If you know me well, then you must know how spontaneous my travels can be. Last week, we were in San Diego, and then randomly decided to take a day trip to Tijuana with the kids after I noticed that the border crossing was only forty minutes away. I quickly googled “Things to do in Tijuana with Kids”, noted a few down and off we went to Tijuana.
One of the things a lot of people wanted to know after our short day trip, was if Tijuana was safe for families. There was absolutely nothing that gave me an unsafe vibe in Tijuana. The kids loved scooting around the city, the people were nice and friendly, and we had no issues whatsoever during our trip. I highly recommend a day tip to Tijuana if you’re in the San Diego area.
When Did We Go There
We visited Tijuana in March.
What Was The Weather Like
The weather was beautiful and sunny, but not hot.
How Did We Get There
We drove from downtown San Diego to the San Ysidro Point of Entry Borer Crossing, and that took us about 40 minutes. If you put San Ysidro Port Of Entry on google maps or Border Station Parking, it will give you an accurate description of how to get to the parking lot where we parked.
When you are on the freeway, you’ll see the sign “Last USA Exit Parking.” Make sure you take that exit, or else you’ll find yourself driving to Mexico. You can also take the San Diego Trolley to the border crossing if you don’t want to drive.
(google image below as I didn’t capture the sign on time)
We got off on the exit that said, “Last USA Exit Parking” made a right, and there was the Border Station Parking Lot. We drove into the parking lot and parked our car, parking costs $8 for 12 hours which we paid for on our way out. We initially planned on taking the bus into Tijuana from the parking lot, but the wait time was an hour and so we decided to walk across the border. Walking was a much better idea and experience, and the boys were excited to ride their scooters, so this made for a super fun trip overall for them.
We go to the entry port, and of course I couldn’t resist a photo 😊. As you can see, we weren’t the only ones heading to Tijuana. I spotted several people with luggage, on their way for vacation I suppose.
We then followed the signs and walked through to immigration, filled out the forms and voila, our passports were stamped and we were across the border. Super easy process which took a total of about 10 minutes. The boys rode their scooters the whole time too. The boys love their passport covers.
How Did We Get Around
As soon as you cross the border, you’ll see a line of taxis. Feel free to take those if you want, but make sure you ask for the price beforehand. They intentionally don’t turn on the meter and then tell you a ridiculous amount later. I experienced something similar in Cancun, so I knew beforehand what to expect. I made sure to negotiate prices prior to the taxi driving us. After I realized that Uber was working, we decided to go that route instead. Much easier and cheaper. They also have Uber-English and Uber-Spanish so you can request and English or Spanish-speaking driver if you want. It didn’t matter to us really. (Click to sign up for Uber and get up to $10 off your first ride)
Where Did We Stay
Because this was a day trip from San Diego, we stayed the night at the DoubleTree by Hilton San Diego – Mission Valley. I am not sure I would stay at this hotel again. I wasn’t impressed with the customer service. Also, breakfast was terrible, they didn’t have a variety of options. However, it has a great location and a nice pool.
What Did We Do
I wasn’t feeling well when we went to Tijuana, so I stopped at the pharmacy and got some antibiotics. I had major flu symptoms, that week including chest pain when I coughed and sinus pressure, so I knew I need an antibiotic. Yes, I know, getting medicines in another country may sound crazy to you, but I have never had an issue with this, so I wasn’t bothered by it. I’ve received medical care in Turkey & Mexico before, so it wasn’t my first rodeo. I knew what I wanted when I walked into the pharmacy; so I asked for it, paid and left. The pharmacist, or what looked like one in his white coat spoke English, so it was an easy transaction.
Ell Trompo is a hands-on science museum for kids located in Tijuana. We paid 249 Mexican Pesos which is on;y $13.67 USD for all 4 of us. You can even get a year pass for 199 Mexican Pesos which is $10.93USD per person. This museum is huge and has four huge floors filled with exhibits. Lots of science and exploration and so much to learn. There are several attendants to interact with the kids as needed. The kids were running from one exhibit to the next, so much to see and so much to do. They even had some fish, snakes and turtles in the museum too. You can easily spend all day here without even noticing the time go by.
Have you taken your kids to Kidzania? If you have, then Mini City is basically the same thing. If you’ve never taken your kids to Kidzania or Mini City, then you absolutely have to. It is an interactive learning city made just for kids. They can pretend play as a banker, firefighter, milk cows and much more. They even have a trampoline and an indoor soccer area. It costs 75 Mexican Pesos ($4.12 USD) for kids under 3yrs old, 159 Mexican Pesos ($8.73 USD) for kids over 3yrs old and 59 Mexican Pesos ($3.24 USD) for adults. For a full day of fun, it is super affordable and worth every penny. They also offer a service where someone can take your child around which I thought was nice, for when you have to run a few errands to grab something from the mall, or maybe even watch an adult movie. Don’t worry, every child in Mini City is fitted with a tracking bracelet, so it is impossible for them to get lost or leave. Mini City is located in Plaza Rio Tijuana which is a big mall with a movie theater, restaurants and shops.
We spent some time walking around and admiring the shops here while the boys rode their scooters around. We found a Starbucks and stopped for Sly to get some coffee. He always seems to find Starbucks wherever we travel. They had bathrooms and free internet too, so woohooo!! I also found a churro stand and was excited to get some fresh hot churro’s. Aiden loves churro’s also.
Where Did We Eat
The only meal we had in Tijuana was lunch at this awesome roadside taco place. The tacos were delicious and as you can see we all enjoyed them. I wish they had margarita’s to go with it though, haha. Don’t judge me, it’s Mexico 😊. As you can see I even let Aiden have a Fanta, something I would never allow him to have in the U.S., so that was quite a treat for him. I enjoyed a Jamaica drink (hibiscus tea) and Sly had a cola. These are all things we don’t indulge in at home but hey we were in Mexico, so why not?. We ordered one of almost every taco on the menu, My favorite was the Lengua (cow tongue) and Aiden and Sly loved the Carne (beef). Ethan on the other hand doesn’t fancy meat or tacos, so he had a torta with nothing but cheese on it.
- If you don’t want to park your car in the parking lot close to the border, you can take a taxi, or Uber or the San Diego Trolley to get to the border crossing.
- When in Tijuana, make sure you ask the cab drivers to turn on their meter or negotiate the cab fare before or as soon as you get into a taxi.
- The Caeser Salad was invented in Tijuana, so make sure to visit Caesars – a restaurant with very high reviews.
- Some other great places to grab food with a variety of food options are Telefonica Gastro Park and FoodGarden.
- There are plenty of places we didn’t visit on this trip so I definitely plan to take the boys back for another day trip soon. Maybe this time we may actually stay the night there, who knows? Anyways check out my to-do list below for our next trips.
- You can also check out “10 Things To Do In Tijuana With Kids” for more.
- Scooters are a great mode of transportation for kids, never once did they complain about being tired of walking, or scooting. The boys both use the Razor A3 which is the best in it’s class. We didn’t take a helmet, but I definitely suggest it. When the boys use their scooters at home we make sure that they have the right protective gear on and comfortable shoes as they love to perform tricks.