One of San Diego’s most exciting aspects is its proximity to Mexico—the border is just 17 miles (27 kilometers) from downtown, and this slice of Baja California is known for its natural beauty, fresh seafood, and vibrant culture.
Just beyond the border lies Tijuana, best known for its kitschy main drag, Avenida Revolucion. Set out on a day trip from San Diego to weave between taco carts, donkeys painted like zebras, street mariachi, and merchants selling everything from blankets to paintings while exploring its chaotic streets. Tour the city’s craft breweries, or stop by the many markets, boutiques, and street vendor booths to pick up items such as chicharrones, fresh fruit, pinatas, and shoes.
After stopping in Tijuana, most Mexico tours from San Diego head just south of the city to Rosarito Beach, a popular oceanside respite for Mexicans and Americans alike. Aside from enjoying cervezas on the sand, visitors often spend time touring the area’s artisan markets while getting a taste of “Old Hollywood” courtesy of the town’s 1920s heyday when it hosted film stars such as Orson Welles and Dolores del Rio.
Further down the coast is the small lobster fishing village of Puerto Nuevo, which exists for one sole purpose: to fry or grill up fresh spiny lobster. Served with butter, fresh flour tortillas, and rice and beans, it’s an iconic Baja dining experience that shouldn’t be missed. A visit to Puerto Nuevo is often combined with time in Rosarito Beach, making for a full-day tour from San Diego.
Full-day Ensenada tours take a wider view of the region while staying within two hours of the border. You’ll soak up sweeping vistas of jagged desert cliffs and bright blue waters on the way down, and can then wander the fish markets and sample some of the region’s finest wines at a local winery. Travelers enjoy strolling the oceanfront boardwalk to duck into shops and markets off of the buzzing streets. Most full-day tours that head down to Ensenada run about 10 hours long.