Seaside Stories

Murals, Swing Jazz, and Marine Life: Experiencing Seaside’s Arts & Culture

March 1, 2019 | by Seaside Visitors Bureau

Seaside, Oregon, is known for its downtown murals and active arts scene. Photo: Rick Mickelson

As one of the best known beach destinations in the Pacific Northwest, Seaside has a reputation for stunning sunsets, inviting sand, and proximity to incredible hiking trails that wander along both the sandy shores and rugged bluffs. In addition to its scenic beauty, though, Seaside is also full of rich history and embraces artists from all walks of life. From art walks to museums to festivals, this Oregon Coast gem has an ocean’s worth of art and culture to explore during your next visit.

Art Walk

For a decade and a half, Seaside has organized an Art Walk to celebrating the work of residents and visiting artists. On the first Saturday of every month, the art galleries and boutiques located between Holladay and Broadway in the downtown historic district host the Art Walk from 5 to 7 pm. The Art Walk is free and open to the public and gives everyone a chance to see the incredible art of the region. You’ll also have the opportunity to meet artists, watch demonstrations, and even listen to live musical performances.

Visiting Seaside when there is not an Art Walk? Don’t fret. Seaside’s art community is well represented all year long. Must-stop art galleries include the Oregon Gallery, the Sunrose Gallery, the Fairweather House and Gallery, and the numerous murals spread all throughout town. The Seaside murals are an attraction in themselves and capture the spirit and culture of this idyllic coastal town. Colorful, iconic, and full of the coastal spirit you’d expect to see, the murals, which are perfect for selfies in the salty air, adorn buildings all around town. To view the latest and greatest murals, pay a visit to the Seaside Visitors Bureau, where you can get directions and personalized recommendations for other things to explore in the area.

Seaside’s Music History

Music may not be the first thing you think of when you visit Seaside, but for a period of time, it was the place to play in the Pacific Northwest. For more than four decades, starting in 1920, Seaside saw some of the biggest names in music come through town on Northwest tours. Jazz legend Duke Ellington and bands such as The Kingsmen (of Louie Louie fame) and The Archies (who sang Sugar, Sugar) rolled through town. Two of the biggest clubs that drew music fans from miles around were the Bungalow Dance Hall, which was located at the current site of the Carousel Mall, and the Pypo Club, which existed near the Turnaround at the current site of the Wyndham Resort.

4th of July Festival

Where better than the stunning Oregon Coast to celebrate the nation’s birthday? You may not know that Seaside hosts one of the largest fireworks displays on the West Coast, which starts shortly after the sun sets. Accompanied by music, the sky erupts in colorful bursts over the beach at Seaside for 25 minutes. Be sure to book hotel rooms early, as they fill fast. And keep in mind that traveling in or out of town on the fourth is difficult with so many visitors making their way to Seaside.

The 4th of July at Seaside is more than just about pyrotechnics. There is a parade to start the day as well as an Old Fashioned Town Social that has been going on for more than three decades. The social is a quirky and fun way to experience the small coastal town as it offers delicious food, live music, bingo, raffles, and a cakewalk. You’ll get to know the community while helping to raise funds for the Seaside Museum & Historical Society, which has a lot to offer visitors year round and is a great hub to get started exploring history in the area.

Museums and History

Seaside has a long history to explore: For millennia, the area was home to the Clatsop Tribe, who had a lived on a diet of seafood, game, berries, and roots. But encounters with Europeans brought exposure to smallpox, and by the time the Lewis and Clark expedition arrived, just 250 were still around.

In early 1806, what is now the city of Seaside was the site for the Lewis and Clark expedition’s salt works. Here, they boiled sea water to extract the salt needed to preserve their meats. A replica of the original salt works has been built and can be seen along Lewis and Clark Way. Looking like a wood-fired pizza oven, the saltworks is an excellent 10-minute stop in town before heading to the End of the Trail sign several blocks away at the Turnaround on Broadway. More information can be found at both the Seaside Museum and the Lewis and Clark National Historic Park just north of Seaside.

No trip to Seaside is complete without a visit to the aquarium. The Seaside Aquarium has been educating and entertaining visitors of all ages since 1937—making it the oldest privately owned aquarium on the West Coast. The building was once a natatorium, and the pipe that once fed the saltwater pools is still used to bring in water for the exhibits. The aquarium now showcases the marine life found in the region, and you’ll be greeted by harbor seals at the aquarium’s entrance. Once you enter, you can discover what lurks under the ocean in the historic aquarium’s 35 tanks, including two touch tanks. The highlight for many is the opportunity to feed the seals. Ideal for kids or kids at heart, the Seaside Aquarium is a great way to learn about the surrounding ocean that makes Seaside so unique.

Written by Douglas Scott in partnership with City of Seaside Visitors Bureau.

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