Imperial Beach, California
Overview of Imperial Beach, CA
Advertised as the southernmost city in California, Imperial Beach sits quietly and modestly on the southern edge of the California Coast. Just a few miles from the US-Mexico border, Imperial Beach offers a true California beach vacation that us regular folks can afford.
We stumbled upon Imperial Beach a year ago when looking for a beach vacation for our multi-generational family. Two teens, two parents, two grandparents - all with different interests.
Coming from Colorado, our primary desire was to be on or near the beach. Imperial Beach has quite a lot to offer for those called to the sea.
Just South of Coronado Island, Imperial Beach has a laid-back surfer feel. Beaches are practically empty during the week with the exception of a handful of surfers bobbing along the break water. The weekend crowd tends to set up shop near the Imperial Beach Pier, but walk a few hundred feet down the beach on either side and the crowds start to diminish and you can claim your own private slice of the sand.
Eating in Imperial Beach
Up and down Sea Coast Drive are at least a dozen good quality restaurants that offer something for every taste. During this trip, we visited Verandina for Italian food, Filipinos for pizza, and IB Street Tacos for, well, tacos. Adjacent to the pier is a fantastic little ice cream shop - Cow-A-Bunga Ice Cream. It’s a must-stop for anyone loving ice cream. In fact, it’s ranked as one of the top 5 ice cream shops in San Diego.
You could spend an entire week beachcombing up and down this clean, sandy beach. At low tide, we walked south almost all the way to the Tijuana river. Walking north, you could travel all the way to Coronado if you have the energy (we did not, but Grama made it up to the Naval Base on one of her walks!)
If you desire a little more excitement, Imperial Beach is just a short drive from San Diego’s famous attractions such as The Embarcadero, the Gas Lamp District, Sea World, Old Town, and the world famous San Diego Zoo. Or bring your passport or birth certificate and visit Tijuana or Rosarita just south of the border.
Being land-locked in Colorado, we chose to spend most of our time with toes in the sand, enjoying the rhythmic melody of the waves.
Where to Stay in Imperial Beach
There are not many hotels in Imperial Beach and, in fact, only one on the beach. Pier South Resort was recently purchased by Marriott and is a beautifully refurbished ocean-front property. We visited the hotel’s spa (thanks to a generous Groupon) and the entire spa and pool areas are beautifully maintained.
Due to the size of our group, we opted to find a private vacation rental for our stay. We stumbled across this perfect condo on HomeAway. With 2 bedrooms (1 King, 1 Queen) and a pull-out sleeper sofa, we had plenty of room for the entire family to spread out.
With the beach in our backyard, we couldn’t ask for a better location. Also, this building has an elevator and covered parking which made travel easy for the grandparents. The condo unit is also across the street from the Tijuana Slough National Wildlife Refuge, with miles of trails offering opportunities for birdwatching and wildlife sightings.
Our family has fallen in love with Imperial Beach, California and will definitely be returning soon.
What is your favorite Southern California destination?