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Neighborhoods: Seal Beach

Neighborhoods: Seal Beach
A bronze seal statue frolics on the Main Street pier in Seal Beach. (Lori Shepler / Los Angeles Times)

It's no wonder the locals fondly call Seal Beach "Mayberry by the Sea": This quaint beach community at the northernmost tip of Orange County has retained a retro charm centered on leafy Old Town Main Street, with its eclectic shops, Irish pubs and restaurants. The city was called Bay City, but to prevent confusion with a town in Northern California, it was renamed Seal Beach in honor of its once-prominent inhabitants when it was incorporated in 1915.

Still standing

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The

Seal Beach Pier

, which has been destroyed by storms and reconstructed several times, is the second longest wooden pier in California. There's a tots lot on the beach just south of the pier and a

Ruby's Diner

(

[562] 431-7829,

) at the end to grab a burger for the long walk back. The

Red Car Museum

(

Electric Avenue, near Main Street

) is an authentic Red Car trolley that once serviced the rail line that ran through town. It's filled with loads of historical photos and memorabilia. The

Bay Theatre

(

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340 Main St., [562] 431-9988,

) has been screening movies since 1947. It now shows contemporary and classic films.

Hang 10

Local surfer Rich Harbour has been designing surfboards since 1959, and his

Harbour Surfboards

(

329 Main St., [562] 430-5614,

) is renowned for its classic longboards. The shop also displays many vintage surfboards. For surfer chicks, there's

Endless Summer

(

124 Main St., [562] 430-9393

), specializing in women's beachwear.

Where the locals go

A favorite for more than 30 years, the family-friendly

Walt's Wharf

(

201 Main St., [562] 598-4433,

), serves seafood cooked over an oak grill -- the caramelized salmon is a must. There is a lively oyster bar, and owner Walt Babcock (who also runs his own vineyard) keeps a top-notch wine list. Or line up with locals at

Nick's Deli

(

223 Main St., [562] 598-5072

) for breakfast burritos.

New dining spots

Shaking up the customary cuisine choices in the area are

Beachwood BBQ

(

131 1/2 Main St., [562] 493-4500,

) -- a retro-cool diner serving Memphis-style ribs, fried green tomato sandwiches and an extensive list of microbrews -- and the just-opened

Main Street Wine Cellar

(

302 Main St., [562] 430-3200

), a wine bar featuring gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches and hot and cold soup trios for sharing.

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