Chronological / Destinations / Hotels & Resorts / Oregon / United States

Seaside, Oregon—For a Century it Has Been the State’s Playland At the Beach

This monument, on the promenade in Seaside Oregon, shows where Lewis and Clark ended their Continental journey
This monument, on the promenade in Seaside Oregon, shows where Lewis and Clark ended their Continental journey


For over a century Seaside has been Oregon’s playland at the beach. Certainly as a resort city, Seaside had much to keep us busy. It abounds in restaurants and over three thousand hotel and motel rooms that make living easy for visitors. At Seaside’s Promenade, a walkway that follows the beach, there is a sculpture of Captains Lewis and Clark to mark the end of their trail, a trail that started at Monticello, Virginia, a continent away.

Its human history started many centuries earlier, as Native Americans found it a land of abundance for hunting and fishing. And it was here, too, that the Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery found the place to set up their salt works. We visited the salt works, now protected by the National Park Service, and heard how, in the last century, an Indian woman named Jennie Michel recalled how her grandmother told of white men who boiled sea water, and then pointed out the place where it happened..

The salt works established by Lewis and Clark, Seaside, Oregon
The salt works established by Lewis and Clark


As for attractions, we visited the Seaside Aquarium, founded in 1937 and one of the oldest aquariums on the West Coast. It is privately owned and has been delighting old and young alike for over 70 years. We arrived just as the seals were being fed, a rumpus affair indeed. The seals all have names and several generations are at the aquarium. Children love the ‘touch tank’ where they can finger urchins, anemones, sea stars. We were given a ‘behind the scenes’ tour of how an aquarium actually functions.

The Seaside Aquarium is located on the Promenade; it opens at 9 a.m. every day. We checked in at the well-appointed Seaside Visitors Center and met with Mikela Norval, director of tourism, who steered us to the Seaside Museum and Historical Society. Here, there are exhibits and photographs that show Seaside from its early beginnings in 1888 and how it has evolved into what it has become today. Then we moved on to the indoor amusement center and watched happy children riding the carousel.

As in so many other western communities, the railroad played a huge role in Seaside’s development as a beach resort. From 1911 to 1939 trains offered regular service from Portland to Seaside.

Our accommodations in Seaside were at the Sandy Cove Inn, a motel conveniently located near the City Center, with a unique ambiance, for every room has a separate theme and is decorated and furnished accordingly. Our room was in the 1940s-style; one look at this writer, and the staff knew it was a perfect match. But best remembered is the friendliness and hospitality of the staff.

Outdoor activities are abundant here, with two rivers running through town to the sea, offering fishing and boating. There are two golf courses and interesting biking and hiking trails. The ‘break’ at the nearby Cape is cherished by surfers. For shoppers, there are stores offering fashion, antiques, arts, books and much else. This writer even did some shopping, a rare occurrence indeed.

It seems that every beach city must have a candy store with salt water taffy. In Seaside, it is Phillips Candies, which has been satisfying the state’s sweet tooth since 1897. We visited this store and watched Proprietor Steven Phillips make candy. This was all new to us, and we were amazed at how much effort it takes to make those candies with the neat bowtie wrappers. And yes, we did sample and take some with us. Phillips Candies of Seaside sells candies both retail and wholesale.

There has been a Phillips Candies in Seaside since 1897. The current owner, Steven Phillips, follows the family tradition, Seaside, Oregon
There has been a Phillips Candies in Seaside since 1897. The current owner, Steven Phillips, follows the family tradition


We previously mentioned the numerous restaurants in Seaside, and we had the opportunity to dine at some exceptional places, including the Yummy Wine Bar and Bistro, which we rate at three stars. The chef-owner is Corey Albert; his restaurant combines casual with upscale, both in ambiance and cuisine. For our party it started with hors d’oeuvres and cured meat plates, which made a pleasing introduction to what was to follow. My entree was Sole Normande, with the fish surrounded by tiger prawns, manila clams and a truffle cream. Others at our table had pork medallions with a white wine stock and sea scallops with fava beans and carrots flavored with dill.

Yummy is a dinner house, but service starts at 3 p.m. with a Snappy Hour for bites like artichoke dip, shrimp quesadilla or chipotle pork pasta. There is a large selection of wines to go with these goodies. Walls at Yummy are decorated with original art, the work of artist-partner Jim Pickering. The partners took over an old fire station in 2007 and converted it into the restaurant it is today. Reservations are suggested as this is a popular place.

One morning, we had breakfast at McKeown’s Restaurant and Bar, a large restaurant with a full bar lounge, an exceptional wine list and banquet facilities. Owners Dennis and Nancy McKeown keep the restaurant open for breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week and offer a large selection of traditional American cuisine. This certainly applies to the breakfast menu, which includes country delights like biscuits and gravy or fried steak and eggs. Woe to a light eater like this writer; however there were some specialties for seniors, and from these, I ordered the French toast with bacon and fruit garnish.

Nancy McKeown also gave us a tour of the restaurant and its gracefully decorated wine room and banquet hall.

We love Italian food, and when we arrived at Angelina’s Pizzeria and Café, we found still another reason for lingering in Seaside. Adrian and Krista Miller own this jewel, which offers a self-order-and-then-be-served style of casual dining. Krista grew up in a family with Italian restaurants, and she has designed much of the menu, which moves far beyond pizza. However, our group all agreed the pizza had the best crust in memory. But the menu also offers calzone, as well as grilled panini sandwiches made with their own homemade foccaccia bread.

The salads can be a meal in themselves, for example, the Greek Goddess with feta cheese, olive, tomato, artichoke and pepperoncini and chicken breast. After sampling several items from this exciting menu, we spotted one of our favorite desserts, tiramisu, and could not resist. Another in our party succumbed to the triple chocolate cake. If you visit Angelina’s, be sure to bring a good appetite.

Seaside Aquarium; 503-738-6211, www.seasideaquarium.com.

Visitors Center, 415 First Avenue, 888-306-2326, www.seasideor.com.

Seaside Museum, 570 Necanicum Drive, 503-738-7065.

Sandy Cove Inn, 2421 Avenue U, 503-738-7473, www.sandycoveinn.biz.

Phillips Candies, 217 Broadway.

Yummy Wine Bar and Bistro, 831 Broadway, 503-738-3100.

McKeown’s, 1 N. Holladay Drive, corner of Broadway, 503-738-5232.

Angelina’s Pizzeria & Café, 300 S. Roosevelt, 503-717-1230.

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