Everyone should go to "TJ" at least once in their lives. It is incredible that so many people can be crammed into a space so small. ALWAYS haggle with the shop owners. Don't be too cheap - but they will always drop the price, especially if you are buying more than one item from them, e.g. "I'll give you 10 bucks for both."
Go straight to Ave. Revolucion. The restaurants have good food. Don't drink anything that's not bottled or canned. Do not walk back to the border at night. Take a cab.
Unique Suggestions: See the Jai Alai. The games are fixed - always bet on the fat guy. He always wins.
OK I agree with everyone that TJ is horrible but it has it's peculiar moments of interest.
Take the Trolley from SD or a tour bus - check it out just for the fun of it - sit on a "zonkie" (a mule painted like a zebra - poor thing) sit on it with a sombraro on your head and bottle of tequila in hand and get a stupid picture taken - it's hysterical.
Look at this messed up chaos - everyone trying to sell everything and their brother.
get serenaded by roving mariachi band if you're female. give them a few bucks they are nice folk in all Mexico just trying to get by.
try to stock up on good tequila like Petron.
Then go home and don't go back...except for the cheap Petron and assorted phamacy items. i.e. i have asthma and got 3 inhalers for 15 bucks.
Unique Suggestions: Picture on "Zonkie"
Stock up on good Tequila - think you can't bring more than one litre into USA though.
Just observe the madness and imagine what these people who live here have to put up with - sad.
Fun Alternatives: Old Town San Diego
Just across the border to the south is Tijuana. It's easy to get to. My wife and I did not bother making the trip during this San Diego vacation, but I have been there in the past, and don't think it's not worth the time and hassle. Tijuana is not typical of Mexico - at least the Mexico I have seen far away from the US border and its day trippers.
Unique Suggestions: If you feel that you must go to Tijuana just because you've never been in Mexico before, take the Trolley line to the border and walk across. Don't try to drive across the border. The shopping is a draw for lots of people, especially those who think it's great fun to haggle over prices. But beware of shoddy merchandise. Also be prepared to ignore the multitude of kids trying to sell you anything and everything - from gum to their big sister. As I said earlier, Tijuana is not a true Mexican experience.
Fun Alternatives: Stay in the San Diego area for now, and plan a real trip to visit some great Mexican locations at a later date.
Tijuana is San Diego's neighbor to the south in Mexico. Although it can be fun it is definitely a place to be careful. If you go there be aware that you are not in the USA and that you are the target of many tourist scams. It isn't too bad in the daytime but at night even the police are looking for ways to shake down the unwary tourist. Be careful at the bars and discos especially. The main drag Revolucion is trying to keep Tijuana safe for tourists but only one or two blocks away are definitely unsafe for the tourist at night. A friend of mine's son was partying at a disco last year and ended up losing his money, cellphone, leather jacket to the police who first accused him of immoral behavior and then after giving them all his money to avoid jail he was trying to walk back to his hotel when another group of police stopped him and planted "white powder " on him as they were searching him again!. Luckily when he told them that their fellow officers had already relieved him of his money they just took his leather jacket and phone and let him walk all the way back to his hotel. He had to borrow the hotel's phone to call his father to come and pay the hotel so that he could leave.
Unique Suggestions: Go during the day and don't go off exploring.
Fun Alternatives: San Diego has something called "Old Town" that tries to imitate the Mexican experience. It's basically a tourist trap but at least it's safe and has some good and clean Mexican food. The prices are strictly US however.
In My opinion it is a waste of time to pass the border to Mexico.....if you just want to stay a short time and drive around and then go back again.....
We got caught up in heavy traffic back to San Diego.
Don´t make the trip across the border to Tijuana. The town is not worth it. It´s just a typical border town with lots of bars, dirt and red light districts. You will get the wrong impression of a beautiful country like Mexico.
You could pretty much say that everything in San Diego is a tourist trap, but there is no place that is not worth seeing... well, maybe Tijuana, although that is not technically San Diego. Personally, I find 'TJ' way overrated, but everyone still goes there. If you want to walk along dirty streets or buy cheap plastic stuff, be my guest. But if you want to have a 'Mexico experience' at least go as far as Rosarito or Ensenada (in Baja California).
When in San Diego, many people visit Mexico for the great
deals to be found on Revolusion Blvd. BEWARE OF CRAZY AND
FAST DRIVERS! I cannot stress enough, the kind of traffic
nightmares you can expect to see on an average day there.
A large number of people park at the border and walk over
the bridge. I never have...but, sometimes it is really so
nervewracking with the buses and taxis cutting you off and
most of the natives are driving ugly four-wheeled dent mobiles!
Tijuana is definitely not the United States, but is it definitively and authentically Mexican? Hardly. If you want the real Mexico, drive a little farther south.