The Frugal Café | Photo credit: Rebecca Anne, "Flora's Cup"</a> | Creative Commons License,
Photo credit: Rebecca Anne, "Flora's Cup" | Creative Commons License,

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Seal Beach, CA: Cheap Fun in the Sun

By Kimberly K. Davis


If you live in California, then you most likely know about our picturesque coastlines and trendy beaches. But sometimes a day at the beach can be... EEK! Expensive, exhausting, and krowded (all right, crowded)—three factors certain to deflate the excitement from any billowy dream of fun in the sun. The kids may not notice the negative, but the parents might do it once and then say "never again."

Seal Beach, CA | Photo credit: John Sullivan,
Seal Beach, CA | Photo credit: John Sullivan,

Being a mom of two teenage sons and strapped for money, I was all for cheap dates while not skimping on entertainment at the same time. After doing "the beach scene," I started looking for a place that held the necessities moms needed for kids. I wanted a lifeguard, bathrooms, and partial seclusion so I could keep a watchful eye on the boys without being panic stricken due to too many other swimmers.

My favorite pick was Seal Beach, just off 2nd Street and the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH). We found a gold mine down closer to the jetty, where the wind was partially blocked, and away from the pier and big waves. It was small, there was a bathroom and lifeguard close by, parking was $5.00 for the day, and the waves were kid-friendly.

We hit the sand around 10 am, when the surfers were ending their mornings and before the crowds started flocking, and stayed until 2 pm. Sometimes, we even had the beach to ourselves.

I gave the boys each a chair to carry, loaded a boogie board with our gear, and dragged it to where we wanted to set up camp, which was usually right at the water’s edge. It made for a serene atmosphere on both my part and the boys’ because I felt safe to let them run free and wade in the water and they were happy to do just that.

Hunkered down in my chair beneath the umbrella, I set up the cooler behind me with the beach toys in the shade, plastered the boys with sun block, gave them each a towel, and taught them the right direction in which to shake off the sand, muy importante. We had a great time and sometimes went twice a week.

We still visit that gold mine just to see if things have changed. The parking is a bit more expensive now, but, other than that, it still holds the same charm: a cheap date and free thrills.



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