Rides & Destinations: Tecate, Baja California, Mexico

If you visit Tecate, Baja California, Mexico, make sure you take in the local cuisine at Amores and Malinalli Sabores Autóctonos.


What: Tecate, Baja California, Mexico, and the roads to and from this magnificent destination.
How to Get There: Take I-15 or I-5 to I-8, pick up California SR 94 and turn south on SR 188.
Best Kept Secret: Unquestionably, the exquisite dining experiences in Tecate (see above).
Avoid: Forgetting your passport (if you want to get back into the Estados Unidos), returning to the U.S. with more than one bottle of wine (the U.S. limit) and entering Mexico without insurance (we recommend Baja Bound)
More Photos: Exhaust Notes
More Info: Visit Mexico

Tecate, home to the cerveza company of the same name, is a gritty industrial town, but scratch the surface and you’ll find a grand destination and a good jumping-off point for further Baja exploration. On the U.S. side, Tecate is not much more than the U.S. Customs and Immigration station; on the Mexican side, Tecate (pop. 102,000) is a much larger and far more intriguing place. Founded in 1892, Tecate’s history reaches back 12,000 years when the region was settled by the Kumeyaay Native Americans who still inhabit the area.

Getting to Tecate is a beautiful ride in itself. California SR 94 twistiliciously winds its way through the mountains just north of the border. Roughly 25 miles east of where 94 originates near San Diego, take a right on 2-mile-long SR 188 and you’re there. There’s a sign warning you not to bring guns into Mexico (duh), and suddenly, you’re crossing the border. There are no Mexican officials or inspections as you enter; you just ride right in. You can do that going south; don’t try it going north.

You should get a Mexican visitor’s permit (FMM). The Mexican immigration office is the first building on the right. Bounce over the Botts’ dots (those annoying grapefruit-sized metal domes), find a place to park, walk across the road you just rode in on, walk back to the Mexican customs building (there’s no sign), walk through a gate, cross back again, look for the steps and enter the Mexican immigration office. Just wander around looking like you’re lost (you won’t have to act, because you will be), and somebody will ask if you need help. I get the feeling not too many people actually get a permit when they enter Mexico. But you’re supposed to.


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