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View Poll Results: Best borderlands experience
Tijuana (San Diego, CA) 24 53.33%
Nogales (Nogales/Tucson, AZ) 10 22.22%
Juarez (El Paso, TX) 3 6.67%
Nuevo Laredo (Laredo, TX) 1 2.22%
Reynosa-Matamoros (Rio Grande Valley, TX) 4 8.89%
Other 3 6.67%
Voters: 45. You may not vote on this poll

 
 
Old 09-02-2015, 07:39 AM
 
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I have been "near" the border in El Paso, and over in San Diego. I would say that the San Diego experience was very positive, however we were with a tour group. We took a bus from DT San Diego to DT Ensenada, with stops in Tijuana and along the coast (beautiful section, essentially an extension of the PCH, except perhaps more spectacular since it didn't feel like there was as much barrier along the road). All of that, while it didn't feel ritzy, did feel functional.

El Paso is actually a somewhat underrated city. Beautiful scenery and landscapes, sports, pretty cool museums and history. Not as much to offer climate wise or stuff to do wise as San Diego, but nice and very interesting vibe. Can't say that I would even consider crossing the border though I do find it interesting to read the blogs of the brave souls who have, and that say they enjoy themselves (If Juarez wasn't so scary, it really does offer some interesting stuff, probably more than Ensenada and Tijuana). But the fact remains. I ran to the border from DT, and I can say that it started to feel very "third world" in the last half mile or so. I definitely didn't get a good feel about the area, so much so that I was probably doing sub 6 minute mile pace consistently on the way back. I have heard that Laredo has a pretty cool/interesting downtown, though I'll let others speak to that, I don't know for sure. I don't know much about McAllen or Brownsville.
Another one I've heard getting some press as a destination or Arizona residents as a cheaper weekend option to Cali is Puerto Penasco, about 3 hours from PHX and Tucson. Any reviews?
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Old 09-02-2015, 07:58 AM
 
Location: New Mexico --> Vermont in 2019
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Originally Posted by :-D View Post
I don't agree with your opinion of Tucson having a "borderland" vibe. If the "borderland" vibe means having a large Mexican-heritage population than we can argue Phoenix is as well, since both Tucson and Phoenix have about the same demographic make-up in terms of percentages. If Tucson has a "borderland" vibe then so does Phoenix, IMO. I can't find a single difference other than pure geographic location that would make Tucson more "borderland" than Phoenix.

Nogales to me seems much different than Tucson, even on the US side (to be fair I haven't crossed the border).
Well like San Diego, it's certainly possible for a tourist to visit Tucson and not think much of the border being an hour away. Though, I will say Tucson, with its old pueblo feel in parts, and historically is on land within the Gadsden purchase does have a more palpable borderlands feel to me than Phoenix. When visiting places like San Xavier del bac and South Tucson, Old Mexico feels much closer. Though demographically I know Phoenix has areas heavily influenced by Mexico, I haven't been to any enclaves in the Valley that really jumped out at me, the way parts of Tucson did. I also haven't been to Nogales, Mexico either though and Tucson's borderland feel isn't anything like El Paso's. When I think of a Mexico border connection to Phoenix, I think of the weekend beach escape of Puerto Peñasco.

Last edited by Desert_SW_77; 09-02-2015 at 08:18 AM..
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Old 09-02-2015, 08:21 AM
 
Location: Nashville, TN
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Having visited Tijuana, I can say that it does offer a different and noteworthy cultural experience from San Diego. It is very much a part of the area, despite being in Mexico. After many years of violence and drugs, Tijuana has turned a corner. Upscale boutiques, restaurants, and residences have helped in the revitalization efforts.

Downtown Tijuana Stages A Revival | KPBS
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Old 09-02-2015, 01:53 PM
 
Location: Milwaukee
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^ I like Tijuana more than San Diego
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Old 09-02-2015, 02:03 PM
 
Location: Center City, Philadelphia
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Originally Posted by cheese plate View Post
^ I like Tijuana more than San Diego
Lol I have a really funny story. So my cousins live in SD and we were visiting my moms brother one time and we went over the border. My dad is 100% Italian and gets really dark in the summer. I, and the rest of my family, got my moms completion and are really white.

Right when we crossed this Mexican man goes to my dad "you did well my friend! Bringing yourself a white family back!" Lol still crack up just thinking about it.
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Old 09-02-2015, 04:59 PM
 
Location: SF Bay Area
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Originally Posted by Shakeesha View Post
Having visited Tijuana, I can say that it does offer a different and noteworthy cultural experience from San Diego. It is very much a part of the area, despite being in Mexico. After many years of violence and drugs, Tijuana has turned a corner. Upscale boutiques, restaurants, and residences have helped in the revitalization efforts.

Downtown Tijuana Stages A Revival | KPBS
I agree. Here is another article, this one about Tijuana's emerging food scene:

The Baja Moment - San Diego Magazine - November 2014 - San Diego, California
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Old 09-02-2015, 07:20 PM
 
Location: New Mexico --> Vermont in 2019
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Originally Posted by sav858 View Post
I agree. Here is another article, this one about Tijuana's emerging food scene:

The Baja Moment - San Diego Magazine - November 2014 - San Diego, California
Bourdain briefed on that when he stopped by Tijuana.

Relive Baja With Tony
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Old 09-03-2015, 12:43 AM
 
Location: Valle Luna, Phoenix, AZ
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Desert_SW_77 View Post
Well like San Diego, it's certainly possible for a tourist to visit Tucson and not think much of the border being an hour away. Though, I will say Tucson, with its old pueblo feel in parts, and historically is on land within the Gadsden purchase does have a more palpable borderlands feel to me than Phoenix. When visiting places like San Xavier del bac and South Tucson, Old Mexico feels much closer. Though demographically I know Phoenix has areas heavily influenced by Mexico, I haven't been to any enclaves in the Valley that really jumped out at me, the way parts of Tucson did. I also haven't been to Nogales, Mexico either though and Tucson's borderland feel isn't anything like El Paso's. When I think of a Mexico border connection to Phoenix, I think of the weekend beach escape of Puerto Peñasco.
Even though I live here sometimes it doesn't hit me that Mexico is so close until I end up getting on the I-19 when the roads start getting measured in meters and not miles. I believe one or two miles after the I-19/I-10 loop (around the Irvington exit) it changes. To be fair that's almost the end of Tucson as you reach the Mission San Xavier on the Tohono O'odham reservation and the Tucson Airport. After that you're in Sahuarita.

I've heard Rocky Point is pretty fun. It's the closest beach to Arizona at 4 hours away from either Tucson or Phoenix. Haven't been there yet but it's also pretty cheap and unlike San Diego or Los Angeles the water there is actually warm I've heard.
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Old 09-03-2015, 02:40 AM
 
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Rocky Point is okay, it's pretty dead these days though even during peak season. There's just something strange about going to a Mexican resort area where so many of the higher end resorts are quite a ways away from the beach though. But it's a pretty minor leagues resort area to begin with.

Fear of Mexico has been largely uncalled for, the chances of Cartel violence touching an American is so astronomically high it should be moot. The Cartel's know better than to mess with resort areas (tourism, i.e. Mexico's economy) anyway, it's just bad business. The only place to watch for are roads along smuggling routes (out in the middle of nowhere) where no tourist should ever be anyways and some of the inland cities.. I've driven from San Francisco to Puerto Vallarta (so through Arizona) and back dozens of times since 2004. Obviously nothing happened to me but those are the only kinds of trips that can be worrisome. Open road middle of nowhere places in between a Point A & Point B.

I've been to Tijuana, Ensenada, Rosarito, etc coming from California countless times. Not much point in going to Rosarito these days though. I'm not in college anymore and it's pretty dead these days. Tijuana goes through cycles of minor sketchiness to palpable sketchiness but I would never be too afraid to head over for a day trip while visiting friends / vacationing in SD.

Potential American tourists being afraid of being executed by a Mexican drug cartel is akin to a tourist visiting Chicago and being worried about getting caught up in a Southside Latin Kings drive by.

I worked in Juarez for ~4 months (US fed law enforcement, advising and training specialized local law enforcement), that is not a fun place to be.
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Old 09-03-2015, 03:11 AM
 
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Been in Juarez and Nogales. I much preferred the Sonoran culture (I felt a lot more comfortable at least) in Nogales.

If you can appreciate what it is Nogales is a neat little town. I mean it stinks (especially on the Mexico side) but the buildings are so unique and old. Such a character that place is.
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