Update from 2020:
As of this year, we no longer recommend friends hang around the Playas boardwalk after dark. Too many neighbors have reported muggings or worse recently. This may have something to do with the level of deportees and migrants recently dropped in Tijuana, and they do become desperate to make a living. We recommend only daytime trips to the boardwalk at this time. Remember, you can always call 911 in the case of an emergency and bilingual staff will assist you.
If you are ever lucky enough to share the Tijuana adventure with a special friend…try these spots on a Friday afternoon and stay the night for breakfast. You couldn’t find a more fun and delicious trip. Note that I say Friday afternoon so you have a relatively easy border crossing Saturday morning. I do avoid Sundays if at all possible.
Make your way Friday to Tijuana anytime before 3:00 to avoid the Friday rush hour. You may have to wait up to an hour with slow traffic and a backed up border if you come anytime after that.
Stop for snacks at Mercado Hidalgo in Zona Rio. Pick up sweet dried mango with enchilado spice, nuts, and sweet candies or amazing seasonal fruit for the trip. It’s an easy jump to the Rosarito / Playas Tijuana highway from there so you can get a room at the Lifestyle hostel. Don’t make the mistake of thinking they are just a Jiu Jitsu gym, they’ve got cool vibe, a tattoo artist AND private rooms to rent (or the less private option of bunk rentals – talk about adventure). Let them know you are international (from San Diego or anywhere not from Tijuana) and get a clean room a block away from the Playas boardwalk.
Ask anyone on the beach where to pick up a fried Mojarra (deep fried bone-in fish, served with fresh avocado, tomatoes, salsa and lime – don’t forget the Corona)!
Take a walk on the Playas boardwalk during sunset…get your profile caricature done by a local artist for next to nothing. Browse the few local artists, performers, musicians up and down the beach. Buy fresh steamed corn from a local cart by the lighthouse, with chili, lime and all the fixings. Pick up dessert and a coffee from the Red Caffe and then enjoy the sunset as you wish.
In the morning, walk north around the bullring and lighthouse to eat at the Yogurt place and enjoy the wooded view from their dining room. Head back early to beat traffic….and don’t miss out on the fried churros while you wait at the border.
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