Take a look at Seaside, Oregon through the eyes of each member of this family of four.
Zach (Age 9)
I grip the reins, sit up tall in the saddle, squeeze my eyes closed and gallop into adventure. I’m a cowboy on the range—what I want to be when I grow up. It is freedom, and it is fun. I race forward. Up and down the slopes. A cactus to my left that I go around, holding onto my hat with my hand.
As my steed starts to slow, I come back to reality. No longer do I hear the sounds of howling winds and thundering hooves; instead, I’m listening to the cheerful music of the Seaside Carousel. Opening my eyes again, I’m grinning ear to ear. I hop off my trusty horse and give it a wink—I swear it winks back—and run to Mom and Dad.
“Have fun, kiddo?” my mom asks.
“I was galloping through the Old West!” I say. Even my brother, Luke—he’s 12—seems happy for me. “Way to go!” he says.
Zach’s imagination never slows. Maybe he’ll be a writer when he grows up, but he’s only nine, so he swears he’ll be a cowboy. We’re listening to Zach regale us with his adventures as we walk away from the centerpiece of the Seaside Carousel Mall, calliope music still audible in the background.
Carousels are so timeless, and Seaside seems to be a place to revisit the best of times. There’s a simplicity here that’s refreshing. I discovered this gem of a city while browsing vacation rentals on the Oregon coast. Seaside is less well-known than, say, Astoria, and that’s what I loved about it before we even arrived.
Finding a place to stay was easy. A quick online search revealed condos, motels, oceanfront properties, pet-friendly homes and much more. I picked a quaint oceanfront home and booked it for a couple of nights. Large picture windows offered clear views of breaking surf and spectacular sunsets. I couldn’t wait to play tag in the large yard with the kids and my husband, Tom. On the inside, a spacious kitchen and fireplace was catered to cozy time together.
Just then, I catch the scent of sugary sweetness perfuming the air. I look into the Seaside Candyman and see a rainbow of tubes filled with salt water taffy. The owner, dressed in black and white and handing out free samples, tells us that there are more than 150 flavors—birthday cake, chipotle, cinnamon, lemon meringue pie. We fill a bag with a variety of flavors to take home, and arrive to the beach house just in time to catch a golden sunset. We kick back and admire it in a rare moment of silence (taffy has such a special way of sticking to your teeth).
By sunup, there is no way to miss the awesome beach out front. Luke and Zach won’t let Jill and me forget it. They grab a few beach toys from the house and hit the sand. There is a light mist and the kind of breeze that would be perfect for kite flying. Kicking off their shoes, Zach and Luke rush to splash in the surf, with Jill and me close behind.
I unload the beach toys as the boys rush out of the water a short while later.
“Sand castle?” Luke asks.
“Sand igloo!” Zach says.
That imagination never stops.
Luke brings the seriousness of an engineer to the project, delegating tasks to us all. Jill is in charge of maintaining sand moisture levels with regular splashes of water; Zach packs blocks with sand; Luke puts them in place; and I am responsible for structural integrity. Through great attention to detail, lots of laughs and even surviving a cave-in, we have an igloo—well, it’s more of a mound, but that’s not what matters.
After a lunch of fresh clam chowder and burgers, we head for The Promenade, a mile-and-a-half long, beachfront concrete boardwalk, great for jogging or walking and lined with hotels and the Seaside Aquarium. We’re all excited to head in, and I don’t hesitate to spend $2 each for us to feed the seals.
Real jesters, the harbor seals know they’ll get more attention from tourists with silly stunts, barking and splashing the crowd. Then they’ll applaud their own antics. Luke especially likes Casey and Frankie, who make him laugh. All the seals come from the aquarium’s breeding program, which was the first aquarium in the world to successfully breed harbor seals in captivity.
Luke (Age 12)
Casey and Frankie remind me of my two best friends, John and Eddie—is that weird? They’re so funny. I snap a picture of the seals to send to them later.
My mom, dad, Zach and I wander around and look at all the critters—an octopus, a wolf eel, sea cucumbers.
“Tonight, on Monsters from the Deep,” Zach says to me in his deepest voice. We walk around the aquarium and come up with stories for each creature, but Zach gets quiet near the Touch Tank. He’s nervous.
“Here, let me show you,” I say as I dip my hand into the tank to touch the sea anemones, starfish and sea urchins. Always willing to copy me, Zach reaches in to pet a starfish. He beams and says, “It’s bumpy!”
We exit the aquarium to a cool sea breeze from the ocean—this view is priceless. I think I hear the calliope music from the Seaside Carousel Mall, just a couple blocks away, between Zach and Luke’s conclusion of Monsters from the Deep.
As we walk along The Promenade, pausing to admire the ocean, Zach pushes me for a wetsuit for a return surfing trip. Tom and I have a sneaking suspicion that Luke has implanted this idea. He’s certainly backing his little brother up on the matter. Then again, Tom and I wouldn’t mind coming back to this timeless destination. Vacation win.