Seaside is Oregon ’s quintessential, and oldest, family beach resort. The beach is long and flat, sheltered by a scenic headland, with lifeguards on duty during the summer months, beachside playground equipment, and a boardwalk winding through the dunes. Ice cream parlors, game arcades, eateries, and gift shops crowd shoulder to shoulder along the main drag, Broadway . The aromas of cotton candy and French fries lend a heady incense to the salt air, and the clatter of bumper cars and other amusements can induce sensory overload.
Atlantic City it’s not—thank goodness—but on a crowded summer day the town evokes the feeling of a carnival midway by the sea. During spring break, when Northwest high school and college students arrive, the town’s population of 6,200 can quadruple almost overnight.
South of town, the presence of clammers and waders in the shallows and surfers negotiating the swells  also recalls the liveliness of a Southern California or Atlantic shorefront instead of the remote peacefulness of many Oregon beaches. East Coast visitors often liken Cannon Beach  to Provincetown, Massachusetts, and Seaside to Coney Island, New York. Neighboring Gearhart, a mainly residential community (pop. 1,100) just to the north, has a few lodgings away from the bustle of Seaside as well as a venerable 18-hole golf course .
Located along the Necanicum River, in the shadow of majestic Tillamook Head , Seaside has attracted tourists since the early 1870s, when transportation magnate Ben Holladay sensed the potential for a resort hotel near the water. But better transportation was needed to get customers to the place. At that time, the way to get to Seaside was first by boat from Portland  down the Columbia River to Skipanon (now Warrenton), and from there by carriage south to Seaside. To speed the connection, Holladay later constructed a railroad line from Skipanon to Seaside.
To escape Portland’s summer heat, families in the late 19th century would make the boat and railroad journey to spend their summer in Seaside. Most men would go back to Portland to work during the week, returning to the coast on Friday to visit the family.
Every weekend the families would gather at the railroad station to greet the men, then see them off again for the trip back to Portland. It wasn’t long before the train became known as the “Daddy Train.” As roads between Portland and the coast were constructed, the car took over, and the railroad carried its last dad in 1939.
In recent years, the town has become more than just a retreat for Portland families. Oregon ’s apostle of haute cuisine, the late James Beard, used to hold a celebrated cooking class here each summer. This opened the door for writers’ retreats, art classes, and business conventions. If these occasions or a family outing should bring you to Seaside, you’ll enjoy the spirit of fun if you don’t mind plenty of company on summer weekends.