Escape to the Sea at Seaside
It was girl time as one of my best friends drove us toward the Oregon coast to Seaside for our girlfriend getaway.
My friend ditched her hubby to watch their three rambunctious little girls and I left my girlfriend in San Francisco to party hearty with her friends for the weekend.
As we passed under the evergreens on the single lane highway during the hour and a half drive from Portland to the quaint, sweet little beachside town we excitedly caught up with each other.
As we pulled into the heart of the town memories of my childhood growing up in Santa Cruz, Calif. flooded back to me. Seaside had a similar Pacific Coast beach town charm and sleepiness that is instantly charming and calming.
Yet, ever the explorers and hungry after a long drive, we quickly checked into the Shilo Inn Suites Oceanfront Hotel (30 North Prom, 800-222-2244 or 503-738-9571, ShiloInns.com) and went to check out the town. Strolling up Broadway St., the main street that leads directly to the beach and the Promenade turnaround where a statue of Lewis and Clark stands. The explorers discovered Seaside on their westward expedition and set up a salt making business in 1805 and 1806.
We checked out menus that ranged from fine dining to typical boardwalk fare of burgers and fries, fish and chips, crab cakes, pizza and more, settling on Finn’s Fish House (227 Broadway St., 503-738-8330), where we found good food at an agreeable price range. Typical of touristy beachside town restaurants, meals range from $15 to $75 per person to accommodate locals and visitors looking for inexpensive to fine dining.
We happily slurped up perfectly shucked oysters that were flavorful and overall excellent. Next up was the New England clam chowder with a hint of smoked salmon. It turned out to be the star dish for being the most unique chowder we’ve ever tasted and it was downright delicious! Four our main course, I had the wild pacific salmon and my friend enjoyed a prime rib dip. My salmon was perfect and my friend’s prime rib dip was sliced a bit too thick, but it was fresh, juicy, and cooked perfectly.
We noticed, in spite of the late hour we were dinning, many other people began filtering into the restaurant enjoying meals too.
We passed on the desert opting to grab an ice cream at the shop our waitress suggested and to walk around a bit to do a little window shopping as the stores were closed.
As we walked around town we began noticing that there were quite a few women and gal pals and queer girls in town. Did other girls have the same idea as we did?
Later we found out it was the Seaside Downtown Wine Walk that hosts up to 30 Oregon and Washington wineries at the local shops, which might account for the large number of lesbians and other girls on a girlfriend getaway weekend. Either way, we were pleased to see so many women hanging out and walking around town.
A girlfriend getaway
So, what makes this northwest town so charming and downright attractive to women and families? It’s the original West Coast resort for more than 140 years it’s been an oasis filled with fun, surf, art, food and more. After World War II, women and children escape the Portland summer heat to the beach. Husbands would join their families on the “daddy train,” on the weekends, says Jon Rahl, director of tourism and marketing of the Seaside Visitors Bureau.
One of the first West Coast resort towns, Seaside was established as a getaway in 1871, more than six and a half decades after it was discovered by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. Nearly a century and a half later it continues to be a popular destination along with neighboring towns.
The area is ideal because within under an hour visitors can have an urban experience in neighboring Astroia, an upscale artsy experience in Cannon Beach, a golf excursion in Gearhart and other outdoor adventures throughout the area and the beach and boardwalk experience in Seaside.
Strolling up and down Broadway St., my friend and I saw the usual knick knack shops and spotted an arcade and rides with a tilt-a-whirl, bumper cars and carrousel. Unlike Santa Cruz and the Jersey Shore in N.J. where the rides are right on the beach on the boardwalk or promenade, in Seaside they are spread out inside buildings a block away from the beach. Seaside’s promenade leads to the Seaside Aquarium (200 N. Prom, 503-738-6211, SeasideAquarium.com) on one end and the car turnaround on the other end.
After our walk downtown, my friend and I headed back to our hotel room where we lit up the gas fireplace in our room and hung out chatting until we fell asleep.
In the morning the sun streamed through the curtains as waves from the Pacific Ocean broke on the beach. We got up and checked out the beach from our deck in daylight and got ready for breakfast. On our way into town, we spotted McKeown’s Restaurant and Bar (1 North Holladay Dr., 503-738-5232, McKeownsRestaurant.com). The New Orleans-inspired restaurant and bar is across the Necanicum River in a red building is the perfect brunch spot with the natural light shining through the windows and potted plants and palm trees positioned throughout the open room creating an intimate, but open atmosphere. We happily enjoyed our breakfast. My omelet and my friend’s Eggs Benedict were delicious and the perfect portion size to get us going on our day of exploring and shopping.
After breakfast we wandered around town checking out shops, making sure we picked up saltwater taffy for the girls back home. In daylight, it became obvious that this historic coastal town is on the verge of another renaissance.
What to do
Art and antique seekers might check out the Seaside Art Walk on the first Saturday of the month or Shearwater Gallery (111 Broadway St., 503-738-0328) and other galleries or the Seaside Antique Mall (726 Broadway St., 503-717-9312, firstname.lastname@example.org, MyAntiqueMall.com/Seaside.html) or head over to Astoria or Cannon Beach to peruse the art galleries.
While the heart of Seaside is the main place for visitors to dine and shop, Seaside also offers outlet shopping nearby.
Visitors not into shopping have a plethora of outdoor adventure options. Clamming season opens the first weekend of October, there’s a vast variety of cycling and hiking trails, 18-hole golf at the historic Gearhart Golf Links (1157 N. Marion Avenue, Gearhart, 503-738-3538), surf lessons at the Northwest Women’s Surf Camps (503-440-5782, email@example.com, NWWomen’sSurfCamps.com), ziplining and more.
Oregon is well known for its microbreweries and wine country. Take a day out onto the self-guided North Coast Craft Beer Trail that highlights seven breweries from Canon Beach to Astoria. Not into beer? Check out the Seaside’s French Hen Wine and Cheese Shop (716 Broadway St., 503-717-0246) or Yummy Wine Bar and Bistro (831 Broadway St., 503-738-3100, YummyWineBarBistro.com).
Then there is the arcade and amusement rides, a trip to the aquarium or a walk along the promenade for good old beach town fun.
Where to eat & drink
Seaside offers a variety of places to dine from old local favorites to newly established hot spots, such as the Seaside Brewing Company (851 Broadway St., 503-717-5451, SeasideBrewery.com) located in the town’s original city hall built in 1914. This hip spot has been a hit since it opened about six months ago. A more classic dining experience, check out the popular Twisted Fish Steakhouse (311 Broadway St., 503-738-3467).
Hungry after golf in Gearhart, grab a burger and a pint at McMenamins Sand Trap (1157 North Marion Avenue, 503-717-8150, firstname.lastname@example.org, McMenamins.com).
The food in the town ranges from average to good, but one thing we noticed over and over again was the slow and oftentimes forgetful service. But we sensed that was changing with the rise of new trendy restaurants that appeared to have an emphasis on good entertainment and quality service.
Where to sleep
The Shilo Inn is only one of the beachfront hotels and timeshares that line the coastal oasis. The Shilo is between the family-owned Seashore Inn (60 N. Prom, 888-738-6368, SeashoreInnOR.com) where the beachfront rooms literally feel like you are on the beach and the lobby opens directly onto the promenade and beach. They even offer s’mores and bonfire kits that benefit youth leadership training. On the other side of the Shilo is the more upscale Wyndham vacation condos and timeshares (153 Avenue A, 503-717-4177, SeasideVacationCondos.com), but there are many other beach side options.
Both the Shilo and Seaside Inn have pools, Jacuzzis and saunas. The Shilo’s recreational pool overlooks the beach and promenade and is open 24-hours. It also offers dry and wet saunas, Jacuzzi and a small gym with upgraded equipment. The Shilo also has a lounge and restaurant with some casino machines (gambling is legal in Oregon). On Friday and Saturday night the restaurant and lounge has free live music, but I suggest tossing the complementary wine tickets. The wine isn’t drinkable.
A gem of a beach town, it’s the perfect escape which is why it was selected as the site for the first-ever EDEN Pacific Northwest, a new women’s festival set for October 3 – 6.
Seaside is already an escape for Oregonian and Washington lesbians, but this fall the charming beach town will be discovered by queer women and their friends from California, Idaho, Montana, Vancouver and around the world.
The new women’s festival produced by EDEN Pride Events along with PQ Monthly and The Seattle Lesbian will offer live female musical performance, world-class female DJs, nationally renowned female comedians and artists.
Escape to the Pacific Northwest beach, visit SeasideOR.com.
To contract an original article, purchase reprints or become a media partner, contact editor [@] girlsthatroam [.] com.
Your next destintion