The Fresh Side of Seaside, Oregon

A Brilliant Blend of Old and New

by Allen Cox | Photo © Roger Ward

The town of Seaside—one of the oldest vacation destinations on Oregon’s celebrated coastline—has seen its share of changes. Fortunately, when Seaside rings in the new it does not always ring out the old. Instead, it has embraced its history and heritage as a coastal vacation spot that families have been enjoying for more than a century. Seaside’s visitors bound from nostalgic attractions, to world class outdoor recreation and scenery, to seafood that, if any fresher, would still be swimming. Ask any repeat visitor what keeps them coming back—sometimes generation after generation, in every season. Whatever the answer, it’s likely to include one of these 7 great attractions. 

 1. The Prom

No place in Seaside gives you a better perspective of the city’s broad sandy beach, the rolling Pacific surf and the surrounding hills and headlands than Seaside’s famous Promenade. Explore its 1.5 miles on foot or by bicycle. Rent a surrey for a leisurely group pedal on the Prom, as it’s known, or a Beach Cruiser for pedaling on the beach at low tide. The Prom has survived since 1920, and is still a popular pedestrian route allowing easy access to downtown Seaside. Tip: go to Prom Bike Shop at 622 12th Ave. to check out their fun selection of wheels for rent; 503-738-8251; prombikeshop.com.

2. Seaside Aquarium

At the 75-year-old Seaside Aquarium, located on the Prom, nostalgia and marine life happily merge. The aquarium structure was originally an indoor public salt water swimming pool built in 1924. After a remodel to accommodate its new residents, it opened as an aquarium in 1937. Little has changed since then, except the animals, of course. One reason families keep coming back is to feed the seals their favorite snack at close range and get rewarded with a splash. It’s squeal-inducing fun today just as it was in 1937. Located at 200 N. Prom; 503-738-6211; seasideaquarium.com.

3. Funland

Let’s be honest. Gaming arcades are kitschy. But kitsch is fun, right? And Seaside’s beloved Funland Entertainment Center (opened in 1931) is Americana at its kitschiest. You can’t miss its art deco marquee towering above the main downtown drag. And once inside, you won’t want to miss its original games, such as Fascination, a game with its own dedicated room and an MC with carny skills. Of course, to appeal to modern patrons, many games have been changed out several times over, so if it’s the latest arcade games you (or your kids) seek you’ll strike gold. For some of us, a visit to Seaside would not be complete without paying respects to Funland, located at 201 Broadway; 503-738-5612; funlandseaside.com.

4. The Seaside Carousel

A classic carousel, festooned with 24 exquisitely designed and painted animals—some of which depart from the equestrian confines of the typical merry-go-round—spins in the center of a small mall. You can ride a cat with a fish in its mouth, a goose and even a giraffe. Climbing on the back of one of these animals is nearly irresistible for kids and even for the stodgiest of adults. Tip: after your spin, head to the mall’s Flashback Malt Shoppe and Gifts to check out the working vintage soda fountain and treat yourself to an old-fashioned malt. Seaside Carousel Mall is located at 300 Broadway; 503-738-6728; seasidecarouselmall.com.

5. Lewis & Clark Salt Works

Take a stroll back a few hundred years to the Lewis and Clark expedition’s 1806 salt-making camp. The Salt Works is part of the Lewis & Clark National Historical Park and is located on Lewis and Clark Way between Beach Drive and the Prom, today in a beach-side residential area right in town. A stone cairn, topped with five pots for rendering salt, marks the site of the camp. For more information visit nps.gov/lewi/planyourvisit/saltworks.htm.

6. Birding at Seaside Cove and Necanicum Estuary

More than 250 species of birds are year-round or seasonal residents of Seaside. Whether you’re a novice or seasoned birder, you’ll find good fortune at Seaside Cove on the south end of town. Bring your checklist, favorite birding guide and binoculars and get ready for some of the best birding on the coast. In winter, keep an eye out for Harlequin Duck, Common Loon, Western Grebe, and Surf and Black Scoter. Year-round, you’ll likely spot Common Murre and Pigeon Guillemot. From Highway 101, turn west on Avenue U, then turn left on Edgewood Drive.

Another great spot for birding, on the north end of town, Necanicum Estuary is a haven for spotting water fowl in winter. Other wildlife includes river otters, beaver and harbor seal. There’s a viewing platform and parking at Necanicum Estuary Park on Holladay St. (across from Seaside High School). You can access the estuary at Neawanna Point (parking is on the north side of estuary on Hwy. 101) and at the 12th St. Bridge (parking on Necanicum Street and at Goodman Park).

7. Seafood, Seafood, Seafood

Seaside has no shortage of restaurants spanning the dining spectrum from the finest fish and chips on the coast to gourmet dining fit for seafood-loving royalty.

For the freshest fish & chips, go to Bell Bouy of Seaside (the fish & chips shack is next to their fresh seafood store); look for the Bell Bouy sign on Hwy 101 at the south end of town. For a fresh, homemade breakfast or lunch, try Auntie M’s (2281 Beach Drive; auntiems.weebly.com). Tsunami Sandwich Company is a perfect choice for sandwiches that are anything but skimpy; tip: kids love the grilled PBJ on rustic white bread (11 Broadway; tsunamisandwiches.com).

For dinner, Twisted Fish Steakhouse delivers quality Northwest-raised beef and locally caught seafood from a varied menu that excels at surf & turf the way it should be done. Tip: try the slow-roasted coffee-rubbed prime rib with an add on of seared scallops, or, for something on the lighter side, choose the seared ahi served rare. Plates are composed with appropriate sides, but a separate sides menu lets you sample and share (located downtown at 311 Broadway; twistedfishsteakhouse.com).

For a full list of lodging, dining, festivals and things to do, go to seasideor.com.