We did and loved it!
If you’re like many Southern California residents, the time-honored tradition of heading south of the border to Tijuana may have been more appealing before turning 21, but the city offers so much more than cheap beer and prescription-free painkillers. Join us for an inexpensive yet exciting day packed with new experiences and old favorites.
Spending the day in TJ is the perfect warm-up for aspiring travelers. Most places in Tijuana will accept US dollars, but using a different currency is part of the allure of travel and good practice. Depending on who you bank with, it may be beneficial to withdraw pesos from an ATM after crossing rather than exchanging your dollars. Make sure you alert your bank about your travel plans because international transactions are often flagged for fraud and may result in your card being temporarily disabled.
You can drive and park in one of the many pay lots near the border, but a cheaper alternative is to take the Blue Line Trolley to San Ysidro. Check out the schedule where you can buy a day pass for only $5. A full day of parking near the border can cost over $30, while parking at one of the many trolley stations is free.
Whether you park or take the trolley, simply follow the signs (and the crowd) to the border.
Bring your passport and be prepared to fill out the Forma Migratoria Múltiple (FFM) even if you only plan to spend the day. There is no fee for seven days or less and if you are only visiting for the day, only fill out items 1 – 6.
Over the bridge, through those heavy turnstile gates, and that’s it. Congratulations! You’ve just crossed the busiest land border on planet Earth. For getting around to different locations on the other side, we walked and used Uber which totaled about $25 for various spots we visited below.
Standing nearly 60-feet tall in a neighborhood east of downtown Tijuana, visitors can find a statuesque, nude woman with pinky finger raised triumphantly. Tijuana tercer milenio, or simply ‘La Mona’, is not only a statue, but once served as the artist’s home. Tijuana native, Armando Garcia, completed his masterpiece in 1991, and although she shows signs of aging, La Mona is a TJ must-see. MAP
TIP: La Mona is situated on private property, but our Uber driver was kind enough to negotiate unfettered access for taking photos and video. If this is not possible, good vantage points for viewing can be had by walking around the neighborhood.
Playas de Tijuana and Friendship Park
A stark contrast of international borders and cultures, the US/Mexico wall literally extends out into the Pacific Ocean. Family members and friends separated by this boundary can be seen visiting each other through the fence, which now has a buffer zone between each side.
Take a stroll around the small park to see the unique artwork on the wall, but don’t leave without getting a delicious michelada and enjoying some live music at one of the many beach bars.
Colonia Francisco Villa | Farmers Market
Each Sunday, this charming, hilltop neighborhood of TJ transforms into a bustling farmers market, or mercado sobreruedas. Browse around for anything from clothes to souvenirs, appliances to car parts, and plenty of fresh food and live music. MAP
While you will see more tourists in this thriving area of the city, it is worth a look for craft beer lovers. There are multiple fantastic options for breweries, or cervecerías, but our favorite is Teorema/Lúdica Co-tasting Room because you get to sample brews from two amazing spots in one simple yet modern location.
We really enjoyed our full day of sightseeing, food, drinks, and transportation, all with a very reasonable price tag of about $50, and the local people we met and interacted with were warm, friendly, and helpful.
What are your favorite spots in Tijuana? We’d love to hear your thoughts or see your photos and video – leave us a comment below!
Hasta la Proxima!