I have always thought of Imperial Beach, the City, as just a place to pass through to get to Tijuana. It was small and didn’t have much to offer. We stopped at Imperial Beach, the Beach, a couple times, but not being too impressed we never spent any time there. What a change!!!!
First, the Beach as it is today. It is one of the most welcoming and cleanest beaches I have been to and the City had interesting restaurants and quaint shops. It looked like a great place to live and a great place to play.
It appears the change came in 1980 when it became the site of the annual U.S. Open Sand Castle Building Contest. Visitors grew from 20,000 the first year to 400,000 visitors in subsequent years. There was no charge to enter the contest or to attend the event. Unfortunately, it appears that it will regress rather than continue to thrive because 2011 was the last Sand Castle Building Contest to be held there. The cost became prohibitive and the number of volunteers declined. Rather than to start charging people for the event to help cover costs the city council opted to end it and the event moved north to a San Diego beach just south of the Maritime Museum of San Diego.
Imperial beach as it was January 22, 2013… Still Beautiful!
As you approach the beach there is a stunning sculpture by James A. Wasil titled “The Spirit of Imperial Beach”.