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12 Top-Rated Attractions & Things to Do in Seaside, OR

Written by Brad Lane

Less than two hours from Portland and separated by the Necanicum River Estuary - a popular body of water for fishing and boat rentals - the city of Seaside has been attracting families and ocean goers for more than a century. Much of what has drawn tourists to this oceanside city in Oregon for the last 100 years still stands today, including the historic 1.5-mile boardwalk known as the Seaside Promenade. Connecting the beach to the city and other fun places to visit, including the Seaside Aquarium and Seaside Turnaround, the "Prom" is a top attraction of the Oregon coast and is, and always has been, a fun and free thing to do that the whole family can enjoy.

Much of the real excitement of Seaside comes from its wide and welcoming beach adjacent to the city, backdropped by the impressive and hikeable Tillamook Head. Besides being a great place to lay a towel down, the beach is home to many major events, including massive sand volleyball tournaments in the summer and great weather watching in the winter. Before you book your next vacation, be sure to check out Seaside's activities calendar to line up your visit with one of the many festivities happening downtown or at the beach. Find the best places to visit with our list of the top tourist attractions and things to do in Seaside, Oregon.

1. Seaside Promenade

Seaside Promenade

Seaside Promenade | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Stretching for 1.5 miles and separating the city from the sandy shore, the Seaside Promenade has been a central attraction of Seaside for more than 100 years. As a fun and free thing to do, simply strolling this concrete pedestrian path and taking in the ocean environment is well worth your time. Numerous other Seaside attractions stem from the Promenade, including the Seaside Aquarium, Historical Society Museum, and the downtown district. Expect some good people watching on "The Prom" come summer, and if the foot traffic ever becomes too thick, it's easy to hop off and access the bountiful Seaside beach.

2. Seaside Aquarium

Seaside Aquarium

Seaside Aquarium | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Established in 1937, the Seaside Aquarium is now one of the oldest institutions of its kind on the West Coast. The water tanks within the facility give a great view of the underwater world of the Pacific Ocean nearby, and the touch tanks and user-friendly microscopes of the Discovery Center provide even more ocean habitat to explore. One of the most popular species of sea animals to interact with at the aquarium are the Seaside Harbor Seals, who are always happy to put on a show for visitors young and old. The Seaside Aquarium is a fun place to visit when it rains.

Address: 200 North Promenade, Seaside, Oregon

Official site: http://www.seasideaquarium.com/

3. Seaside Beach

Seaside Beach

Seaside Beach | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Hands down one of the best beaches on the Oregon coast, the beach at Seaside is wide, welcoming, and backdropped by the beautiful Tillamook Head. From sunrise to beyond sunset, activity abounds on the beach throughout the summer. Despite the large crowds that flock to the shore, with so much sandy real estate available it's never hard to find plenty of space to lay a towel down or build an extravagant sand castle. To really find a spot of your own, simply traveling north or south from the main access point of the beach can have you ditching the crowds in no time.

Some of the most exciting times on the beach occur during the major events hosted by the city each year. The Hood to Coast Relay in the summer has its finish line in the sand near the water, and the world's largest amateur volleyball tournament takes place each August with more than 1,000 teams competing. Come winter, the beach is much less populated, but the weather watching really picks up during this wild and often quieter time of year.

4. Downtown Seaside

Muscle and Chrome Car Show in downtown Seaside

Muscle and Chrome Car Show in downtown Seaside | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Stretching between Highway 101 and the ocean on Broadway Street, the downtown district of Seaside combines history, tourism, and fun events the whole family can enjoy. East of the Necanicum Bridge, the Gilbert Historic District is home to some of the oldest surviving buildings in Seaside. West of Necanicum Bay, family-friendly attractions and restaurants line Broadway Street and easily catch the eye. Arcade parlors, seafood restaurants, and fun places like Seaside Inverted Experience appeal to families and visitors big and small. Special events pack the downtown activity calendar each year, including a Muscle and Chrome Car Show in summer and a bluesy Halloween party in the fall.

5. Turnaround at Seaside

Turnaround at Seaside

Turnaround at Seaside | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Where the main artery of the downtown (Broadway Street) connects with the historic Promenade, a massive and hard-to-miss Lewis and Clark Statue is the centerpiece attraction of the Seaside Turnaround. Designating the end of the 3,500-plus-mile Lewis and Clark Trail, the statue speaks to a dramatic time in history as the two explorers face the ocean. This is a perfect spot for a photo opportunity and a great place to overlook the beach, and much of the energy and community of Seaside can be felt emanating from this circular landmark. The main beach access can also be found leading down from the steps of the turnaround.

6. Tillamook Head Editor's Choice

The trailhead entrance to Tillamook Head

The trailhead entrance to Tillamook Head | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Just north of the city and defining the backdrop of Seaside beach, Tillamook Head is part of the larger Ecola State Park. While simply admiring the impressive promontory from the beach is a scenic experience, hiking through the coastal foliage is where the real fun can be found. With a long beach walk, short drive, or fun ride on the Seaside Streetcar, visitors can access the Tillamook Head trailhead on Sunset Boulevard and begin an approximate 1,000-foot ascent to the top. Spread out over 4.4 miles, the walk up isn't necessarily easy for anyone, but the trail is well trodden, and the views are worth it. One of the best campgrounds on the Oregon coast can also be found at the top waiting for anyone who hikes in their gear.

Official site: https://oregonstateparks.org/index.cfm?do=parkPage.dsp_parkPage&parkId=136

7. Seaside Historical Society Museum

Butterfield Cottage

Butterfield Cottage | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

For the past, present, and future history of Seaside, the Seaside Historical Society Museum tells the entire story under one roof. Exhibits at the museum span from native inhabitants of the region through the logging endeavors in the area, with a large focus on Seaside's emergence as one of the first resort cities on the Pacific coast. A wide variety of artifacts, historical photos, and detailed dioramas add depth to each exhibit.

Also operated by the historical society, the Butterfield Cottage next door to the museum is a historically renovated cottage, which lends insight on beach life in 1912. Tours of the cottage take place during the museum's normal operating hours. The Historical Society Museum also sponsors many family-friendly events throughout the year, including a much anticipated Fourth of July Old Fashioned Social.

Address: 570 Necanicum Drive, Seaside, Oregon

Official site: https://www.seasideoregonmuseum.com/

8. Saddle Mountain State Natural Area

Hiker atop Saddle Mountain

Hiker atop Saddle Mountain

Ascending more than 1,600 feet in under three miles, the trail leading to the summit of Saddle Mountain requires some effort and careful foot placement. The view at the top is well rewarding though, giving sight to Cascade Mountains, the Columbia River, and miles of Pacific Ocean shoreline. Located 20 miles east of the downtown district, variable conditions exist at Saddle Mountain including wind, fog, and rain, and if you are prepared for these elements, they can really add to the experience. For a great view without climbing to the top, the much shorter Humbug Mountain viewpoint trail is an easier alternative.

9. Lewis and Clark Salt Works

Lewis and Clark Salt Works

Lewis and Clark Salt Works | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

An interesting and free thing to do off the Seaside Promenade, the historic Salt Works gives insight on the life and trials of the Corps of Discovery. It's hard to imagine the need and struggle for salt in current times, but it was quite the process to secure during the winter of 1805 to 1806. Expedition members of the Corps of Discovery spent that winter at this historical location, boiling seawater for salt to spice and preserve their food. This is an extension of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Park in Astoria, and visitors can learn more about this historic endeavor with a quick visit.

10. Jewell Meadows Wildlife Area

Roosevelt elk at Jewell Meadows Wildlife Area

Roosevelt elk at Jewell Meadows Wildlife Area Ian Sane / photo modified

Established in 1969 and operated by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Jewell Meadows is a wildlife refuge aimed at protecting habitat for native fauna of the region. A thirty-minute drive from the coast, the wildlife refuge offers visitors many opportunities to see animals thanks to the strategically placed viewing areas throughout. Bird-watching is popular throughout the year, but for many, the real reason to visit is the large population of Roosevelt elk, which call the park home during winter. Between November and April, visitors can expect to see herds of at least 200 elk utilizing the open space, making for quite the sight to see for wildlife enthusiasts.

Official site: https://myodfw.com/jewell-meadows-wildlife-area-visitors-guide

11. Camp 18 Museum & Restaurant

Camp 18 woodcarvings

Camp 18 woodcarvings Kristina D.C. Hoeppner / photo modified

Just over 20 miles east of Seaside Beach on the Sunset Highway (Highway 26), Camp 18 Restaurant provides much more than a meal. Alongside extensive breakfast, lunch, and dinner offerings, this rustic log cabin and restaurant is also a museum dedicated to Oregon's logging history. Surrounding the restaurant, vintage logging machinery can be found, as well as informative placards detailing their role in the industry. A large collection of intricate wood carvings can also be found on the front porch and on the grounds. With plenty of parking available, including designated RV spaces, Camp 18 is a popular place to visit on the way to or coming back from the beach.

Address: 42362 US Highway 26, Seaside, Oregon

Official site: http://www.camp18restaurant.com

12. Seaside Inverted Experience

A fun photo opportunity just off the beach, Seaside Inverted Experience provides a unique background for a fun family souvenir. Inside Inverted Experience, different rooms depict various settings, including a saloon, kitchen, and promenade all with a unique twist - they are all upside down. This means when visitors have their pictures taken, and they flip the photograph, an upside-down world and unique snapshot is created. Great as a family keepsake worth a frame, or a fun portfolio picture that depicts a unique experience, Inverted Experience makes for a low-cost, family-friendly thing to do.

Address: 111 Broadway Street, Seaside, Oregon

Official Site: https://seasideinverted.com/

Where to Stay in Seaside for Sightseeing

Many of the best hotels in Seaside can be found along the historic Promenade overlooking the beach, while even more can be found spread throughout the central downtown district surrounded by restaurants, galleries, and many family-friendly things to do. Wherever you stay in Seaside, the ocean is never far away.

Mid-Range Hotels: One of the best mid-range hotel options in Seaside can be found at Lanai at the Cove. Comprised of individually owned condos and rooms, each overnight space at Lanai at the Cove is uniquely decorated and overlooks the ocean. Another great mid-range option with many fine amenities is the Ashore Hotel, located near Broadway Street a block away from the ocean. Besides access to the best of both worlds of Seaside, the downtown district and the beach, Ashore Hotel also features spacious rooms, a heated indoor saline pool, and an espresso bar. Another great overnight option is the River Inn at Seaside near the Necanicum River Estuary, which features suites, a free breakfast, and a cozy fire pit to enjoy in the evening.

Budget Hotels: To spread your vacation budget further, places like the Coast River Inn deliver on comfort and cleanliness without breaking the bank. Located on the east side of the Necanicum River Estuary near the Gilbert Historic District, Coast River Inn provides a quiet night's stay in a comfortable room. Similarly, the Hillcrest Inn also has a favorable rate for a high standard of comfort and class. The City Center Motel, as the name implies, gives instant access to some of Seaside's top attractions while offering a fair and affordable rate.

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More on the Oregon Coast: Once you have finished exploring Seaside, other great small towns on the Oregon coast are equally worth your attention. The hip atmosphere and culture of Astoria hits you as soon as you step foot on the Riverfront, and places like the Oregon Coast Aquarium make for great additions to the top-rated attractions of Newport. The many top-rated tourist attractions of the Oregon coast can keep you busy for summers to come, and by using some of the best campgrounds or top-rated resorts, you can easily experience the best of it.

Fun Things to Do in Portland: Much of the coast, including its best beaches, are only a few hours drive from the exciting city of Portland. While you are in the City of Roses, be sure to check out some of the best day hikes the city has to offer. Once you've hit the trails and seen the sights, many great campgrounds surround the city, as well as very memorable weekend getaway opportunities.

Other Adventures in Oregon: Oregon is stacked with all sorts of adventure outlets. From amazing areas like Mount Hood National Forest to other inland cities like Salem or Eugene, something fun to do is never hard to find. A great starting point is our list of Oregon's best hiking trails, which is complimented nicely by some of the best campgrounds found throughout the state. Once you've explored the trails and tent sites, the beautiful hot springs and waterfalls in Oregon provide even more avenues for adventure.

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