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Make sure to have your picture taken on the "Mexican zebra," a donkey painted with stripes, parked on various street corners with a cart which doubles as a backdrop for your picture. Sport a huge sombrero and get your picture taken in black and white with an old-timey camera.
One street to the south of Avenida Revolucion, Avenida Constitucion is a mirror image of endless shops of things you really don't need...except that Constitucion is for locals. The sidewalks are narrower, and any gringo looks out of place, but it is safe and entertaining to walk amongst the locals, a mere block from and parallel to “gringolandia.”
Tijuana's industrial-strength economy is owed at least partially to NAFTA (the North American Fair Trade Agreement, signed in 1992). Many foreign companies were attracted to the area, and set up assembly plants and light industry, benefiting from NAFTA's preference for things made in Mexico. China, Japan, Korea and other powerhouse economies have manufacturing businesses in the area was well. Salaries for entry-level jobs are superior to those of traditional unskilled labor for Tijuana and, to an even greater degree, the rest of Mexico.
The dollar is widely accepted in this town that has perfected the fine art of trading trinkets, blankets and Bart Simpson piggybanks for your cash. There is a slight advantage to having pesos over dollars, but for the casual visitor planning to spend less than a few hundred dollars, the financial edge is nil. Heck, many locals pay their rent in dollars.
By U.S. standards, beaches are poor quality and polluted in the Tijuana region. Not until one gets further south, at least to Rosarito Beach (AKA Playas de Rosarito, a suburb of Tijuana about 30 minutes south) does one find cleaner water and more acceptable beaches for lounging or swimming. Less than an hour south of Rosarito but before Ensenada (look for the kilometer markers by the side of the road), surfers check out the many reef breaks and point breaks; K-38 is famous for its series of point breaks. The area has undergone a construction boom during the past decade, however, and access to pristine, primitive beaches is all but gone.
For more things to do as well as hotels and restaurants, check out our Tijuana Travel Guide.
The San Diego night life is as vibrant and sophisticated as that of most any other major US city.