Seaside, Oregon, makes for a great day trip from Portland, being just an hour’s drive away. It’d also be a great stop on an Oregon road trip down the Pacific Coast Highway. It is one of the more touristy coastal towns in Oregon, but definitely worth a visit. That being said, it really does have a lot to offer.
Seaside, Oregon, gives off a classic boardwalk vibe, complete with an arcade, bumper cars, and carousel. Walking down the quaint little streets of downtown, we were overcome by the smells of freshly baking waffle cones. We walked on a little further and were then taken by the smell of fish and chips. Each shop or restaurant we passed was seemingly tempting and teasing us to enter.
The lighthouse-shaped street lamps are adorned with decorative starfish shaped lights, giving the downtown area a festive atmosphere. Take the time to really explore Seaside and you’ll find fun, hidden gems, like a crazy mirror hall hidden in one of the malls!
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The Best Things to do in Seaside, Oregon
1. End of the Trail – Seaside Turnaround
A monument to Captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, and Lewis’ dog, Seaman, stands on the promenade overlooking the Pacific Ocean, marking where their journey to the Northwest frontier ended. They reached the Pacific Ocean in November of 1805; their expedition had covered 4,000 miles and lasted nearly two years. In the end, they chose to set up winter camp in present-day Astoria, at Fort Clatsop, just 15 miles north of Seaside.
2. Lewis and Clark Saltworks
The Lewis and Clark Saltworks is just a ten minute walk along the Promenade, south from the Seaside Turnaround. This free activity only takes at most 15 minutes to visit and explore, plus it’s interesting and educational.
Learn how hard the men of the Lewis and Clark Expedition had to work in 1805 just to provide their group with salt. This basic necessity was vital to their survival, as it was used for preserving their meats.
3. Visit The Aquarium
The aquarium in Seaside, Oregon, is just off the promenade. This is a small aquarium and one of the oldest on the Pacific Coast. It takes maybe an hour to explore, but it’s worth returning to, as the exhibits change seasonally. During your visit, you can touch a sea anemone and feed the seals!
Note: Upon seeing reviews that the seals’ living area was too small, I did a little investigating. I found that although the area visible to the public appears small, the seals have a separate, private area available to them 24 hours a day, including both a pool and a dry area for resting.
4. The Beach
Seaside’s beach is one of Oregon’s more crowded beaches, perhaps because the small town is full of so much charm. The beach here is long and wide; we easily spent an hour leisurely strolling the beach in one direction alone. This beach also offers swings and volleyball nets.
If you’ve never been to the Oregon beach, just a warning, be prepared for any kind of weather, regardless of the time of year! We went in July this time and found it was cloudy and lightly raining one minute, then sunny and blazing hot just a few minutes later. But don’t be fooled – bring your sunscreen. You can get a sunburn even on an overcast day! Oregon’s coastline and beaches offer a rugged and wild beauty that you’ll love, regardless the weather.
5. Wheel Fun Rentals
Ok, guys, this one is a must. It was hands down one of the funnest things we did. We loved leisurely exploring the quaint town of Seaside in a surrey while getting some fresh air and exercise, and still being able to visit with one another.
Wheel Fun Rentals has two locations in Seaside where you can rent paddle boats to explore the inlet or bicycles and surreys to pedal around downtown. You can even rent a moped! Wheel Fun Rentals also provides self-guided tours to help you explore Seaside a little deeper, lasting 3-4 hours.
6. Seaside Promenade
Get outside, and just take a walk. The Promenade is the perfect place to do it. Smell the salt air, listen to the ocean, watch the seagulls, and do a little window shopping. And be sure to keep an eye out for any street performers! You won’t be disappointed.
7. Enjoy the Street Performers and Artists
While exploring Seaside, we stopped to watch various street performers, including musicians, a sand sculpture artist, and a man blowing giant bubbles. The sand sculptor’s work was absolutely breath-taking in its detail. Just be sure to bring some change for tips!
8. Check out the Wall Murals in Downtown Seaside, Oregon
We spied several fun wall murals while riding our surrey around downtown, and we couldn’t resist coming back to some of them later for a fun photo op. We found this fun retro postcard photo-op, killer whales, and giant seaweed, all painted on the sides of buildings. Let me know if you discover more!
9. Buy some Salt Water Taffy
We bought our salt water taffy from The Candyman in downtown Seaside. Their salt water taffy never fails to be fresh and they have a huge selection of flavors. But the Candyman offers a lot more than just salt water taffy, including jelly beans of nearly every flavor.
10. Have a laugh in the Wacky Mirror Hall
As you leave the Candyman, bag of taffy in hand, keep your eyes open and you’ll spot the wacky mirror hall tucked away close by. Have a good laugh at your reflection in every shape and size you can imagine. These silly little moments really add to Seaside’s carefree boardwalk charm.
11. Play carnival games at the Seaside Shootout
The Seaside Shootout occupies a little alcove carved out of the row of businesses lining Broadway Street, just a block down from the Seaside Turnaround. This fun carnival game fits right in with the bumper cars and wacky mirror hall, with its great old-time appeal.
12. Ride the Carousel
Rabbits and giraffes and bears, oh my! There’s a carousel nestled in the center of Seaside’s aptly-named Carousel Mall, with all variety of fanciful animals to ride. While you’re exploring the mall, enjoy the cafe and find yourself a souvenir. Even if you don’t hop on the carousel, the atmosphere is reminiscent of a carnival, adding to Seaside’s classic boardwalk charm.
13. Ride the Bumper Cars
Seaside’s bumper cars are located on Broadway Street, just one block in from the beach, and right in the middle of all the action of Downtown Seaside. These fun vintage vehicles will make you think you’ve stepped back in time.
14. Funland Arcade
Games and pizza, what’s not to love?! The Funland Arcade on Broadway Street has old classics all the way up to the newest video games. Try your hand at Mario Cart, strut your stuff to Dance, Dance Revolution, or see if you have what it takes to be a pinball wizard! With hundreds of games, you’re sure to find something for everyone here.
15. Take a selfie in this giant beach chair!
You’ll find this fun, giant Adirondack beach chair at the corner of Broadway and Highway 101, inviting you to pause and take a selfie. Located in front of the Seaside Visitors Bureau, it’s a convenient place to stop and grab a map, brochures, and other information at the start of your Seaside vacation. Be sure to tag #SeasideOregon in your beach chair selfies!
16. The High Life Adventure Park Aerial Challenge
Seaside has an aerial challenge course I’m dying to check out! High Life Adventure Park Aerial Challenge lies on the outskirts of Seaside just off Highway 101, and is open, come rain come shine.
There are age, weight and height requirements, so be sure to check out their website before you go. Reservations are best, as walk-ins are taken only if there is space. I’ll be sure to let you know how my experience goes!
17. Seaside Inverted Experience
I recently learned about the Seaside Inverted Experience from Chantelle of Flannels or Flip Flops. It looks irresistibly fun. It’s a hilariously upside down photo shoot with lots of bright, comical scenes and props. So hop on over to Flannels or Flip Flops and check out Chantelle’s post about the Seaside Inverted Experience for some funny photos and good laughs. I’m sure you’ll be as excited to go check it out as I am.
18. Captain Kid Amusement Park
The Captain Kid Amusement Park is four acres of fun, located right on Highway 101. They offer mini golf, go-karts, and carnival rides. If you work up an appetite after all that fun, stop by their snack bar to refuel. Their season typically runs from mid February to end of October. Parking is free.
19. Warm up over a bowl of chowder
If you’re visiting the Oregon Coast, enjoying the fresh seafood is a must. And there are plenty of dining options in Seaside for great seafood. However, by far the best bowl of clam chowder is served up hot at Norma’s Seafood & Steak.
Norma’s clam chowder is world famous, and has been praised as one of the top ten best soups in the US. A few spoonfuls of this delicious chowder are sure to warm you up from the inside out on those chilly coastal days.
20. Trade a bag of beach trash for a cup of coffee
Another great reason to visit Seaside is for its clean beaches. According to the International Union for Conservation, at least 14 billion pounds of trash find their way to our oceans each year. In 2020 alone, an impressive 2,180 pounds of trash were cleaned up off Seaside’s beaches.
Seaside gets pretty proactive to achieve this feat by enlisting visitors’ help. Here’s how you can get involved. First, stop by the Seaside Aquarium to grab a bag.
Next, collect trash along the beach to fill your bag and take a selfie with your full bag. Then leave your bag of trash in any garbage can along the Promenade and show your selfie at the Seaside Visitors Bureau.
One of the coolest parts? They’ll pay you in $5 worth of beach clean-up coins you can spend at a coffee shop in town. Click here for a list of coffee shops where you can redeem your coins!
Where to Stay in Seaside, Oregon
Best Western Plus Ocean View Resort
There are several good hotels in Seaside right along the promenade where you can reserve a room with an ocean view. One such choice is the Best Western Plus Ocean View Resort. We’ve stayed here in the past and had a very positive experience. I loved waking up here in the morning to the sound and sight of the ocean.
The SaltLine Hotel
Another more modern and chic choice is the SaltLine Hotel. It opened during the pandemic in 2020, a difficult time for the travel industry. But they’re still here today and open for business. This sleek new hotel may not be an oceanfront property, but they’re still right in the center of action in Seaside’s downtown, only a block away from the promenade.
If you’re looking for more coastal cities to visit in Oregon, read about the quiet little town of Pacific City.