Located right above the Tijuana Estuary this beach city has less of the hustle that most San Diego beaches do and because of that is able to maintain the small beach town vibe more easily. Imperial Beach the city is the Southern most beach city in California and if you proceed South the last thing you would hit is Border Fields State Park before Mexico. I really like this beach and find myself coming here more then the popular and busy San Diego beaches, plus it has an epic pretzel place so whats not to like.
- Free parking available but not always easy to find.
Assuming you can find street parking the beach is pretty much all around you. I usually try to park near the pier as that is where the food is and a good place for photography.
The beach has nice waves and surfing on the north side of the pier. On the beach itself, there is not a lot of sand between the houses and the water but that makes it nice as it spreads everyone out so it is not too crowded.
The pier has a fish shop on the end and is a popular place for fishing. You can always watch the surfers from out on the pier or take in the San Diego coastline.
For food there are a couple places right near the pier.
I prefer Pretzels and More as they have a whole wheat pretzel that the make to order which is amazing as it tastes so fresh and not like a frozen one from the store. There is also a ice cream shop next door and a diner across the street.
Imperial Beach also has what it calls the outdoor surfing museum. This is not as much a museum as it is a collection of surfboard outlines that line a half mile stretch of road and show the progression and the style of the surfboards used by some of the greats. It is unique to see and makes driving on that area more fun but I wouldn’t say it is a reason to come in itself.
All in all Imperial Beach is a great example of a Southern California beach. It has the small town vibe while still providing a beautiful place to relax. Check it out if you get down that far south and let me know what you think in the comments.