Imperial Beach boasts that it is the most southwesterly community in the U.S. Located 20 miles south of San Diego, just north of Tijuana, the community was started originally as a beach retreat for residents of Imperial Valley in 1887, hence the name.
Imperial Beach sits between the Silver Strand and the Mexican Border and boasts a small but neighborly business center. Imperial Beach is a bedroom community for many of the Navy personnel stationed at North Island who enjoy its proximity to the commissary at Ream Field, a helicopter training base located near the border. The area is linked to the rest of San Diego by excellent bus service which connects to both the trolley and Coronado, making it one of the few cities in San Diego County with strong public transit. The city's bus line has the most passengers of any in the county.
Imperial Beach is known for some of the best sand in the country. The community holds the annual U.S. Open Sandcastle Competition with contestants from all over the country. The sandcastles are intricate marvels of transitory architecture.
There are two wildlife sanctuaries and a state park in the area. The Tijuana Slough National Wildlife Refuge, the Tijuana River National Estuarine Sanctuary and Border Field State Park provide recreational opportunities.