Best Day Trip - 2009
Readers' Choice: Catalina
Every few years, a tabloidesque SoCal television-news operation (looking at you, Fox LA) alarms parents with over-the-top "investigations" that conclude today's Tijuana is the center of sin, and if your teens go there, they will not come back. Such bullshit; TJ has always been that way. That's why it was the choice for several generations BEFORE the beheadings, increased Mexican Army presence and other fallout from cross-border narco-warfare. Those scary trends, coupled with official U.S. travel advisories and sky-is-falling media reports, just make Tijuana an even cooler day-trip destination. Who doesn't love a little danger with their worm in the tequila? The center of the TJ universe remains Avenida Revolución. This is where, long after the sun's gone down, you'll find the bars, drunk 18-year-olds (Mexico's minimum drinking age), bars, vomit, bars, donkey shows and bars. But you don't have to be a rummy or sex deviant to get your TJ on. Discotheques along the avenida blast music for everything from salsa dancing to dirty dancing. At sunup, Avenida Revolucion and Zona Rio transform into one of the world's busiest shopping meccas, where you can pick up cheap crafts, cheap jewelry, cheap leather goods, cheap pharmaceuticals and expensive Cuban cigars. Other TJ draws include golf, tennis, art fairs, wine tasting, bullfighting, cockfighting, greyhound racing, Mexican League baseball and tons of dining options. The only bummer is it takes less than two hours to get there, but it can take up to six to get home because of the goddamn U.S.-border check. In the unlikely event you have some money left, you can do still more shopping from your car as peasants pass by hawking their wares.