In previous visits to Southern California, I had made plans to head down to Tijuana for a day to explore the area, and also to visit their local small park Mundo Divertido. Those plans never panned out, however, as the time was not available for it, or in one case I accidently left my passport at home and didn’t realize it until I was already at the airport for my flight down to California. This trip would be different though, as I did remember to bring my passport, and I had the time available to go, so I would finally make it.
As luck would have it, one of my high school friends, Ashley, happened to be living in the San Diego area, and thus would join me for this adventure South of the Border, making her first visit to Mexico. To do so, we would park the car at a border parking station just outside of Las Americas Premium Outlets, and walking across the border by way of the Pedwest pedestrian crossing. Going through customs was fairly simple and straight forward as you fill out a small visa card, get your passport stamped, then continue on though walking across a bridge into Tijuana. After walking into Mexico, Ashley and I followed the signs toward downtown and took a walk through part of Plaza Revolucion, passing through the Tijuana Arch.
Walking over towards Plaza Revolucion, you find a lot of shuttered shops and stalls along the way, which would suggest that the city has seen some better times. I would imagine that changes to the requirements to cross the border have played into that, along with the fear people have about going into Mexico because of safety concerns. Once you get over to the Plaza Revolucion, however, you find a more lively place where restaurant employees invite you in for a meal or beverage, and many vendors have a variety of souvenirs for purchase. The plaza itself is very colorful with the decorations, and musicians provide an ambiance with the sounds of mariachi to enjoy. Certainly there are areas you would need to practice extra caution in Mexico, and like any other major city you want to be aware of your surroundings and avoid making yourself a target, but as Ashley and I visited, we never felt like we were in any kind of real danger. I'd day the worst thing we experienced was the persistence of some vendors or restaurant workers trying to bring us in to buy even though we would say "No gracias", which may be a little overwhelming to some, but nothing that I would avoid visiting this city over.
Our first stop was for lunch at a restaurant called Caesar’s. This is an Italian restaurant that credited for being the birthplace of the Caesar Salad. While I am not much of a salad person, I do love some good Italian, and Caesar’s had a great pasta alfredo! I had one with the chicken, along with a house draft cerveza (beer for those not as familiar with the Spanish language).
After lunch, it was time for the two of us to make our way to Mundo Divertido! This small park is located just off of the Vía Rápida that travels along the Tijuana River, and is part of a small shopping complex with an attached movie theater. It features several rides and a go-kart track.
The main reason for this visit of course is their roller coasters. Mundo Divertido features a wild mouse style coaster called Raton Loco, and a Wacky Worm style coaster called Gusano Loco. While the coasters weren’t necessarily unique rides, they did make for a fun part of our visit to Tijuana.
Upon our return to the Plaza Revolucion, we would continue our exploration of the area, which included the opportunity to see some neat artwork from great cultural murals to large stone carvings. My favorite of which was the bandito in a luchador mask.
In our walk, we happened to find a store that specialized in candy and pinatas called Dulcerias Ayala. They had a wide variety of characters to choose from including cartoon characters, super heroes, political figures and even beer cans. They also provide a huge variety of candy for which you can use to fill your piñata.
One of my favorite things about Mexico is their beautiful cathedrals in their cities. As we walked though Tijuana, we had a chance to see the Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Tijuana. While this cathedral appeared smaller than the ones I had seen previously in Mexico City and Guadalajara, it was still quite a beautiful building.
At this point, it was getting close to time for us to head back, but we would make a stop to enjoy another beer before going back across the border.
And with that, we would return back to the states using the Pedwest crossing, which took us less than two minutes to go through customs as it is an entry way that is still relatively new, so we saved A LOT of time with it.
That concludes our visit to Tijuana. I’d like to thank Ashley for joining me on this adventure across the border, and hope that it was a good first experience South of the Border for her.
Next, there are a few shameless credits at a couple small parks to obtain before returning home.