The city has a Mediterranean climate with summer temperatures often in the upper 70s and winter temperatures in the 60s. Because of the comfortable year round temperatures many homes in Imperial Beach are built without air conditioning. Imperial Beach often remains 10 degrees (Fahrenheit) cooler than inland areas of San Diego County in the summer, and 10 degrees warmer in the winter. The city is mostly or partly sunny 323 days of the year, with the wettest months in winter. The Farmer's Almanac consistently ranks the area within the Top 10 Best Weather Cities in America. The Scripps Institution of Oceanography operates a weather reporting station at the middle of the Imperial Beach Pier for sky condition, temperature, humidity, pressure, wind and water temperature data.
Imperial Beach encompasses nearly 4 miles of beach and employs a year round lifeguard staff. Beach volleyball, surfing and body boarding are popular in Imperial Beach with activities concentrated north and south of the Imperial Beach Pier and the Boca Rio beach break, one of San Diego County's best surf spots. San Diego Magazine identifies the Boca Rio beach break as the second best surfing location in the county, second only to Black's Beach and the Scripps Canyon area near La Jolla. The area around Imperial Beach Pier known as Pier Plaza showcases plaques placed on surfboard benches that tell the story of how the city's big waves had an impact on surfing from 1937 to the 1950s. Nearby Border Field State Park signifies the most southern beach on the west coast and allows beachgoers in the United States to correspond verbally with beachgoers in Mexico. The city connects to nearby Coronado, California by way of the Silver Strand, a narrow, 7 mile long isthmus. Silver Strand State Beach, a popular beach for camping, bird watching, and bicycling, is located in the middle of the isthmus and includes both bay and ocean beaches.
The pier of Imperial Beach
The San Diego County summer tourist season brings many visitors to the city's beaches each year. For 31 years, Imperial Beach played home to the U.S. Open Sandcastle competition, the largest sand castle competition in the United States, drawing in approximately 325,000 people. The city held the final sand castle competition in August 2011, bringing an end to the annual event and tradition. The city also holds the beach front classic car show every summer and an annual dog-surfing contest. The Imperial Beach Farmer's Market, the only beach front farmer's market in San Diego County, operates from Pier Plaza every Friday afternoon (from November to March) and (from April to October) offering local fruits, vegetables and community art. The South Bay Drive-in, the county's only ocean view drive-in theatre, is located just outside Imperial Beach off Coronado Avenue.
Imperial Beach has undergone a significant makeover in the last ten years to become more visitor-friendly and commercially viable. In 2004, the City of Imperial Beach began implementing a community redevelopment plan to improve the commercial corridor along Palm Avenue and Seacoast Drive. However, aside from a few smaller hotels, Imperial Beach remains a highly residential city with little hotel or motel accommodation for visitors. Future plans for the city allow for construction of additional hotels along the beach areas of Seacoast Drive. On September, 13, 2010, after many years of planning, demolition officially began on the old Seacoast Inn located off Seacoast Drive. Construction of the new 22 million dollar hotel, now renamed Pier South Resort, a 78-room, four-story, upscale Mediterranean-style resort with restaurant, spa and conference facilities, was completed in December, 2013.
Kem Nunn's novel, Tijuana Straits, provides insight into the culture of the border and surfing in Imperial Beach and the Tijuana River Valley, and the environmental problems that impact residents of Tijuana, Imperial Beach and Coronado.
The HBO television series John from Cincinnati was about a dysfunctional surfing family in Imperial Beach set against the backdrop of the U.S.-Mexico border. The series (from Executive Producer David Milch, writer Kem Nunn, and director Mark Tinker) was filmed at a variety of locations in Imperial Beach and in the Tijuana River Valley.
The Census reported that 25,705 people (97.6% of the population) lived in households, 619 (2.4%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 0 (0%) were institutionalized.
The population was spread out with 6,696 people (25.4%) under the age of 18, 3,640 people (13.8%) aged 18 to 24, 7,603 people (28.9%) aged 25 to 44, 6,012 people (22.8%) aged 45 to 64, and 2,373 people (9.0%) who were 65 years of age or older. Imperial Beach has one of the youngest median ages of any Southern California city with a median age of 31 years. For every 100 females there were 101.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 99.5 males.
There were 9,882 housing units at an average density of 2,203.4 per square mile (850.7/km²), of which 2,756 (30.2%) were owner-occupied, and 6,356 (69.8%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 2.3%; the rental vacancy rate was 5.4%. 7,476 people (28.4% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 18,229 people (69.2%) lived in rental housing units.
^Official precipitation records for San Diego were kept at the Weather Bureau Office in downtown from October 1850 to December 1859 at the Mission San Diego and from November 1871 to June 1939 and a variety of buildings at downtown, and at San Diego Int'l (Lindbergh Field) since July 1939. Temperature records, however, only date from October 1874. For more information on data coverage, see ThreadEx