Imperial Beach, the southwesterly most city in
the continental U.S., is a place you could drive by andd miss if you
weren't looking for it. Our BEACHCALIFORNIA.COM crew passed by the city
several years ago and at the time, saw no reason to return. But on
a recent visit, we quite pleased with the improved "IB". Our travels along
the California coast have taught us that cities, beaches and buildings
are constantly changing. Imperial Beach has changed quite a bit and
now offers much of what travelers seek in a destination. Public art,
Imperial Beach Pier, a beach and ocean waters clean enough to meet quality standards most
days of the year are putting it back on the map and returning it to a potential
contender for the tourist dollar. The only thing missing at this point
is more hotels. With dozens of luxury resorts available just 5 minutes
away on Coronado Island, we recommend you search there for a room if the
few available properties in Imperial Beach do not fit your needs.
Located a 15 minute drive from downtown
San Diego, south
of Coronado, Imperial Beach is five miles from Mexico and is separated
from the border by the Tijuana River and Border Field State Park.
While the United States and Mexico are worlds apart in many ways, U.S.
border cities such as Imperial Beach often are the front line where policies
between countries crash and collapse from the weight of disagreement. What
it meant to Imperial Beach in decades past was ocean water unfit to dip
your toes in and no money to do anything about the sewage problem from
Mexico's offshore, northward flow. The problem drifted northward onto San
Diego beaches and eventually became an unacceptable threat to the livelihood
of California's second largest city.
Several years ago, Imperial Beach and its 3.5 miles of
shoreline were on the brink of collapse, as well. With the help of
the San Diego Unified Port District, $10 million was spent on seaside parks,
playgrounds, bathrooms and a combination lifeguard tower/sheriff's substation.
A sewage treatment plant built along the border, a new 1,500-foot pier
with popular Tin Fish restaurant located at the end of it (pictured above),
a new "Pier Plaza" and an entryway with a Wyland sculpture have helped
turned the city into a hot property, once again
What is there to do at a this quaint, scenic beach community?
Surfing, boogie boarding, fishing from the pier, day trips to Tijuana,
sunbathing and bird watching at Tijuana Estuary Visitor Center are a few
attractions. Looking south from the beach, you can see the
Plaza De Monumental, Tijuana's famous "Bullring by the Sea" just across
the International border with Mexico. In contrast to San Diego's beach
liquor policy, alcoholic beverages are not allowed at Imperial Beach.
Annual events include the
U. S. Open Sandcastle Competition
every summer. Claimed by some to be one of the best beaches for sandcastle
building, this event attracts around 300,000 spectators who come to enjoy
the Sandcastles and Street Fair. There's a parade, fireworks show and lots
of fun things stretching over three days. 150 vendors and arts and
crafts booths line Seacoast Drive and a dozen bands or so, perform on two
Imperial Beach Triathlon & Duathlon held usually in
August at the Pier. It includes a Triathlon with a 1 K swim/20 K bike/
5 K run and a Duathlon with a 5 K run/20 K bike run. Sponsored by Imperial
Beach Chamber of Commerce
Other events include Chili & Jazz Festival Festival
Festival and Symphony on the Sand. Contact the chamber for more information.
Skate Park Sports Park Recreational Complex, Imperial
Beach Curb Bonez® Skate Park, 425 Imperial Beach Blvd., Imperial Beach,
CA 91932, Info: 619-423-7950 Ramp System: 20 Plywood &
Masonite Ramps with vertical ramps, fun boxes, rails, pool turn, quarter
pipes and slider bars. Skateboards & In-Line skates only, Fee, pad,
Imperial Beach was named for Imperial Valley and was designed as a resort
for residents of that region. It began as plots of land sold by
developer R.R. Morrison in 1887. The first municipal pier was built in
1909 and contained an odd machine known as the "Edwards Wave Motor."
Hoping that the contraption would generate electricity for
the town, it did not and was removed. Without the huge machine,
the pier became a more attractive place to stroll. A boardwalk and
bathhouse were built near the pier and stood for many years. A storm
washed the pier away in 1948 and several piers have been constructed since.
Imperial Beach has been an official city for over 40 years.