Nestled along the shores of the Pacific Ocean in southwestern California, Imperial Beach provides tons of fun in the sun when you need a break from the stress of daily life. Choose an Imperial Beach vacation rental close to the coast, and wake up to the sound of soothing waves each morning. Check out the downtown Imperial Beach area, just a few steps from numerous shops and trendy restaurants. Considered part of the greater San Diego area, Imperial Beach offers days filled with playing on the beach, surfing, visiting museums, and playing in the park. To keep your family entertained, check out this list of the top 11 things to do in Imperial Beach with your children.

1. Imperial Beach

Spend a day on this 3.5-mile long beach with its white sand. There are lifeguards on duty all year long so you can rest easier when your children play in the water. From here, you can see the skyline of San Diego and Coronado Islands. Bring along sand buckets to aid in building sandcastles or collecting seashells along the beach. Try your hand at surfing on boogie boards or bring your snorkeling gear to see the fish.

2. Imperial Beach Pier

Pack a cooler and your fishing gear for an afternoon on the Imperial Beach Pier. Find the perfect spot over the water and help the kids bait their hooks. After catching a few fish and storing them in the cooler for a fish fry later at your vacation rental, walk down to the end of the pier to watch the boats sailing by or get a better look at the San Diego skyline. If you don’t want to cook, stop by the restaurant on the pier for great views and a family meal.

3. Imperial Beach Sports Park

Enjoy the salty air at the Imperial Beach Sports Park with its picnic area for an alfresco meal and playgrounds for younger kids to climb and play. Your teens and tweens can bring their skateboards and practice tricks at the skate park and ramps area. Enjoy the sunshine on a bench or choose one in the shade to relax while the kids play.

Find the perfect Imperial Beach vacation rental on is the world's #1 vacation rental search engine with over 10 million properties!

4. Bayshore Bikeway

Bring your bikes from home and store them in the garage of your vacation rental or rent them from one of the local outfitters for a day on the Bayshore Bikeway. This dedicated bicycle path begins at San Diego Bay and winds its way through the city and along the coast line. Along the way, your family can stop for a break at one of the cafes or ice cream shops.

5. Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve

Spend a day of hiking and bird watching with a visit to the Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve. Don’t worry if you forget your binoculars at your vacation rental because you can borrow a pair from the gift shop. Plan to visit on a Saturday because the park offers a guided walk on this day. The walks follow a theme of either birds or nature and a knowledgeable guide answers all your questions and points out items of interest.

6. San Diego Zoo

Hop in the car for the short drive to the San Diego Zoo that houses more than 3,000 animals from 650 species. This zoo offers several special experiences, including Breakfast with the Penguins and behind-the-scenes tours. Show up early in the morning for the Sunrise Surprise Stroll and enjoy seeing the animals without all the crowds. During the summer, the zoo offers a special array of night time programs.

7. Learn How to Paddleboard

Paddle boarding has become one of the most popular sports, and your vacation is the best time for your family to learn how with a lesson from San Diego SUP Lessons. Take a group lesson, or schedule an individual lesson for your family to get more personalized responses. The lessons last around an hour and a half. You can choose between Coronado Cays on San Diego Bay for your lesson.

8. San Diego Botanic Garden

Smell the roses at the San Diego Botanic Garden. Broken up by region, this garden offers a look at plants from locales, such as Africa and Central America. Stop by the Hamilton Children’s Garden for some additional fun for the little ones. Enjoy an adventure at Toni‘s Tree House, and plant your own succulent to take home at the Incredible Edibles. In the Earth Builders, your little ones use buckets, trucks, and other items to move sand around a gigantic sandbox.

9. Laser Tag

At Atlantis Laser Tag, your kids can express their sibling rivalry in a healthy manner by shooting each other with laser tags. This facility offers 20 different laser tag games so spend the entire afternoon without any cries of “I’m bored.” This laser tag location features an underwater theme, and the added darkness helps provide cover during your games. After a few games, grab a pizza from the in-house pizzeria.

10. SeaWorld San Diego

SeaWorld San Diego has a little something for everyone in your family. This park includes amusement rides, an outdoor aquarium, and a marine mammal park. Teens and tweens can hop on a roller coaster, while you take the younger kids to see a dolphin show, where a trainer encourages sea mammals to jump through hoops and other interactions. Walk through the tunnel in Shark Encounters, and watch these sea animals swim beside you and over your head.

11. Boat Charter

Take your family out on the ocean for a day of sailing and soaking up the sun. Several local charter companies offer trips out to sea, including Pacifica Sailing Charters and Schooner Bill of Rights. See the coast, Imperial Beach, and San Diego from a new vantage point. Depending on the time of year, you might see dolphins or migrating whales.

Ready to go? Check out these amazing Imperial Beach vacation rentals on