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Seal Beach is a charming seaside village with a beautiful long pier and a friendly Main Street with nary a chain store in site. Galleries, antique and one-of-a-kind stores, restaurants, cafes, ice-cream shops, and little parks and gardens line the warm, palm tree lined streets. Locals meet for coffee in shorts, often with a beach towel over their shoulders. Cute beach cottages far outnumber high rise apartments, and swaying palm trees are everywhere.

Mix this charm with beautiful beaches and year round Californian sunshine and its easy to see why Seal Beach is a prime holiday spot, particularly for nearby city dwellers. Movie and television stars and high profile professionals love to come here to relax alongside everyone else, taking advantage of the community’s laid back attitude, where money is seen as less important than taking the time to be friendly and enjoy life. As a local website states, “it’s almost a fad to have a rusty bicycle to ride.”

Because recreation and tourism is such an important part of the local economy in this largely residential community, Seal Beach takes pains to protect its character from rampant development, and to provide top recreational facilities. The City maintains the pier, a beach park, and a skate park, and runs a wide range of recreational programs. There is a smooth beachside bike path for riding, walking, jogging or skating, and there are over 30 miles of bike paths around the city.

The beach is perfect for surfing, boogie boarding, wind surfing and swimming, and the city has some of the best sailing waters on the west coast. You can fish from the pier, make sandcastles with your kids on the beach, and take long walks along the sand. The banks of the Los Angeles River are another nice place to stretch your legs.

The Red Car Museum is an interesting place to visit, housed in a rare Pacific Electric Tower Car. The museum displays photographs of early Seal Beach, sea shells and Indian artifacts collected locally. It also has a reference library of local history with detailed regional maps.

About two-thirds of the land within the city is given over to the Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station, and the Navy Harbor and wetlands are a national bird sanctuary. East of the Pacific Coast Highway, the Naval Station is neighbored by Boeing, tract housing and the gated Leisure World retirement community.