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Exploring North & South of the Border

Most people who visit Nogales, Arizona, are here to cross the border to Nogales, Mexico. The favorable exchange rate makes shopping in Mexico very popular with Americans, although many of the items for sale in Mexico can sometimes be found at lower prices in Tucson. Many people now cross the border specifically to purchase prescription drugs, and pharmacies line the streets near the border crossing.

Nogales, Mexico, is a typical border town filled with tiny shops selling crafts and souvenirs. Some of the better deals are on wool rugs, which cost a fraction of what a Navajo rug costs but are not nearly as well made. Pottery is another popular buy. My personal favorites are the ceramic sinks and hand-blown glass tumblers and pitchers. Dozens of restaurants serve simple Mexican food and cheap margaritas.

Plenty of shops and restaurants in Nogales, Mexico, are within walking distance of the border, so unless you plan to continue farther into Mexico, it's not a good idea to take your car. There are numerous pay parking lots and garages on the U.S. side of the border where your vehicle will be secure for the day. If you should take your car into Mexico, be sure to get Mexican auto insurance beforehand -- your U.S. auto insurance will not be valid. If you are a member of the American Automobile Association, you can get Mexican auto insurance through the AAA office in Tucson. You can also get insurance through Sanborn's (tel. 800/222-0158; www.sanbornsinsurance.com).

Most businesses in Nogales, Mexico, accept U.S. dollars. You may bring back $800 worth of merchandise duty-free, including 1 liter of liquor (if you are 21 or older). You now need either a passport, a passport card, a Trusted Traveler Card, or some other U.S. government-accepted identification document to cross the border into Mexico and return to the U.S. Be sure to verify that you have appropriate documentation before entering Mexico; visit www.travel.state.gov for more info.

Note: Nogales has had a high crime rate in recent years, but tourists have not been targeted. Still, it's advisable to check the current situation before crossing the border.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.