Neighboring Mexico’s border by only 5 miles, Imperial Beach has proudly claimed its title as the southernmost beach town in California. With gentrification transforming this neighborhood into a house-flipper’s haven, locals can expect growth and developments to attract even more residents to its already strong family-friendly community. A popular spot for outdoor enthusiasts, Imperial Beach has everything to offer from prime surfing and fishing off the pier to weekly beachfront markets and flourishing trails along the Tijuana Estuary.
History of Imperial Beach
The area then recognized as “South San Diego Beach,” was originally developed as a summer retreat for Imperial Valley residents in the late 19th Century. The strategy of land purchasing for subdivision caught on quickly as Imperial Beach fell into, what came to be known as, the “land boom era” in the 1880s.
Construction of the neighborhood’s landmark Municipal Pier began in 1909, the same year Imperial Beach began to see its first sidewalks. Unfortunately, it was disassembled due to unfulfilling its intended purpose of generating the town’s electricity using wave action, which activated machinery at the edge of the pier. After a series of resurrecting, reconstructing, and retouching the pier due to fierce storms throughout time, this 1,500 ft. wooden structure finally transformed into the community focal point it is today.
Other notable historic highlights have included the construction of the current Naval Outlying Landing Field built in 1944, the establishment of the Tijuana Estuary Preserve in 1982, and the 1999 opening of the Pier Plaza. However, the neighborhood’s most recent unveiling of the Pier South resort in 2014 has been what really opened the floodgates to tourism in this area, which local businesses aren’t complaining about by any means.
Surfing and Recreation in Imperial Beach
It’s not uncommon to see locals cruising down Seacoast Ave. with a surfboard under one arm any day of the week. In fact, as a heartfelt homage to surfing, I.B Outdoor Surf Museum has planted 10 surfboard benches scattered along the beachfront for the public to enjoy. Keep a lookout for the nearby plaques for stories about what surfing means to the people of Imperial Beach.
With the community embracing this laid-back surf culture, Imperial Beach attracts many other recreational activities fit for the entire family. From fishing and tri-colored sunsets by the pier to beachfront basketball and BBQs on the grassy parks, there are plenty of ways to embrace the outdoors amongst San Diego’s most southern beach town.
Photo by Brendan Garcia
Restaurants in Imperial Beach
Modernized businesses are now omnipresent in this developing neighborhood. The 2014 opening of Sea 180 Coastal Tavern inside the South Pier resort has attracted much-needed tourism for the town’s growth. This breezy upscale eatery coined its name from its oceanfront location offering 180-degree views of Coronado Islands, South Bay, and Mexico.More recent risings gaining attention are the new beachfront Brigantine and the Breakwater Town Center nesting a few favorites such as Chipotle, Starbucks, Jersey Mikes Subs, as well as Poke 123, and the very popular Grocery Outlet for those who prefer home cooking. Neighborhood locals and tourists also need not forget one of its most bustling local staples, the Coronado Brewing Co!
Events in Imperial Beach
Summer marks the start of the festival season at Imperial Beach, with its most popular being the Sea & Sun Festival kicking off this year in July. Crowds flock to this event in appreciation of world-class sandcastle sculptures, parades, live music, and the International Food Fair.
Regular events include the local Farmer’s Market drawing crowds every Friday year-round at the Portwood Pier Plaza. Amongst the buzz of live music, beach activity, and yoga on the grass is an eclectic range of vendors offering everything from fresh, local produce to elegant homemade jewelry, flowers, clothes, and much more! The market’s international food selection is a wide one, with regular favorites like crispy Filipino lumpia, unique flavored Mediterranean hummus, Korean BBQ bowls, and sweet and savory empanadas.
Other Things to Do in Imperial Beach
Nature enthusiasts will be drawn to the trails along the Tijuana Estuary, which houses over 350 species of native and migratory birds (one of my favorite bird watching destinations in San Diego County), including six endangered species. Meanwhile, moviegoers can catch a flick from the comfort of their own cars at the South Bay Drive-in, which operates as a daytime swap meet. The 7-mile Silver Strand connecting Imperial Beach and Coronado Island is also an allure for avid bikers and runners looking for a more scenic route.
Imperial Beach Demographics
Population 2016 (via census.gov): 27,418
Estimated Median House Sales Price in March 2018 (via SDAR): $575,00
Estimated Median Condo/Townhouse Sales Price in March 2018 (via SDAR): $332,450
Median Gross Rent 2012-2016 (via census.cov): $1,255
Median Household Income 2012-2016 (via census.gov): $48,010
Imperial Beach Real Estate
Imperial Beach supports its stationed navy by offering many one-bedroom condos and apartments by the beachfront. The process of gentrification is also drawing many house-flippers to take on jaw-dropping refurbishments as investment properties or residential homes. Structurally hanging on by a thread, many old two and three bedroom houses are giving homebuyers like these the opportunity to buy an affordable home in a prime location. In addition, new developments like the Breakwater Town Center, Public Library, and the newly anticipated SunCoast Co-op Market are attracting many families looking to settle by the water.
For more information on housing in Imperial Beach, contact me, Tamara Z. I’m dedicated to helping you find the perfect home for you and your loved ones!