Best Downtown Orange County 2013 - Seal Beach
When you want all the amenities of small-town America minus the summer overcrowding at Zooport or Surf City, search no further than Seal Beach. Looking for a small, family-owned hardware store? Bay Hardware is the kind of friendly local shop that once existed in every town in America before big-box warehouses muscled them out of business. McKenna's Tea Cottage harks back to a more genteel time, when ladies socialized over tea and finger sandwiches. You have small boutiques with everything from jewelry to art by local photographers to a clothing store that sells all things purple. As for food, Seal Beach is home to 320 Main, one of the pioneers of the local craft-cocktail scene. Beachwood Brewing might have wider recognition for its craft beers, but before its Belmont Shore brewery opened, the tiny Seal Beach barbecue restaurant launched the first wave of authentic, slow-smoked eateries now sweeping the county. The Abbey is a pub focused on Belgian beers. Not into cocktails or beer? Main Street Wine Cellar's menu plays well with the selection of wines by the glass. If dive bars are more your thing, Clancy's is where you can mingle with fellow devotees of darkened, old-man bars. Shopping, drinking and dining are all right at the base of the Seal Beach pier, with the gently lapping waves of the seldom-crowded beach.