13 Top-Rated Attractions & Things to Do in Seaside, OR
Author Brad Lane lives in Portland, Oregon, and enjoys frequent trips to Seaside and the coast.
The city of Seaside has attracted families and ocean goers for more than a century. Much of what has drawn tourists to this oceanside city for the last 100 years still stands today, including the historic 1.5-mile boardwalk known as the Seaside Promenade. And less than a two-hour drive from Portland, it has grown into one of the most popular getaway destinations from Portland.
The Seaside Promenade is a fun and free thing to do in Seaside for the whole family. It connects the beach to other iconic tourist attractions, including the Seaside Aquarium and Seaside Turnaround, two of the top attractions on the Oregon coast.
Beach Activities: The real excitement of Seaside comes from its wide and welcoming beach adjacent to the city. This sprawling stretch of sand is backdropped by the impressive Tillamook Head, and ranks among the best beaches on the Oregon coast.
Before booking 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. And for more ideas on places to visit, read our list of the top attractions and things to do in Seaside, Oregon.
1. Seaside Promenade
The Seaside Promenade has been a central attraction of Seaside for more than 100 years. It stretches for 1.5 miles and separates the city from the sandy shore, offering an easy pathway to enjoy the coastal scene. Simply strolling this concrete pedestrian path and taking in the ocean environment is a fun and free thing to do in Seaside.
Numerous other attractions stem from the Promenade, which is just one of the reasons Seaside is considered one of the top small towns on Oregon's coast. Other cultural attractions include the Seaside Aquarium, the 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.
While all times of day give good reasons to visit, the stunning sunset over the Pacific Ocean from the Seaside Promenade makes for great vacation memories. Early morning on the promenade features the least amount of foot traffic. Much of the walkway is illuminated after dark for some evening entertainment.
2. Seaside Beach
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, it's never hard to find plenty of space to lay a towel down or build an extravagant sandcastle with so much sandy real estate available. To really find a spot of your own, simply traveling north or south from the main access point of the beach lets you ditch 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 here 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.
Accommodation: Best Beach Resorts on the Oregon Coast
3. Turnaround at Seaside
The Seaside Turnaround is at the end of Broadway Street—the main street running through downtown. A massive and hard-to-miss Lewis and Clark Statue is the centerpiece attraction of this historic location, 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 met the ocean.
The Seaside Turnaround is a perfect spot for a photo opportunity and a great place to overlook the beach. It's also an easy spot to access the beach, with stairs leading down to the sand from the Turnaround. The Turnaround also easily connects to the Seaside Promenade, spanning in both directions from the cul-de-sac.
The overall energy of Seaside emanates from the Turnaround, touching on the town's tourism, history, and beach culture.
While cars can use the historic turnaround, drivers should expect slow-moving traffic and tons of pedestrians on any nice day of the year.
4. Seaside Aquarium
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 dive into.
One of the most popular species of sea animals to interact with at the aquarium is the Seaside Harbor Seals, who are always happy to put on a show for visitors young and old. A few animals you can interact with in the aquarium's touch tank include an octopus and eels.
The aquarium is accessible from the Seaside Promenade and is open every day of the week except on major holidays. It's popular throughout the year, but it's a particularly bustling place to visit on a rainy day in Seaside.
Address: 200 North Promenade, Seaside, Oregon
5. Downtown Seaside
The colorful downtown district of Seaside combines history, tourism, and fun events for the whole family to enjoy, making it one of coastal Oregon's best small towns. It stretches between Highway 101 and the ocean on Broadway Street, with restaurants, arcades, and other amusements lining the entire way.
The Necanicum River Estuary divides Downtown Seaside, with the Necanicum Bridge connecting both sides. On the east side of the estuary, the Gilbert Historic District is home to some of the oldest surviving buildings in Seaside. Alongside this history, this area of downtown is also packed with art galleries and coastal shops.
On the west side of the estuary, 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 tourists in this lively section of downtown.
At the end of Broadway Street is the famous Seaside Turnaround and the beginning of the Seaside Promenade. This area lends easy access to the beach after exploring the downtown streets.
Special events pack the downtown activity calendar each year. Among the festivities are a Muscle and Chrome Car Show in summer and a bluesy Halloween party in the fall.
6. Seaside Inverted Experience
Seaside Inverted Experience offers a fun photo opportunity just off the beach. Inside this downtown attraction, different rooms depict various settings that make for a unique background on a fun family souvenir photo. Rooms at Inverted Experience include 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 a unique snapshot are created. Great as a family keepsake worth a frame, or a fun portfolio picture that depicts a unique experience, Inverted Experience is a low-cost, family-friendly thing to do in Seaside.
Address: 111 Broadway Street, Seaside, Oregon
7. Camp 18 Museum & Restaurant
Camp 18 is a popular roadside restaurant and so much more. It's just over 20 miles east of Seaside Beach on the Sunset Highway (Highway 26), and alongside extensive breakfast, lunch, and dinner offerings, this rustic log cabin restaurant is also a museum dedicated to Oregon's logging history.
Vintage logging machinery surrounds the restaurant, as well as informative placards detailing their role in the industry. A large collection of intricate wood carvings is also on the front porch and on the grounds. The restaurant is also famous for its "logger"-style meals, including large portions and dinner-plate-sized cinnamon rolls.
The restaurant offers plenty of parking, including designated RV spaces. It is open seven days a week most of the year, with more limited hours in the winter.
Address: 42362 US Highway 26, Seaside, Oregon
8. Tillamook Head
Tillamook Head is the defining coastal backdrop just north of the city, home to one of the best hikes on the Oregon coast. It's part of the larger Ecola State Park, and this sprawling headland and public space offer a lot to explore. While simply admiring the impressive promontory from the beach is a scenic experience, hiking through the coastal foliage is where the real fun is found.
Visitors access the Tillamook Head trailhead on Sunset Boulevard with a long beach walk, short drive, or fun ride on the Seaside Streetcar. From the trailhead, it's approximately a 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 is also found at the top. This backpacker's site is free for anyone willing to hike in their gear to spend the night. A great view of the retired Tillamook Rock Lighthouse also awaits anyone who makes the hike to the top.
9. Seaside Historical Society Museum
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 native inhabitants of the region to more recent 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 at the Seaside Historic Society Museum. The museum is open to the public Monday through Saturday between 10am and 3pm. Admission is by donation.
The adjacent Butterfield Cottage is also operated by the historical society. This historically renovated cottage 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
10. Saddle Mountain State Natural Area
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 rewarding though, revealing the Cascade Mountains, the Columbia River, and miles of Pacific Ocean shoreline.
The mountain and trailhead are approximately 20 miles east of the downtown district. Variable conditions exist at Saddle Mountain, including wind, fog, and rain. If prepared for these elements, they can really add to the adventure experience. For a great view without climbing to the top, the much shorter Humbug Mountain viewpoint trail is an easier alternative nearby.
11. Lewis and Clark Salt Works
This historical landmark is an interesting and free thing to do near 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. It's one of many sites operated by Lewis and Clark National Historic Park spread across the coast, and one of the smallest.
Plan some time to visit Fort Clatsop, 15 miles north near Astoria, for more insight into Lewis and Clark.
Other nearby state parks with a touch of Lewis and Clark history include Ecola State Park to the south and Cape Disappointment State Park across the Columbia River in Washington.
Read More: Best State Parks in Oregon
12. Jewell Meadows Wildlife Area
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife oversees Jewell Meadows Wildlife Area, established in 1969. This wildlife refuge aims to protect the habitat of native fauna of the region, including a population of Roosevelt Elk.
The refuge is a 30-minute drive from the coast, offering visitors many opportunities to see animals thanks to strategically placed viewing areas throughout. These viewing platforms attract birdwatchers throughout the year.
For many, the real reason to visit is the large population of Roosevelt elk that 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 for wildlife enthusiasts. Bring binoculars or a zoom lens for better views.
13. Seaside Outlet Mall
Seaside Outlets offers another popular shopping experience close to downtown. This collection of outlet stores is less than a mile north of downtown on the east side of the 101, with ample parking available. It's a popular place to visit to simply wander and see what catches the eye.
A few big-name stores at Seaside Outlets include Eddie Bauer, Pendleton, and a Nike Factory Outlet Store. Like any outlet mall, expect more affordable prices than traditional shopping malls.
Other popular stores include Famous Footwear, Helly Hansen, and Bath & Body Works. Seaside Outlet is also home to a few dining opportunities, including the popular Legends Public House.
Address: 1111 N Roosevelt Dr #202, Seaside, Oregon
Where to Stay in Seaside for Sightseeing
Many of the best hotels in Seaside are along the historic Promenade overlooking the beach. Additional hotels are 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.
- 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 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.
- 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 attractions of Newport.
A stay at one of the beautiful beach resorts is a nice way to experience the coast.
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.