Seaside, Oregon, is hands down my favorite town on the Northern Oregon Coast. I loved it before I had a kid, and I love it equally as much with a kid. Why? Because Seaside has a little bit of everything, it’s laid back, and it has the best boardwalk (although, they call it the Promenade) around. It’s also one of the more affordable West Coast vacation spots for families.
Whether you’re traveling solo, as a couple, or with kids in tow, Seaside is there for you, ready to offer up ample salt water taffy, a carousel ride or a paddle down a river, a slice of pizza and an arcade, or a microbrewery. Seriously, it has it all. Book a hotel with a water view and watch the sun dip below the ocean from your deck for best results.
Bonus, my baby slept on our most recent visit so it even felt like a real vacation.
Here are things to do in Seaside for kids and families:
Hang out on the Beach
Okay, so this one is obvious. It’s why you came here. Seaside’s beach is wide and long and sandy with Tillamook Head jutting out into the water to the south and wide-open shore to the north. Build a sandcastle, play in the surf, make your kids pose for pictures with the ocean in the background, look for shells (you might find some razor clams or broken crab legs that you’ll have to fight a seagull for, but it’s still fun to look), and do all the obvious beachy things. There are also occasional swing sets located on the sand just off the Prom. As the sun sets, people hang out on the beach and build bonfires. Bring some s’mores fixings and some firewood.
Stroll the Prom
The Seaside Promenade (that’s the Prom to you) is one of the reasons I love Seaside and one of my favorite things to do there. The path is 1.5 miles long and it’s all paved, which is amazing if you have a stroller. Where else can you enjoy the ocean even if you don’t have your all-terrain stroller with you because it doesn’t fit in your car? Nowhere else nearby! There are benches dotting the way if you want to stop and ponder the universe as you stare at the waves…at least until your toddler reminds you that SHE is the universe you should be pondering and that she’s bored with your musings. The Prom connects to Broadway Street, which is where you’ll find most of the shops, restaurants, and attractions, too.
The Seaside Aquarium is located right on the Prom and tough to miss. It’s historic and is one of the oldest aquariums on the West Coast (built in 1937). It’s also one of the top attractions in town if you’re skimming around online for things to do, but whether you will enjoy this one or not depends on context. If your kids haven’t been to many aquariums or they’re pretty young, then this will probably be fun. I live in a city with a pretty solid aquarium so I generally skip this attraction. The main draw is feeding some resident seals (if you peep in the front door, you can see their tank and maybe even catch a glimpse of a seal or two), but there’s also a small touch tank and a few underwater exhibits with local sea critters on display.
Maybe it’s just me, but I love ducking in and out of shops and seeing what there is to see. In Seaside, there are plenty of shops selling things to keep your kids busy too – kites (this is the perfect place to buy a new kite and test it out on the sand), buckets and shovels, other sand toys, pretty shells (to make up for the crab legs and razor clams), and souvenirs galore.
Take a Unique Photo
Located on Broadway Street are a few photo shops where you can have a little fun. The one that most caught my attention (and I probably would have given it a try if Little Monster were older because I think kids would have a blast there) was the Seaside Inverted Experience. Inside are all kinds of sets built upside down so that you can take your photos (you take photos yourself) and then flip the photos upside down. Dive into a toilet, hang onto the handlebars of a bike and look like you’re flying in the air, do handstands on all manner of items.
Another photo studio is Old Tyme Photo Shop where you can dress in old timey clothes and get your sepia-toned photo taken.
There is no shortage of restaurants in town and tons of them are located off of Broadway Street. They’re easy to find and you can choose your own adventure, but if you would like restaurant suggestions, I’d say start with the surefire family hits. Fultano’s Pizza is located in several beach towns, and Seaside’s location is in the same building as a large arcade. It’s like Chuck E. Cheese without the giant rodent. Yes, it can be a madhouse during peak times, but the pizza is actually really tasty.
Pig ‘N Pancake is another restaurant located in many cities nearby and there is – of course – one in Seaside. Eat breakfast for dinner (or breakfast for breakfast is also A-okay) as breakfast is served all day, every day. The food is solid and predictable and probably exactly what your kids want to eat – breakfast favs, burgers, and plenty of chicken nuggets and grilled cheese sandwich-type foods on the kids menu.
Enjoy the Carnival Side of Town
Broadway Street has a carnival atmosphere and plenty of carnival fun to go with it. Interstate Amusement at 110 Broadway Street has a tilt-a-whirl ride, mini golf course, and bumper cars. Nearby is the Carousel Mall, which has – you guessed it – a classic carousel inside. Across the street is the Seaside Shootout, a carnival-style shooting game right along the sidewalk. Or try your hand at skeeball, air hockey, or any other number of arcade games at Funland Seaside at 201 Broadway – a large arcade that’s fun for everyone (or at least I always enjoy annihilating Daddy Monster at air hockey while we’re here).
Indulge Your Sweet Tooth
Can you go to the beach without eating a ton of sugar? I’m not sure. I haven’t tried. I feel like NOT eating salt water taffy on the coast is kind of missing the point of going to the coast. Seaside has a few candy shops where you can create your own custom bag of salt water taffy flavors, choosing from the dozens and dozens of flavors. Schweitert’s and Seaside Candyman are the places to be. And if salt water taffy really isn’t your thing, both also sell plenty of other sweet treats.
On a nice, sunny day (or…ya know…an overcast day that’s not pouring rain because this is the Northwest and who are we kidding?), a round of mini golf and a few laps in a go kart might be just what your family needs. It’s a lot of fun and it’s affordable. What more do you need?
Rent Paddle Boats, Swans, Giant Water Bikes, Surreys and More
If you really want to impress your kids, rent something cool. Wheel Fun Rentals has all kinds of watercraft and wheeled vehicles to rent. It’s pretty much always way too cold to actually get in the ocean water, but if your kids really want a water experience, never fret! Make your way through Seaside’s waterways (there’s a little river flowing through town) on a kayak, stand up paddle board, or a pedal boat – either a standard pedal boat or one shaped like a giant big wheel or a swan! On land, rent four-wheeled vehicles called surreys, a bike, or other wheeled fun and make your way up the Prom.
If you want to do something a little more unusual, you can see Seaside and Cannon Beach from the air with Seaside Helicopters. Choose from a few different tours, ranging from Seaside only to tours that take in the whole area, including maybe spotting a local elk herd.
If you’re on your way out of town and heading south, or even just on your way out of town (it’s not that far out of your way even if you’re heading north), a stop by the Oregon Marketplace is fun if you like to pick up a higher quality souvenir—artwork, local jams or honey, Oregon wine (always worth it) or other goodies. No, this one isn’t really for the kids. It’s for you and all your emergency wine and chocolate needs.
Take a Drive
One of the best things about Seaside is how close it is to some other cool spots on the North Oregon Coast. Cannon Beach is just a few miles south and makes a great day trip – stroll the shops, enjoy some lunch or stop by the independent chocolate shop, or spend some time on the beach admiring the giant Haystack Rock. Just between Seaside and Cannon Beach is Ecola State Park, which has some of the most spectacular ocean views you’ll ever see. Tillamook Cheese Factory (aka Cheese Lover’s Paradise) is about an hour to the south, too.