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What do you do in Tijuana?

That's what my bearded, harley-riding, bandana-wearing uncle asked me.

For all he knows we sit around polishing our firearms each day, waiting for the next cartel group to drive by. Bless his heart and all the major news networks that throw out alarmist stories, but that is not what it's like here.

Probably difficult for people to imagine what Tijuana is like if they have never been to Mexico. And if you have only been to resort hotel Mexico, your idea could be even further bent.

We are not a resort city but we are also not an El Paso or Juarez. More like a little LA with lots of great food, culture and art.

Playas Tijuana (editor note: I drop the “de” because I’m lazy – just seems too formal to always say “Playas de Tijuana” so I’ll make my own rules for Spanglish, thank you), is a beach community with over 146,000 residents as of 2015.

This population expands ten-fold on the weekends when tourists come to the beaches and hang out with us at the local coffee shops or mariscos stands. We tend to avoid the north beach on the weekend and prefer the quieter side near Café Aquamarino.

Any beach you visit will be packed on the warmest days here, so here’s a list of other family friendly things to do in Tijuana while you are here:

1. Go swimming with the kids at a local camp spot in Rosarito. Bring your picnic and sunscreen and splash around on the hotter days of the year. Great shallow pool for the kids with lots of small slides.

2. For those repeat visitors, go on a tour homes and check out the real estate to give you inspiration for your next home or even a second home in Baja.

3. Visit Fausto Polanco to drool over their custom, grandiose furniture so you can decorate said-home like a king. (Truly an inspirational designer – let me know how you love the model showroom)

4. Take the kids to the brincolines (bouncing houses) at the local mall, Galerias Hipodromo. 50 pesos gets them jumping on each other instead of your new furniture.

5. Go to a Mexican Garage Sale at the Tijuana Swap Meet (Fundadores). Buy some sweet and spicy candied Tamarindo or cold Horchata water while you are there.

6. Cool off at the Thrifty ice cream store in Playas (closest thing to Baskin Robbins that you’ll find and just as delicious). Walk those calories off a bit around Parque Mexico right next door and find some breezy shade.

7. Visit the El Trompo kids museum and get the kids thinking about science instead of video games for a while.

8. Enjoy a new flick at the VIP Cinepolis movie theatre in Zona Rio and treat yourself to some first-class movie seats and a cold cerveza.

9. Browse the museum, art and botanical garden at Cecut cultural center. The boys love seeing the Baja historical exhibit in the museum where I explain in great detail why the Indians were partially naked. Someday they are going to ask me to stop talking.

10. Stay at Cecut to catch an Imax movie. Currently they have a new Panda documentary and sometimes have local art displayed in the Imax lobby to browse while waiting for the film to start.

See! Tons of things to do and even more options without kids in tow. And of course, it wouldn't be a visit to TJ if you didn't have some snacks to suck on.

p.s. Don't bring your diet with you.

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