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Mexicali is a city in Baja California, Mexico. It is the capital of the state of Baja California, and is located immediately across the border from Calexico in California. While cool throughout the rest of the year, visitors can expect a very hot climate during the summer months with average high temperatures ranging from 101 ºF to 108ºF (38° to 42°C). Mexicali has a population of around 1.0 million people according to the last census, although it is believed that the number is now closer to 1.5 million. The city has grown from a small border town to a modern city with a sizable middle class and an even bigger upper class. The standard of living is the highest in Mexico. It is recognized in Mexico for its sizable investment in education and low unemployment. It is a progressive city with main industry that has gone from agricultural to industrial. Its proximity to the United States has made it a very popular tourist destination, especially for day-trippers. Recent violence has curtailed that traffic, however. (less...) (more...)
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Points of Interest in Mexicali
- The Asociacón China de Mexicali (中華會館), located on Avenida Benito Juárez near the intersection with Altamirano, is one of Mexicali's primary and oldest Chinese associations. Upstairs, there are portraits of dozens of Chinese immigrants who have lived in Mexicali. There are also murals celebrating Mexicali's Chinese heritage, dragon costumes for use during festivals, and numerous classrooms. It is often locked and closed during weekdays, but usually open on weekend mornings.
- Catedral de Ntra. Sra. de Guadalupe on Bulevar Morelos is Mexicali's oldest cathedral.
- Museo Interactivo Sol del Niño - Scientific and Interactive Museum fun for children and adults. Interactive Science, Technology, Arts and Environment Center.
- Plaza de Toros Calafia - Bullring with frequent bullfights with toreros from around Latin America and Spain.
- Bosque y Zoologico de la Ciudad - Mexicali's biggest park along with its city zoo.
- Parque Vicente Guerrero - Mexicali's second biggest park with lake.
- Centro Estatal de las Artes - State Art Center: see art exhibitions, musical concertos and recitals among other things.
- Instituto Municipal de Arte y Cultura - City Art Center: see art exhibitions, musical concertos and recitals among other things.
- Teatro del Estado - The states theater with many shows throughout the year.
- UABC Museo - The University of Baja California's Museum with exhibits throughout the year.
- Casa de la Cultura - Mexicali's Culture House, with interactive art workshops and exhibitions.
- Salon de la Fama - Mexicali's Hall of Fame, with notable figures from throughout the city and state.
- Bellas Artes - Where Mexicali's fine arts groups are located.
- Juventud 2000 Sport Center - Mexicali's newest and most modern park.
- Centro Cívico - Home to Baja California's state legislature, governor's palace, and state supreme court, as well as the Mexicali city hall (ayuntamiento). Brief tours of the Baja California legislature's chambers are available upon request (ask for the public/media relations spokesperson to give you a tour).
- Morelos Dam You can admire the town and its surroundings from this beautiful natural setting. The dam was inaugurated on September 23, 1950 and has a capacity of 230 cubic meters/sec and has a height of 42.10 meters and covers 175,000 acres.
- Sierra de Juarez Cañón Tajo, crowned by the “Trono Blanco”—the highest monolith in Mexico with a height of 1970 feet - provides majestic panoramic views and is visited by premiere mountaineers from around the world. It is ideal for rock-climbing, hiking, rappelling, canoeing, and panoramic photography. There are also the Laguna Hanson and the Cañón de Llanos, sites that offer a place for a variety of activities including kayaking, hiking, camping, mountain biking, rock climbing, and spelunking.
- Vallecitos Here the past meets the present in an extensive display of prehistoric rock carvings and cave paintings, such as the famous “Diablito” (Winter Solstice). This place is also excellent for hiking, a photography expedition, and spotting a variety of flora and fauna.
- Hardy River Everything necessary for freshwater fishing and small game hunting, as well as being the ideal site for kayaking in tranquil waters, hiking, panoramic photography, and birdwatching. Ideal for families, groups or individuals who enjoy the scenic outdoors.
- Arroyo Hondo Pool, kiddy pool, sand volleyball court, basketball court, soccer field, children's playground, barbeque pits. Restaurant- bar with billiards, karaoke, space for events; bathrooms with showers. Lifeguard, security. Capacity for 1,500 persons. Open year round.
- Sand Dunes Beautiful sand dunes that are the ideal place for riding motorcycles, ATVS, and sand buggy's.
- Laguna Salada and La Rumorosa The highway coming down into the Mexicali Valley is an impressive drive. It is a steep 3000 ft drop on a new and well-designed highway. Two places unique in all the world that offer spectacular panoramas of natural beauty. Besides being ideal places for flying on a delta winged or a hang glider, cycling and off-road racing are also popular here.
- San Felipe San Felipe is the closet beach to Mexicali, offering access to other beaches like Puertecitos and sites of extraordinary beauty, including the unique Valley of the Giants, where huge and imposing Sahuaro (saguaro) cactus greet all visitors and it has shops, restaurants, and bars.
- Los Algodones During the winter season (October thru March), this picturesque small town (population 14,000) greets a considerable number of visitors known as "Snow birds", who come from the northern United States and Canada. Los Algodones is known for its ample variety of shops, Mexican folk art, laboratories and excellent medical and dental services which constitute the town’s main attraction.
Economically, a growing middle class disposable income has fueled Mexicali's transformation into a modern city with a vibrant culture, a characteristic that has attracted many national and international businesses which had largely ignored the city before and had turned to Tijuana. Aside from the middle class, in Mexicali you can expect to find areas filled with very rich people. Mexicali is considered among the most prosperous cities in Mexico, although US tourists can observe the level of poverty in rural villages surrounding the modern, upper-middle class enclave of Mexicali proper. The North American Free Trade Agreement of 1994 that eliminated most trade restrictions between the two nations offers Mexicali an economic boom in the next decade. Mexicali is a transit point for illegal immigration into the United States, as well as a common destination for any illegal Mexican immigrants deported from the West Coast of the United States. As such, some areas are swollen with poor people with no roots in the city, who inhabit shantytowns, mainly in the outskirts of the city. Apart from these poor migrants, Mexicali is one of the wealthiest cities in Mexico. Some areas of the city reflect the significant number of wealthy people who inhabit the city, in areas such as San Pedro, Villafontana, and Col Nueva.
Mexicali's growing reputation as a cosmopolitan city is justified. Not only is the city home to many people who have migrated from within the same country, as well as some native Mexican Indians, but it boasts an important amount of Asian residents (especially Chinese), as well as Americans, Europeans, and South Americans. Informally, Mexicali natives are known as "Cachanillas" (similar demonyms include "Chilango" for those from Mexico City).
Mexicali is known mainly as a business and industry town, but has an excellent reputation for hospitality and tourism in the country.
Mexicali is known as "the city that captured the sun". Its residents frequently joke regarding its extreme heat during the summer, reaching record desert temperatures. Mexicali's primary newspapers are La Voz de la Frontera and La Cronica de Baja California. It is served by three television stations (Televisa [with 4 analog and 2 digital signals], TV Azteca [2 analog and 2 digital signals] and Canal Once) along with the television stations in the United States in the Imperial County market (NBC, CBS, FOX, ABC, CW, MNTV, Univision, Telemundo, and Telefutura).
While the Mexican peso is the legal currency, US dollars are widely accepted. Mexicali observes daylight savings time (DST) and is in the Pacific Time Zone the same way as the USA.
Mexicali has one of the largest Chinese communities in Mexico. Historically, it has been a predominantly Chinese town and has even hosted the North American headquarters of the Kuomintang (KMT) at one point. Many old-time Chinese-Mexican natives of Mexicali have since intermarried with the local mestizos or emigrated to the United States. Tijuana, Ensenada, San Luis Rio Colorado, Culiacán, Ciudad Juárez, Monterrey, Guadalajara, Mexico City, and Tapachula also have sizable Chinese communities. Although Mexicali has had a history of Chinese immigration for about 100 years, the restaurant workers tend to be recent immigrants from Guangdong, mainland China, who are multilingual in Taishanese (a distinct dialect of the Cantonese language), Mandarin, and Spanish. Nearly all of them are from just two cities in Guangdong, namely Taishan and Kaiping, with a small minority from neighboring Enping, Zhongshan, and Hong Kong.
The historic Chinese neighborhood is known as La Chinesca, centered on Avenida Benito Juárez, about several hundred feet to the south of the Calexico point of entry.
Nightclubs in Mexicali tend to open and close throughout the year due to them becoming duds. Therefore, this list may not be the most updated of the best light life clubs.
- Boom Boom
- Red Lion
- Uni Irish Pub
- La Salita
- Los Barriles
The following venues are located around the intersection of México & Reforma, near the main cathedral.
- La Conga - Live norteño bands playing mostly narcocorridos
- Miau Miau - Table dancing
- Bol Bol Boliche - 21st century bowling with a club feel.
- Caliente Sport Book
- Cinepolis Movie Theaters (Centro Civico, San Pedro, Galerias, Nuevo Mexicali)
- Cinemark Movie Theater
- Cinemastar Movie Theater
- IMAX Theater"'
- Live Mexican music (norteño and mariachi) can be requested from bands for hire at the Plaza Mariachi on Avenida Zuazua, located in the southern part of the La Chinesca area. Norteño bands (2-4 people, consisting of at least an accordion and bajo sexto) generally charge 50 pesos per song. Most of the musicians are recent migrants from Los Mochis and Culiacán in the north-central coastal state of Sinaloa. A banda sinaloense group can be found at the intersection of Zuazua & Altamirano during most evenings. All of the groups can play narcocorridos (drug ballads) as well as famous rancheras by Ramón Ayala.
- Musicales y Joyeria "Iris", ☎ (686) 552-6895. José Gerardo Zamora. Av. Reforma #406 Zona Centro Mexicali B.C.
- Banda de Música Regional de Guamúchil Sinaloa, ☎ (686) 553-4584. Victor Cervantes. Zuazua y Altamirano #586.
- Aguilas de Mexicali Go and see Mexicali's own baseball team in the Estadio Casas Geo.
- Soles de Mexicali Come and see Mexicali's renowned basketball team.
- Golf Club de Golf Campestre has an 18-hole course that features huge fairways, adorned by water hazards and sand traps that lead to excellent, quick greens, themselves often surrounded by more water and sand traps. During the year, major tournaments are held here, such as the Cotton Tournament in March, the City of Mexicali and Maquiladora Tournament's in April, the Father and Son Tournament in June, as well as the Bishops's and IAMSA Tournament's in November.
- Racing Adrenaline junkies wont want to miss the tremendously entertaining off-road ATV races. Displaying their skills, experienced drivers race their machines at high speeds, roaring across the terrain, offering a grand spectacle for the crowds.
- Hunting An extensive variety of birds and mammals such as the White Winged Dove, Huilota Dove, Cerceta, Black Branta, Goose, Pheasant, Duck, Quail, Black Tail Hare, Rabbit, Coyote, Wild Cat and Puma will put the skill of any hunter to the test. In the Valle de Mexicali, the season begins at the end of August and ends in February.
- Fishing Freshwater: The municipality offers exciting places for fishing adventures. In addition to 1550 miles of canals, there are prime spots like Laguna Bogard, Rio Hardy, El Caimán, la Ciénega de Santa Clara, and el Bosque de la Ciudad, where you can participate in important tournaments all year long. A few of the species you will find while fishing are Lobina, Bagre, Carpa, and Tilapia. Saltwater: The coastline of San Felipe and spots like Roca Consag, Barco Hundido, Los Carros, Punta Estrella and Percebú, are well known fishig areas in addition to fishing out on the open sea. Catch-and-release tournaments allow fishing for shallow-water species as well as trophy-fish like Pez Vela, Marlin Dorado, and Jurel, among others.
This list is only a very small compilation of the major shopping centers in the city.
- Plaza la Cachanilla Shops such as boutiques, hair salons, jewelry stores, Chinese-themed stores, food court, Coppel Stores, Ley Stores, Sears Department Stores, etc.
- Plaza Nuevo Mexicali Shops such as clothing, boutiques, cellular phones, funishings, and food court.
- Plaza Fiesta Restaurants, jewelry stores and flagship store Sanborns.
- Plaza Juventud 2000"'
- Plaza San Pedro
- Plaza Centenario
- Centro Comercial Lienzo
- Plaza Cataviña
- Galerias del Valle
- Plaza Mundo Divertido
- ABSA - A Chinese store offering Chinese groceries, utensils, and newspapers. Located on Bulevar Mateos near the intersection with Avenida Benito Juárez (look for Chinese-style architecture and green roofs).
Mexicali hosts most major national store chains such as: Soriana, Comercial Mexicana, FAMSA, Milano, Bodega Aurrera, among others. Mexicali also hosts international stores and shops like: Wal-Mart (3 Locations), Costco Wholesale, Blockbuster, Office Depot, The Home Depot, Sears, Gymboree, among others.
- Fiestas del Sol Known as the biggest fair in the region, the Fiestas del Sol run from the end of September through mid-October. Practically all of Mexicali gathers together during this time for music and celebration, participating in popular dances while enjoying commercial, agricultural, and industrial expositions, carnival rides, regional food, and shows from national and international artists.
- Baja Prog An international festival of progressive rock that brings together the most famous groups of this musical genre during the month of March.
- Agrobaja Considered the largest and most important agricultural exposition on the northern Mexican border, held in March.
The selection of cuisine in Mexicali is very diverse. The Chinese contributed greatly to Mexicali cuisine with a very ample variety of dishes. Their food is as traditional to Mexicali as carne asada and it's Chinese food is labeled as the best on the country, on par with that of San Francisco, and many tourists come to taste it.
Good beer is another Mexicali tradition. World class beers have been produced in Mexicali since the early history. Today, there are small breweries that offer great varieties in terms of taste and characteristics.
However, Mexicali is not just about Chinese food, carne asada tacos, and beer. There is a wide selection of specialty restaurants-national and international. One sample the finest wines that are produced in the Mediterranean climate within Baja California. Mexicali has a large Chinese immigrant population, with many excellent choices.
Mexicali is also host to numerous international chains such as: Applebees, Starbucks Coffee, McDonalds, KFC, Burger King, Carl's Jr, Thrifty Ice Cream, Little Caesars, Dominos Pizza, Dairy Queen, etc.
The following lists of restaurants are only a few of the many located in the city
Mexicali's numerous Chinese (more specifically, Cantonese) restaurants can be found in all areas of the city, but are especially concentrated in the historic La Chinesca (Chinatown) neighborhood. Many Chinese restaurants can also be found just across the international border in Calexico.
- Victoria 龍珠酒家
- Restaurant No. 8 捌號酒家 - Open 24 hours
- Lung Kong 龍崗酒家
- Nueva Asia 亞洲酒家
- Shang Hai 上海酒家
- Dong Cheng 東城酒家
- China House
- El Rincon de Panchito
- Golden China
- Chiangs China Bistro
- Golden Inn
- La Jolla
- Nuevo Mandarin (near Mexico & Reforma)
- Bon Apetit
- Casino de Mexicali
- Chalet Restaurant
- El Acueducto
- La Cava
- Las Villas
- Pampas do Brasil
- La Carniceria
- Trattoria La Piazza
- Original Tony's
- Asian Sushi Restaurante
- Sakura Restaurant
- Sushi Barra
- Villafontana Sushi
- Yummi Kuu
- Restaurant Las Campanas.
- Restaurant La Plazita.
- Cenaduria Selecta.
- Fonda de Mexicali.
- Restaurant Los Arcos
- El Centenario
- Mariscos Tijuana
- Mariscos Laguna Azul
- Mariscos Veracruz
Visitors returning to the United States are allowed to bring back a limited quantity of alcohol, around 1 liter per adult (check regulations). Most foreign liquor is priced as in the US, but Mexican liquors such as Tequila, Mescal, and Kaluha, as well as Mexican beers can be great bargains.
This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article Mexicali on Wikivoyage.