While the small Oregon Coast town of Seaside near the Washington border attracts throngs of beachgoers in the summer, the crowds recede like waves in the autumn and winter, leaving visitors with a personable experience much like they might’ve enjoyed 100 years ago.
In fact, an escape to Seaside this fall gives visitors a chance to experience the centennial celebration of the Seaside Promenade, a 1.5-mile paved walkway and oceanfront seawall known locally as “The Prom.” The Prom is one of the Pacific Northwest’s iconic coastal landmarks, an Oregon nod to the great boardwalks and promenades of the world like Brighton Pier and San Sebastian. Simply by spending a night in Seaside this fall and visiting the Seaside Welcome Center you could win a two-night return stay, including dinner and shopping certificates, and more.
It all started with one simple hotel in 1871, the “Sea-Side House,” built by a railroad magnate. Framed by beautiful views and near the important shipping port of Astoria, Seaside soon became Oregon’s first resort beach town.
Today, Seaside still retains many historic structures like the Prom, including the brick 1914 Gilbert building in the Historic Gilbert District downtown. The whimsical Seaside Carousel Mall was built in 1985 on the site of a famous 1920s-era Bungalow Dance Hall, which drew international musicians like Duke Ellington and Glenn Miller. Mallgoers today with kids can ride the historic carousel, whizzing around on a standard horse or not-so-standard options like ostrich, giraffe or bear.
Visitors interested in Seaside’s past might stop by the Seaside History Museum to peruse The Prom-centric photo exhibit and tour the Butterfield Cottage, lovingly recreated and dressed as if a rooming house/beach stay frozen in 1912.
Steve Wright was drawn by the town’s relaxed small-town atmosphere and mild climate when he moved here in 2014. He now serves as museum board president and city council president. “Year-round, we don’t get the extremes in temperature, and fall is terrific.” He often strolls the Prom, which runs between old beach cottages and the mighty Pacific Ocean.
The Prom’s north end bustles with 21 lodging options, farm-to-table dining, and family-friendly activities, such as the 84-year-old Seaside Aquarium. Midweek deals begin to flourish in the autumn, while storm-watchers start showing up for cozy hotel stays during fierce weather. Beachcombers, birders and storm watchers flock to Seaside’s wide sandy beach to eye their prizes — storms even bring in birds from offshore. To the north, more migratory shorebirds gather at Necanicum Estuary Natural History Park.
Wright has a special affection for The Prom’s southern end, too, which looks out on the grand Tillamook Head jutting out into the sea, and where he sometimes hikes out on the Tillamook Head Trail for panoramic views of the Tillamook Rock Lighthouse situated offshore. The southern side presents a quieter, peaceful Prom. The paved walkway is 15 feet wide — roomy for families, couples and groups of friends — and lit with 50 vintage-style electric lamp posts. Friendly residents and vacationers may wave hello from green-trim, shake-sided historic homes lined up along the Prom.
Stop by the Seaside Welcome Center when you visit to pick up a free Prom Centennial booklet, which contains a self-guided historic homes walking tour and other Prom-related content in addition to the sweepstakes. Most of the 24 homes on the walking tour were built between 1900 and 1920.
Wright encourages visitors to meet the real Seaside by visiting a local restaurant or brewpub, and chatting with locals. “We have so many great little gathering spots,” he says. “I often go to a brewpub in the afternoon, have a libation and sit down and start talking with somebody. It’s laid-back here, and that’s what I love about the town.”
Wright’s favorite foods and destinations include chowder and fish and chips at Norma’s Seafood & Steak and Doogar’s Seafood and Grill, or ales and BBQ at Seaside Brewing. At the recently renovated Times Theatre & Public House, Wright sidles up with a pint for conversation and game broadcasts. The in-house brewery crafts their own SISU beer right behind the pub’s large silver screen.
All the classic beach hits are available in and around Seaside, too — saltwater taffy, crab cakes, and more — which generations have enjoyed for more than a century. Dozens of stores along pedestrian-friendly sidewalks on Broadway range from boutiques to antiques, and activities span old-fashioned kite-flying to flashy arcades. Visitors can still access popular outdoor activities in fall, whether kayaking, hiking, birding or even surfing.
Seaside also makes the perfect base for further Oregon Coast exploration nearby. Drive 17 miles north for Astoria’s iconic column, which overlooks Victorian-era homes, funky shops, and rugged coastline where the Columbia River and Pacific Ocean collide (as shipwrecks prove). The nearby Lewis and Clark National Historic Park features a recreation of the historic Fort Clatsop along with a variety of hiking opportunities. Drive south, and you’ll find Haystack Rock, one of Oregon’s seven marine gardens (with excellent tidepooling action) at Cannon Beach. Just a few more miles south, and Oswald West State Park’s hiking trails and Manzanita’s tiny-town appeal emerge.
With all the fun you’ll be having in and around Seaside, just don’t forget to slow down and stroll The Prom!
Seaside has long been Oregon’s enduring beach town, the go-to spot for traditions like kite flying, bumper car riding, ice cream eating and so much more. Experience the iconic 100-year-old Seaside Promenade this fall and win prizes just by visiting!