Juarez Walking Tour

For the lastest on Juarez Walking Tours, visit our website, JuarezWalkingTour.com.

Juarez Walking Tours is an historical and cultural adventure to a city that was founded in 1659. Juarez has frequently played important roles in Mexican history, and was the de facto capital of Mexico on two occasions.

Detroit bikers at the Kentucky Club
The Kentucky Club is one of the last great bars in the El Paso – Juarez region.
Before there was Vegas, there was Juarez. Juarez was the original Sin City, with gambling, prostitution, show girls, and twenty-four hour bars. Juarez is tamer, now. The gambling is being revived through the operation of casinos, but for now, none are downtown. Prostitution has slipped behind closed doors, like in any big city. The show girls have disappeared, and the bars keep reasonable hours, though there is currently a push in the state capital to go back to continuous service. Many of the spaces just over the bridge on Avenida Juarez, which locals used to call the Strip, have gone over to pharmacies and optometrists. But Juarez is still worth a day-trip for an intrepid traveler.

Some people say that Juarez is the best part of El Paso.

An advertisement for Downtown Juarez Walking ToursProhibition was an unintended boon for our sister city. Americans from all over the United States visited Juarez to enjoy legal alcohol. The nightlife infrastructure built in the twenties and thirties buoyed Juarez’ entertainment industry well into the seventies. In the nineties, the city voted to enact closing hours on bars and nightclubs that previously were open 24/7, reducing the perception of Juarez as an “anything goes” kind of town. The War on Drugs throttled casual tourism, as did the United States’ new passport requirement for re-entry in the wake of 9/11. The negative economic effects of these government policies were compounded by the bad press generated by successive waves of violence. Today, though the violence has largely disappeared, Juarez is a shadow of its former self. But it’s coming back.

But Juarez still retains some its former glory. The world renowned Kentucky Club is still serving the original margarita, and a number of new bars are opening. Shuttered storefronts are cautiously reopening. And though the City Market hasn’t been revived, a traditional market still offers more than you could wish for.

Statue of Tin Tan
The Mexican comic actor Tin Tan popularized the Pachuco. A long time resident of the city, Tin Tan is lionized in Juarez.
Through all the years of ignominy, the city somehow retained a pulse, and Juarez is once again becoming a legitimate tourist destination.

How to Get There

Walking across the Santa Fe Street bridge from downtown El Paso is the most hassle-free way to get to Juarez. There are a number of attractions within walking distance, including the Kentucky Club and Mariachi Bar. If all you want to do is dip your toe into Mexico, you don’t really need a guide. Since the Troubles abated in 2012, downtown Juarez is relatively safe.

As of this writing, the pedestrian toll for the bridge is fifty cents to go to Mexico, and twentty-five cents to return. A passport is helpful though not absolutely required to return from Juarez, and a dedicated lane for U.S. passport holders returning from Juarez almost always reduces the wait. At present, the line for U.S. passport holders is in the middle of the Paso del Norte (Santa Fe Street) Port of Entry, but things change fast and frequently at the border.

the Mision de Guadalupe in Cd. Juarez
Built in 1569, the Mision de Guadalupe exhibits Moorish architectural influences.
The Mission of Guadalupe was built in 1569 under the direction of Fray Garcia de San Francisco to serve the indigenous Manso Indians. The mission became the hub of development in the region. The mission is adjacent to the city’s main cathedral, and features Moorish architectural embellishments. Hand hewn logs support the roof, and plaster statues of the saints stand elevated along the walls.

Legend holds that the hiding place of the Treasure of the Lost Padre Mine was visible from the bell tower of the mission, but that changes in the surrounding architecture now obscure the view.

Dating back to a debated 1920, the Kentucky Club claims to be the oldest bar in the El Paso/Juarez region. Marilyn Monroe stopped by the Kentucky after divorcing playwright Arthur Miller in 1961. Other notable personages to allegedly enjoy the hospitality at the Kentucky Club include Ronald Reagan, Bob Dylan, Al Capone and Jack Kerouac. The Kentucky Club is one of the last vestiges of Juarez’ glamorous past, when Juarez attracted Hollywood stars and American recording artists who came to wallow in its decadent nightlife. The Kentucky Club is also one of the places that claims to have invented the margarita. No trip to Juarez is complete without a visit to the Kentucky Club.

Museo de la Revolucion in Cd. Juarez
The Museo de la Revolucion is housed in Juarez’ old customs building. Here is where Presidents Porfirio Diaz and Howard Taft met in 1909.
The Museum of the Revolution on the Border is housed in the old customs house at the intersection of Avenida Juarez and Dieciseis de Septiembre. Juarez was the decisive battleground of the Mexican Revolution and the museum features a permanent exhibit of historical artifacts from the period, including a room dedicated to Pancho Villa. The building itself, a peculiar agglomeration of nineteenth century architecture, was the first provisional home of the new government. The museum also hosts a changing array of temporary exhibits. The museum is closed Mondays.

A Juarez Walking Tour takes about two and half hours (maybe more, if we’re having fun) and costs $50 for up to three people, and $20 extra for each additional person.

Check out our new website, JuarezWalkingTour.com.

14 comments

  1. I loved the walking tour. I learned so much about a very interesting city. The tour was very safe and fun. I would recommend this to anyone interested in exploring Cd. Juarez!!

  2. I believe the restaurant is named “Martino” and not “Martino’s”. A pet peeve of mine. Correct me if I’m wrong. xoxoxox

  3. Hi Rich!! I just wanted to let you know that we had a great visit to Juarez with you. We also had breakfast at the place in El Paso you recommended and it was very good. Cheers!

  4. You can’t go wrong taking Rich’s Juarez Walking Tour:

    Just returned from 4.5 hour walking tour of Juarez and it was totally safe and enjoyable. Like most, I was aware on Juarez’s recent history of drug violence and reputation as the “murder capital” of the world. Even though Juarez has moved pasted this period, the fear of going there still lingers. This is unfortunate since my experience today was totally the opposite. The current exchange rate is $1.00 = $16.7 pesos. Following is my experience in researching Juarez and selecting Rich’s Walking Tour.

    1. It is a very easy to walk across the bridge from El Paso to Juarez in less than 5 minutes, paying 50 cents going and 35 cents coming back to Mexican authorities. Going over there was no stopping for Mexican customs or immigration. Parking on the US side was $4 per day. If you want to visit independently, you can pick up a Juarez “Historical Walking Tour” brochure at the El Paso visit information at 400 W. San Antonio Ave. There is also a Juarez Information Office In the lobby of the Camino Real hotel, but it was closed when we went there and phone calls were not answered. Their number is 915-343-4744. There is also a “Juarez is Open” campaign run by the Juarez government, but couldn’t find any useful info from this program.

    2. If you goggle “Juarez tours” you will find a lot of dated info on shuttle buses, trolleys, and open air buses between El Paso and Juarez or operating in Juarez. But, all of these are no longer running due to lack of demand. The one bus that is running between El Paso and Juarez is a local bus that is not advertised except by word of mouth. I found out about it after exhausting all other alternatives above. It is a yellow “Transborde” bus running from downtown El Pado to Juarez every 30 minutes from 7 am until 7 pm. A good place to catch this bus is directly behind the El Paso Visitor Center, listed above. It costs $2.00 each way. Once you arrive in Juarez, you are on your own and you should be aware of significant bus delays when returning to the US. This was my original plan until I found Rich’s tour.

    3. Since this was our first visit to Juarez, I wanted a guided tour that gave us an overview of the city and made the best use of our limited time in Juarez. This is when I came across “Juarez Walking Tour (El Chuqueno/elchuqueno.com). It is also listed on Facebook under Juarez Walking Tour. After talking to “Rich”, I decided to take his two hour tour for $20.00/per. This is one of the best decisions I could have made. He is an El Paso native with an extensive knowledge of Juarez, travels to Juarez often even when not conducting tours, and tailors each tour to match your interests. You can contact him at 915-820-1628.

    4. We arranged to meet at the Paso Del Norte border crossing at the very end of Sante Fe St. where parking is $4.00/day. It took us about 10 minutes to cross into Mexico only because Rich used this walk to explain some of the history between El Paso and Juarez. Although we had schedules a two hour tour, we ended up spending about 4.5 hours from parking lot back to parking lot. We covered the usual historical and commercial sites including Juarez history, Martinio Restaurant, Kentucky Club, Baptist Temple, Casa Sauer Building, History Museum, Site of Benito Juarez Office, Old City Hall, Mission de Guadalupe, Catholic Cathedral, Mercado, and open air market. The highlight of our visit was coffee and dessert at Cafeteria La Nueva Central and lunch and Margaritas at the Club Kentucky. Before we knew it, our two hour tour had turned into a leisurely walk through Juarez with a very knowledgable and patient companion/tour guide.

    We have walked in more urban areas around the world than I can count and very few rival the time we spent with Rich touring Juarez. Not one second did we feel at risk. On the contrary, everyone we encountered was very friendly and helpful.

    From my perspective and personal experience, the central downtown of Juarez safe and again, “OPEN FOR BUSSINESS”.

    Sent from my IPad

  5. Our family recently visited El Paso and did Rich’s tour of Juarez. I would highly recommend this experience. It was fun, safe and very educational. We did a little shopping and stopped by the Kentucky club for a margarita on the way back. Even my 7 year old had fun. I hope to do this again one day. Thanks Rich

  6. Why do we insist on calling it the Santa Fe Street bridge when in reality it connects Juarez Ave to S. El Paso Street?

    1. Because prior to the opening of the new bridge in 1967 (remember?), the bridge used to be on Santa Fe Street. Take a look how Santa Fe lines up with the toll booths on the Juarez side.

      I know it’s an anachronism, but I like it because it’s retro.

  7. Best tour we have done. Rich’s enthusiam and knowledge made the tour fun as well as informative. WARNING must like Tequila????

    1. I try to tailor the tours to the interests of the participants. So you don’t have to like tequila. But if you do, it doesn’t hurt.

  8. If you’ve found Rich’s website, then you’ve done your research on planning an outing to Juarez. So don’t let misinformation from the State Department website or outdated TripAdvisor posts keep you from enjoying the sights and sounds of a vibrant border town.

    The safest way to navigate any urban environment is with someone who knows the area. With Rich’s tour of Juarez you get a personable guide who is fluent in conversational Spanish, knowledgeable about the geography, history, and customs of the city, known to many shopkeepers (and bartenders), has a great sense of humor, and can quickly convert pesos to dollars.

    Rich was easy to work with to schedule our tour. We had a mountain biking outing with Don from GeoBetty in the AM and Rich pushed back our starting time to give us plenty of time to return, shower up, and get ready to hit the town.

    We met Rich at the Hotel Indigo downtown, and had the benefit of an architectural and cultural tour of El Paso while walking to the border. We then spent several hours enjoying the vibe in Juarez. At no time did we feel unsafe. We had a great time, and you will too!

    Thanks, Rich, for a great start to our vacation. It turned out to be the highlight of the trip!

    1. Duncan, that “highlight of the trip” was my objective.

      I had a good time with y’all. When you come back, I’ll show you the places I didn’t show you the first time. I’ll line up that mariachi tailor for Zander, too.

      All the best to you and your family.

      Rich

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