First time and repeat visitors to Tecate enjoy strolling the plaza, touring the brewery, shopping for arts and crafts, and experiencing a taste of the real Mexico. Resort guests can hike, swim, play tennis, or simply relax in between spa treatments and healthy meals.
If you go nowhere else, make sure that you spend some time enjoying Tecate’s main plaza (Sundays are best, with music and the traditional strolling of young couples around the square) at Hidalgo Park. It requires nothing more active than plunking yourself in a chair under an umbrella at a café table and observing life as it passes by.
From your plastic throne, you can spy on the comings and goings at the Bar Turistico Diana (the hub of all things and home to a rather awesome painting of the goddess in her natural state); watch the Balloon Man bounce by with his colorful wares and the Doughnut Man selling out his quota of cinnamon-sugar-covered churros; perhaps engage in a boisterous game of dominoes, and always listen to strolling mariachis.
The plaza is a direct shot south from the border crossing…it’s hard to miss, so don’t.
Shopping really isn’t the main activity in Tecate but, nonetheless, it can be rewarding. Scout out the “paver’s yard”, where inventory is sent north across the border every day. Here, you can purchase outdoor fireplaces, pottery, tiles and other items at bargain prices. Two blocks from the tourist office on the main plaza, you’ll find Rositas Curios and Artesania Salazaar, where you can purchase arts and crafts of the region, including handwoven items, jewelry, onyx bowls and more. About two miles west of the plaza, Los Azulejos offers up spectacular tiles, both talavera and other traditional styles, for indoor and outdoor décor.
Panaderia El Mejor Pan
On Avenue Juarez, just a little bit east of the main square, is this famous bakery with its distinctive sign. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out the main activity here: buying and eating incredibly rich and often unusual pastries. The bread is its specialty—many say the the bakery’s bolillos are the best in Baja. Other not-to-miss items? The elephant ears, bread pudding squares and the pastries made to look like watermelons.
With an elevation of 1,520 m, the top of the Cuchumá, whose Yuman name means “old warrior” is the most emblematic of the surrounding mountains, which spreads across boundaries of United States and Mexico.
Perhaps no place is as emblematic of Tecate as Cerveceria Cuauhtémoc-Moctezuma, the internationally renowned brewery, home to Tecate beer. With 500 employees, the operations of this Femsa-owned company, under the directorship of Francisco Garza Hernandez, are vital to the town’s well-being. And, according to Raul Peña Hernandez, director of sales, the brewery takes a deep interest in partnering with the community on many projects, including recycling grey water for use in parks and recreation areas, and supporting events. Although much of the company’s sponsorship helps nonprofit causes, one of the most popular activities that benefits from the cerveceria’s patronage is baseball: East of the town center, it’s hard to miss the stadium where the Cerveceros (the Brewers) baseball team plays its home games.
Annually, 175 million gallons of beer and lagers are produced by the cerveceria, including Tecate, Tecate Light,Superior, Carta Blanca, Sol,Indio,Bohemia, Dos Equis, and a special beer created only for the Christmas season, Noche Buena, that features a poinsettia on its label.
The Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma brewery can be visited Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tours are available free of charge and are offered in both English and Spanish. Following the tour, guests are escorted to the beer garden for a free glass of Bohemia, Dos Equis or Carta Blanca. The garden, which is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, features old brewery machines and a century-old beer truck. For more information, visit www.ccm.com.mx
Rancho La Puerta
Founded in 1940 by Deborah and Edmond Szekely, the “Ranch of the Door” also bills itself as “The Door to the Future”. Here, the future is a glorious vision of wellness in mind, body and spirit. Meditation, organic gardening, a labyrinth, yoga, Tai Chi, dancing, hiking and reflexology are just a few of the elements that come into play, and they all take place at this remarkable 3,000-acre property just west of Tecate. Tennis, swimming pools and fitness classes provide additional options for guests who wish to pursue their physical and mental health goals.
More than anything else, Rancho La Puerta is a sensual retreat. Accommodations are designed to augment the spa experience and each room has a unique décor. With more than 150 acres of exquisite gardens designed by Sarah Livia Brightwood and which have been featured on the PBS series Victory Garden, there is ample opportunity to meander for hours with no justification necessary. In fact, according to the New York Times, “The gardens are reason enough to visit, even if you’re not interested in unwinding.”
As you head towards Mexico’s wine country, south towards Ensenada on Highway 3, you will come to a lovely valley just about 10 minutes out of town. On your right hand side will be Vinos Tanama, with its vineyards and tasting room.