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Mexico: South Of The Border
by Tina Caputo
Magazine Issue: U.S. Vol. 4.1
South of the Border

Walking across the border is the easiest way to enter Mexico, as driving is fraught with hassles and requires a Mexican insurance policy.

A vibrant world of mariachis and margaritas awaits 30 minutes south of downtown San Diego. Mexico's most popular state, Baja, is the longest peninsula in the world. It's 1,000 miles of uncrowded beaches, striking mountain ranges, diverse desert, historic cities and laid-back resorts.

The closest destination is Tijuana. More than 21 million tourists cross the border each year to wine, dine, wager, sun worship and soak up the local culture. Dozens of cabs wait day and night to whisk you to nearby shopping, fine dining, nightlife or favorite tourist attractions.

Tijuana's about bargains. So shop along its ultra-commercial Avenida Revolucion. All of Baja California is a duty-free zone, and there's no state sales tax. You can bring back $400 per person duty-free, including one liter of alcohol. Mexican arts and crafts don't count toward your $400 limit.

For a healthy dose of kitsch, try the Tijuana Wax Museum. All the celebs live here: Marilyn Monroe, Jack the Ripper, Laurel and Hardy, and Dracula. If you've been dumped by a significant other recently, you won't wanna miss the gory Aztec human-sacrifice, with someone's heart getting ripped out.

Wine south of the border? Hell yeah! Check out the L.A. Cetto Winery tasting room in Tijuana, one of Baja's nine wineries. Cetto's top-selling red is cabernet sauvignon, but its nebbiolo is also a favorite. Wine tastings and tours of Cetto's cellars are offered hourly.

For something more serene and romantic, drive south along the coast to the beach resort of Rosarito, the famous lobster village of Puerto Nuevo and the friendly "Love Boat" port city of Ensenada -- all within an hour's drive of the border.

For information and events, check out the Baja California State Tourism Office: 011-52-66-346330, -346873 or ­346918, or visit their Web site: http://www.bajacalifornia.gov.mx

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