Tecate  has five main parks within its limits, and the most popular is shady Parque Hidalgo (Juárez and Calle Lázaro Cárdenas, Zona Centro).
Built in 1952, this small park and plaza are the center of town life and give the visitor a good sense of the place. A pretty gazebo and wrought-iron benches invite quiet contemplation. A small cactus garden has labels so you can learn to tell a yucca from a cholla. Eat ice cream, get a shoe shine, and watch the locals play a game of dominoes.
Note the statue of Miguel Hidalgo, the Dolores priest who issued the call for Mexican independence in 1810, in the southeast corner of the park. There is a large map of the area on a sign near the cactus garden and free Wi-Fi.
Surrounding the park are local government offices, restaurants, taco stands, and a few shops selling artesania. One block away, on Hidalgo, stands the 1941 Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe.
Entrepreneur Alberto Aldrete came up with the idea for a brewery to complement his malt-making business. He ran out of money 10 years after creating Tecate beer, but a Monterrey businessman, Eugenio Garza Sada, bought the label and added it to the lineup offered by Cervecería Cuauhtémoc.
Canned Tecate is brewed in Monterrey, but bottles and kegs are made only in its namesake Tecate. If you’ve tried Tecate beer only in the United States, chances are you haven’t experienced the real thing. Exported Tecate does not use the pure spring water of Tecate, and has a lower alcohol content than domestically consumed Tecate (3.2 percent compared to 3.6 percent).
The brewery today (Dr. Arturo Guerra 70, tel. 665/654-9478, www.tecate.com.mx , 10 A.M.–noon and 3–4:30 P.M. Mon.–Fri., 9–10:30 A.M. Sat.) occupies the same site as the original keg brewery, right in the middle of town. High-tech German equipment is used to produce 40 million liters per month and ship to 100 countries around the world. Group tours are available by appointment. Your first beer is included after the tour.
Built in 1915, the Old Tecate Railroad Station was part of a line that connected San Diego to Yuma, Arizona, and played an important role in the industrial development of the area. In its time, the station held a waiting room, office, and small warehouse on its ground floor, and a residence for the station master above. The station is now part of a small historic district, which includes the Tecate Brewery and is protected by the city.
The Pacific Southwest Railway Museum (State Hwy. 94 and Forest Gate Rd., Campo, U.S. weekday tel. 619/465-7776, U.S. weekend tel. 619/478-9937, www.sdrm.org , US$43) offers occasional Saturday rail trips from its Campo depot (80 minutes by car from downtown San Diego) to Tecate—a 75-minute ride. Trains leave Campo at 10:30 A.M. and return at 4:30 P.M. In summer, twilight trips depart Campo at 3 P.M. and return at 9 P.M.
At press time, this route was temporarily closed due to the need for repairs in one of the tunnels following a fire. Reservations are required. Credit cards and PayPal are accepted. An alternative is the Turistic Train that rides from Tijuana to Tecate.
For travelers interested in Baja California history and culture as well as sustainable tourism, the new Tecate Cultural Center (CECUTEC, Calle Tláloc 400, tel. 665/655-6419, hours vary) will delight. The center is a joint effort led by a nonprofit civil association called CAREM with collaboration from many organizations, including San Diego State University, the Secretaría de Turismo del Estado de Baja California, Fundación La Puerta, Rancho La Puerta, and the Municipio de Tecate.
Walk through the Museo Kumiai (scheduled to open in 2011) to learn the history of native peoples in the valley—from living descendants of the tribe. Its gift shop sells handicrafts that have been sourced according to fair-trade principles. A well-known sustainable design architect from San Diego, James Hubble, helped design the museum building.
Next door, browse the collection of 2,000 Baja books in the Cuchuma Library (tel. 665/521-3970, 9 A.M.–1 P.M. and 2:30–6:30 P.M. Mon.–Fri.). A community auditorium hosts workshops, seminars, concerts, author readings, and other programs. An oral history project seeks to capture the voices of Tecate residents for the Cuchuma Library archives. In addition to these programs, CAREM is involved in the restoration of Baja California missions and other historical sites and offers multiday guided tours to them.
This 24-acre park set against a hillside on the outskirts of the town center is a memorial to Profesor Edmond Szekely, the founder of Rancho La Puerta. Designed by his daughter, an architect, and set in the midst of a 2,000-acre conservation easement, the park contains a soccer stadium that’s used by local teams every day of the week, and above it, a beautiful plaza with views of the mountains. A small environmental education center runs programs for school-age children.
Aside from its beer, Tecate  is known the world over for its pioneering fitness resort and spa, Rancho La Puerta (U.S. tel. 760/744-4222 or toll-free U.S. tel. 800/443-7565, www.rancholapuerta.com ), which sits on 3,000 acres at the base of Mt. Cuchumá (or Kuchumaa).
Something of a summer camp for grown-ups, this resort has a sense of history and place that is rarely experienced in modern times. In the 1940s, founders Deborah and Edmond Szekely advocated a simple and health-oriented retreat in a beautiful natural setting as an antidote to the busy modern lifestyle. Their first visitors paid US$17 for a week and brought their own tents.
A small museum on the property contains memorabilia from the early days of the ranch and historic photos of the founders at work in Tecate and on the road meeting with a long list of foreign leaders. The ranch library has a large collection of books on Baja California, including many of the “Profesor’s” own works.
Today Rancho La Puerta employs hundreds of local residents, many of whom begin their tour in entry-level jobs and ascend the ranks to management positions. At age 89, founder Deborah Szekeley remains actively involved in the operations of the business and an inspiration to loyal guests. The only way to visit is to sign up as a guest for a week or book a one-day trip out of San Diego.