Posted by: Brad Nixon | November 6, 2015

By the Seaside

Oregon sign Brad Nixon 0272 (640x480)

Oh, the beach is a place where a man can feel

He’s the only soul in the world that’s real.

Pete Townshend, “Bell Boy”

Oregon coast Brad Nixon 0235 (640x480)

Let’s continue traveling north along the coast of Oregon. We’ve been following coastal travel strategy B described in the first post of this series: keep moving. Now, however, we’re going to adopt strategy A: settle in, get acquainted with a coastal town, and explore the area in more detail (click on any photo for larger image).

After leaving Coos Bay following the previous post, we covered a lot of coast, cruising north through Florence, Yachats, Newport, Lincoln City, Tillamook, Manzanita and made our way to Seaside. All those places have interest for the traveler, and there’s a reason to stop, look and explore in nearly every mile. However, we promised at the start we wouldn’t try to cover everything (or this blog would become “Under Coastal Oregon Skies”).

Seaside is a town near the northern point of Oregon, about 18 miles below the mouth of the Columbia River. Why stop in this place rather than another? We’re not suggesting Seaside is the ultimate Oregon coast destination; it’s one of many one might choose. In its favor: it’s lively enough in a constrained vacation-oriented way, it has enough shopping to let us resupply and stroll through some shops without getting that glazed-over sensation of looking at too many stores full of souvenir t-shirts, and has an enormous sandy beach that stretches for miles, perfect for walking, running or — if you’re an aficionado of a certain mollusc — clamming. More on clamming in a few lines. Let’s start with that precious commodity: sandy beach. The beach near Seaside doesn’t have overhanging crags and bluffs, dramatic sea stacks and sentinel rocks or picturesque shipwrecks. You’ll have to go elsewhere (though not far) for those. It has, instead, a low, broad expanse of sand, swept by tides. How broad? How even? This much:

Beach driving Brad Nixon 0193 (640x480)

Yes, one can drive on the beach. This is actually a couple of miles north of Seaside, at Gearhart. In keeping with long tradition, The Counselor was driving. She gets all the off-road gigs, whether on beaches or in mountains or desert.

Note: the Oregon coast is subject to extremes of weather. It’s possible to arrive when tide and surf and wind make the beach a more challenging place to hang out, or outright uninhabitable.

Seaside has a long beachfront walk — the Promenade (“Prom” to locals). You can stroll along and grok the vibe if you don’t feel like walking or running on the beautiful wide sand. Then, you can duck into the pleasant town, walk around there, poke into the shops, and even visit Funland.

Seaside OR Brad Nixon 0185 (640x473)

According to their website, Funland has been around since 1931, hence the Streamline Moderne exterior. It’s certainly great-looking on the outside, but inside, it’s even better:

Bumper cars Brad Nixon 0273 (640x471)

Bumper Cars, Seaside Oregon

As I said above, one can also dig clams on the beach. The place is famous for them, and tens of thousands of clam fans (clamophiles? clammites?) do every year. Specifically, razor clams. You can join scores or hundreds of people on the beach clamming when the tide is right, or you can have ’em in their ready-to-eat condition, as here:

Razor clam breakfast Brad Nixon 0379 (640x480)

I had that dish at The Wayfarer in Cannon Beach, a few miles south of Seaside. That’s another part of Seaside’s appeal: there’s a lot to see and do (and eat) close by. We had a great view of Cannon Beach’s landmark, Haystack Rock, right from the breakfast table:

Haystack Rock Cannon Beach Brad Nixon 0199 (640x397)

En route to Cannon Beach on 101 you’ll pass over a high headland, site of Ecola State Park. A party from Lewis and Clark’s expedition crossed over it, which would’ve been a sore trial in its primitive state, but it’s easy to visit now. There are hiking trails (most mild to moderate, but a few steep grades through dense growth that can be overgrown in summer), and some spectacular views, especially of the rocky coast to the south.

Oregon haystacks Brad Nixon 0237 (640x410)

The Seaside/Cannon Beach area is also easy to reach from Portland via U.S. Rt. 26, and that increases its popularity with those (like us) who are going to combine the delights of the shore with a visit to the state’s largest city (a few articles later).

We had an excellent dinner one night in tiny nearby Gearhart at the Pacific Way Bakery and Cafe.

Now, Route 101 still beckons us farther north. From Seaside, the northern edge of Oregon and the port city of Astoria are an easy day trip, and that’ll be our excursion in the next installment.

This post is part of a series about traveling in Oregon. For the first, CLICK HERE. Use the navigation below to see earlier or later posts.

Select images available on CLICK HERE to view the Underawesternsky image portfolio.

© Brad Nixon 2015, 2017



  1. Wonderful article! I went to school in Seaside and you just made me very homesick. Thank you for the wonderful review. While in Astoria check out the Maritime Museum, Flavel House, Astor Column, and the Goonie house (if they haven’t blocked off the property. People kept driving up there and doing the ‘Truffle Shuffle’ in their yard.) Thanks again!


    • Josh, thanks for reading, commenting and for your suggestions. I’m recounting a trip we made to Seaside and Astoria several years ago, but we did hit a number of the highlights you suggest. Stay tuned! Brad


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