There are plenty of things to do in Tijuana to warrant spending a long weekend in the colorful city. The Mexican city sits in the state of Baja California, just across the border from San Diego.
It is a popular day trip destination for people traveling in California that want to experience a taste of Mexico during their trip. Equally, it is a popular land crossing border for those relocating to or road-tripping through, Mexico.
Tijuana offers rich cultural experiences, mouthwatering local gastronomy, adventures in nature, and vibrant nightlife. From museums and the best of the best of urban life to beautiful peaceful beaches and ample green spaces, Tijuana has it all.
The famous Avenida Revolucion in the historic downtown is riddled with places to shop, iconic bars, restaurants, and top tourist attractions. The city center houses historic buildings and the city is filled with lively neighborhoods to explore.
Best things to do in Tijuana
Visit the famous Mercado de Hidalgo
The Hidalgo market is located in the zone of the city known as Zona Rio and is one of the most emblematic sites of the city of Tijuana. This place is a Tijuana institution and thousands of locals and tourists alike have passed through its passageways since it first opened its doors back in 1955.
The market offers an immense variety of products that you won’t find anywhere else in town.
You can find everything here – from fresh produce and traditional food and drink to beautiful artesanías and locally made crafts. The market is a sight to remember in itself.
It is known for its lively and traditional feel and it has a vibrant atmosphere and colorful decor all around. Pick up some unique Mexican souvenirs and browse around for exotic products.
Sample street food delicacies from across the country
Finish off your visit to Mercado de Hidalgo with a steaming cup of Chiapas coffee or a light snack at one of their food stalls. For a quintessentially Mexican treat, try some delicious tacos or quesadillas topped with fresh guacamole and cream.
The different regions of Mexico are known for their different regional cuisine. For instance, Yucatecan food is very different from the food that you will find in the state of Jalisco.
Fortunately, you don’t have to venture to all corners of the country to be able to sample authentic, regional fare. Vendors from various Mexican states travel to the Mercado de Hidalgo to sell their wares.
Here, you will find semitas from Puebla, tamales from Chiapas, etc. You will also be able to find several ingredients that can be great to cook with if you are staying in self-catered accommodation.
For instance, artisanal cheeses from Northern Mexico, homemade chocolate mole, and a diverse selection of coffee beans from Chiapas, Veracruz, Oaxaca, etc. The Hidalgo market is a hub of Mexican and Tijuana culture where you will certainly find what you’re looking for in a Mexican market and so much more!
Experience the Tijuana nightlife at Avenida Revolucion
Tijuana is internationally known for its nightlife. So, if you’re looking for the ultimate Tijuana nightlife experience, there is no better place to be than Avenida Revolucion.
Avenida Revolucion is located in the heart of Tijuana’s city center and is part of the historic downtown. It has been a historic tourist spot since the beginning of the twentieth century. Back then, it was particularly popular among American tourists that crossed the border from California to escape the restrictions of the Prohibition Era from 1920 until 1933.
It was the first major road in the city to be paved and gained special traction during this time. People from across the border in the US would cross the border seeking to purchase alcohol and other restricted products.
The avenue consists of eight blocks filled with restaurants, bars, casinos, cantinas, and dance clubs. It has undergone several transformations and changes in reputation during its history.
Experience Avenida Revolucion in the daylight
By night, Tijuana’s Avenida Revolucion is one of the most raucous spots in town. By day, it is an interesting place to shop and check out iconic regional museums.
Among the bars and cantinas, you’ll find a number of iconic museums and cultural spots along the avenue, including the famous Wax Museum and The Emporium. The latter is where local artists sell jewelry, ceramics, and artesanías of all kinds.
The Emporium is located beside the historic Caesar Restaurant/Hotel and has grown to become a key tourist attraction at Avenida Revolucion. Grab lunch at one of the lovely and tasty restaurants along the avenue and shop till you drop!
Whether you’re visiting during the day or at night, you will inevitably catch a glimpse of the Arco Monumental Reloj de Tijuana at the base of the avenue. The arco is a visual symbol of the city of Tijuana that symbolically greets tourists and locals at the entrance of the city.
Eat a caesar salad in the birthplace of caesar salad!
Did you know that caesar salad was invented in Tijuana? The creation of the caesar salad is attributed to the Italian chef and restauranteur, Caesar Cardini.
Cardini operated a number of restaurants across Mexico and the United States in the first half of the 20th century. He allegedly whipped up the first-ever caesar salad in history one crazy busy night in Tijuana during the Prohibition Era in the US.
On the Fourth of July of 1924, Cardini was called up to his restaurant in Tijuana where people had crossed the border in huge numbers looking to avoid the restrictions of Prohibition for their Fourth of July celebration. This caused a complete and unforeseen depletion of ingredients and supplies at Cardini’s kitchen that night.
It is said that he worked with what little he had. From there, the famous caesar salad was born! Today, everyone can visit the Caesar Restaurant in the city center and have an original caesar salad while enjoying the elegant atmosphere and the 1920s feel of the restaurant.
Take a walk along the Plaza Santa Cecilia
Also located in the historic downtown area, just across the arches from Avenida Revolucion, is the Santa Cecilia Plaza. This plaza is actually a long and wide diagonal street that was originally known as the Arguello alley/avenue and is one of the oldest parts of the city.
When it was first established in the early 1900s, the avenue was open to vehicular traffic and was one of the tramway stations along the route of a tram that ran from San Diego to Tijuana. Since its inauguration as a Plaza in 1980, it has been a commercial and cultural hub in the city.
In this plaza, you will find restaurants and stores as well as local vendors and craftspeople selling their work. You may even run into a Mariachi band playing in the plaza if you’re lucky! These types of plazas are common in towns across Mexico, and their lively gathering places where you will always find something fun going on.
Visit the Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe
The Catedral de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe is the largest and oldest Cathedral in the city. The structure standing today was finished in the 1970s, but construction of the church started way back at the beginning of the 20th century.
This catholic temple is located in the historic center of Tijuana and is just a few blocks away from Avenida Revolucion. It is worth a visit whether you’re interested in attending a service or simply there to admire the beautiful combination of colonial and neo-classical architecture and the iconic clock towers.
Grab a hot chocolate next door at Casa Cacao
Just a few feet away from the Cathedral you’ll find the lovely shop and restaurant Casa Cacao. You can grab lunch after a visit to the Cathedral or pop in for a delicious cup of hot chocolate and a break while you’re on the go exploring downtown.
The restaurant offers a variety of traditional Mexican food with a very generous number of vegetarian options! They offer coffee too, but their specialty is the artisanal hot chocolate that you will definitely not want to miss out on. The spot is recognizable for its vibrant traditionally Mexican decor and the enticing smell of cacao that is sure to lure you in!
Go tequila tasting around town
No trip to Tijuana is complete without a taste of authentic Mexican tequila. You can book a tequila-tasting tour or plan one of your own! Pretty much any bar/cantina you happen to find yourself in will offer good tequila.
Avenida Revolucion is a great place to start. Ask the bartender what they recommend and make a rich cultural experience out of bar hopping and tequila tasting!
Explore the city’s growing craft beer scene
Even though tequila still holds its spot as the most popular alcoholic Mexican drink in Tijuana, the craft beer scene in the city has been growing and thriving in recent years. Craft breweries have been popping up all over town.
When neighboring San Diego’s craft beer reputation started growing, Tijuana refused to be left too far behind. They have been inspired by some of the world’s best brewers in Germany, Belgium, the US, and elsewhere.
So, craft brewers in Tijuana have perfected their brews with a little extra Mexican touch and taken inspiration from trends and varieties around the globe. Mamut Cerveceria (Carrillo Puerto y o Tercera 8161, Zona Centro) is one place to have on your radar.
It is located just a short walk from Avenida Revolucion and offers a variety of delicious artisanal beers at great prices. Meanwhile, BCB Tasting Room (C. Orizaba 10335, Neidhart, 22020 Tijuana) has over 300 different Mexican and international beer options to try. It is one of the largest tasting rooms in the city
Visit the iconic Tijuana Cultural Center
The Tijuana Cultural Center is one of the largest museums in Mexico and the most visited museum in Tijuana. It is located in the Zona Rio and is a place where you can learn all about the rich history and culture of the city of Tijuana and the region of Baja California as a whole.
The building itself is a must-see if you’re into architecture and design, and it is located in one of the most modern urban areas of Tijuana. It stands out for its spherical design and has become a visual icon of the city.
The main building of the cultural center houses a theatre and an IMAX Dome. Scattered around the facility you will find a beautiful botanical garden, an aquarium, a coffee shop, a book and souvenir shop, and so much more.
Enjoy the Mexican sunshine by walking around the esplanade and taking pictures of the sculptures that adorn it. You can check out one of the permanent or temporary exhibitions.
There are always different curations on display here and an ever-changing collection of art pieces from various Mexican and international artists. The center is also the venue of several festivals, concerts, and conferences each year.
No matter when you visit, you are sure to find something exciting going on. It is open seven days a week and there are various discount options available on the original ticket price, as well as guided and special visits. Visit https://www.cecut.gob.mx/ to find out more and plan your visit!
Watch Lucha Libre
Lucha Libre (wrestling) is a pretty big and important aspect of Mexican traditions and culture and Tijuana is one of the central hubs for it. Most Lucha libre matches in Tijuana are held at the Auditorium Fausto Gutierrez Moreno on Friday nights.
If you’re lucky, you may be able to catch one of the larger shows, which are usually held in bull rings or other large venues. Outside of the venues, you will most likely find souvenirs like wrestling masks, magazines, and posters.
You can go to the website https://www.luchaworld.com/ to find out about upcoming matches and information on how to get tickets.If you are traveling as a family (or you have young relatives back at home), kids will love the colorful, eccentric-designed Lucha Libre masks that you can buy here.
If you can’t get enough of the world of Lucha Libre, you should definitely also check out the MULLME (Museum of Mexican Wrestling). Here, you can learn about the history of Lucha libre in Mexico and its cultural significance in Tijuana specifically.
The museum also has thousands of items of wrestling memorabilia on display for visitors to look at. Fans and non-fans alike can enjoy the stories and memorabilia shared in this space
Spend a day relaxing at Playas de Tijuana
Playas de Tijuana is a famous borough of the border city. The area of Playas de Tijuana contains some of the most popular attractions of the city, including parks, restaurants, and the malecón.
This area is a popular tourist destination. However, it is simultaneously known for staying consistently less crowded than downtown Tijuana and other tourist-packed areas of the city.
You can take a sunset walk along the malecón or on the beach. Along the boardwalk, you will find several lunch and dinner options, including traditional options, delicious seafood, and authentic street food.
Take an afternoon stroll around Parque Morelos
Parque Morelos is one of Tijuana’s largest urban green spaces. The park is an ecological reserve of +1000 acres of land located on the East side of the city, offering a complete afternoon of exploring and getting lost in beautiful greenery.
You can walk around the park without a set destination and you will eventually stumble across the Tijuana zoo. Here, you can visit black bears, tigers, and spider monkeys, among dozens of other species.
You can also hop on a small train that takes you all around the artificial lake. This is perfect for families with small children, or if you’re just looking for a break from being on your feet!
The lake is surrounded by palm trees and is home to a variety of different birds and fish. There are also options to rent a boat for an hour or two and get to know the lake even better.
Soak in the beauty of the flora and fauna of the botanical gardens or plan a barbeque lunch at one of the designated barbeque areas. Morelos Park is a very family-oriented environment and a kid-friendly park. It is safe to walk around and you can easily pass an entire day here.!
Visit El Trompo museum at the park
El Trompo is an interactive science and technology museum located within the limits of Parque Morelos. Whether you’re visiting Tijuana with children or not, El Trompo will be a fun and interactive learning experience for all.
The museum offers a number of exhibitions and streams interesting documentaries and short films. Youngsters can take part in educational and fun workshops and art classes, as well as learn about technology and science through interactive galleries.
Take a day trip to Ensenada
The city of Ensenada is located just south of Tijuana and is known as “The Pearl of the Pacific”. If you’re looking to get out of the city for a bit, Ensenada is most definitely worth a visit.
It is one of the largest cruise ports along the Pacific Coast and is generally a popular tourist destination because of this. However, it maintains the authentic and peaceful atmosphere of a small beach town.
Spend your day at the beautiful seaside of Ensenada or watch the activity of the harborside. The beaches in Ensenada offer a lot of water sports opportunities, as well as adventures in nature and delicious food options wherever you go.
Things to do in Tijuana: Parting Words
Tijuana is the perfect Mexican destination for a quick getaway from the United States. It is conveniently located just across the US border. So, you don’t have to go very far at all to find authentic Mexican food and drink beautiful Mexican beaches, and get the full Mexican experience!
Get a feel for the culture and learn about the city, the state of Baja California, and the country as a whole just by crossing the border and exploring Tijuana. Have you traveled to Mexico before? What did you think?
Which of the things to do in Tijuana on this list interests you the most? If you are visiting the country for the first time, you may also enjoy reading this selection of Mexican travel tips to read before you go.
Safe travels! Buen Viaje!