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Imperial Valley - More Than Sand and Farms

StaxUP Storage | April 14, 2023 @ 12:00 AM

When people think about the Imperial Valley of California and its cities of El Centro and Calexico, most people think about the sand dunes. And while visiting the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area and doing some off-roading is a popular activity, there is a lot more to this area than sand and farms.

Make a Run for the Border

Algodones and Mexicali are both nearby border towns and offer very different Mexico experiences. Algodones is small and is very popular with people from the US and winter visitors from Canada for dental work and prescription drugs.

It’s easy to park on the US side in one of the border-adjacent parking lots and walk into Mexico. If you decide to drive into Algodones, it’s a relatively easy return border crossing by car. Make a day of it and check out the Quechuan Casino and Resort, just off the 8 freeway in Winterhaven, CA, north of the border crossing.

Many people don’t know much about Mexicali, but it is an excellent destination for craft beer and Chinese food. Yes, really. Baja California in general has a booming craft beer scene, and Mexicali is home to many brewing operations, and you can find Baja brews on tap all over the city. Some favorite places are El Sume - Cervezas Artesanales y del Mundo where you can sample beer from around the region and grab something to eat, and the tasting room at the award-winning Cervecería Fauna.

Many immigrants from China settled in Mexicali in the early twentieth century, to the point where in 1920, there were 10,000 Chinese residents, compared to 700 of Mexican descent. All of this means that Mexicali is home to a great and unique version of Chinese cuisine. One of the long-term local favorites is China House.

Check out the Blue Angels

Many people don’t know it, but Naval Air Facility El Centro is the winter home of the Navy’s flight demonstration squadron - the Blue Angels. From January through mid-March, the Blue Angels practice their acrobatic flight routine twice daily, six days a week.

Head out early in the morning to where the airfield and the farms meet, near the corner of Low Road and West Hackleman Road (view map), and you can sit out just beyond the end of the runway - so close you can nearly get knocked over by the jet wash. The later in the season you visit, the better the air show, and the bigger the crowd.

Visit the Salton Sea

Formed by the flooding of an irrigation canal in 1905, the Salton Sea is the 343-square-mile centerpiece of the Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge. This is a unique ecosystem and plays host to one of the most diverse and significant populations of birds within the United States, and you can find over 400 different species of birds here.

Start your visit at the Refuge Visitor Center and Headquarters, where you can learn more about this diverse landscape, which includes desert highlands, cattail marshes, freshwater wetlands, and a small active volcano.

Look beyond the sand and the farms, and you’ll find some hidden gems awaiting you in the Imperial Valley. Head to StaxUP Storage the next time you are looking for storage in the Imperial Valley.

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