Tijuana is a great vacation spot.
It is easily accessible via the San Diego International Airport, the Tijuana International Airport, or just the San Ysidro Point of Entry Border Crossing (The Tijuana Border). There are well known international hotel chains (Marriott, Holiday Inn) as well as fantastic local hotel options (from 2 stars to 5 stars like Hotel Pueblo Amigo, Hotel Lucerna and Grand Hotel Tijuana). It is also a foodies paradise with varied, international options- as well as Mexican traditional delights.
But I know what you are asking yourself: What will we do with the kids? Don’t people go to Tijuana to eat at scrumptious restaurants? Isn’t there a thriving microbrewing industry within the city? I hear Caliente has a cool casino, Plaza Rio has a VIP movie theatre, and the city’s posh nightclubs are a lot of fun. But… Tijuana with kids?
Yes! Pack the bags and bring the whole family down for the day, for a weekend, or for a week long family vacation. You will not be disappointed. Tijuana has the cultural, fun, and educational options to rival any city.
So, let’s get down to what you really want to know: What will you do in Tijuana with the kids?
Top 10 Things To Do in Tijuana With Kids:
- CECUT. I can not say enough great things about this cultural beacon in Tijuana. The kids can enjoy the children’s area and read a book or make a craft, they can tour the various exhibit halls and get their culture on, watch an IMAX movie, or they can catch a show in the CECUT theatre. The CECUT website is packed with information about the many events they host. And if you stop by on a weekend there is even more to enjoy for the kids (special craft tables, free readings and one man shows)! Take a look at our “Let’s Enjoy Tijuana” post to learn more about the on going kids programs at this amazing cultural center. Got little ones? Worried they’ll get antsy in a cultural center? Don’t be. The friendly staff at CECUT are always on the look out to keep kids safe and there are plenty of wide open spaces that allow for the kids to run around and burn off some energy. With the botanical gardens and small aquarium there is certainly enough variety to keep the kids engaged in both culture and fun.
2. El Trompo Interactive Science Museum. Four huge floors of science and exploration await the lucky children who get to visit El Trompo. This really is a hands-on museum where kids get to manipulate many of the exhibits to learn more about the science behind the fun. With ongoing special events and presentations (most of them free of charge), a morning visit to El Trompo quickly turns into a full day out. And it doesn’t have to break the bank. The concessions area in the basement sells a hot dog, chips and drink combo for $29.00 pesos (that’s less than $2 U.S. dollars!). We chronicled our last visit, with pictures and descriptive captions, in our “El Trompo” visit post.
3. Mundo Divertido Tijuana. This is a classic fun-for-all center with amusement park-like rides, a games center inside and its own food section (they also happen to be right next door to a movie theatre that shows movies in English and Spanish). It’s a fun afternoon where you can purchase tickets for individual rides ($22 M.N. pesos each ticket), a wristband for an hour’s worth of rides ($175.00 M.N. pesos/ $10.93 U.S.), or, if you’re in the know, visit on Tuesdays and get the one hour unlimited wristband for $80.00 M.N. pesos ($5 U.S. dollars). We don’t like to feel rushed and so we purchase the individual tickets (most rides require 3-5 tickets per ride) and take our time enjoying the fun. Check out our Daytrip to Mundo Divertido suggestion post.
4. Mini City Tijuana. Mini city is an interactive learning concept park much like KidZania in other, bigger cities. Children are able to learn various professions and perform the typical duties associated with each. It is located inside of Plaza Rio Tijuana, a mall with plenty of shops, food options, and even two movie theatres. I can personally say that our experience has always been a fun and educational one. There is a laboratory, a hospital, a supermarket, a trampoline section, a car wash and gas station, a fire department, a working newspaper, a beauty salon, a toddler sand area, a cow milking learning center and a news studio. Kids become workers, consumers, producers and providers. At a child price of $149.00 M.N. pesos ($9.31 U.S. dollars) and an adult fee of $45.00 M.N. pesos ($2.81 U.S. dollars) it is well worth the hours of fun. And hours it is; we have spent four straight hours here before getting hungry and my kid can personally spend 8 hours at Mini City! For pictures of the activities available and a personal account of one of our visits, feel free to check out our post “8 fun hours in Tijuana with kids”.
5. Oh! Zone! Oh Zone! is the complete entertainment package. With its own rock climbing wall, bowling alley, roller skate park, games center, sky hanging obstacle course, and food area, Oh Zone! will keep the kids entertained for hours. Even better, it will keep the parents entertained just as long! Every section at Oh Zone! (and really throughout all of Galerias Hipodromo) is child and adult friendly. Coupled with the ability to hold a birthday party or family reunion (or worldschoolers field trip), this amazing entertainment venue is sure to please. As an additional bonus I was told that they use no oils in the cooking of their foods (and therefore there are no saturated fats in your food) and that the kitchen staff prepare all the salsas fresh on location. Costs vary depending on what you choose to do but roller skating costs $63.00 M.N. pesos ($3.94 U.S. dollars) for two hours, bowling is $52.00 M.N. pesos ($3.25 U.S. dollars) for a game with shoes included, and the game center is approximately $.25 cents per game. Follow Oh! Zone on their facebook page to get the latest updates on special events and pricing.
6. Eat Real Tacos. There is a plethora of options for real tacos in Tijuana and every local has their favorite. Some are family favorites, patronized by generations of family members. Tacos are not just a quick meal, they are an institution. As a child, we used to go get tacos after every dance recital. As a teenager, driving to the taco stand on Sundays was akin to walking the red carpet. As a young adult, away at college for most of the year, the first meal I had when I arrived in Tijuana was tacos. And, always, at the same place. Because, for me, its always been about MY taco stand: Tacos Hipodromo.
7. Tepoznieves. Tepoznieves is an ice cream store- except better! Their claim to fame has always been their varied and off the wall flavors. With names like rose water, cactus, and angel kiss, it is a true adventure to go beyond the comfortable and try out a new flavor. Your server is more than happy to give you a small spoon tasting of any flavor that you choose and with several dozen flavors you WILL find one that you love. Travel is about new experiences right? What can be more new than eating a bowl of ‘Symphony of the Sea’ flavored ice cream. The hidden bonus: these ice creams are all made from fresh, real ingredients!
8. Visit a Mexican Candy Store. You might like to call it a Mexican candy warehouse given the size of some of these places! You can buy Mexican candy pretty much anywhere in Tijuana, but why would you buy one piece when you can go to the Mexican candy store and buy in bulk?! This is especially recommended if you have more than one child and if you want to make goodie bags for friends back at home (or just really love candy). 5th Street in downtown, the La Mesa district of Tijuana, and Mercado Hidalgo all have a wide selection of candy stores. With the pinatas hanging from the rafters, isles and isles of candy, and great prices, we aim high to get our sugar rush. The thing is, you don’t really get a sugar rush on Mexican candy. Traditional candy like alegrias, cocadas, and dulce de leche quemada are made out of candied, dried fruit or goats milk and everyday Mexican candy is more salt based. Salt based? What’s that? you ask. Well, Mexican candy is hot, spicy, salty and sour. Kids here are raised eating saladitos, salty plums in sweet orange sauce or salted plum in sweet and sour sauce or lemon flavored salted apricot. I know, it sounds weird. But it is fantastic! And at under $1.50 U.S. dollars per package (and that’s at the more expensive prices of the supermarket) it is totally worth a taste. If you are unsure about what to pick, take a look at some of our recommendations.
9. Mercado Miguel Hidalgo Tijuana lunch, shopping and sightseeing. The Mercado Hidalgo complex is like a big stall market, except the stalls are really individual storefronts, and it is more than just a market. There are, of course, fresh fruits and vegetables on sale, but you can also find traditional wares, candy stores, pottery and ceramics, spices and moles and some amazing restaurants. It is full of vivid colors and locals going about their shopping. It’s really just a fun outing to people watch, enjoy some lunch if hungry, or just walk around and enjoy the sights of a lively culture. I also like that this place is pretty self contained and child friendly. The sellers love helping you choose something and letting you sample something new. Mercado Hidalgo is like eye candy for all your senses! To get an idea of what you will find on a trip to this iconic location, check out our “Mercado Hidalgo” post.
10. Avenida Revolucion. An iconic 80’s classic, Avenida Revolucion grew in popularity and reputation a few decades ago. But do not be mislead. It is an amazing opportunity to walk around the old downtown area and look at all the trinkets available. There are various examples/ replicas of Mexican pop and folk art as well as just everyday items available. Walk a few blocks around the neighborhood and you will be rewarded with churches, candy stores, fish markets, restaurants and examples of life galore. If you want to take a guided tour, there is a free walking tour that departs on Saturdays at 12 noon from under the Tijuana arch (weather permitting, the guides are volunteers). You certainly want to hold the littles’ hands as you walk around (there’s always plenty of traffic) but I have found that the children thoroughly enjoy this free sightseeing opportunity. There’s just something about kids and their interest in real life observations. We particularly enjoy the art scene and murals at Pasaje Rodriguez and know you will too.
We hope this helps you start the planning for your next vacation: a trip to Tijuana, Mexico!
Tijuana is full of opportunities and fun adventures for the whole family. It truly is a very child and family friendly city. For more ideas you can also look at 105 Kid Friendly Things To Do in Tijuana.
Pictures, anecdotes, and our personal experiences in all these establishments can be found throughout the Border Free Adventures Facebook page and in other posts on this website.