The flip side of Tijuana's rough and tumble exterior is an almost impossibly active arts scene. It's home to an internationally-renowned graffiti arts community as well as a thriving theater scene, a wildly popular orchestra, as well as countless painters, sculptors, photographers, and musicians. The arts community gathers annually in October at the entijuanarte (tel. 664/621-1493; exposition on the grounds of the Centro Cultural Tijuana; it's a place for new music, exciting collaborations, and a showcase for Tijuana's cutting edge. If you miss entijuanarte, you can bohemear (literally, to act like a bohemian) any time of the year at El Lugar del Nopal, 1328 Priv. 5 de Mayo between calles 6 and 7, 5 blocks from Revolución, Zona Centro (tel. 664/685-1264;, a cafe, gallery, and performance arts space. In addition to hosting live music acts that play everything from Brazilian bossa nova to blues, El Nopal (as it's referred to by locals) offers painting, guitar, and Tango workshops. To get started, the offbeat lifestyle tour group Turista Libre ( makes visits to Tijuana galleries, graffiti sites, and hipster events that will give you a taste of la vida bohemia.

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