The Plaza Rio Tijuana is the city’s closest shopping mall to the border and it was starting to feel a little dated. Over the years, other malls popped up around the city with fancier facades, mini-golf and even rollercoasters – but things seemed to stay the same at the Plaza Rio.
Now the Plaza Rio is getting a makeover with white, ornate trim that frames the shops nicely and makes everything seem more interesting and new. One of the mall’s best secrets has always been its Cinepolis “V.I.P” movie theater (separate from the main cinema) that offers lounge-style seats and ample space for food trays. This luxurious experience costs about $5, which is a bargain as long as you don’t mind the subtitles in Spanish. A Starbucks is now at the Plaza Rio and you can safely munch on yummy Sinaloan seafood at the courtyard here – or buy some live fish at the nearby pet store.
I don’t know for sure, but I’ve heard that Tijuana malls – despite their bells and whistles – never quite reached the sophisticated shopper level found in other Mexican cities because there’s too much competition from San Diego County malls. The thinking is that Mexicans with money will do their serious shopping north of the border. Nonetheless, the malls in Tijuana are worth checking out for the scene, even if you aren’t into cowboy boots made out of crocodile and other exotic animal skins.