In the southeastern mountains of San Diego County lies the small and rural Mexican border town of Tecate, Mexico. Family oriented with a strong sense of community, the town has streets lined with taco stands, seafood shops, bakeries, ice cream parlors, and handcrafted souvenir store fronts with a colorful town square right in the middle. Immerse yourself in the relaxed and laid back style of Tecate, Mexico, and experience the kindness and talents of its people.
Tecate is a Family Adventure!
On a beautifully sunny day, my family and I made an impromptu trip to Tecate, Mexico. A scenic drive through the backcountry surrounded by mountains and wildflowers led us to our destination. We wanted adventure. We wanted fun…and we wanted amazing Mexican food! Incredibly lucky to be so close to the international border, we take advantage of these trips as much as possible. My children LOVE trying new things and are always ready for an adventure. Music, games, delicious food, and history are all here. This is a fabulous way to immerse your family in culture and culinary delights. So, from my family to yours, I share with you this little known gem just outside San Diego, CA
Crossing the Border into Mexico
Parking: Just a 40 minute drive from San Diego, ample parking is offered before you cross the border. Although there is a $5 fee, the parking is gated, and has staff onsite. Parking on the U.S side will require a bit a walking, but will provide peace of mind and eliminate the need to drive in an unfamiliar country.
Currency: In my many travels to the border, I have found that cash in the form of U.S dollars is the easiest and most efficient. Taco stands and seafood spots do not take credit or debit cards. Bring cash in $20.00 or less increments. This makes it easier to give change.
*As of May 2016, the exchange rate in Mexico is 18.5 pesos per dollar.
Identification: Have your passport ready! Keep it safe on your person! A small backpack is the perfect accessory to bring along and while you’re at it, it wouldn’t hurt to bring some bottled water.
Clothing: Comfortable CLOSED TOE shoes. When you cross the border into Tecate, you want to allow yourself plenty of time to explore. The streets are uneven. Some road are paved, some are not, and there are potholes and unfinished sidewalks with exposed rebar. Look lively!
Three Things You MUST Do!
- Tecate Town Plaza: As you make your descent into town, you will notice that there is a beautiful and welcoming town square directly in the center. Iron park benches and tables are scattered amongst vibrant green trees, flowers and fresh herbs. In the mornings the plaza is quiet and peaceful, perfect to enjoy a cup of coffee and listen to the birds, and as the afternoon approaches, the toy vendors, snack carts, and music make their debut. We ate in the town square at Lolo’s Restaurant. We sat outside enjoying a beer and some tacos while watching families come together, grab lunch, and play with their children. Good food and great people watching.
- Michoachana: Located in the plaza, this spot is frozen treat perfection. Homemade ice cream and popsicles made with real cream and fresh ingredients. With flavors like “peaches and cream,” “fresh lime,” and “oreo mocha,” they have it all. If you can’t decide, be greedy and get two.
- El Mejor Pan De Tecate: It’s obviously in the name! The BEST bread in Tecate! Located just down the street from the plaza, this bakery is paradise. Bring your sweet tooth and prepare to be dazzled! Sweet breads, cupcakes, cookies, turnovers etc. Rows and rows of mouth watering goodness. Save this spot for last! There is no doubt you will exit the building with a giant box of goodies, and you don’t want to carry it around while you explore.
How about beer? The Tecate Beer Brewery is walking distance from the town plaza. During our visit we found out that the brewery was closed…BUT only for remodeling; it will be back open, ready for tours and tastings in 2017!
*TIP- When walking back across the border into the U.S, declare EVERYTHING you are bringing back, even the contents of your half eaten box of pastries. Be honest and follow the law. It makes it that much easier on everyone.
Budget Friendly and Memorable!
For a fun-filled day trip with a wow factor, Tecate is the spot. Experience this authentic border town at your own pace and don’t forget to bring your appetite and sense of adventure! This is culinary and cultural fun for the whole family.