A day trip to Tijuana
September 1, 2006 10:09 AM   Subscribe

I'm going to drive down to Tijuana from Los Angeles on Labor day. If I were on my own, I probably would not have chosen to go to Tijuana. If I were by myself I probably would not have chosen to drive on Labor day and once I arrived in Tijuana I might have dipped my toes into the town's seedier side.

Since I will not be alone I was hoping the hive mind could suggest some inexpensive and mostly wholesome activities, restaurants, and tourist attractions in the border city. If someone could point me to an early evening concert it would be truly wonderful. There must be a civic life in Tijuana that isn't just about hustling.
posted by rdr to Travel & Transportation around Tijuana, Mexico (16 answers total)
Best answer: Some helpful hints in this article in the SD Reader, San Diego's local free weekly paper.

Notable events from the same source .
posted by zabuni at 10:18 AM on September 1, 2006

Best answer: The NYTimes recently had an article on this. Also see the website for the Tijuana Cultural Center.
posted by vacapinta at 10:28 AM on September 1, 2006

Are you going to park on the US side and walk across? I would highly recommend it, as coming back in over a holiday weekend will be hell. Hours and hours of hell.
posted by witchstone at 10:36 AM on September 1, 2006

The last time I drove from LA to TJ on a weekend day, it took nearly 6 hours, so be prepared for some slow-moving traffic!

Also, seconding the 'walk over' advice.

My wife and I went for the seedy, though, so I can't offer you any advice for family entertainment, except just walking around and marvelling at it.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 10:52 AM on September 1, 2006

Again echoing the walk across. For one thing you don't have to deal with getting Mexican insurance on your car. But more importantantly the car lanes at the border will be backed up forever.

I haven't been to TJ in years, but my borderjumping along the Texas/Mexico border shows the wait time getting back to the US is measured in minutes by foot. And hours by car. This is especially true after the last terror freakout in London. At the Tex/Mex border, they are "randomly" selecting more people for bag searches and running more people's ID through the computer. And giving more scrutiny and asking silly questions trying to catch you in a lie about something.

And when you do walk back over, try and do it at non-peak times. There are a lot of Mexicans that can legally come over for the day that will be in line in the mornings. But since this is a gringo holiday you'll have a lot of tourists in the afternoon/evening. The power partiers will be staying later.

Unfortunately I can't help on the wholesome activities either as I opted for TJ's seedier side.
posted by birdherder at 11:13 AM on September 1, 2006

Chiming back in here after reading the NYT article. I, and my three companions, had our picture taken with one of those painted zebra burros, and our burro wouldn't lift his head, probably because of lack of food and poor treatment. They had an extra negative of a perkier zebra head that they superimposed over the photo (this craft is done in a dirty 5-gallon bucket full of stale photo chemicals, not on a computer!). It's one of my most treasured souvenirs ever.

I don't know if there really is anything but a seedy, heartbreaking and/or dangerous side to TJ. San Diego has many wholesome activities, though.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 11:35 AM on September 1, 2006

Walk across is how the smart people go to TJ.

The even smarter people don't go to TJ at all. May I recommend Olvera Street in L.A. as a less-dangerous alternative?
posted by frogan at 12:18 PM on September 1, 2006

And when I say dangerous, I mean danger-fucking-ous. Besides the obvious thieves and corrupt cops, don't forget the in-obvious threats, like crowded bars and restaurants with no emergency exits (or locked and barred exits) and no fire-supression systems.

Why anyone goes to TJ for anything is beyond me. Really, how much cheaper does the beer have to be?
posted by frogan at 12:22 PM on September 1, 2006

Or you can take the train to San Diego and then change to the Red Line trolley which runs right up to the border, thereby avoiding the car business entirely.
posted by mdonley at 12:22 PM on September 1, 2006

According to this website, you'll be there for the Ferias de las Californias! Also scroll down to the bottom of the page for a listing of concerts and events.
posted by vacapinta at 12:37 PM on September 1, 2006

Why anyone goes to TJ for anything is beyond me.

Probably the same reason people go to Europe instead of being satisfied with the sanitized reconstructions in Disneyland or Las Vegas. Tijuana has an irreproducible gritty authenticity.
posted by vacapinta at 12:40 PM on September 1, 2006 [2 favorites]

Second taking the trolley to the end of the line (San Ysidro), walking across the frontier, and taking a cab downtown. Going down, this will seem time-consuming; coming back is when you reap the benefit. Note that although San Diego trolley-cars are painted either red or orange, it's the Blue Line you'll need to catch to make this trip.
posted by Rash at 2:04 PM on September 1, 2006

Voice of Experience:
No matter how right you are and no matter how wrong they are, never, ever argue with a Tijuana cop.
posted by buggzzee23 at 2:21 PM on September 1, 2006

There is a cool family Art thing going on Sunday. (PDF) My artist bro-in law turned me on to it. I don't know who you're bringing but it looks like very pleasant TJ fun. Margheritas + Art? Hell yea! Have fun.
posted by snsranch at 4:40 PM on September 1, 2006

Walk across border man. Was just down there and got hit by policia for $50 and threatened w/jail for no reason. Happens every time I drive there. Not worth the hassle. Frankly, I'm never going back to TJ just because the older I get the more I value the rule of American/common law. It's just not worth the chance, however small, or getting framed and tossed in a Mexican jail w/their hosebag civil law system. And getting shaken down by poser cops just ain't fun anymore.
posted by pallen123 at 7:00 PM on September 1, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks for the advice everyone. We went to Espadana for breakfast. It was good. We went to the fair. It was closed. Then we went to Avenida Revolution and I watched as my companion shopped. It was a good trip. I've travelled to and traveled through Tijuana before but this is first time that I liked the city. The only cops we saw were the guys (and one woman) patrolling the Avenida Revolution and they were just doing their jobs. One cop did seem unusually interested in me but he never said anything and he went away when we ignored him. I'm going to go back some weekend and catch a movie at the IMAX and visit the cultural center.
posted by rdr at 10:06 PM on September 5, 2006

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