How to Treasure Seaside, Oregon
The, Now, and for the next generation
My family and I have visited Seaside, Oregon, a lot over the past 40 years—almost my entire life. We’ve shared our second home there with family and friends—welcoming the New Year, marking the beginning and end of summer, and celebrating the nation’s independence at the Fourth of July parade. Seaside is even the inspiration for my career—marine biology. But mostly, we’ve just enjoyed the expanse of the beach and the chance to slow down.
My happy place
As a young girl, I spent hours building sandcastles, hunting for shells, or playing with my imaginary dog, Sandy. As a teenager, my friends and I attended the Oregon State University volleyball camp, which is hosted at the local high school. On Friday night, we cruised the main drag of Broadway, and then over the weekend, we watched the beach volleyball tournament. As an adult, I’ve often brought my friends to my “happy place.”
For years, I shared Seaside with others. Now, as a wife and mom, I count the days until my husband, our toddler and I are in the car headed west, a trip we make several times a year. I’m thrilled to pass this love on to my son, who sweetly calls this the “sand beach.” The first beach he ever stepped foot on (crawled on, to be exact) was Seaside. Our time on the beach usually involves shoveling, sifting, scooping and molding sand; feeling the gentle breeze, dipping our toes in the cold ocean and—for one of us—toddling after seagulls. I’m starting to see with each visit, his love for this beach growing too.
Must do walks
No matter the occasion or weather, there are two walks I must take each visit. My first is the beach, toes in the sand. I only wear shoes in the winter. I love feeling the change from soft light sand to firmly packed wet sand as I approach the ocean. The sheer vastness of the beach always brings such freedom.
I walk north to see the Necanicum River flowing into the ocean. As a child, when the tide was out, this was the place I could find warm water to dip my toes in during the summer.
As I head south, I share the beach with more people, but people-watching is part of the experience. There are the brave souls who immerse their whole bodies in the chilly Pacific, and the fishermen who approach the water with purpose in waders. I delight in the play of dogs, who seem to love the beach with more exuberance than anyone.
I nod in greeting to fellow walkers, but I’m often looking down for that perfect, whole sand dollar or intact crab shell that miraculously hasn’t been pecked by a seagull. Or maybe a massive tree trunk that washed ashore. I stop to examine marine life, seeing if I can identify the animals.
My second walk is the Prom. I’m joined by people of all ages—running, walking, bicycling and skateboarding. I walk from the north end to the turnaround, the end of Broadway that juts toward the Pacific and encircles a statue of Lewis and Clark, commemorating their exploration of the area. I usually just do the northern half of the paved path, stopping to read the plaques on the benches and listening to the barking Harbor Seals as I pass the Seaside Aquarium.
If I’m motivated, I go all the way to the south end of the Prom. It’s only about 1.5 miles. If I pass the turnaround, and the sun is shining, I’ll check the accuracy of the sundial. And I’ll stop by the Salt Cairn, a replica of the one Lewis and Clark’s expedition built, for a bit of nostalgia.
On both of these walks, I’m studying the Pacific, getting lost in the rhythm of the ocean. I might reflect on how many visitors have come before me. People have been spending their leisure time here, soaking in the sand and water since long before Seaside became a proper city in 1899. I’m a part of the current wave, and another wave will follow.
Old favorites vs. new favorites
A trip to Seaside isn’t complete without a meal at Norma’s Seafood & Steak, a staple downtown since my childhood. The fish & chips is my favorite—salmon, halibut and tuna fried to a crispy golden brown. Sitting down to delicious fresh fish completes a trip to the beach.
My other favorite is the Pig ‘N Pancake, the original location of what became a local chain along the Oregon Coast. I like to sit in a window booth as I savor my stack of giant blueberry pancakes, so I can watch the tourists explore Broadway.
After a trip to “the Pig” as a little girl, I’d ask my dad for a dollar and then exchange it with the cashier for ten dimes. I walked the few doors down to Funland Arcade and rolled ball after ball into the Skeeball targets, earning fistfuls of tickets as the score climbed. These days the machines are still lit up like a Christmas tree, and the thrill remains just as high.Read More >
For me, there is still so much to come, now helping my son make his own memories—hunting for the perfect shell, flying a kite, roasting marshmallows and taking those first gooey bites of s’mores, playing on the beach until the sun sets. This is what makes Seaside such a treasure: there’s always something new to experience, no matter how many times I’ve visited. And no matter how much time passes, Seaside never gets old.