Building a campfire on the beach is a special tradition in Seaside. Photo: Kimson Doan
Maybe you’ve visited Seaside for decades, or perhaps you’ve yet to vacation in one of Oregon’s most popular coastal destinations. Either way, the town is home to a few classic attractions everyone should do at least once: ride the bumper cars, nosh on cotton candy and saltwater taffy along Broadway, and frolic on the beach.But once you get beyond the tried-and-true classics, how should you make the most of a trip here? We went straight to the source and asked a couple of Seaside locals to dish on the town’s best under-the-radar attractions. They didn’t disappoint, offering insight on everything from beach bonfires to old-school video stores. So whether you’re joining the summertime crowds or enjoying a quiet getaway in the off-season, here’s where the locals go. Go ahead and join them.
Learn About Local History
If a rainy day has you stuck indoors, spend some time getting familiar with Seaside’s history. The Seaside Historical Society Museum, for instance, showcases Native American artifacts that are more than 2,000 years old, while other exhibits cover Seaside’s history as a tourist destination and the region’s long-running relationship with the logging industry.
But the fun extends beyond the museum’s walls. Steve Wright, president of the Seaside Historical Society Museum, points to its monthly History and Hops event as a prime example. Held on the last Thursday of each month in the tourist off-season, History and Hops invites guest speakers to discuss a different aspect of Seaside’s history while attendees sip a beer from Seaside Brewing Co., which hosts the event. “There’s so much that went on here,” Wright says. “And we’re proud of that.”
Play in the Water
With two rivers running through town, miles of coastline at your feet, and a handful of inland lakes nearby, it’d be a shame to visit Seaside without enjoying its water, even in the midst of winter. Lexie Hallahan, director of Northwest Women’s Surf Camps, suggests two specific activities that, with a wetsuit, can be enjoyed all year long (as long as ocean swells don’t create unsafe conditions).
First, she recommends trying your hand at bodyboarding, where you lay chest down on a small board while catching waves, especially if you’re unfamiliar with surfing and other ocean-bound activities. “It’s a great way to understand the ocean and get confidence in that new environment,” she says. Hallahan also recommends off-season skimboarding (where boarders can ride in the wash of waves, rather than on breaking waves themselves) for younger crowds who can absorb the falls that come with learning the sport. (Note: You aren’t allowed to do these activities on Seaside’s main beach, but there are some spots just south such as the Cove near Tillamook Head. Read more about surfing and other water sports in Seaside here.)
If you’re looking for something more low-key, Hallahan suggests heading to Cullaby and Carnahan lakes, just 15 minutes north of town, which are popular with bird watchers. “You’ll see all kinds of birds of prey—bald eagles, hawks, osprey—they all hang out there,” Hallahan says. Visitors can also enjoy stand-up paddleboarding, canoeing, and kayaking at high tide. So even if the coast is crowded at the height of summer, you’ll likely find a quiet respite just a few minutes away.
Build a Campfire on the Beach
Who says you need to spend a night in the woods for a few hours around the campfire? In Seaside, it’s legal to build a fire on the city’s stretch of coastline, and if the weather holds up, you’ll be far from alone. (Just know that fires aren’t allowed in dunes or around driftwood logs. Read full beach bonfire guidelines here.) Hallahan suggests buying a bundle of firewood and s’mores ingredients at a local convenience store before finding a quiet stretch of coastline. “Build a beautiful bonfire and watch the sunset? That’s an experience you can’t get at most beaches in the United States,” she says.
Bring Home a Classic
If the weather isn’t cooperating with your plans for a beach bonfire, stay inside and catch up on a classic film—or, for that matter, a cult classic—with a little help from Universal Video. The throwback video store stocks your favorite VHS tapes (thousands of them, in fact) alongside a selection of DVDs and Blu-rays. “It’s like a Powell’s bookstore of videos and DVDs right here in Seaside,” Hallahan says, citing the famously large bookstore in Portland, Oregon, which takes up a full city block. “I can pull up something from the 70s, and most likely, they have it—old classics, strange documentaries, they have it.”
Stroll the Prom
No matter how touristy it may seem, there’s no denying the allure of the Historic Seaside Promenade–or, as it’s known to locals, The Prom. The paved 1.5-mile path parallels the Pacific Ocean, stretching from the southern end of town to the northern edge. It’s popular with cyclists, joggers, and walkers alike. Wright likes that you can see the ocean from most of the Prom, and it’s an easy workout when he’s looking to stretch his legs. “It’s easy to get a good, long stretch on the Prom,” he says.
Hallahan agrees: “I can’t imagine visiting Seaside and not visiting the Prom.” She points to the many attractions along the Prom, from the Seaside Aquarium and the Salt Works (where the Lewis and Clark Expedition boiled water for salt in early 1806) to local restaurants and historic homes. “Most towns don’t have anything like that,” she says.
Written by Matt Wastradowski in partnership with City of Seaside Visitors Bureau.