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Deep Into Seaside, N. Oregon Coast Details, Secrets (Part I)

Published 10/13/20 at 12:54 AM PDT - Updated 10/13/20 at 2:04 AM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Deep Into Seaside, N. Oregon Coast Details, Secrets (Part I)

(Seaside, Oregon) – There is more than meets the eye to Seaside, the ancient and extremely popular resort town on the north Oregon coast. (Part two is found here)

It's part carnival, part natural wonder and part living history, meaning Seaside has more than one side. If you take the family-oriented kitsch of your basic state fair and combine it with a beach town where you can walk on – and touch – history, well, you get the idea.

The town is often maligned for its more obvious commercial sides, but the interesting thing to note about such towns on Oregon’s coast is that they have their clandestine natural aspects. Sometimes, these are more of a hidden pleasure than other beaches that are less populated.

The main drag, Broadway, is filled with a variety of touristy shops and attractions, restaurants of varying degrees of finery and a few bars that are legendary hotspots during any time of the year. At the beachy end of the street is the historical “Turnaround,” which sits in the middle of the 100-year-old Promenade – a mile and a half walk along a charming path that overlooks the strand. You’ll find another Lewis & Clark landmark just south of the Turnaround, and the Gilbert District lets you disappear into the past a bit.

Then there’s the beach, which includes the deserted northern end, the somewhat deserted cove area at the south of town, and the hiking path that meanders over Tillamook Head some six miles to Cannon Beach.

For most people coming into town, things begin at the southern end, where various roadside attractions, shops, coffee shacks and eateries are interspersed with the occasional farmer selling flowers and such. Close to the biggest chunk of Seaside proper, Seaside Helicopters provides flights of fun over the area. You’ll spot wildlife cavorting around the top of Tillamook Head, see the ocean and other Cannon Beach and Seaside landmarks from a new and particularly breathtaking point of view, plus you may get an aerial peak at Goonies Rock near Cannon Beach – which was used in the cult film “Goonies” in some integral scenes. (503) 440-4123.

From there, Highway 101 zips through town – or crawls, depending on the time of year – amid various big stores and eateries. Some of Seaside’s best cuisine lies here, such as the stunning, scrumptious fresh seafood and unforgettable tuna melts of Bell Buoy and the award-winning Mexican fare of Mazatlan. There’s an outlet mall here that includes a grand wine shop as well.

Gilbert District

The Gilbert District is part of a rebirth of Seaside’s historical vibe that began two decades ago, an area that includes most of downtown east of the Necanicum River. Older buildings have been getting refurbished and reoccupied all the time here, with various new businesses often springing up. The area is a true charmer, and markedly different from the rest of Seaside. The district sometimes gets accused of trying to cop the attitude and feeling of Cannon Beach or Portland’s swanky Pearl District, but in fact it has its own attitude. There is a small sense of time travel here; like old Americana with just a touch of swank. If anything, it’s equatable to Newport’s Nye Beach neighborhood.

Other historical wonders are the Seaside Aquarium (one of the oldest in the U.S.), or strolling the Promenade, which was originally built out of wood way back in the ‘20s. The Seaside History Museum also provides true enlightenment regarding the tales of this north Oregon coast town.

A river runs through it all here, with one gigantic aquatic park hosting a business that rents out funky foot paddleboats. The river divides the Gilbert District from the more commercialized parts of Broadway, which scream kid friendly, sweets and goofy times. From here up to the Turnaround, this is the area that gets the most attention – sometimes good or bad attention. Kids and families love it; travel writers pan it for its carnival atmosphere. In any case, it’s a classic attraction and has been for generations.

Yet for all its kitsch factors and goofy atmosphere, there’s a layer that’s unseen. For those whose cultural taste leans a little beyond the mainstream and slightly askew, this street can be a riot unbeknownst to itself. There’s an inadvertent humor to all.

All humor aside, inadvertent or not, the vibe along Broadway and the Prom is breathtakingly romantic at night with the glow of the lights and the beachy atmosphere. (PART TWO DELVES INTO MORE SECRET AREAS ) Hotels in Seaside - Where to eat - Seaside Maps and Virtual Tours


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