Parque Hildalgo; where tourists and locals mix
There once was a small town named Tecate. This town was so small it didn't give you reason enough to stop there. Now you can't find the town for a city has grown up around it. Population 100,000. There still isn't a whole lot to do but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy yourself. The local plaza is a sure winner to make you fall in love with Tecate.
From Parque Hildalgo Tecate feels like a small town again. This is where locals gather to relax and catch up with old friends. It’s very picturesque with shade trees throughout, a fountain and several statues. Besides relaxing and people watching you can shop the many vendor tables in the park. There are also a couple of eateries with tables outside.
Once I checked into my hotel room I had a taxi take me to the park. A taxi stand at the park assured me of a return trip. That night enjoyed the park and spent some time shopping trinkets. The next day I was back before leaving town. Saw the same vendors and chatted. Took pictures of children playing and met a man who had lived in Tecate for six years.
For a town that has grown exponentially in the last twenty years it’s good to have a location that reminds you of its small town roots. With little else to do around town Parque Hidalgo is a sure winner.
When I came here on a Sunday afternoon the Brewery was closed. I saw online that there are free tours available here and a beer garden. There is also a train ride that goes from San Diego to Tecate. Pacific Southwest Railway Museum does these tours. I didnt do this train ride but its an option to you in case you didnt want to drive into Mexico.
Beer aficionados claim the best Tecate beer comes from Tecate. The water used at the brewery there, tapped directly from local springs, is considered the purest in Mexico.
In 1954 the brewery was sold to Cerveceria Cuauhtemoc Moctezuma that had been producing Bohemia and Carta Blanca beers. Today, the Cuauhtemoc brewery also produces Superior, Sol and Dos Equis along with the others in several different locations. Today only Tecate and Carta Blanca are produced in the Tecate Brewery. Carta Blanca is a lighter pilsner beer, and most Baja beerdrinkers feel it doesn't have the full rich flavor of Tecate. The Tecate Beer that is exported is of a slightly lesser alcohol content, but that doesn't make it any less popular north of the border. Tecate has the highest canned beverage sales of any import to the U.S.
If you take the tour of the brewery remember these important things:
No sandals, high heels or shoes that don't cover your feet
No pictures or videos during the tour
No eating, drinking or smoking during the tour
The tour takes about 40-minutes, be prepared for walking
Children less than 2-years old and pregnant women are not allowed to take the tour
Don Benja - Master of the Pottery Arts
He's big, burly and as hospitable as your best friend. You pass his little shop on the left after about the third mile from Tecate on Highway 3. With the help of his daughters this family business thrives, in part due to its outstanding location.
When I first walked up to Don Benja he was sitting in the open air, a small oven placed on his lap. With his paintbrush he transformed that bland grey oven into a showpiece. Though his shop is small it is packed with an ecclectic mix of potter objects and cement works. Don puts the finishing touches on them to bring them to life. That first visit I bought a set of ducks, a Tecate business card holder, a large owl and a Snow White piggy bank.
I've passed him in the morning while they are setting up placing the objects out in front. At the end of the day each piece goes inside behind a locked gate. More often then not there are customers. I have yet failed to stop either coming or going on my trip.
I've eyeing a cement stature of an Indian women with a basket. It is pictured here. Bought it for the wife for $12. What seperates his shop from the others along this highway is the variety and constantly changing inventory. While others sell mostly pots Don sells artwork. Sure Disney is represented but so is the American Indian, the traditional Mexican, and animals of all kinds.
Go Wine tasting
From Tecate we took the Mexico #3 road and headed toward Ensenada. Along this road is called La Ruta del Vino. Along this road and in this area there are about 32 wineries. The best part is that wine tasting is free! I was so shocked when they told me this. We tasted alot of wines and they were pretty good. I bought a case to take back with me.
These are just a few of the wineries in the area:
Hwy 3, Guadalupe Valley * Tel: (646) 155-2094 * Fax: (646) 155-2093
Bodegas San Antonio
Hwy 3, Guadalupe Valley * Tel: (646) 174-0078
Casa de Piedra
Hwy 3, Km 93.5 * Tel: (646) 155-3097
Free Tours & Wine Tasting * Mon-Fri 10am-2pm, Sat 10am-noon
Ensenada * Tel: (646) 177-2221
Guided Tours, Tasting & Sales of Wines & Brandies
One of Mexico's Oldest Wine Makers
Open: M-F 10am-4pm, Sat. 10am-1:30pm
Hwy 3, Km. 73 * Tel: (646) 155 2254
Free Tours & Tasting of Wines, Coolers, Brandy and Tequila
Open: Daily 10am-4pm * Lunch & Picnic Area
Hwy 3, Km 73.5 * Tel: (6) 155-2264
Tours & Wine Tasting by Appointment
Hwy. 3, Km 86.5 * Tel/Fax: (646) 177-1484
Award-winning Premium Wines in the Guadalupe Valley
Tours Wine Tastings are Available by Appointment
Hwy 3, Valle de Guadalupe * Tel: (6) 174-7055
Wine Tasting & Tours Sat. 1pm by Appointment
Hwy 3, Km. 93 * Tel: (646) 155-3091
Where the locals go for a cold one
It's not fancy by any means, but the Diana Bar is the place to go for a drink or two or three. American's pour into this place like an obligation. There's not much to it. Just a bar, a bartender, a few picures on the wall, a jukebox, billiards, and a picture of a naked woman as the centerpiece. Everyone's a friend at the Diana Bar for locals and visitors alike. Ask why the Diana Bar? You'll be told, "because it's the only bar in town".
Tecate isn't really the sort of place you go for site seeing, as there isn't that much to see. Tecate is more of a place to go for a shopping trip. That's what we did, and that's what most visitors do. There are stores and street vendors located almost everywhere in the downtown area near the train station. You can buy a variety of traditional items such as sombreros, marionettes, Aztec calendars and local food. Some of the items in the stores are really expensive. Most store owners won't haggle with you, but most street vendors will, so you can negotiate a cheaper price. Sometimes it can be really difficult, so you'll have to buy the item for the cheapest price they offer.
- Family Travel
Iglesia de Tecate
Tecate isn't the sort of place you go for site seeing. Aside from Parque Hidalgo, the town's only tourist attraction is the old church on the corner of Miguel Hidalgo y Castillo and Pdte Lazaro Cardenas, just down the road from Parque Hidalgo. Since the church is the town's only tourist attraction, most people who visit stop to see it. I would recommend it for anyone who's looking to do a little site seeing, and is interested in Mexican architecture.
- Religious Travel
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