Imperial Beach

Imperial Beach is perfect for a family vacation. Experience beach activities just north of the Mexican border such as surfing, windsurfing, kiteboarding and paddleboarding. Or enjoy a sunset at the nearby pier. Visit the local shopping boutiques, amazing cafés, and trolley stop - all of this within walking distance!
Imperial Beach
Overview
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Things to Do
Popular Activities
Visit Silver Strand
Tasty Eats
Featured Hotel
Know Before You Go
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Beaches
Similar Neighborhoods

Highlights

Imperial Beach
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Mexico Nearby
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Overview
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Beaches, Sunsets & Mexico Nearby at Imperial Beach

Patio of Coronado Brewing CompanyYe Olde Plank Inn in Imperial Beach

Just five miles north of the Mexican border, Imperial Beach is California’s southernmost beach town and offers residents and visitors no shortage of things to do. The locals call Imperial Beach, IB as many other coastal San Diego neighborhoods are reduced to their two letter acronyms.

The community is a four-mile stretch of sand, surf, boardwalk and pier, all of which have their own allure. If you choose to make Imperial Beach your vacation destination, be prepared to surf, sportfish, play beach volleyball, ride horseback and so much more.

In addition to offering a number of exciting and relaxing activities, IB provides sweeping views of the Los Coronados Islands, a group of islands that are part of Mexico and are an amazing destination to scuba dive.

Not to be confused with Coronado Island, which is to the north of Imperial Beach. In fact, Imperial Beach is connected to Coronado Island via a seven-mile long isthmus, locally known as “Silver Strand.” Silver Strand is an attraction in and of itself, as Silver Strand State Beach is a popular site for bird watching, camping and bicycling.

With Tijuana just five miles away, Imperial Beach is home to the Tijuana River National Estuary. The estuary is a body of water mixed with both the fresh water of the Tijuana River and the saltwater of the Pacific Ocean. The combination forms the largest saltwater marsh in Southern California. It also attracts hundreds of species of birds to the area (many of which are endangered), making the community a popular sport for bird watchers from across the nation. Nearby, you’ll also find the Living Coast Discovery Center, a budget and family friendly aquarium.

Despite being a popular vacation destination, Imperial Beach is actually a sleepy coastal town. That said, it more than makes up for its lack of business in the off-season with special events. For instance, the community hosts the Sun & Sea Festival that includes the popular Sandcastle Building Competition each year. The event drew thousands of visitors each year, though only one lucky winner took home the grand prize, which typically hovers around $21,000. You will still find the streets lined with vendors and the community alive with music, parades and fireworks during the competition weekend.

Imperial Beach hosts a number of other events throughout the year. Those include the Imperial Beach Triathlon, fish fry derbies and the world-renowned Surf Dog Competition.

The town of Imperial Beach itself boasts a number of things for visitors to do. From chic boutiques to local restaurants to museums and galleries, visitors can easily fill their days exploring all the unique attractions the area has to offer.

Getting to Imperial Beach is straightforward. If you’re coming from the San Diego International Airport, you would take the I-5 freeway south. Exit Palm Avenue West and take a left on Seacoast Drive. Head south on Evergreen Avenue for a few blocks until you hit Imperial Beach.

Imperial Beach
Why you'll love Imperial Beach
Have a blast at Imperial Beach! Go kiteboarding, paddleboarding, windsurfing, surfing, or watch an amazing sunset. Walk to local shops, cafés, and parks.

Trolly Ride with Go Pass!

2-Day Hop-on Hop-off San Diego
Hop-on Hop-off San Diego Trolley
Using your Go Pass, grab a 2 day Hop-on Hop-off San Diego Trolley. The trolley tour takes you through all the most popular areas of San Diego. It's a great way to start your trip and you'll learn where everything around the city is located.
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Local Tips
How much can you save by using the Go Pass?

The Go San Diego Pass is the perfect way to explore more attractions and activities that the area has to offer, all while being cost-efficient.

With the Go San Diego Pass, you can save up to 55% off admission fees at some of the area’s most popular attractions.

Things to Do

Beach Fire Pits
Beach Fire Pits
Beach Volleyball
Beach Volleyball
Biking
Biking
Fishing
Fishing
Kiteboarding
Kiteboarding
Paddle Boarding
Paddle Boarding
Picnic Tables
Picnic Tables
Skateboarding
Skateboarding
Sunbathing
Sunbathing
Surfing
Surfing
Swimming
Swimming
Windsurfing
Windsurfing

Things to Do

Most people head to Imperial Beach to surf, swim, fish and soak up the sun. However, that doesn’t mean the community is strictly sand and water. If you need a reprieve from the sun, check out the following:

Portwood Pier Plaza

This plaza serves as the entrance to the iconic Imperial Beach Pier and all it has to offer. It is here that you’ll take your mandatory IB photo, right in front of what the locals call “Surfhenge.” After taking your photo, spend the day shopping, people watching and getting the know the area’s history.

Spirit of Imperial Beach Statue

This bronze statue of a surfer holding a longboard epitomizes the community’s history of sandcastle making and surfing. It was designed by A. Wasil, a local artist.

Outdoor Surfboard Museum

The Outdoor Surfboard Museum isn’t so much of a museum as it is a monument to celebrate IB’s surf culture and influential figures. The “museum” is a collection of 26 surfboards that line the street, all of which once belonged to those who shaped the past and future of Imperial Beach.

Bayshore Bikeway

IB is well-known for its myriad of biking and walking pathways, but one of the most popular is the Bayshore Bikeway. This bikeway is a 24-mile stretch of dirt and pavement that takes bikers on a tour of San Diego Bay. Along the way, riders can catch stunning views of Coronado Island, Chula Vista, downtown San Diego and, course, IB itself.

Visit Tijuana

If you have a passport, don’t forget to pack it for your Imperial Beach vacation. Tijuana is a festive cultural center just south of the U.S.-Mexico border. There, you’ll find great shopping, delicious food and a cultural experience unlike any other you can north of the border.

View the Nature

IB is also a great place for nature lovers. In addition to attracting exotic and endangered birds, Imperial Beach also draws in sea lions, dolphins and a host of other sea life that you can view from both land and the sea.

Visit Silver Strand State Beach

Silver Strand State Beach actually comprises several beaches along both the San Diego Bay and Pacific Ocean. The area’s climate is mild, which is to be expected from any San Diego beach town.

Visitors flock to the state park to engage in a number of recreational activities, including camping, boating, surfing, volleyball, picnicking and yes, birdwatching. The marshy waters also attract anglers from across the county and country, who usually go home with perch, yellow-fin croaker, grunion, corbina or all of the above.

The park has a limit to how many visitors may frequent it on any given day or weekend. The four parking lots can accommodate up to 1,000 vehicles. The park’s amenities, however, were designed to accommodate large crowds, with cold showers and restrooms available on each side of the park. The beach is dotted with fire rings, which many use to roast marshmallows, tell campfire stories and just stay warm.

If you want to camp at the park, call ahead regarding availability, fees, hours and conditions, all of which can change on a day’s notice.

Locals often prefer to hang out on the bay side of the park. The waters of the San Diego Bay are a bit warmer and a lot calmer than those of the open ocean, making them ideal for swimming and sailing.

Along the San Diego Bay beaches, you’ll find picnic tables, barbecues, fire rings and ramadas for afternoon enjoyment. However, if you stroll south of the developed area, you’ll enter a natural preserve, where you can find sand dollars, snail shells, cockle shells and other goodies.

Featured Activity

Interact with Dolphins at SeaWorld San Diego
Visit SeaWorld San Diego
The world-famous SeaWorld San Diego is home to animal shows, roller coasters and other rides for the entire family. Enjoy encounters featuring the famed Orcas, dolphins and sea lions, or take a tour through the habitats.
Learn More

What to Eat

To be honest, most restaurants in San Diego are sure to delight the taste buds and other senses. However, there are a few joints in IB that deserve a mention:

El Amigo Mexican & Seafood

Craving some fish tacos? Locals highly recommend this strip-mall restaurant, which is located on the corner of Palm and 10th. If you’ve never tried carne asada fries, live a little and order a plate for you and your group to share.

Local Tips
Local Breweries
Be sure to check out the local breweries just a few blocks north of the pier along Seashore Dr. Both Coronado Brewing Company and Mike Hess Brewing are great options to grab lunch or dinner while enjoying their craft beer.

Coronado Brewing Company

Ready for some of the best micro beer in San Diego? Coronado Brewing Company has been brewing its own beer since 1996 and it shows. This popular brewery has various restaurants’ and tasting rooms around San Diego and they all are worth a visit. This location in Imperial Beach is just a few blocks from the pier along Seacoast Dr, check it out!

Big Kahuna’s

Stop in for a juicy burger and taste a bit of Hollywood history at the Big Kahuna. The establishment’s signature burger, The Big Kahuna, is the very burger Jules craves in the cult film “Pulp Fiction.” In addition to the famous burger, Big Kahuna also serves up whopping portions of kalua pork, loco moco, chicken teriyaki and saimin noodle soup.

Cow-A-Bunga

Grab a cup of joe, a cone of ice-cream or both, then pull up a chair to take in a view of the Pacific Ocean and Imperial Beach Pier while you indulge. The ice-cream menu is extensive, so everyone in your group is bound to find something to satisfy his or her sweet tooth.

As California’s southernmost beach town, Imperial Beach has long been overlooked as a vacation destination. However, that has changed in recent decades, and it has since flourished into a humble resort community with a lot to offer its residents and visitors.

Featured Hotel
Pier South Resort, Autograph Collection
Exterior view, Pier South Resort, Autograph Collection
Beachfront
Beachfront
Families
Families
Surfing
Surfing
4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars
By the white sands of Imperial Beach is where you’ll find Pier South Resort. This exceptional hotel is your destination for luxury and comfort.
Prices Starting at $188
Check Availability

Know Before You Go & Tips

Amazing Sunsets
Amazing Sunsets
Cafes
Cafes
Parks
Parks
Pier
Pier
Shopping
Shopping
Trolley Stop
Trolley Stop
Walkable
Walkable

Know Before You Go

As with any vacation, a trip to Imperial Beach will go most smoothly with a little education and preparation. Some things to bear in mind while you plan your IB holiday are as follows:

Parking

In IB, unlike in many other popular San Diego travel destinations, you won’t have too hard of a time finding available parking. If you were thinking of booking a rental car, by all means, do so! Though public transportation is available, you may find it easier to get around with a private vehicle.

Amenities

The beaches throughout IB are well equipped with restrooms, picnic tables, showers and lifeguards.

Alcohol on the Beach

Imperial Beach, like many California beaches, is strictly alcohol-free.

Fires on the Beach

Because fires are a safety hazard in California, coast guards closely monitor open flames. Those outside of designated fire pits are illegal.

Pets on the Beach

IB does not allow dogs on its beaches, in the tunnels or on the bay side. The one exception is if you rent a day use or camping spot and put your dog on a leash of no longer than six feet.

Water Safety

The water near and around the lifeguard stations monitor if the water is safe for swimming. If the water is not safe the lifeguards will post signs. However, swimmers should be aware that waters closer to the U.S.-Mexico border may contain contaminated or hazardous waste from the Tijuana River.

Imperial Beach
is Famous For:
Beaches
Beaches
Breweries
Breweries
Mexico Nearby
Mexico Nearby
Surfing
Surfing
Known For:
Bike Riding
Bike Riding
Sidewalk Cafés
Sidewalk Cafés
Sunsets
Sunsets
Walkable
Walkable
This Month's Forecast
67℉ / 79℉
Sunny in September
Oct
63℉ / 78℉
Sunny in October
Nov
56℉ / 73℉
Sunny in November
Dec
51℉ / 68℉
Sunny in December

Stay

Pier South Resort, Autograph Collection
Beachfront
4 Star Rating4 Star Rating4 Star Rating4 Star Rating
Pier South Resort, Autograph Collection
from $188 / night
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Sand Castle Inn
Beachfront
3 Star Rating3 Star Rating3 Star Rating
Sand Castle Inn
from $215 / night
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