Seal Beach is the first taste of Orange County that travelers get when they are driving down the coast. Just off the Pacific Coast Highway, visitors can catch a glance at the iconic wooden Seal Beach Pier and head straight to Main Street, which features dozens of shops and eateries along a picturesque strip that’s just a few blocks long. From the beach here, you can catch views of the Long Beach Harbor skyline. If you look to the southwest, you can see Catalina Island. These classic coastal landscapes are both particularly awesome at sunset.
Fun For Everyone
While the famous Seal Beach seals aren’t as common as they once were, visitors might get to see a few in less populated stretches of the coast they are more likely to congregate. And if you miss them, you can still say hello to Slick, the bronze statue of a coastal pinniped on the Seal Beach pier.
The Red Car Museum is a must for lovers of trains or transportation history buffs. This rescued tower car is a relic of the now-defunct rail car system that once connected the major cities in Southern California. The century-old Red Car is filled with artifacts from the time when it would have brought commuters from Orange County to Los Angeles. Start here and walk down Electric Avenue Median Park to the end of Seal Beach and then back to the pier and up Main Street. This makes for a great loop of Seal Beach’s greatest attractions and scenery.
An Outdoor Adventure
Seal Beach is surrounded by protected natural areas that are helping to restore the population of local wildlife. Los Cerritos Wetlands mostly lie in a neighboring section of Long Beach and is a protected habitat for many California birds.
The San Gabriel River Bike Trail runs along the San Gabriel River that separates Seal Beach from Los Angeles county. This 28-mile cyclist’s paradise covers undiscovered, peaceful tracks of Southern California ending at the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains.
In the southern part of the city, there is the Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuge, protected land set aside for wildlife in Anaheim Bay.
Dana Point remains an overlooked treasure in Southern California. While the state is known for its fast-paced cities and thrilling attractions, Dana Point is where you go for a more relaxed pace of travel. You can walk along the beaches that surround the quaint village that has sprung up around them.
Just on the other side of Anaheim’s Harbor Boulevard lies Garden Grove. Garden Grove is a vibrant Southern California city in the middle of all the action.
There are many great surf towns on the Orange County coast, but few are as famous as Huntington Beach. In fact, Huntington Beach, also known as Surf City USA, hosts the annual Vans US Open of Surfing.
A trip to Orange County isn’t complete without a visit to Laguna Beach. Laguna is a refined upscale beach city, regularly listed as one of the most desirable places to live in the United States. It’s the Hollywood star residents and their ocean-view mansions that have earned this area’s nickname, “The Gold Coast.”
From strolling around Balboa Island grabbing a frozen banana to basking in the seaside charm, Newport Beach is Orange County’s most family-friendly beach city.
City of Orange
Just across the Santa Ana River is the City of Orange, a unique piece of city planning. The center of the city is situated around a roundabout and is shaped like, you guessed it, an orange! The circle surrounds Plaza Park, which is the heart of Orange and the site of the annual Orange International Street Fair.
While Orange County is one of the most urbanized parts of California, San Clemente is where the development takes a little break. Here, the Pacific Coast Highway enters a long stretch of emptiness and the traffic of I-5 becomes a bit more relaxed. The beaches here are less crowded, have great surfing, are relatively quiet and many feature seaside campsites.