Imperial Beach: A Museum, a Pretzel & a Pier

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.

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  • Free parking available but not always easy to find.

The Beach

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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.

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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.

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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.

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For food there are a couple places right near the pier.

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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.

Surfing Museum

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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.

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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.

Get Directions

Center map

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  • Thanks for the suggestion I will check it out next time I am down there!

  • pinkcandles

    I agree about Katy’s Cafe! Trivia – IB was the town used for the filming of the now canceled HBO show “John in Cincinnati” (which I haven’t seen) and Katy’s Cafe makes an appearance there. Since your last visit to IB, there is a new beachfront hotel called Pier South with a nice restaurant inside (Sea 180 Coastal Tavern), AND if you like beer, the newly opened Coronado Brewing Co (the original one is in Coronado) is great.

    For donuts, I highly recommend Star Dust on Palm Ave nearby. This place is a local legend. The sign is all rusted and broken. The guy working there has been doing it for 40+ years his brother and business partner) passed away a few years ago so now he is doing it alone. They are known for their cinnamon roll. my husband likes their german chocolate bar as well.

    • Thanks for all of the helpful information, you have made me want to go explore Imperial Beach again! Especially to try the donuts!