enjoy grilled octopus temaki (sushi cone). A few more steps up and you’ll find the two newcomers to El Centro, Cine Tonala and Teorema/Ludica Tasting Room.
The nice and more upscale side of town, Chapultepec refers to the surrounding neighborhood of Calle Sonora. It’s the Revolución Avenue for those who’ve landed a stable 9-5 Monday through Friday. There’s Paseo Chapultepec which is a two-story modern mall with various restaurant like Cabanna, a bar and grill focusing on fresh seafood. Next door there’s Barezzito with their Thursday’s lady’s night for all young roaming bachelors or Club 54 if you’re looking for bottle service. Keep moving up the street and you’ll find Pub de la Chapu tucked behind 4-car parking lot, a local’s favorite with your typical Irish bar paraphernalia on the wall and sports games on the screen. If you make it all the way up the street you find someone celebrating their birthday at Cafesito Saverios, a tiny little café serving the best Italian food in the city run by the Plascencia family.
Caliente Casino/Caliente Stadium
Casinos run deep in the history of Tijuana, they were the reason Sinatra, Chaplin, Rita Heyworth and Al Capone allegedly visited the city during its early boom. Caliente Casino now hosts greyhound races every day for eager patrons waving their winning tickets. People constantly ask incredulously what exactly does a casino in Tijuana have. Well, this casino is still big business and offers all the playing tables and ringing lever money suckers you will need. Right next door, the same owner built Caliente Stadium for his Club de Futbol, Los Xoloitzcuintles de Tijuana. With a 30,000 person capacity, the atmosphere during match day is electrifying and beers go for less than 2 dollars – need I say more. Next to the stadium there’s Galerias Shopping Mall, with several restaurants and bars on its second floor – perfect for a quick appetizer and beer before the game.
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