The coastline of Seal Beach is dominated mostly by the Naval Weapons Station and dotted with cottages. It does have a charming downtown right off the beach for strolling and an enclosed playground to keep your toddler from climbing on the giant wall of trucked-in sand.
Atmosphere: With Irish pubs and unique coffee shops covering Main Street in Old Town, Seal Beach feels more like Nor Cal than its top-of-the-O.C. location. The pier is usually lined with fisherman and their families, and the old-style lifeguard stands add to its quiet appeal.
Parking and Entrance: Park in the pay lots on either side of the pier and walk right in. Seal Beach tends to be less crowded than beaches to the north or south.
Nice Walks and Views: Walk along the pier, the second longest in California, or through Main Street and its surrounding streets. A little further inland from the beach is a green belt for a stroll with the baby before bedtime.
Activities for Toddlers: Small enclosed playground with mural walls hand-decorated by children. Ask your toddler to point out the bird, sun or handprints on the tiles.
Bathrooms: At the foot of the pier.
Perks for Parents: There are Irish bars galore on Main Street, if you’re looking for a happy hour Guinness while the baby is still awake.
Where to Stay with Kids: The Pacific Inn is a few blocks from the water, has a continental breakfast and an indoor/outdoor pool. They also offer packages to visit Long Beach’s Aquarium of the Pacific. (600 Marina Dr.)
Baby-friendly Restaurants: European-style Crema Café serves special espresso and crepes filled with any number of things to hand-feed your baby. Sit on the outdoor patio and enjoy watching passers-by on Main Street. (322 Main St.)
What Else to Do: Red Car Museum on Main Street houses Pacific Electric Railway memorabilia inside a real train car. Open limited hours.