This year marks the 50th anniversary of Oregon’s Beach Bill, which gave us free public beaches up and down every inch of the coast. There’s no better way to enjoy it (and escape the city) than nearby Seaside, a classic coastal destination. Because of its proximity to Portland—it’s only an hour and a half drive away—folks have been flocking to this ocean town for decades, and for good reason. Read on for all the fun that awaits in Seaside!

Photo: Neeson Hsu via Yelp

Take a Walk

The 1.5 mile ocean front promenade stretches the length of Seaside, and you can jump on it through any downtown sidewalk. Stroll past and peek into the shops, admire the gorgeous homes, or enjoy the ocean views. It’s a perfect way to enjoy the beach without struggling through sand, so grab your wheeled vehicles (bikes, wagons, roller-blades, or strollers) and enjoy. Don’t miss the Lewis and Clark Monument at the turnaround!

Photo: John H. via Yelp

Feed a Seal

The little aquarium is right on the promenade, it’s yellow banner twinkling through the ocean spray. Step inside to find a totally-worth-it place to spend some time. Kids can explore the touch-tanks, full of starfish, anemones, prickly sea urchins, or admire the underwater tanks of native fish. Play Hide and Seek with the Giant Pacific Octopus, or admire the chompers on the Wolf Eels. But the biggest draw is feeding the seals. These aren’t wild seals: the aquarium has one of the best breeding records for Harbor Seals in the world. Get your plate of fish at the front desk, head over the water tank (the seals enjoy a much larger area to play in back, don’t worry!), and, enjoy the noisy and adorable antics!

Adults $8, Kids 6-13 $4, Kids under 6 free
Open daily 9 a.m., closing time varies seasonally
Seaside Aquarium
200 North Prom
503-738-6211
Online: seasideaquarium.com

Skate It Out

If your kids are itching for some faster coasting than the promenade allows, take them to a world-class skate park! This facility, opened in 2006, boasts over 10,000 square feet of bowls, ramps, rails, and concrete, ready to zoom over. The extensive park is open access, meaning it allows bikes, scooters, and more. Helmets are required for kids under 16, and you can get gear and advice at the nearby Seaside Surf Shop.

Open daily, dawn-10 p.m.
1140 Broadway St.

Photo: Karyn Christner via Flickr

Ride a Rabbit

The carousel has been twirling inside this mall for over 25 years! It’s full of nostalgia and is one of the things that makes kitschy, goofy Seaside it’s loveable self. The 22 animals are mostly horses, but kids can also ride a pig, cat, rabbit, bear, ostrich, and even a horse with a mermaid tail! The carousel is fun rain or shine, and don’t miss the rest of the shops in the mall: you can get an old-timey photo taken, find some seashell gifts, and enjoy a malt or banana split at the old-fashioned Flashback Malt Shoppe.

Daily, 10 a.m.- 9:30 p.m. in summer
Carousel Mall
300 Broadway St.
503-738-6728
Online: seasidecarouselmall.com

Fly a Kite

The coastal winds that buffet Oregon make these beaches perfect for kite-flying. Teach your kids how to expertly reel in their windy craft, or let them experiment on their own. There’s no wrong way! If you need help, advice, or a new kite to fling into the breeze head to Northwest Winds. They take kite-flying seriously with an extensive selection of spinners, streamers, Japanese-style roks, and even advanced kites like the Double Delta Conyne. But they know how to keep the sport fun, too: their beginner and kid-friendly selection includes classic diamonds all the way to a Great White Shark!

Northwest Winds
19 Broadway St.
Online: nwwinds.biz

Munch Saltwater Taffy

A kid cannot go to the beach without salt water taffy. It’s in a rulebook somewhere. Get your fix at the Seaside Candyman! With over 180 flavors of taffy alone (not to mention jelly beans, jawbreakers, candy sticks, and gummies), your kids might spend hours just deciding what to get. And that’s the point! Is Huckleberry better than Peanut Butter Grape?  What exactly is Black Widow?  Is Jalapeno worth it? Or will they play it safe with Peppermint and Lemon?

21 North Columbia, Suite 105
Heritage Square
503-738-5280
Online: seasidecandyman.com

 

Photo: Michael Newton via Flickr

Spot a Seastar

For the ultimate tide-pooling destination, head to the Seaside Cove at the south end of town. Be sure to get there during low tide for the best hunting grounds. As the tide leaves, small pools gather that are home to starfish, mussels, barnacles, crabs, and anemones. Bird lovers can find year-round species to train their eyes on, and farther out to sea you might occasionally spot Grey Whales and harbor seals. But beware! When you’re out on the rocks, take care, and keep watch on the water: tides change and sneaker waves can come out of nowhere. Make sure your kids stay safe and have fun.

Public Parking access
Just off Highway 101 at the south end of town

Photo: Rick Mickelson via Flickr

Sleep Well

With all the fun awaiting your family, you might want to stay the night. While Seaside makes a great nearby daytrip, extend the fun a few days by crashing in town for a night or two. The Inn at Seaside is a good central option for families with furry friends–they’re pet-friendly, and they have an indoor pool.

The Hi-Tide Oceanfront Inn is exactly what it says—ocean front—right out your window! Just a short walk from town the Inn has oceanfront rooms that overlook the swaying grasses and sandy beaches, for an unobstructed route to Fun.

Inn at Seaside
Starting around $150/night
441 2nd Ave
503-738-9581
Online: innatseaside.com

Hi-Tide Oceanfront Inn
Starting around $140/night
30 Avenue G
800-621-9876
Online: hitideseaside.com

Do you escape to Seaside? What’s your favorite hidden spot? Tell us in the comments below?

—Katrina Emery

feature photo: James Bachleda via flickr