My 10 favorite things to to in Seaside, Oregon
My favorite things to do in Seaside, Oregon, including an interactive map for eating, drinking, and wandering along the Oregon Coast.
My family has visited the Oregon Coast since before I can remember, and Seaside, Oregon was one of the favorites — along with Cannon Beach. The proximity to our home near Portland (about ninety minutes) was convenient for a family drive, but there were also so many different things to do in Seaside, Oregon. In high school and college, my friends and I would pile into our cars and find a viewpoint overlooking the vast surf of the Pacific Ocean — taking in dramatic sunsets before driving back to the city of roses.
Highway 101 races through so many wonderful places along the Oregon Coast in a way that can clumsily force the utility to cling to the major north/south roadway. The main commerce corridor of Seaside is no exception, with the entertaining puns on weed shops, and of course, sometimes you just want a Subway sandwich (btw… I’m not compensated for saying this). But the passerby should be informed, that entirely different worlds exist only a few blocks off the iconic highway.
Seaside is one of these coastal towns that takes on an entirely different personality once you turn from the traffic snarls of Highway 101. The carnivalesque main drive — Broadway Avenue — is laced with all the things you’d expect in a smaller (much smaller) version of Atlantic City. But take some time to delve deeper into this historic Oregon vacation spot and you’ll be glad you did. The following is a summary of the most popular things to do in Seaside, Oregon.
Table of Contents for things to do in Seaside, Oregon
- Walk the promenade
- Get lost on a beach
- Enjoy fresh food and drink
- Hunt for antique treasure
- Tourist traps for the whole family
- Learn about Lewis and Clark
- Take up sports
- Watch the crashing waves from your vehicle
- Hike Tillamook Head
- Light a bonfire on the beach
- Things to do near Seaside, Oregon
- Interactive Map of things to do in Seaside, Oregon
Walk the promenade
The feature that sets an experience in Seaside Oregon apart from all of the other locations up and down the 363-mile coastline is an amazing paved promenade following the entire line of the beach in either direction from the statuesque Lewis and Clark turnaround at the end of Broadway Avenue. Walkers, bikers, and people on other wheels all join together to flow along a beautiful stretch of sand. Rolling dunes lead to the main beach and then, of course, to the pounding surf. In the evening the vintage lamp posts cast a yellow glow out into the salty abyss. The iconic walkway is 1.5 miles from end to end. For day-trippers, there are a number of places to park at the end of the east/west streets, as well as larger lots on both ends that can accommodate more vehicles.
Get lost on the beach
What Seaside Oregon lacks in interesting rock formations it gains back tenfold with an amazingly huge sandy beach. Even in the more busy seasons, it’s still possible to find your own piece of sand to walk. Connect with the sounds of the ocean as your feet glide along the sand. Take off your shoes and wade through the frigid shifting sands into the foamy surf. Wander for miles, aimlessly, and set your mind free from all the earthly demands. This is the signature experience of time on the Oregon Coast.
Enjoy fresh food and drink
The access to quality ingredients in Oregon, in general, means that there is a high bar set for food and drink quality. The Oregon Coast is no exception. From outstanding locally-caught tuna to the freshest beer, places like Seaside on the Oregon Coast will not disappoint. There should never be a need to eat at a chain restaurant — it’s easier and more delicious to support local family-run businesses.
My favorite joint in Seaside is Osprey Cafe, on the south end of the beach community, just a block off the promenade. They serve up yummy breakfasts and lunch but also make a mean java. Sisu Brewery takes over an old theater on Broadway and while it might be hectic on weekends, produces delicious beers — I like the porter. I’ve also had great meals at Angelina’s Pizzeria, Maggie’s on the Prom, and Dough Dough Bakery.
Hunt for antique treasure
For many years, this was a tradition around my birthday weekend in March. We’d stay somewhere on the Northern Oregon Coast but always would hit the Antique Mall in Seaside for unknown treasures. Old photos, maps, and other coastal nostalgia feel stuffed into a patchwork of consignment shops. There are many other boutiques in this area as well, so enjoy window shopping and hunting for original art. If all the porcelain figurines make you thirsty (or crazy), hit up my favorite dive bar, The Bridge Tender, to chat up the locals over a beer — it’s just up the block.
Get trapped in all the tourism
Okay, so I love and hate the arcades and other carnival-like features, mostly along Broadway Avenue. As a kid, it was a lot of fun to ride the bumper cars and play skeeball. Video arcades, cotton candy, and those pennies imprinted with a prominent Seaside icon are all experiences to be had here. There is even an aquarium a few blocks up on the promenade. As an adult, the commotion can seem to distract from the quiet beauty of the majestic coast. Either way, it’s not difficult to find the hustle and bustle… or to quickly leave it behind.
Learn about Lewis and Clark
The Lewis and Clark expedition was commissioned by President Jefferson in 1803 to explore and learn about the land in the western part of North America. They ended up at the base of the Columbia River in Fort Clatsop, where they spent the winter of 1804. The Fort is near present-day Astoria and is part of a very worthwhile National Historic Monument, consisting of installments along the Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean, including one in Seaside, Oregon. The expedition sent workers to produce salt, which they made in fires near the beach, along the present-day promenade.
Sporty things to do in Seaside, Oregon
There are lots of things to do in Seaside, Oregon, including every possible kind of sport. Biking, hiking, surfing, swimming, rollerblading, canoeing, and horse riding are all available, just depending on the time of year. There are places near the epicenter of Broadway that even rent little bicycle-powered buggies. Buy and fly a kite or build a giant work of sand art — the options seem limitless. Just be warned, the Pacific Ocean is very cold and also dangerous, sneaker waves and all.
Watch the crashing waves from your vehicle
If you’d like a spot to hold out for an awesome day trip to Seaside, Oregon (or if driving along the Oregon Coast Highway 101), consider Seltzer Park, on the very south end of town. Each parking spot diagonally heads towards the surf, so you can watch the sunset from the comfort of your own tailgate. The beach is rocky here, but wander up a few hundred feet to endless sand. This is where the surfers congregate as well, so be on the lookout for boards clinging to SUVs. Just up the hill is the trailhead to the Tillamook Head hike (featured next).
Hike Tillamook Head
While most of the natural contact in Seaside, Oregon is the fantastic beach, Tillamook Head offers an entrance into the famous Ecola State Park, from the north. The hike is 5 miles in each direction. It’s medium difficulty and doesn’t provide as many sweeping vistas as you’d expect a trail to have right along the ocean. Still, it’s a great way to connect with the mighty forests along the Oregon Coast.
Have a bonfire on the beach — a Seaside, Oregon thing to do
What memories I have of crackling fires mixed with salty air, all while the sun would set over the ocean. Except for the driest times of year (August/September), fires are allowed on the broad stretch of sand. On weekends it’s amazing to count all the little fires blazing on the beach — almost like a grounded version of stars. If you do, please remember to leave no trace. There are also companies that will set up everything you need to have the experience. Be sure to dress for the coastal climate — evenings are windy and cool, even in the summer.
Things to do near Seaside, Oregon
Seaside is on the Northern Oregon Coast, just a few miles down the road from Astoria, Oregon. While this historic settlement is not actually on the Pacific Ocean, the proximity to the mighty Columbia River is beautiful and the town has a lot to offer. So much, in fact, that I have an entire article on my favorite things to do in Astoria… too. It’s also possible to drive on the beach in Gearhart, Oregon, or Fort Stevens State Park. A few miles to the south, Cannon Beach – with the famous Haystack Rock – also makes for a great day trip from Portland or a stop along the Oregon Coast Highway.
Interactive map of Oregon Coast Towns
This map is a collection of my favorites on the Oregon Coast. I’ve either been to all the places, or have it in good faith they are worthy of a mention.
Remember, in many regions of the Pacific Ocean coastline cell phone service is unpredictable — just depending on the carrier — plan ahead.
These suggestions are my own point of view — I do not receive compensation for placement on the map or written articles unless specifically noted.
Have more planning questions?
How to get to the Oregon Coast
The Northern Oregon Coast is conveniently close to Portland… which allows easy access to pristine nature. Because of this, be prepared for traffic congestion in the summer and on weekends around shoulder season (April and October). Day-trippers from Portland should head out early (or late) in the day. The following guidelines should help you plan the best way to visit. Keep in mind public transportation really isn’t viable — a vehicle (or bike) is all but required.
Be realistic about driving distances.
Estimated drive times to/from Seaside:
Astoria (coastal hub): 30 minutes; Portland (closest metro area): 90 minutes; Seattle: 3.5 hours; Olympic National Park (Hoh entrance): 4+ hours.
Fly into Portland Intl Airport (PDX).
All major US airlines serve this airport from their hubs — and Alaska Airlines flies from a number of cities nonstop. International airlines like British, Icelandair, and Condor also fly to PDX seasonally.
Road trip Highway 101
Add at least one night in this region.
A sunset from the Northern Oregon Coast is an essential part of the Highway 101 experience, so plan to spend at least one evening in Astoria, Seaside, or Cannon Beach before wandering down the Pacific Coast.