Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico, May 2016
So you happen to cross to Tijuana on your way south to Baja or North to Vancouver on your bike? You are one lucky cyclists! Because Tijuana has a lot to offer and we want to recommend you a lot of things coming form a cycle tourer like you that Tijuana happens to be his home town. We are all aware of the reputation this city might have but let us the people form Tijuana change that perception, because we want to and because simple there is a lot to do it with. So find a warmshower or stay in the new hostels in the city center because Tijuana will do everything it can to great you with open arms.
First let me start by saying that the tourist municipal dependency COTUCO and SECTURE the Baja California Tourist Center will greet you with open arms and will help you find your way in the city. Start by checking there websites out. They all have great information in English. Or visit them, they will help you for sure.
So with no further due here our top picks:
1- Cecut and El Cubo: Build by world renowned architects Pedro Ramirez Vasquez and Manuel Rosen Morrison, this building is the icon of our city and offers so many activities, you might actually spend a whole day there. The Museo de las Californias for example is a museum that teaches you all you need to know about the local indigenous groups, the early settlers, the history of the Baja California and of Tijuana itself. There is an IMAX cinema where you can experience some of the best documentaries on nature and anthropology to date. We also fell in love with the arts exhibitions and with the regular cultural events from handicraft expositions to a Chinese New Year parade. For more information click the title.
2- Have a coffe in the Malecon Playas: Playas de Tijuana is the northernmost part of Mexico. Here you will get to see the famous fence that extends all the way up to the ocean. On summer weekends the beach will be full with families, on windy afternoons you can see kites all over the place, in the early morning there will be lots of people working out and on weekend evenings you might see one of the free clown shows. Sometimes there are public events at Playas de Tijuana, especially on the weekends. Or you can always grab some ice cream or a coconut and stroll the boardwalk. You can explore coffee shops, jeweler stands, great food and bars. So have a zip or two of your favorite drink while watching the ocean. You can definitely take your bike, although you’re not allowed to ride it on the boardwalk. There are a couple of places to securely park bikes though.
3- Weekend night life in Avenida Revolución: While cycling, one of the things that I missed was being able to have a nice drink at a bar. North of the border a beer can cost you anywhere from 4 to 8 Dollars. Cocktails were off the budget even on special occasions. However here in Tijuana and especially in Avenida Revolución there are places where you can get a liter of beer for around 3 dollars, Amen to that. The music is great with different choices, especially in Calle 6ta (6th street). You might want to bring your ID, because some places check. The 6ta and “Revu” are full of interesting bars, places to eat and even craft beer. Ah did you know that Tijuana is considered the craft beer capital of Mexico? But if you can’t live the hype on the weekend, do not worry during the day the “Revu” is full of color, culture, life and food.
Places we recommend:
Porky´s Place where you can rock to 80s, 90s and newer music in English and Spanish. Sometimes there is live music on the weekends. The Porky’s has a dancefloor and two big balconies overlooking the craziness down in the streets. 20 Pesos cover and 40-50 Pesos for a liter of beer.
La Mezcalería where you can try 18 different types of mescal, eat chapulines (fried grasshoppers) and all kinds of music from Indie to light Electro. No cover.
Dandy del Sur where young and old meet. This is a traditional and historical Cantina with a very mixed group of visitors. Even the toilets have swing doors! Good promotions on local cocktails (50 Pesos for two) other than the usual Margarita. Music varies (they have a jukebox), no cover.
Las Pulgas the place to party like there’s no tomorrow. This is where you might end up when everything else has closed but you still want to rock on. There are several dance floors with different music: Rock, Pop, Salsa, 70s, 80s, 90s, Banda, Country and so on. They often host concerts. The cover varies. Open till late.
4- Visit Mercado Hidalgo: I consider myself fairly weathered in Mexico. I have visited several markets all over the country and Mercado Hidalgo is truly one of Mexico’s jewels. Situated in walking distance to the CECUT, it is clean, beautiful, colorful and cheap if you compare it to the US, especially on the produce. The first time I went there I was amazed that for 2 USD I could buy a kilo of avocados! I invite you to explore the place, walk around and just gorge yourself with the offer of food, candy, piñatas, classic Mexican kitchen utensils and more. It is eye candy everywhere you look and you might find yourself walking out with the bags full of some juicy tuna (cactus fruit), a colorful apron, spicy mango snacks, creamy cajeta (similar to caramel) and a one-meter Donald Trump Piñata.
5- Visit the Pasajes
The pasajes in downtown once were secret corridors where casinos were concealed to the authorities. Yes, there were casino here and they were illegal, most of them during the prohibition. Today these corridors are just plain, simple cool and full of life You can buy local clothing brands, craft beer, second hand books, souvenirs, explore culture, enjoy good food and . We recommend you to stroll around these ones in particular:
6- Food truck bike tour
It is no secret, food here is absolutely amazing! And the food truck culture has contributed to the boom of this movement in a great way. Amazing world class food at an affordable price. The offer is limitless. There are seafood tostadas, lime flavored water with cucumber, fresh burgers, vegan food, sweet desserts, vegetarian food, meat lovers’ food, Mexican fusion, Greek, Italian, Chinese, Japanese and South American. If that’s not enough, the tacos will blow your mind. Just imagine marlin fish tacos and shrimp quesadillas with all the fresh helpings you can imagine. Most of the food trucks offer craft beer as well as wine form the region. Try everything you can, because food in Tijuana is taken very seriously and you will miss it once you are gone. So grab your bike, ride a lot, and jump from one food truck to another. We suggest:
Food Truck@ La Telefónica
Foodgarden@ Sanchez Taboada
Los Foodies@ La Cacho
7- Sporting events
Tijuana is a big city, and like all big cities there are many events going on. Of all the events that ones that get the locals more excited are the sporting events. We host three professional teams in three different exciting sports: football (soccer), basketball and baseball. The people from Tijuana are very passionate so the atmosphere before and during the games is truly inspiring. So go out and check out a soccer game in Mexico’s competitive first league soccer team XOLOS. Or cheer every point our basketball team makes. The Zonkeys are named after the donkeys dressed like zebras (a local icon you can see in Avenida Revolución). Finally there is our baseball team, the Toros. They offer the cheapest tickets, resulting in high assistance and lots of beer drinking opportunities while watching a good game of baseball.
8- Plaza Fiesta beer frenzy
Yes I know it is not always about beer, but Baja California is the capital of craft beer in Mexico. Labels like Insurgente are experimenting in beer with Mexican chocolate flavor as well as other that have orange flavor and good old fashion wheat German style beers. You can try most of the in Plaza Fiesta a plaza that is filled with microbreweries and bars. Tip: in this plaza food is also awesome.
In fact the offer is so big, there are 100 local beer brands in Tijuana to choose from. So in order to guide yourself in this world we suggest downloading its own guide, the guide to craft beer in Mexico. So that you can download the PDF here.
By the way: in the BCB Tasting Room (about 2 Kilometers from Plaza Fiesta) there is a 11-page menu full of beers, the first page are draft beers only. So yes, the Tijuananses really love their beer.
9- Parks and gardens
I know Tijuana is not known for its green spacious areas. However there are such places and they are quite neat. Parque Morelos has its own (free) zoo and a paint ball park, Parque Teniente Guerrero is situated near the center, Parque de la Amistad has a big lake, and the small Friendship Park where they often host cultural events. They are yours for a relaxing bike ride through the trees and the greenery. There are games for children in all of them.
10- TACOS and TACOS (see list)
Well, if you come down to Tijuana you need to eat tacos. Most of the tacos in town are made from real corn tortillas and are made on the spot. You are vegetarian? Gluten free? Vegan? Do not worry, quesadillas with vegetables and nopal (cactus leave) tacos with are just as tasty as the carne asada (BBQ beef), al pastor tacos (kebab style pork) and of course the local fish and shrimp delicacies. Here is a list you might want to check out:
Tacos Junior (seafood tacos)
Tacos Polo (legendary carne asada tacos)
Taconazo (a chain of tacos with street food quality)
Kokopeli (high cuisine taquería)
Tortas Washmobile (best carne asada sandwiches in the world)
Taconveggie (great vegan and vegetarian Tacos)
just to name a few..
1- Hotel/Restaurant Caesar’s: Eat Caesar’s Salad in the birthplace of the Caesar’s Salad.
1- Watch a movie: Cinema here is cheap compared to USA (3.50 Dollars average price a movie). You can watch most of the movies that have already debuted in the USA in world class cinemas. Most movies are screened in original language with subtitles.
1- Casa Cacao: Drink hot cacao, eat cacao ice cream, chew roasted cacao – this is where you can learn everything about this wonderful bean, eat and drink non-cacao related food and drinksput a pin in the world map, buy unique souvenirs and chat with the nice owner and staff.
Yes we have those too and the mechanics are great! and it is also way cheaper than across the border. Most of them know us, so just mention the Tijuana and the German couple, you might even get a small discount!
1- Mad Bike visit website here (these guys here are our friends and they serviced our bikes before setting off to our Mexican Tour)
2- Freitas Bikes visit website here
1- Baja Bikes visit FB page here
If you feel like doing a tour, there are a couple of options, but this ones are our friends:
1- Border Tours: These guys know their city! They arrange pub crawl trips by bicycle as well as other bike tours. Feel more than welcome to join!
FEEL RIGHT AT HOME OUR PEOPLE WILL GREAT YOU WITH THE WARMEST OF HEARTS!