The largest city in the Mexican state of Baja, Tijuana is one of Mexico’s most famous cities. The best-known of all the border towns, Tijuana is about twenty miles from San Diego, California. The border crossing witnesses about 300,000 crossings each day. Many tourists visit Tijuana for its myriad of things to do and see. As the threshold to the rest of the Baja Peninsula, Tijuana is an international hub filled with beaches, nightlife, and cultural attractions. It has also been revered as the gateway to Mexico.
Tijuana is the westernmost city in Mexico. Located in the northwest corner of Mexico, its position near the Pacific Ocean makes it a popular holiday destination. It is 130 miles west of the state capital, Mexicali, and situated in a valley on the Tijuana River. The terrain around the city is rugged and hilly. During the rainy season, downtown Tijuana is prone to flooding due to its low-lying position in the valley. Its skyline is one of the largest in Mexico and draws many visitors from around the globe. While the city’s climate is semi-arid, many people liken it to a Mediterranean climate.
Although the area of Tijuana was first explored by the Spanish in 1542, it wasn’t until 1769 that the Valley of Tijuana began to see some settlement due to its proximity to San Diego where the Mission of Alta California was built. Before the arrival of the Conquistadors, however, the Baja Peninsula and this area of northwest Mexico was home to various indigenous peoples like the Pai Pai, Cucupa, and the Kumiai tribes. As more people found their way to the Valley of Tijuana, the city was eventually founded in 1889 by ranchers and farmers.
Even from its earliest days, Tijuana was tourist-minded. Many of its inhabitants worked in the hills above San Diego. Many Californians enjoyed crossing into Tijuana for both business and entertainment. As more people moved west into California, so Tijuana also grew increasingly popular as a tourist destination. When Prohibition hit the U.S., Tijuana exploded as a good-time haven for Americans looking to experience the delights of drinking and gambling. In many ways, Tijuana’s history reflects what was happening with its northern neighbor; it prospered by its ability to capitalize on its tourist base and reach the heights of prosperity it enjoys today.
Tijuana is one of the nation’s fastest-growing cities. Much of its growth is generated by the tourist industry that continues to drive the city forward. Many tourists come to enjoy the celebrated nightlife of the city that includes a wealth of venues devoted to drink and dance. On the other hand, some simply come to enjoy the weather, buy prescription drugs, experience a cosmopolitan Mexican city, or to catch a cultural attraction such as an off-road race, a festival, an art exhibit, or the opening of a new restaurant that features traditional north Mexican cuisine.
Things to See and Do in Tijuana
The Tijuana Cultural Center: One of the most important centers for the arts in Northern Mexico, this uniquely shaped landmark is celebrated for its regional arts and performances. Its famous architecture makes it a must-see attraction.
Avenida Revolucion: This is the main tourist hub that has earned the city its reputation as a party town. Its clubs, restaurants, cafes, and hotels attract people from all over the world looking to experience Tijuana’s brand of fun. During the day it’s one of the world’s favorite streets for shopping.
Bullfights: While not everyone’s cup of tea, Tijuana is a popular place to catch a bullfight and many come to the city for that express purpose. Its one of the city’s most revered traditional pastimes.
Plaza Santa Cecilia: For a relaxed and pleasant day in the city, check out this old square and its cafes and galleries. More traditional and quaint than other sections of the city, this it the perfect place to enjoy a leisurely stroll.
Paseo de los Heroes: Situated off Avenida Revolucion, this popular landmark commemorates the great heroes of freedom like Miguel Hidalgo and Abraham Lincoln.
Tijuana Wax Museum: This venue boasts roughly one hundred wax figures such as Marilyn Monroe and regularly welcomes throngs of visitors.
Rosarito Beach: Located twenty minutes south of Tijuana, Rosarito Beach is a haven for beach-lovers. There is lots of water sport and beach activity for anyone seeking fun by the sea like surfing. Hiking and horseback riding are also popular on the outskirts of town.
Amigos del Artes: For contemporary art in Tijuana, this gallery space showcases some of the best and emerging new art of the city. It a great venue to check out Tijuana’s cutting edge painting and sculpting scene.