Seal Beach, a gem of Orange County, offers town charm near Los Angeles

Posted October 30, 2014


SEAL BEACH, Calif. — Just South of Los Angles, there is a small, oceanfront town called Seal Beach. Main Steet, which runs adjacent to the beach, has a few blocks lined with shops, restaurants, bars, ice-cream and coffee joints.

Seal Beach in Southern California hosts a Japsnese-American kite festival to celebrate Japanese culture each fall (Photo by Melissa Ostroff).

Seal Beach in Southern California hosts a Japsnese-American kite festival to celebrate Japanese culture each fall (Photo by Melissa Ostroff).

This is not the type of place that is a tourist trap.

“It’s still one of the few places, in California especially, that isn’t commercialized in every way possible,” said Terry Ball, a Southern California resident who lives near the area.

Although there are a few familiar food and retail chains, most of the businesses here are family run or one of a kind.

Enjoy a refreshing bowl of Cold Stone Creamery ice cream while strolling down the Seal Beach Pier. Or wander into a surf shop and buy a pair of seashell earrings.

There’s one store called California Seashell Co., which has full aisles dedicated to all things in the ocean. They sell lots of different items, such as lights, jewelry and sculptures that are made out of shells. They also sell a wide array of treasures from the sea, such as sand dollars, coral and puffer fish.

Ball loves to come to Seal Beach often with her friends and family.

“Most people who travel to Southern California are so focused on the glitz and glam of Hollywood and seeing celebrities, that they don’t even bother to check out Seal Beach.”

Because it’s not touristy, the beaches are not overrun with tons of people, so it’s a great place to get some space and relax. And it doesn’t matter whether it’s July or February, its always beach weather here.

Featured in the very name, it is not uncommon to spot seals swimming in the water. They tend to congregate to this beach, which is why the beach is named after them.

For the more adventurous, there are surfing lessons at the M&M Surfing School.
A three-hour lesson is $60.

“The instructors are extremely helpful, and they truly believe in you, even if you have never surfed before in your life,” said Ball.

For kids, there is a large playground that is located on the beach near the pier.

This is also great for little kids who aren’t old enough to go swimming in the ocean, yet still want to spend time playing on the beach near the water. There are a number of stores nearby that sell various toys for children, such as shovels, buckets, and mini kites.

Tara Sherman, a mom from Northern California, brought her son to Seal Beach for a kite festival.

“He’s only 2, so I don’t think he would be able to fly one of the large kites. But the small butterfly kite we found on Main Street was perfect for him,” exclaimed Sherman.

For history and architecture buffs, the palm tree lined streets that are near the beach have lots of charming houses. These beautiful beachfront homes run into the millions, because of their stunning views and close proximity to both the beach and the town.

One highlight of Seal Beach is the Japanese-American Kite Festival, which was held on a recent Sunday. It is the largest kite festival in all of Southern California. A free-admission attraction for both adults and children, hundreds of kites float above the beach all day.

“I feel like everything nowadays is about money,” said Roxanne Mino, a festival goer. “It’s nice to attend an event that has a purpose other than to make money, and is simply put on to celebrate a culture.”

There are a number of events that go on as well. There are various games and workshops specifically for children, such as origami and calligraphy. There are also booths that teach people about Japanese food and culture. There are also performances, including Taiko drums, martial arts and dancing.

For those who have never flown a kite before and want to learn how, there is a kite workshop. Chieko Tagami, a world champion kite flyer (a well-known sport in Japan), gave lessons at the festival.

A day at Seal Beach will cleanse the soul, reminding us all that a simple day at the beach can do wonders for a long week at the office or a hectic and stressful vacation. Although it won’t be on a Top 10 list of famous attractions in the Southern California area, it’s undoubtedly one of the most underrated beaches on the West Coast.

If You Go

  • Food: Check out Walt’s Wharf for some great seafood ‪(201 Main St‬., Seal Beach, Calif. ‪90740-6333‬), wide range of restaurants in every food genre. ‬‬
  • Parking: Can be difficult, best bet is to find a spot on Main Street.
  • Facilities: Restrooms can be found in restaurants.
  • Events: Japanese-American Kite Festival, a full list of upcoming events can be found on
  • Shopping: check out California Seashell Co. (125 Main St., Seal Beach, Calif. 90740) for a unique shopping experience.

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