The border between the United States and Mexico is often a topic of political controversy. However, it can also be a great place to sample the many wonderful experiences Mexico has to offer without venturing too far out of the United States. These are some of the best border towns to visit.
Ensenada is located about 80 miles to the south of San Diego. It is a popular destination for Californians, thanks to its outdoor recreation areas. Outdoorsy types will enjoy a variety of activities, including mountain biking, kayaking, surfing and horseback riding. If you love the nightlife, the city is a great place to sample some excellent food and soak in the culture. Animal lovers will enjoy an Ensenada cruise where you may get the chance to see a gray whale. Party people can sample the tequila at Hussong’s Cantina.
Tijuana has a reputation as a party town and a hotbed of criminal activity. However, the city has worked hard to rehab its image. The downtown area is now an arts district with numerous galleries, studios, murals and stores to visit. There are plenty of great places to eat and drink. Wrestling fans will want to catch a Lucha Libre match.
Gran Desierto de Altar Biosphere Reserve
The Gran Desierto de Altar Biosphere Reserve is one of the driest places on the planet. It features active sand dunes, a dormant volcanic landscape and a variety of unique plants and animals. Visit the area after a rare rainfall to see poppies, verbenas and lilies.
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Popotla and Puerto Nuevo
Seafood lovers will find a lot to like in the fishing village of Popotla. If you’re a lobster lover, be sure to visit Puerto Nuevo. Film fans will want to stop by Baja Studios to visit the movie lot where Titanic was filmed. Nearby El Morro is a popular destination for surfers.
Juárez is another border town with a history of cartel violence. However, the city has been rebuilt in the last decade, transforming the town into a tourist attraction that features historic buildings, restaurants and museums.
Del Rio and Ciudad Acuña
Del Rio is one of the more popular border crossings in Texas. It is positioned on the Rio Grande across from its sister city Ciudad Acuña. Tourists flock to the area to see the pictographs drawn on cave walls 4,000 years ago by American Indians. Lake Amistad, where the Pecos, Rio Grande and the Devils rivers all converge, is one of Texas’ biggest lakes with 850 miles of shoreline. The lake is a popular destination for hiking, biking, fishing and exploring nature. On the Mexican side of the border, Ciudad Acuña is home to numerous restaurants, bars, shops and hotels. Shoppers visit the area for its coveted Talavera pottery, Mexican pewter and pine furniture.
Nogales is positioned at the start of a major highway system that gives travelers access to the Baja Peninsula. This Arizona border town is a popular destination for day-trippers seeking to purchase souvenirs, sample the local cuisine or buy discount pharmaceuticals. History buffs will enjoy the Pimeria Alta Historical Society Museum.
Agua Prieta is another Arizona border town situated in the Sonora region of Mexico. The town of Douglas can be found on the Arizona side of the border. The town’s shopping district is walking distance from the Arizona border, so shoppers wanting to avoid getting stuck in traffic often park on the Arizona side and walk across.
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Laredo and Nuevo Laredo
These two towns, known collectively as Los dos Laredos are great places to observe the blending of American and Mexican cultures along the border. Visit the mom-and-pop stores, street vendors, amazing restaurants and seasonal festivals.
If you would like to dip a toe into Mexican culture without getting too far away from the U.S., a visit to a border town is a perfect introduction to the country. There is plenty to see and do no matter what you are into.