What To Do In Seal Beach, CA
Located in western corner of Orange County, Seal Beach has a population of 24,168 as of 2015. The gateway to 42 miles of coastline in Orange County, Seal Beach is situated between Long Beach and Huntington Beach and is known as a down-to-earth and quiet beach-side community
Originally known as Anaheim Landing, the area that is now Seal Beach was recognized as the recreation and boat landing area and was named after the nearby city of Anaheim. Re-named Bay City in the 20thcentury, the city was soon christened Seal Beach since there was already a Bay City in Northern California. The name was inspired by the seals that used to frequent the coast. Seal Beach was officially founded on October 27, 1915 by Philip Stanton. The city was promoted as a tourist and recreation destination. What is now downtown was called the Joy Zone and stood as the first beach side amusement park in Orange County. During Prohibition, the Joy Zone became known for mead, gambling and prostitution. The liquor was brought in via a canal that ran under the city. Although nearby Long Beach was conservative at the time, Seal Beach had a festive reputation which, in addition to the Pacific Electric Railroad Red Car, drew residents year-round.
The Great Depression brought a drastic change to Seal Beach as amusement parks and gambling started to wane. As prohibition was ushered in, the need for midnight whiskey delivered diminished. Most of the Joy Zone was closed down by the late 1930s and the late 1940s and ’50s brought about an influx of residential development. Red Car service was discontinued in 1954 due to the rise of the automobile and by 1960 the tracks had been demolished. By 1960 the population of Seal Beach had grown to 6,994. The addition of subdivisions added to the population boom. With accommodations for nearly 10,000 residents, Leisure World, a walled retirement community, soon made Seal Beach its home. In 1968, Surfside, a summertime beach community, joined Seal Beach.
Today Seal Beach is filled with quaint neighborhoods and an old-fashioned downtown reminiscent of the 1920s. Seal Beach is also home to the second largest pier in the state. The pier was originally built in the1900s and rebuilt in 1980 aftera storm destroyed several sections.
Seal Beach is a haven for those who are seeking small-town charm in a coastal setting.
Our Favorite Things to Do in Seal Beach
Our mini guide to Seal Beach lists some of our favorite things to do in this small, coastal community.
A quiet oasis away from the crowds, Seal Beach is known for clean waters and clean beaches.The community is a favorite among Orange County residents with the wide sandy stretches of beach and perfect weather conditions. Whether you enjoy building a sandcastle, flying kites of windsurfing, Seal Beach is a great place to enjoy the outdoors. We have listed some of our favorite outdoor adventures below.
Parks and Wildlife
Gum Grove Nature Park
Gum Grove Park is a local favorite for walks, bird and wildlife watching and admiring regional blossoms. This is a great place to go to get off the couch and enjoy nature. The park is narrow and sits between the Los Cerritos wetlands and Seal Beach. There’s an industrial area behind the park so looks can be deceiving as you arrive. And while this isn’t exactly a hike, it is a nice stroll with pup, family or friends.
Get back to nature at: Crescent View & Avalon Drive
National Wildlife Refuge
This 965 acre wildlife refuge is a winter stop over and critical refuge for birds along the Pacific Flyway which extends from Alaska to Patagonia. Located at the Naval Weapons Station the refuge offers tours to the public once a month(the last Saturday) since it is located within an active military base. The walking tour is a one mile trip and lasts approximately two hours.
Experience wildlife at: 800 Seal Beach Boulevard
Give them a call at: >562-598-1024
Cycling and Hiking
Main Street Cyclery
A staple in Seal Beach for over 20 years, Main Street Cyclery is your one stop shop for sales, service and, most importantly, rentals. Beach cruisers can be rented hourly, daily and weekly and come with a lock, basket and helmet. Once you’re ready to roll we recommend taking your bike over to the San Gabriel River Bike Trail for the day!
Push the pedal to the metal at: 317 Main Street
Reserve your bike at: 562-430-3903
San Gabriel River Bike Trail
Seal Beach is at the south end of this 38 mile trail which extends from Seal Beach to the base of the San Gabriel Mountains in Azusa. The trail winds through an urban environment surrounded by parks and natural landscape. The southern portion of the trail has the ocean as a backdrop while the northern portion is framed by the San Gabriel Mountains. If you prefer a shorter ride, we recommend peddling to Downey and back. Parking is available for a small price. Don’t forget the pump and patch kit just in case.
Arts & Culture
Seal Beach is known for its natural beauty, with crashing ocean views and magnificent sunsets. And while nature has always been a space for reflection and observation, historic and cultural spaces are always important and much-needed sanctuaries in any city. While Seal Beach is rich in surf culture, its history is both rich and colorful. These are some of our favorite ways to experience the arts and learn more about the history and culture of Seal Beach.
Museums and Live Entertainment
Red Car Historical Museum
Although this is a small attraction, it is a favorite among locals in Seal Beach. The Red Car Museum is actually a refurbished Red Car from the 1900 that was part of the early commuter line that ran from LA to Orange County. The car houses a museum which offers a glimpse into Seal Beach’s history. In fact the location marks the spot where Pacific Electric established a right of way for these Red Cars.The museum is open the second and fourth Saturday of every month.
Hop on the car at: Corner of Main and Electric
Call for more information at: 562-453-9762
Seal Beach Community Performing Arts Association
The Association promotes a variety of cultural activities including concerts, dance, theater and opera. Their goal is to make the arts an essential part of the community’s identity. Their programming usually runs from December through June. While memberships can be purchased for the season, individual tickets can be purchased online.
Find them at: Seal Beach Center for Spiritual Living, 5th & Marina
Call for more information at: (562) 429-3992
Heron Pointe Cultural Education Center and Trail
Originally inhabited by early American Indians, Heron Pointe now serves as a reminder of the native people of the area. The Cultural Center is actually a trail marked with plaques offering further insight into the history of Heron Pointe. You can extend your walk by visiting Gum Grove Park.
Explore the trail at: Avalon and Catalina Streets, adjacent to Gum Grove Park
Seal Beach Pier
The second longest wooden pier in the state of California, Seal Beach Pier was built in 1906 and spans 1865 feet. A popular destination for watching surfers, fishing, leisurely walks and watching sunsets, the pier has been featured in numerous major Hollywood films, including “American Pie 2,” “As Good as It Gets,” and “Apollo 13.” There is also a playground in the adjacent parking lot which is a great pit stop if you have an infant or toddler.
Take a walk down the Pier at: Ocean Avenue at Main Street, Seal Beach
Give them a call at: (562) 431-2527
Food and Drink
It’s the most important meal of the day and it’s the perfect time to explore some of Seal Beach’s best known spots. Whether you are planning a night out with the family or a dinner date, Seal Beach has some amazing options for that special meal. Be sure to try out one of our favorites from the list below.
Seal Beach Food Tours
Seal Beach is loadedof award winning eateries. Take a tour of some of these gems by joining a Sea Beach Food Tour. There are seven tastings on this Olde Towne walking tour which also includes demonstrations and visits to historic landmarks. The tour spans onemile and is made up of 12 stops including Walt’s Wharf. There are also dining and shopping discounts offered as part of the tour brochure.
Join the crowd at: Main Street and Ocean Avenue, Seal Beach Pier, near the Centennial clock
Call for tour information at: 562-567-6565
Spaghettini Italian Grill and Jazz Club
Considered a foodie hotspot, this award-winning restaurant specializes in Northern Italia cuisine. There is a vibrant lounge and bar area offering a Spectator awarded wine list, craft beer and a special bar menu. Walking into Spaghettini you will also find live entertainment (of the smooth jazz variety)making Spaghettinia great choice for a romantic night out. They also have a popular Sunday brunch. Their filet is a standout and the Cioppino with shrimp and halibut will be some of the best you’ve ever had. It’s a bit pricey but worth it if you feel like splurging.
Grab a bite and a drink at: 3005 Old Ranch Parkway
Call for more information: 562-596-2199
Walt’s uses an open oak fire to prepare their seafood so it’s no wonder they are an award-winning restaurant in Seal Beach. Offering some of the freshest seafood available, Walt’s also has an extensive wine list featuring some of the top California wineries. Be sure to try the oak-grilled artichokes and the New England clam chowder to start. Walt’s is the standard for seafood in the area.
Fin Walt’s at: 201 Main Street
Give them a call at: 562-598-4433
Skip the fast food and settle into one of Seal Beach’s best-loved casual dining establishments. Whether you have a hankering for pizza, crave a great burger or want a good sized taco, you’ll have no problem finding something to satisfy your appetite. Check out some of our favorite casual dining options below.
The Crema Café
Crema has been a downtown fixture since opening their door in 2006. An artisan bakery and European style café, Crema offers breakfast and lunch 7 days a week. They have a pet-friendly patio and serve a nice variety of domestic and imported cold and hot beverages. The menu is full of delicious meal choices with a European flare. Be sure to stop in at Crema, with or without your dog.
Find them at: 322 Main Street
Give them a call at: 562-493-2501
This is a quaint restaurant serving slow smoked and dry rubbed meats.Everything here is made from scratch and made to order and very plate comes with cornbread and honey butter. The ribs have a caramelized crust, the pork is pulled by hand and the brisket, well it’s always placed in the smoker with the fat on top resulting in a perfectly moist and marinated taste sensation.
Find Beachwood BBQ at: 131 ½ Main Street
Call them at: 562-493-4500
Yucatan Grill is a family owned business serving Caribbean and Mexican food. Everything is made from scratch minus the lard or MSG. The crab and lobster enchiladas are a favorite. They also have a Taco Tuesday night with $2 and $3 options and a kids menu.
Find them at: 550 Pacific Coast Highway
Give them a call at: 562-430-4422