Seaside is a small, pretty and colorful community on the Oregon coast, which is reasonably undiscovered for a town of its charms. It has a host of marine-themed museums and attractions, including a small aquarium with a unique collection of sea creatures. It’s a great base for heading into the outdoors, with a number of coast-and-woodland hiking trails close to the town, some wonderful forested mountain biking territory, and, away from the sea itself, various quiet ponds and waterways which mingle kayaking with lots of wildlife-watching opportunities. And the town also marks the spot where one of the greatest early American exploratory journeys, the Lewis and Clark expedition, reached its end point at the Pacific Ocean. The town is also easy to access, only a 90-minute drive from Portland. Portland International is the nearest major airport, and the Greyhound bus line has a stop in the town.
Housed in a striking grey stone building, Seaside’s aquarium has been open since 1937 and is noticeably less glossy and sleek than many of its bigger counterparts. But in lots of ways this is an advantage, investing a visit with a greater sense of intimacy – and it certainly doesn’t diminish the amazement and wonder of younger visitors. The aquarium has, over time, developed its own specialties, including a fantastic pool of friendly and individually named seals. There’s also a shark tank, a touch pool, and a host of strange and alien-looking creatures scooped from the dark depths of the Pacific.
Shortly after the Louisiana Purchase, Thomas Jefferson commissioned an expedition to cross this western swath of the American continent. An epic 4000-mile journey followed, undertaken by a team of 31 volunteers led by U.S. Army officers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. Eighteen months later, this ragged group – minus one member, who died en-route – caught their first glimpse of the Pacific Ocean. In Seaside, a bronze statue of Lewis and Clark looking out over the ocean commemorates the end of their outward adventure.
This rugged hiking trail encompasses several miles of stunning Oregon coastal scenery. It begins with an uphill section through needle-carpeted pine forest, surrounded by moss, mushrooms and ferns, before reaching cliff top vistas overlooking the Pacific Ocean. There’s a campsite with shelters and picnic tables midway along the trail, with a nearby viewpoint perfectly positioned for spectacular sunset views. Continue for a few more miles and you’ll reach Indian Head Beach, popular with surfers, sunbathers and picnicking families.
McKeown’s has a great restaurant with a varied selection of unpretentious but well-prepared fare. There are some good BBQ dishes, including the decadent bean-slathered pulled pork sundae, as well as a varied seafood menu, with excellent clam chowder. And adjoining the restaurant is a lively Irish pub, with its own menu of Celtic cuisine and a fine array of beers and whiskey.
Photo via their official FB page
This ultra-modern hotel offers all-suite accommodation in a wide range of sizes, all of which boast luxurious facilities including fully-equipped kitchens. The hotel complex also has a heated pool, hot tub and exercise room. All this in the heart of Seaside, a short stroll from the area’s best beach.