Swim, surf, sunbathe, jog, fish, or spend the day building a sandcastle at Imperial Beach, the most southwesterly community in the U.S. This beautiful, sandy beach is a great place to visit for some much-needed relaxation away from the crowds. Quiet, solitary, and still a bit of a hippie community, Imperial Beach is 20 miles south of downtown San Diego and a few miles short of the Mexican border.
Imperial Beach features some of the best sand in the nation, which explains why it is home to the yearly U.S. Open Sandcastle Competition. It also has a park with picnic, volleyball, and basketball areas and a playground for kids, as well as restrooms and showers. The Imperial Beach Fishing Pier is popular for surf fishing.
Nature lovers will be amazed to find two wildlife sanctuaries and a state park just south of Imperial Beach. The Tijuana Slough National Wildlife Refuge, the Tijuana River National Estuarine Sanctuary, and Border Field State Park all offer great opportunities for hiking and birdwatching. A walk to the beach from Border Field State Park is a truly unique experience; it?s one of the few untouched beaches in southern California.
Enjoy the great shopping opportunities south of the border in Tijuana, stop by Grandma?s Pantry Restaurant and Bakery (875 Seacoast Drive) for eggs and waffles, or check out the taco and pizza joints along Palm Avenue and Seacoast Drive.
There is mostly free public parking at Imperial Beach. One lot, however, on Daisy Avenue, charges a fee.
Take I-5 south from San Diego and exit west on Palm Avenue. Imperial Beach follows Seacoast Drive, starting a couple blocks north of Palm Avenue and continuing south.
Tips & Suggestions
Imperial Beach?s Seacoast Inn is San Diego County?s least expensive beachfront hotel. Although modest, this facility offers a sparkling swimming pool and adjoining hot tub. All rooms have kitchens, a perk for travelers on extended stays or on a budget. The Seacoast Inn is also very popular for family reunions and gatherings. The combination of beach access, an on-site pool, and kitchens in each room make this hotel very convenient for larger groups. Be sure to book well in advance ? summer rooms fill quickly.
Knott?s Soak City water park is a short drive away in Chula Vista. The Imperial Beach Pier is great for fishing. It has plenty of space and a tackle and bait shop is located at the end of the pier.