There are numerous things to do in Seal Beach, CA that's fun, free, and affordable. Whether you're visiting from out of town, making weekend plans, or seeking nightlife — this is a place to relax. It's less trendy and crowded than nearby cities such as Huntington and Newport. From activities to must see, it offers a great mix for a small city. Family oriented, it's a laid back community that requires repeated visits.
Named the 4th friendliest city in the United States by Morgan Brennan for Forbes Magazine in 2012 it endures. With the many restaurants, bars, and shops, it's a uniquely inviting place.
For weather, August is the hottest month with an average high of 84º. January is the coldest time of year with an average high of 68º.
Located in the North West part of Orange County, California, the city is 28 miles south of Los Angeles. Access is easy from the 405 or Pacific Coast Highway. Many of the hotels are under $200 a night ideal for business or short stay. The proximity to nearby cities is ideal. With a genuine charm, Seal Beach eschews the mega mansions of Hollywood.
For a quaint seaside town, there's plenty of stuff to do day or night. Don't let the small town feel let you think there's a shortage of options. Here's our best of list for what to do in Seal Beach.
1. Stroll the Seal Beach Pier.
Cost: FREE. Hours: 4:30 am to 10 pm. An ideal spot for a leisure walk in the morning or after dinner at night. On a clear day, you can view Long Beach Harbor and Catalina Island. Bring binoculars or use the paid telescopes.
Watch Pelicans plunge dive or fishermen reel in a catch. For cyclists, take a pit stop and use the bike rack to tie-up. A sunset stroll is the perfect way to end the day. Sit on of the bench seats to relax and listen to the surf. It can get windy so bring a jacket.
A kids' playground is in the parking lot adjacent. Parking is 2 hours for $3 or $6 all day. One of the must see and things to do. Miss it and you'll be cheating yourself. The Seal Beach Pier address is Main Street at Ocean Ave.
2. Play Volleyball.
Cost: FREE. There are numerous volleyball nets that are free and open to the public. One of the best things to do in Seal Beach that is free under the sun.
Edison Park and Gardens. 99 College Drive, Hours: dusk 'til dawn.
3. Go Swimming at The Community Pool.
Cost: $40.50. The pool is an 80 degree swimming pool with an outdoor shower. What better place to cool off and relax? Purchase passes run by the community services dept. at 211 8th Street. Lap swim passes can be purchased for ages 16 and over. The community pool is located at 1698 Bolsa Ave. Tel: 562-431-2527.
4. Play A Round at The Tennis Center.
Open 7 days a week for all ages and skill levels, the tennis center has 16 tennis courts. Hours: Monday thru Friday: 12:00 pm — 9:30 pm. Saturday & Sunday: 12:00 pm — 5:30 pm. 3900 Lampson Avenue. Tel: (562) 598-8624.
Noon - 5:00 pm $10 per hour/Court
5:00 pm - 9:30 pm $12 per hour/Court
Note: $2 resident discount - per hour/court
Play free at Marina Center Park. See further down.
5. Hit Golf Balls at Old Range Country Club Range
Cost: Small Bucket (55 balls) is $6.00. Their golf range features two sides with one for the general public. Hours are Monday: 9 am - 9 pm, Tuesday-Sunday: 7 am - 9 pm. Last time a bucket is sold is 8 pm. With daylight savings it's a fun evening activity. 3901 Lampson Avenue, Tel: (562) 596-0414
6. Seal Beach Main Street Shops
With over 100 local shops, tree-lined Main Street has many businesses with unique items for sale. From apparel, children's clothing, jewelry, antiques, gifts, art galleries to drinking and dining it offers a lot. There is also a semi-annual sidewalk sale organized by the chamber of commerce. It's one of the most popular Seal Beach things to do. Need a bikini or some surfing shorts? Visit Harbor Surfboards. Free parking on Main street for 2 hours or park next to the pier all day for $6.
7. Rent a bike from Main Street Cyclery
Cost: $5.00 hourly or $20 for the day. They rent cruisers, sell new bikes and do repairs. It doesn't get anymore affordable than that. Explore the city at your pace. 317 Main Street. Tel: 562-430-3903.
8. Take a Surfing Lesson
One of the best places to learn surfing in the OC. Stop by M & M Surfing School. 802 Ocean Ave. Tel: (714) 846-7873. Cost: Group 1 hr from $72.00. Note: Watch out for stingrays.
9. Visit Marina Center Park
Cost: FREE. There are tennis courts (2), basketball courts, softball fields. You can reserve space for a special occasion or party. 151 Marina Drive. Tel: (562) 431-2527 x1306. Hours: Dawn until Dusk.
10. Ride the San Gabriel River Bike Trail!
Experience breathless scenery and wildlife. From mountains to the ocean, the river bike trail is free and highly rated. Technically it's 70 miles round trip from Azusa, CA and back. For a shorter ride, go to Downey. Entrance is near Ocean and First ave. Parkin is all day for $6.
NOTE: Keep a patch kit and pump in the event you flat. Have plenty of water.
11. Fly a Kite. Yes, Really.
With the strong winds off the water, you'll have ideal kiting conditions. A great affordable family thing to do or for a couple. They also have advanced stunt kites. Head over to Up Up & Away Kites at 139 1/2 Main St. Tel: (562) 596-7661.
12. Astronomy Nights
Cost: FREE. Astronomy Nights are co-hosted by Michael Beckage in conjunction with Bogart's Coffee House. Stargaze with a notable expert. Typically held 6:30pm to 9:30pm once a month at the pier. See bogartscofee.com for latest schedule.
13. Take a Crossfit Group Class
Beach Fitness has high marks from customers and might be just what you need. High intensity training in a group. Any fitness level. Indoor and outdoor bootcamps. Cost: One time drop-in $25 or packages from $150. 148 Main Street, Suite F. Tel: (562) 493-8426
14. Pick up Some Art
Art Images sells local artists and photography going back to 1981. They have events that stretch into evening. Custom framing options. 119 Main St. Hours: Tuesday - Saturday 11:00AM - 7:00PM, Sunday 12:00PM - 6:00PM
15. Do A Pub Crawl
Main Street is ideally suited for nightlife with the troops. It has received a few accolades as one of the best streets for a pub crawl. Most hotels are a short drive with plenty of taxis. If you're flying solo, there are a few meetup.com groups that do an annual crawl. Don't risk it by getting in a car. Stay in town or hail a ride.
1. For hiking, Gum Grove Nature Park is popular for hiking, dog walking, catching the springtime flower bloom, and for bird watching. Adjacent to Los Cerritos Wetlands, the hike trail is suitable for beginners and ideal for families. Watch for coyotes. Crescent View & Avalon Drive. Hours: dawn to dusk. Tel: (562) 431-2527
2. Visit the National Wildlife Refuge. Cost: Free. With just over 900 acres, it offers the opportunity to observe some endangered species such as the light-footed clapper rail (look it up), the California Least Tern, and Belding's Savanna Sparrow. During the spring you can catch the flower bloom. January and February is the best time for birdwatching. Access is restricted. Tours are the last Saturday of each month at 8:30 am. Reservations required. Tel: 562-598-1024
Outdoor Activities At The Parks & Community Centers
The City of Seal Beach has numerous parks and community centers that offer great outdoor activities.
Experience a number of free annual events in Seal Beach. For the latest, see online resources section.
1. Japan America Kite Festival. Cost: FREE
An annual event that takes places in the early fall. It is Southern California's largest kiting event. Free admission, it's a fun event to attend.
2. Seal Beach Car Show. Cost: FREE
An annual event, the classic car show has as many as 30 competing categories featuring cars up to 1979. Free to the public, its held on the last Saturday in April each year.
3. Watch Free Family Movies in Eisenhower Park. Cost: FREE
Eisenhower Park is a public park located at the base of the pier on Ocean Avenue and Main Street. Put on by The Bay Theatre Foundation movies start at sundown and are shown typically in the fall beginning in or around September.
The local movie theatre is called The Bay Theatre located on 340 Main Street. On August 2012, it sadly closed. Donations are appreciated and will help to reopen this historic art deco theatre. Tel: (562) 431-9988 to hear recorded info.
4. Summer Concerts on the Pier. Concerts are from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm beginning typically in July. Put on by the chamber of commerce, it's open to the public.
5. Surf Championship is held in February each year. Held by by the lifeguard association, the waiting period begins in January. 888 Ocean Ave, Tel: (562) 430-2613
6. 5K/10K Local Running Event. Held in the first week of April annually by volunteers. The event raises funds for recreation programs and services for the community.
7. Arts and Crafts Faire. An annual event held the weekend after Labor day on Saturday and Sunday. From local painters, jewelry makers you can purchase hand crafted works. 9 am to 6 pm in Eisenhower Park. Tel: (562) 714-6524.
8. St. Patrick's Day. Main street has several Irish pubs and restaurants. All are walking distance making it easier to experience the festivities. There's leprechauns and many dressed in green hats. A heavy police presence makes it a safe event.
9. Restaurant Week. A new annual event, it brings together the entire community for great deals on food. Typically held in mid to late November.
10. Seal Beach 4th of July. Fireworks show takes place in Los Alamitos at Joint Forces Training Base. You can watch it from the Pier. It starts at 9:00 PM.
Seal Beach, CA is a quaint, seaside charted city located in the north western area of Orange County, California. It was incorporated in the year 1915. A family community, it has a population of 24,664 according to the last US census. The city is considered by many to be a laid back community with great sunsets without being overcrowded.
Originally known as Anaheim Landing, the city came to prominence as a shipping port. It was used by merchant ships until the arrival of the Pacific Electric Red Car. That set off a real estate boom as it was the primary mode of transportation.
There are many ways to travel. Access to the city is made via the 405, Pacific Coast Highway, and 605 freeways. For transportation, the Orange County Transportation Authority has bus transit that runs on the hour. For parking, there is metered parking but also many places to park for free.
Of the major attractions is the Seal Beach Pier which was constructed in 1906. Popular for fishing, benches to relax with ocean views, watching surfers or diving pelicans. A police station sits at the base of the pier for added security. The Seal Beach Pier playground adjacent is popular for families and occupies a portion of the parking lot. A wall and gate surround it. Bathroom facilities are nearby.
Eisenhower Park with lush lawns has 5 park benches. The park is popular for sunsets, lunch, and weddings. There are tables to eat however, they number only a few. Portion of the park can be rented. Tel: (562) 431-2527 x1339.
Main Street is a mere 15 yards away. Covering 3 blocks, you can visit over 150 unique shops. This is the heart of old town where you'll see classic cars roll by and people strolling as they browse local stores. Shopping ranges from antiques, gifts, swimwear apparel, and more. At night, Seal Beach is lively. In 2011, it was voted best street for a pub crawl by OC Weekly. CBS has also profiled Seal Beach Main Street publishing a small guide.
The city has good surfing conditions that vary depending on the area. There are has two large jetties and two small jetties making up 4 distinct surfing areas. To the North is San Gabriel River mouth. To the South is the Jetty from The U.S. Naval base. The beach is kept very clean with regular cleanups organized by community group Save Our Beach.
The National Wildlife Refuge is popular for observing birdwatching and wildlife. Free education tours are once a month during the last Saturday. It is restricted due to the U.S. naval base.
For annual events, the city has a surf championship in January each year, a car show in April, a kite festival, and a 5K, 10k, and kids race every March.
Seal Beach Pier
As the second longest wood pier in the state of California, The Seal Beach Pier was built in 1906 and is 1,865 feet long. It has endured two major events affecting its structure. The first storm in 1939 tore it in half.
The 1983 storm, caused extensive damage yet again. The cost to rebuild was 2.3 million. The sum was raised privately and publicly. The Seal Beach Pier is popular for fishing, leisure walks, watching surfers, dates, and sunsets. With numerous benches, it affords places to sit and relax.
The pier has been featured prominently in several major Hollywood motion pictures. Movies include 'As Good as It Gets', 'American Pie 2', 'Apollo 13' and 'American Sniper'. Parking is $6.00 daily or $3.00 for 2 hours.There's a kids' playground in the parking lot adjacent which ideal for toddlers and small kids.
Photo Credit: Arturo Sotillo, Modified, www.flickr.com/photos/whappen/
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NOTE: Originally Published on February 5, 2015. Updated March 2018.