If you’re in the Southern California area, I would highly recommend a dip across the border into Tijuana. The crime and drug scene that dominated the news a few years back is practically gone, and a new Tijuana is emerging. I was pleasantly surprised to see that Tijuana is revamping itself with an exciting craft brew scene and making headlines with their innovative cuisines.
If you’re unsure how to plan your day trip, check out my Ultimate Guide to Tijuana post!
I’ve put together a list of the top things to do in Tijuana. I’ve combined a little bit everything: traditional Tijuana (mariachi bands and zebra-striped donkeys), with the newer hipper scene that’s emerging!
As an FYI, it’s good to know the zones within Tijuana:
- Zona Centro – Features the downtown Tijuana and the famous Avenida Revolución that’s popular among day-trippers
- Zona Rio – More upscale shopping and dining
- Zona Norte – The red light district, especially Calle Coahuila
18 Things to do in Tijuana
1. Avenida Revolución
Avenida Revolución is the heart of downtown Tijuana, and is where you’re gonna want to start. It’s Tijuana’s main street and has numerical cross streets, 1 through 11. The northern limit is 2nd street (towards Zona Norte – the red light district), and southern limit is 8th street. The base from where Avenida Revolución takes off is the giant arch, which has become the symbol of downtown Tijuana.
2. The Hipster Side Streets
Off of Avenida Revolución you’ll see a few side streets where Tijuana’s hipster scene hangs out. These are particularly fun to explore and I’m hoping for more of this in Tijuana’s future.
- Pasaje Rodriguez – Here you’ll find pop up clothing shops, cafés, and even record stores.
- Pasaje Revolución – Similar to Pasaje Rodriguez, this is also an indoor alley off the Avenida Revolución with a sign pointing you where to go. It kinda looks like a small indoor mall with shops on the top floor and some cafés and breweries on the bottom.
- Colectivo 9 – I really enjoyed this spot! Down a little indoor alley you’ll find some little shops along the alley, and at the end you’ll find a bunch of craft food stalls. Yum!
Check out my post for more on Tijuana’s hipster scene!
3. Baja Med Cuisine
Baja Med cuisine is hot right now! With an emphasis on seafood and fresh local ingredients, this fusion consists of a blend between Mexican cuisine, Mediterranean influences such as fine wines, olive oil, herbs and spices and Asian influences. Dive into some grilled octopus, gourmet tostadas, and sashimi.
For Tijuana finest baja med restaurants, try La Querencia or El Taller Baja Med Cocina, which both feature Chef Miguel Angel Guerrero. Or you could try Misión 19 or Erizo, which are owned and operated by Chef Javier Plascencia. Both chefs are icons of Baja Med cuisine.
4. The Festivals
Tijuana hosts many festivals all year round! From food, beer, wine, tequila, music, and art…whatever your interest is, you’re bound to find a festival for it!
Stay updated with everything that’s going on by checking out Tijuana’s events calendar.
5. Dinner at Verde y Crema
One of Baja California’s top chefs, Chef Jaír Tellez, opened Verde y Crema (Green & Cream) after the success of his Guadalupe Valley restaurant, Laja. Verde y Crema has a very welcoming atmosphere with a relaxed, open air feel and rustic design. The menu is constantly changing depending on fresh ingredients for the season, but some stand out options are the roasted beet taco, Korean tacos with carne asada, summer squash, paired with some of the best Mexican craft beers.
6. La Playa
“La Playa” translate to “the beach” in English, and is where the Tijuana’s beaches are located…hence the name. They are a popular spot to hang out, and there are many watersport activities available such as surfing, body boarding, and kayaking.
7. Casa Cacao
A café dedicated to chocolate? I have died and gone to cacao heaven. This cozy little shop draws you in with its compelling Mexican-chic décor and enticing aromas.
The hot chocolate is excellent, but if you’re feeling peckish, they serve food as well. The owners are very friendly, and you can feel their passion as they explain to you the history of the cacao plant.
Stay tuned – they’re expanding right next door into a larger space for their restaurant. I can’t wait to go back and dine in!
8. Plaza Fiesta or La Plaza
Without a doubt, Plaza Fiesta is the mecca of craft brew in Tijuana. Here you’ll find some popular bars like El Tigre and El Depa, and the Insurgentes and Legion tasting room. With a lively night scene, you’ll want to be here on a Friday or Saturday night to truly enjoy the brew culture.
9. Caesar’s Restaurant
If you’re in Tijuana, you have to try the world famous Caesar’s Restaurant – where the caesar salad was invented! The restaurant has very nice upscale décor with white table cloths and a roaring 20’s atmosphere.
10. Mercado Hidalgo
Mercado Hidalgo is an energetic and colorful market I stumbled upon on accident while looking for Plaza Fiesta (#7). Located in Zona Rio, this local market is a great place to buy fresh fruit and vegetable, as well as many other items. What’s great is you can purchase as much as you’d like because you can actually bring your items back to the U.S. with you!
11. The Bar Scene
If you’re wanting to enjoy the nightlife, 6th street (or la sexta) is the bar scene and where you’ll want to be.
12. Cultural Center
Also in Zona Rio is Tijuana’s impressive Cultural Center. It is the second largest cultural museum in Mexico and features an aquarium, art exhibits, an IMAX theatre, and a large esplanade, which acts as a venue for performances, festivals and expos.
13. Telefonica Gastro Park
My favorite! Located off Avenida Ocampo, this place is food truck paradise. Definitely come here with an appetite and veg out under one of the umbrella covered picnic tables to sip wine and enjoy the ambiance.
14. Plaza Saint Cecilia
This colorful and fun plaza represents the Tijuana of old with mariachi bands and restaurants galore. Get ready for goblet sized margaritas and lively entertainment!
15. Mercado El Popo
This traditional market is located in downtown Tijuana. As soon as you walk in you’ll be immediately enticed by the stacks of fresh cheeses and sweets! You can buy anything here from spices and herbs to kitchenware and candles.
16. Tijuana Cathedral
This lovely Catholic Church is located in downtown Tijuana and is Tijuana’s oldest church. Its full name is Our Lady of Guadalupe Cathedral (Catedral de Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe). The most notable piece of the church is the clock bell towers.
Along the street you can easily fine shops featuring Mexican folk art and traditional clothing, leather goods, cheap jewelry and souvenirs. In the Zona Rio neighborhood there are two large malls that also have a variety of stores and restaurants.
18. Food Garden
This charming food court is where the best of Tijuana’s street food vendors have gathered! Try fun blends of healthy and tasty creations such as cucumber lime mint agua frescas, a veggie guacamole burger, and a variety of different flavored chilaquiles.
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These are my favorite things to do in Tijuana! Love to know your thoughts below!