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Seaside Stories

Up, Up and Away in Seaside

June 24, 2024 | by Michelle Kehm

Seaside’s rock formations, long stretches of beach and densely forested peaks are so stunning, it can be difficult to tear your eyes away. Imagine if you could see it all from above, in one swooping, 360-degree bird’s-eye view. Luckily, you can!

Whether you’d like to take a helicopter ride over the sea lions basking in the sun by Tillamook Rock Lighthouse, maneuver through a 40-foot-high aerial obstacle course, or simply hike to a higher elevation for epic Pacific views, here are a few extraordinary Seaside adventures that will literally sweep you off your feet. 

 

Give Yourself Props on a Helicopter Tour

If you’ve ever dreamed of waving to people on the beach as you zip past them from a private helicopter, FlySeaside Heli-Tours, located a quarter-mile south of Seaside on Highway 101, offers a thrilling lineup of scenic flights. 

Buckle up for a six-minute in-air tour over Seaside or take an 18-minute Tillamook Rock Lighthouse tour and circle around the historic landmark, spying both “Terrible Tilly” and the packs of sea lions sunbathing on the rock from a whole new perspective. 

All ages can fly (kids under two fly for free on their parents’ laps), and each flight can accommodate up to three people, weather permitting. Everyone gets a headset so you can hear each other oohing and aahing as you swoop through the sky, too. Flights are weather-dependent and generally run from late May through September. Visit the website for dates and reservations.

Soar Like an Eagle in a Paraglider

Imagine gliding over the coastline at 3,000 feet with breathtaking views of Tillamook Head and even as far as the Cascade peaks of Mt. Hood and Mt. Rainier on a clear day. Discover Paragliding will get you airborne, even if you have no prior experience. 

Beginners will want to sign up for a tandem flight with a certified instructor, so you can fly assisted with confidence. Before you take off, the team will give you a safety orientation and get you harnessed up and paired with an instructor as you enjoy views of sandy beaches, coastal towns and mountains up to 60 miles in every direction. (If you’d like to learn to fly solo, sign up for a two-day lesson.) You’ll learn how to safely launch from the beach, navigate through the air, do high-energy turns and make a gentle beach landing. 

Launches are weather-permitting and usually happen at Sunset Beach, just north of Seaside. Reservations are required and available from mid-April through mid-October. 

 

Overcome Obstacles and Hike to Greater Heights

For those who don’t want to go airborne, Seaside has even more fun options. You’ve probably noticed the aerial obstacle course at High Life Adventure Park, located on the south end of Seaside and towering above Highway 101. You and your family can take on the Octagon of Obstacles — including a swinging surfboard, spinning barrels and a very popular 6-foot free fall — with a two-hour booking of this challenging but fun play structure. 

The course does require a certain level of physical fitness to do many of the elements, but anyone 7 years and older who is at least 44 pounds and can reach to 60 inches can attempt any area. Smaller kids can hit the junior course and still have a blast. Don’t worry, you’ll be provided with a full safety demonstration and a harness that clips into the ropes, and staff are on the platform to cheer you on — or help you out in a pinch. Open for fun in the summer, fall and spring — see the website for winter hours and to make reservations. 

Want to keep boots on the ground? Lace up and hit the Tillamook Head Trail, located at the south end of Seaside and at the top of Sunset Boulevard. The 6.3-mile each way out-and-back hike winds through moss-covered Sitka spruce and past World War II concrete-bunker remnants, and it rewards your efforts with sweeping views of the legendary Tillamook Rock Lighthouse. (Protip: You may want to arrange for a pickup on the other side if you don’t want to hike well over a dozen miles in a day.) The moderate hike has an elevation gain of 1,126 feet and can be muddy, even in summer — but the scenery is worth it. 

If you’d like 360-degree vistas from the Pacific Ocean to Mt. Hood, the newly improved Saddle Mountain Trail is for you. The trailhead is located about 15 miles east of Seaside off Highway 26, and the challenging 5-mile round-trip zigzags through Douglas fir forest and past meadows laden with rare wildflowers in spring, ascending 1,634 feet to reach the 3,288-foot summit viewpoint. The panorama of Sunset Beach, Humbug Mountain and the Cascade volcanoes is glorious, if not life-changing.

Fly Seaside Heli-Tours photo by Erika Bratholm

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