Oregon’s original beach resort, Seaside abounds with lively diversions, from old-school candy shops and arcades to an historic aquarium and the classic Promenade. But if you venture just slightly from the busyness of the city’s central Broadway Street, you’ll discover another side to this picturesque community that resonates with wildlife watchers, treasure hunters and solitude seekers. Here are six ways to explore Seaside’s quieter secrets.
1. Paint your own vacation memory
Marking the entrance to a less-traveled beach path at the south end of town, tiny Painted Rock Beach comprises a few hundred stones of all shapes and sizes that locals have painted in every color of the rainbow and inscribed with names, towns traveled from, memorials, wedding anniversaries and occasional notes of whimsy and wonder. Bring your own painted rock to add to the collection. A gentle path continues west through larger (unpainted) rocks and driftwood to a breathtaking section of beach, where you’re apt to see everyone from dog walkers to razor-clamming enthusiasts. To find the painted rocks, walk just a little west from the corner of Ocean Vista Drive and Avenue West.
2. Paddle forth
Kayaking is one of the most peaceful ways to experience the area, as a paddle along one of Seaside’s pristine waterways provides a unique vantage point. There are several great areas to hop into the water, including the half-mile stretch of Necanicum River downtown, accessed from Quatat Park. (You can book single and double kayaks at Wheel Fun Rentals.) For a more in-depth exploration of some of Seaside’s most beautiful waterways, put in at Broadway Park’s ADA-accessible boat launch (rent gear nearby at Cleanline Surf) and meander along Neawanna Creek and then around 450-acre Necanicum Estuary, which is surrounded by Sitka spruce forest and rolling sand dunes. Watch for wildlife, from Roosevelt elk and sea otters along the shore to bald eagles and great blue heron on or near the water. Other excellent spots for kayaking around Seaside include Neawanna Creek South to Avenue S Bridge and, a little north of town, Sunset Lake.
3. Trek to Tillamook Head
You’ll find a mix of gentle and rigorous hiking trails in and around Seaside. For ardent adventurers, the top trekking experience is the steep but gorgeous hike from the south end of Seaside to Tillamook Head. This moderately difficult jaunt does require a bit of stamina, but you can make this adventure far more manageable if you park a car at the other end of the trail (Indian Beach parking lot in Ecola State Park, just outside of Cannon Beach). You can also call a cab from here to whisk you back to town. Start your hike at the Elmer Feldenheimer Forest Preserve parking lot, at the end of Sunset Boulevard. The well-maintained trail climbs through an emerald rainforest and eventually traverses a 1,130-foot-high headland, where an observation point affords sweeping views of infamous Tillamook Lighthouse. This solitary 1881 lighthouse sits atop a small island of sheer basalt cliffs, so bring binoculars to spy from afar.
4. Ride the timber trails
Just east of town, nimble and fit mountain bikers travel from all over the region to tackle the 21 miles of both ruggedly challenging and relatively easy groomed tracks in the Lewis & Clark Timberlands. It’s a vast 140,000-acre sustainable logging operation characterized by rolling hills and dense woodland. You can rent bike suited for riding through the timberlands at Prom Bike Shop. Download a 3-D view trail map of these tracks before you go as cell service can be spotty among the trees.
5. See the south side
For a soothing and scenic Seaside experience, set aside time to explore the town’s unhurried south side, an easy spot to bike to from the center of town. The blocks from about Avenue I south to The Cove are ideal for tranquil strolls along the beach or less busy stretch of the 1.5-mile Promenade, which locals call “the Prom.” Here you’ll find the historic Lewis and Clark Salt Cairn Historic Monument, which marks the spot where the famous Corps of Discovery made salt to preserve food for their journey home. In this part of town you’ll also find the popular Seaside Golf Club, which is open to the public and includes a large restaurant and bar with outdoor seating overlooking the nine-hole, par-35 course, whose well-groomed fairways crisscross the Necanicum River. Be sure to check out the collection of historic photos in the restaurant that depict how the town looked a century ago.
6. Eat like a local
Some of the tastiest meals in town are served at restaurants a little outside the center of the action. A pearl on the southside, Osprey Café serves globally inspired breakfast and lunch fare. Go for the hangtown fry, with bacon and Tillamook cheddar, crowned with a pile of plump, lightly pan-fried oysters. A fireplace inside and sidewalk picnic tables bring cheer. A block over, U Street Pub is an inviting, casual neighborhood bar with a great selection of Oregon and West Coast craft ales, including Seaside Brewing Company’s own Knautical Kölsch.
Out on U.S. 101, Bell Buoy has long been regarded by locals as one of the best sources of fresh-caught local seafood on the Oregon Coast. In this old-fashioned market you can buy fresh Willapa Bay oysters, cocktail shrimp, Dungeness crab and smoked salmon, as well as house-canned albacore, salmon and razor clam chowder. Pack a picnic to enjoy on the sand or on a hike to Saddleback Mountain. Buoy’s Best Fish House, their sit-down restaurant next door, is also a wonderful option for crab melt sandwiches, crab cakes, oyster shooters and clam chowder.