Imperial Beach Travel Guide

  • Beach / Pier
    by lmkluque
  • Things to Do
    by lmkluque
  • Things to Do
    by lmkluque

Imperial Beach Highlights

  • Pro
    lmkluque profile photo

    lmkluque says…

     Not So Expensive Beach Town 

  • Con
    lmkluque profile photo

    lmkluque says…

     Not So Active Beach Town 

  • In a nutshell
    lmkluque profile photo

    lmkluque says…

     Quiet and Inexpensive! 

Imperial Beach Things to Do

  • Beach / Pier

    Beyond the "Surf Henge" sculpture by Malcom Jones, Portwood Pier Plaza, a park area, the Pier, the Dempsey Holder Safety Center, shops and the Pacific Ocean are the focal points of Imperial Beach on Seacoast Drive. It is a great place to stop for a picnic, sit on the grass, people watch or to view the ocean. There are picnic tables--first come...

    more
  • Day Trip

    San Diego is about sixteen miles north of Imperial Beach and would be a nice day trip while visiting. San Diego is the biggest city near Imperial Beach and worth a trip over to enjoy a variety of things to do that would enhance a vacation to this part of California. There are two ways to get across the Bay. Driving up the Silver Strand, though...

    more
  • Sand Castle Contest

    If you are in the San Diego area during the Sandcastle Competition, you must come to Imperial Beach to see it!! Usually held in the second weekend in July. The exact dates for this year can be found in the Community Events Calendar and should not be missed. The Sandcastle weekend begins Friday night through There is a parade down Seacoast Drive....

    more
  • Farmers' Market Fridays

    Fridays are the days for the Farmers' Market in I.B. they have two schedules, Winter, starting in October: 12:00 P.M. to 6:00 P.M. and Summer, starting in April: 12:00 P.M. to 7:30 P.M. This is a typical small town Market and quite well attended by the locals and probably some of the people staying at the near-by hotels. Each stand offers, fresh...

    more
  • More Art in Imperial Beach

    Along the west end of Palm Avenue, a few blocks from the beach there are red metal poles on the sidewalk. At first they look weird and they each have a number attached to them. Look a little closer, they are surfboard outlines. They are different shapes and sizes and the number indicates the year they were popularly in use.The whole area around the...

    more
  • Why Not a Walk of Discovery?

    Along the west end of Palm Avenue, a few blocks from the beach there are red metal poles on the sidewalk. At first they look weird and they each have a number attached to them. Look a little closer, they are surfboard outlines. They are different shapes and sizes and the number indicates the year they were popularly in use. At the end of Palm, just...

    more

Imperial Beach Hotels

Imperial Beach Restaurants

  • The Tin Fish Cafe

    Located at the end of the IB Pier with a view of the ocean and coast line. Casual dress accepted. It's worth a trip up the pier to have a drink and admire the view. The staff of the restaurant were casual, friendly and very helpful. You may have to share your dining area with birds and fishermen along the pier. There seemed to be equal number...

    more
  • Opened Now!

    While updating the Restaurant Week review for 2014, I noticed that one of the participating restaurants was located in the South Bay. It turned out to be Sea 180 Coastal Tavern, which is connected to the new hotel, Pier South, in Imperial Beach. Sea 180 had opened just a few weeks ago. So I went to check it out.I parked near what I thought was the...

    more
  • Brew Pub

    MZM Seacoast Bistro and Jersey Boys Diner R.I.P.!This building has not been good luck for the past two restaurateurs. They haven't been able to make a go of it. Now, it seems that the Coronado Brewing Company has signed a 25 year lease for the building and hope to have renovations complete by the Spring 2014. This is what I know so far:This...

    more

Imperial Beach Nightlife

  • An Old Fashion Thing To Do

    In the 1950's and 1960's going to the drive-in was a favorite thing to do at night for teens and families. There was a huge decline and all but one of the drive-in theaters in San Diego have closed. The one remaining theater is located in South San Diego just two miles from the beach in Imperial Beach.The South Bay Drive-In has three screens...

    more
  • Where The Locals Hang

    This is not an Inn, it's a Bar, sometimes serving food. A typical, friendly, neighborhood bar. It is the oldest (1886-1888) surviving building in IB, and the oldest (1969) drinking establishment in Imperial Beach and it offers the largest outside smoking patio in IB--but it's not that big anymore as the patio has been surrounded by a wall!. It is...

    more
  • Friendliest Place In I.B.

    Night or day, "The Plank" is a must stop when in I.B. The atmosphere is always friendly. Unfortunately they no longer serve the killer breakfast on the weekend that they once had so if you're looking for a bite to eat The Plank isn't the place. They will however allow you to bring in food from outside. It's advertised as the "The Most Southwesterly...

    more

Imperial Beach Transportation

  • By Car

    Unless you have booked into a hotel on Seacoast Boulevard and plan to spend all of your time at the beach, a car is the most convenient mode of transportation. Parking can be dear, but most of the time it's easy enough to find a space for your car. The main concern is that Seacoast Boulevard is not very long and the whole length of it is well...

    more
  • Road Rules

    Just a note to let you know that if you park in a Disabled Parking Space, without having a California Disabled Placard or Disabled License Plate on your car, you will be fined over $300.00! I know it is tempting when you come to the beach in the summer and find that everyone has gotten there before you and all the spaces are full, even up the side...

    more
  • On The Wings Of A....

    Unless you're a seagull, a car is the best mode of transportation getting to and around IB. If your plan is to stay at the beach during your entire visit, walking around is more convenient. However, it is possible to get to IB and around IB by bus. There are two buses that service Imperial Beach. The 933 and 934 bus from the Palm Avenue Trolley...

    more

Imperial Beach Shopping

  • A Glorified Liquor Store

    Argus is basically a liquor store and what beach community would be complete without one? Logo-ed hats, snacks, convenience store items, ciggarettes, Lotto tickets as well as bait and tackle supplies are sold here. So whether you are staying up the street in a room or just come for a few hours of fishing this is the easiest place to go from the...

    more
  • Down By The Sea!

    Finally something that is still around!This shop is not easy to miss. It's a big blue building that (almost) looks like a sea water aquarium! Actually, if you look closer at the paintings you might notice that it is under the IB Pier. The painings are not remarkable, but it does feel as if you're entering an underwater cave as as you pass through...

    more
  • Beach Souvenir

    Surf-Boards, Boogie-Boards, Sarongs, Bikinis, IB Souvenir Sweats T-Shirts & Post Cards can be found at this eclectic shop. What makes it eclectic you wonder? Well, it's the food! A variety of authentic Philippino food, from Adobo to Pancit, delicious but unexpected!Update:Scratch the food! New owner not a cook!However, they do rent boogie-boards...

    more

Imperial Beach Local Customs

  • Heed Water Warnings

    Just south of IB is Tijuana, Mexico, where the natural flow of their sewage goes into the Tijuana River and seems to end up at the beach in this area after a rain storm. Which is one reason the waters may be unsafe to swim or surf in.Usually, after any rain storm these, 'KEEP OUT' signs will be seen posted along the beach. Take this warning...

    more
  • Connecting With The Locals!

    Lots of travelers like to mix and mingle with the locals to get a feel for an area. In Imperial Beach this is a bit easier than some of the more popular areas. The beach here is populated mostly with locals. There is a casual and comfortable sense of community here. People will wait outside a shop to give you more information than you got from...

    more
  • Refresh Your Dog!

    Dogs are not allowed on most of the beaches in San Diego. Imprerial Beach has a section of beach where you can walk your dog on a leash.This handy dispenser is located at various places along the IB Beach area as well as at the foot of Palm Avenue, just before getting on the sand at the Dog Beach section. It supplies protectors and bags to store...

    more

Imperial Beach Warnings and Dangers

  • This is NOT a sunset photo!

    Under normal circumstances the air along the beach is clean, clear and refreshing. Not on this day. The winds have been blowing from north/east to south/west (Santa Ana Winds) and have brought with it some of the devestation of the great fires burning in San Diego County (October 2003) for weeks. This is a smoke and ash filled sky at 11:00 in the...

    more
  • Surfers and Swimmers Beware!

    Keep 150 feet away from the pier while swimming or surfing! When the tide is rough, the bottom of the pier is a dangerous place to be. Refusal to follow the direction of a Lifeguard can be a felony.There are lots of rules at all beaches and that is so for Imperial Beach as well.Here you see a Lifeguard putting up a Red Flag. The message tells us...

    more
  • Safety First

    I come down here frequently and have never had a problem or felt unsafe. One reason may be that the city leaders, who want to attract tourists down here, have had the brilliant idea of locating the Sheriff's Station next to the Lifeguard Station--smack in the center of all the I.B. action! Looks peaceful, doesn't it?This is the Dempsey Holder...

    more

Imperial Beach Tourist Traps

  • Funny Photo Op!

    Q.--Who else but a tourist would want their picture taken here? A.--My seven year old granddaughter! The prices at the Tin Fish Cafe are a bit of a tourist trap, and my suggestion is enjoy the view and just spring for one drink. To be completly fair to the Tin Fish proprietors, anyone could take a seat at one of the tables outside cafe without...

    more
  • In April

    1. The Pacific Ocean was too cold to bath,2. There were no beach girls :-). Hey, ladies: there were no beach boys as well,3. All beach facilities were closed.When does it get better?From my friend Blane (Dumpymotel) from Palm Springs, California:Imperial beach is empty for a reason... Its one of the most poopy beaches in California.Raw sewage flows...

    more
  • Imperial Beach Hotels

    6 Hotels in Imperial Beach

    40 Reviews and Opinions

Imperial Beach Off The Beaten Path

  • Flora / Fauna

    The Tijuana Estuary National Wildlife Preserve with a walkway at the south end of Seacoast Drive is an interesting visit. It is also a good point to watch Navy and Marine Corps helicopters practice touch 'n go landings at the nearby Ream Field about 1 mile East and to see Playa de Tijuana or the city of Tijuana in Mexico, about 4 miles to the...

    more
  • It's Not Where, It's When

    Actually, all of IB is 'off the beaten path' but here I show you a view from the south end of IB Beach looking towards the pier on a stormy day. Storms are not frequent, and it is so rare to see any beach in San Diego with no one on the sand that I'm sharing this moment with you.A long forgotten--by most outsiders--fact about this area of San Diego...

    more
  • Small palm trees

    There are no many small palm trees along streets there but in yards many more.

    more

Imperial Beach Sports & Outdoors

  • Volleyball at the Beach

    Volleyball to watch or to play. This is a popular beach activity. The only problem is finding a few people to play with. Usually there aren't enough for a whole team against team, but any equal number of people will do. I only watch and sometimes it's pretty funny and entertaining. Bring a volleyball, sunscreen and water to drink.

    more
  • Surfing

    Long before Imperial Beach was even a city, since the 1930's this has been a surfing beach for some of the greatests surfers in their history. Today, surfing is not the wild fad some of us remember from the 1960's but it is still an exciting and exacting sport and Imperial Beach still draws the most serious and talented watermen around.Surfing is...

    more
  • Skateboarding & In-Line Skating Park

    This is the first indoor skate park in the county of San Diego and a great place to take your teens. They have a teen cafe and a ball court in the surrounding outdoor park area. They are open Tuesday through Sunday from noon until 7:00 pm/8:00 pm/9:00 pm, depending on the day.There are twenty ramps of plywood and masonite including vertical ramps,...

    more

Imperial Beach Favorites

  • IB Pier

    This section of IB has been in the process of re-vitalizing itself and it's coming along nicely. The best thing is that the popularity of the Pier has not diminished at all. Are you getting the picture? The IB Pier has been for many years the focal point of this area in Imperial Beach and it still is. There is something refreshing and relaxing...

    more
  • Life on the IB Pier

    This section of IB has been in the process of re-vitalizing itself and it's coming along nicely. The best thing is that the popularity of the Pier has not diminished at all. Are you getting the picture? The IB Pier has been for many years the focal point of this area in Imperial Beach and it still is. There is something refreshing and relaxing...

    more
  • On the Pier During the Winter

    I love to walk along the pier anytime, but I'm not the only one. Even during a storm people come out to watch the rising tide crash against the pilings, a powerful and awesome sight!Usually the nigth before, the weatherman on TV will report about the really high waves expected for the next day or two. It nerver fails, the next morning I come out to...

    more

Instant Answers: Imperial Beach

Get an instant answer from local experts and frequent travelers

117 travelers online now

Comments (1)

  • briantravelman's Profile Photo
    Nov 16, 2012 at 6:56 PM

    Does anyone know where I can get an overlook of whole Tijuana without trespassing or being stopped by border patrol. I see a bunch of dirt roads on Google Earth, that lead to some good overlooks, but IDK if they're off limits or not? Can you go on them to get a view of the city?

    • lmkluque's Profile Photo
      Nov 29, 2012 at 9:34 AM

      Sorry, I didn't see this until now. Tijuana is a large city and to my knowledge there is not one place from which you can see it all. Those dirt roads, while not illegal to drive on, will most likely not give you much of a view as they are too far west and you'll mainly see the hills that obscure a view of the beach. I'd say that you could get a "panoramic view" of downtown Tijuana from one of the bridges across the I-805 freeway that are south of the I-905 freeway. You'll have to park your car off the bridge and walk to the middle.

    • lmkluque's Profile Photo
      Nov 29, 2012 at 9:48 AM

      I will also mention that you might take the SD Trolley to the border, walk along that bridge and you might get a decent shot from there. Take a look at a night view from that bridge on Yubert's Tijuana page:
      "Home away from home!" - Tijuana by Yubert

 
Explore Deeper into Imperial Beach
New Wine Bar on premise.
Restaurants
Upgraded, But Not New!
Restaurants
Car is the most convenient.
Transportation
Three Blocks from the Beach
Restaurants
Drive over to San Diego
Things to Do
Sandcastle U.S. Open--RIP!--Restored!
Things to Do
California Dough Boy: RIP
Restaurants
Take the kids to Dunes Park
Things to Do
More than $327.00 US Dollar Fine!
Transportation
Good Even on a Cold Day!
Restaurants
Esturary and Slough; Off Limits!!
Warnings and Dangers
Read And Heed The Signs!
Warnings and Dangers
A Tourist's Dream of California Surfing
Shopping
The IB Pier In Summer!
Favorites
Pacific Ocean!
Favorites
International Blends--RIP
Restaurants
A Chain Offering a Family Style Menu!
Restaurants
An Opportunity Lost
Restaurants
Something New In I.B.!
Restaurants
Tijuana River Valley Regional Park!
Things to Do
Portwood Pier Plaza!
Things to Do
Tijuana Esturary
Things to Do
Go To The Beach!
Things to Do
Refresh Yourself!
Local Customs
Ocean Fishing
Local Customs
Surf At This Beach!
Local Customs
Go to visit San Diego
Things to Do
Go to visit Chula Vista
Things to Do
Excelllent, not Frozen, food
Restaurants
Don't they like palm trees?
Local Customs
They love old cars
Local Customs
Not everything is the biggest in USA!
Local Customs
American flags are everywhere!
Local Customs
Dangerous ocean
Warnings and Dangers
Big palm trees
Off The Beaten Path
Houses close to the Pacific
Off The Beaten Path
Go to visit Mexico
Things to Do
Luxuriant vegetation
Things to Do
Residential areas
Things to Do
Watch lifeguards
Things to Do
Map of Imperial Beach

View all Imperial Beach hotels