When it’s hot in Portland, travel to the coast is so popular it is almost an exodus. It’s easy to make a day trip or a weekender to coastal cities only about 2 hours from Portland (unless you hit traffic), such as Astoria, Seaside, Cannon Beach, Manzanita (the “Little Apple” nearly the same latitude as “The Big Apple”, NYC), Rockaway Beach, and Lincoln City, OR. While it’s in the 90s in Portland, it’s 68 at Seaside.
This article is about Seaside.
Highway 26, Sunset Highway, will take you northwest to US Hwy 101 (called Oregon Coast Highway in Oregon, and different names along its 1550 mile length, roughly following the coast of the Pacific Ocean).
Sunset fountain and rest area. About 31-32 miles before you get to Seaside, there’s a fountain of drinking water on the right side of the road, and a half mile further is a nice rest stop dedicated to the 41st Infantry of WWI. It has picnic tables (at least 1 covered) and restrooms. The handicapped stall is not great, but there is a family/handicapped restroom as well. No dogs allowed. Steam Donkey Trailhead takes off from there, for those who want a little more stretch of the legs (less than a mile loop). https://www.oregon.gov/ODF/Documents/Recreation/Four_County_Steam_Donkey_v2009.pdf
Camp 18 (at milepost 18), most prominent structures of Elsie OR, has a great looking restaurant, and a logger’s museum and memorial. http://www.camp18restaurant.com/
Eventually you must choose to go north toward Seaside and Astoria, or south to Cannon Beach and points further south on 101. It’s only 4 miles north from there to Seaside (20 to Astoria), and only takes an hour to travel those 4 miles when traffic is bad. A couple more lanes are terribly needed to widen both 101 and 26.
As you are coming to Seaside you’ll see Captain Kid Amusement Park on your right, with go-carts, mini golf, and other attractions. https://captainkidamusementpark.business.site/ Helicopter rides are advertised just after that starting at $55/rider, minimum 3 riders (temporarily closed for COVID). https://www.seaside-helicopters.com/ On the left is High Life Adventure Park, an aerial challenge course (about $70 each for a couple hours, age 8 to adult). https://www.highlifeadventurepark.com/
Keep going north on the road into town ‘til you see a huge yellow Adirondack chair on the right that sits in front of the Seaside Visitor’s Bureau, where you can get a map/brochure, ask questions, use the public restrooms. Seaside has really invested in thoughtful infrastructure for its visitors, such as public restrooms and free parking at key places, and a great promenade along the beach. It’s worth checking out their website before you go. https://www.seasideor.com/ Be advised that the public restrooms get heavy use.
Three convenient bridges will carry you over the river from Hwy 101 (aka Roosevelt Dr).
A few years ago we went to the small Seaside Aquarium http://www.seasideaquarium.com/ , and the Seaside Carousel Mall https://seasidecarouselmall.com/ . The kids are in a different place in their lives now, so we didn’t go back to them this time. But a day trip was not enough to spend time at the beach, the shops, eating, as well as my 3 goals:
Three specific venues were on my mind to investigate in Seaside
1. On our day trip I was able to try out the complimentary Beach Wheelchair. It’s not easy to push or steer, so it’s not a way to stroll along the beach. But with it a disabled person can get out to the spot where the group is picnicking and using as a base for playing in the sand and water. The beach wheelchair is easier to push on the wet, hard sand, but don’t get close enough that the water comes up under the wheels—it only takes an inch or two of water to pull you out to sea, with the big balloon tires and the sand washing out from under them. Very scary!
To reserve a beach wheelchair, contact the super nice person at the desk:
SUNSET EMPIRE PARK + RECREATION DISTRICT
1140 Broadway, Seaside, OR 97138
(503) 738-3311 phone (503) 738-3284 fax
2. On our overnight trip we went directly to Broadway Park (go east on Broadway from 101) to try out the ADA kayak launch. We had our own kayaks, but you can rent them in town for $15/hour. This was another investment that impressed me about Seaside. At risk of some embarrassment to a 60+ year old disabled woman who is not an athlete nor an experienced kayaker, I’ll attempt to attach the video we made of me trying it out. The launch handrails were too far apart for me to be able to use effectively. The river was a pretty easy paddle once I got my “sea legs”. No other kayakers were using the launch or the river there at the time. In case I don’t get my own video up, here’s a 4.5 min one by Grant’s Getaways: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2fCD0UcDVN4
Broadway Park is right by the school, the indoor city pool, and has a playground structure, restrooms (including an accessible stall) that get plenty of use, and a covered group picnic structure as well as other tables. Part of the parking lot is shaded. The garbage recepticle was overflowing--please pack out your own garbage.
Before we left town, I wanted to check out the ramp down to the rentable paddle swans and water tricycles at Quatat Park. It’s a very steep ramp. I wouldn’t rate it as wheelchair accessible, though if you had a couple big guys to strong arm you down and back up it, I suppose it could be done. Quatat Park has restrooms, a boat launch, lots of deck with great views and a little amphitheater area. The Seaside Civic and Convention Center is right there. All right where the action is.
3. Only a block from our hotel was one of four Wheel Fun rental places, and they were open until 8:30pm, so even after checking in and eating, my helper and I went to see if I could manage riding in a peddle surrey. I wanted to use it to go see the Lewis and Clark salt works monument. (Seaside is the furthest south along the coast that Lewis and Clark went.) It was a little challenging to get up into the surrey, but we got me up in. My feet would not stay on the peddles, even with strong rubber bands, but they stayed on the center frame ok (there’s no floor in the surreys). At first it seemed easy peddling, but you really need two peddlers even for the smallest surrey. My helper is pretty strong, but one peddler would have to be quite an athlete to go very far. It was .8 mile each way. Most of the way back is flat or downhill, but when you are wheeling or peddling, a slight uphill is most pronounced, especially after you have already peddled all the way there (partly uphill) and half way back. Figure a lot more time than 4 min Google says you can bike it. The staff at Wheel Fun were excellent. They are building a little miniature train track at the Holladay site. They have a variety of peddle and motorized vehicles to rent. They have donated their hand peddle bike(s) to the parks and rec. https://wheelfunrentals.com/or/seaside/holladay-dr/
I was so focused on my 3 goals, I forgot to see if Seaside has accessible fishing. I found some evidence that perhaps another year I can explore:
There’s no shortage of places to shop and places to eat, though some have a wait line (esp. in COVID and popular times). See accompanying photos for some ideas. Even Lebanese has found a place. It’s very common for a dinner to cost $30/entrée. When we were about to leave for home on the day trip, I was determined to get some seafood, if only chowder. Mo’s said it was famous, and it was handy, so I got some there. I thought it not impressive. My helper enjoyed a burger and fries from The Crabby Oyster. Another time I purchased a take-away Salmon & Curry (coconut shrimp on the side) from Yellow Curry Cozy Thai, and thought it just ok. I’ve had very much better coconut shrimp. Others in the group got take away from Tom’s Fish & Chips, and were happy with that, including a burger, coleslaw, chicken nuggets, and a salmon Caesar salad. Of course there are the usual national chain fast food drive throughs.
In a great 6.5 min video “Seaside, Oregon—Wheelchair Accessibility Review” by Wheelchair Jimmy,
he says Seaside is flat, and mostly it is, but there is a pretty stiff hill the block up to the Promenade. He advises avoiding the River Inn at Seaside (because of the bed height), but that’s where we ended up staying. Most everything was booked, and as is often the case, ADA rooms only had one bed, a king. I don’t need a king, I need two beds.
After looking at photos of the 2-queen rooms (with river view balcony) online, I decided to give the River Inn at Seaside a try at . It was pricey for my budget, but I was happy with the room, even though it was not ADA. The bathroom was roomy enough for me to maneuver easily. There were no bars, but I didn’t need them. The tub interior was only 22.5” wide and 4’8” long, with an 18” side height. That height was not a problem for me and gave me a chance to soak. The shampoo and body wash dispensers were too high for me to reach, but I had little travel size with me. I managed to reach a set of towels down. The fan was inadequate to handle the steam. The elongated toilet was 16” high. The two queen beds were 27” high, and with a hand on the bedside table I had no trouble transferring. The balcony is 4’x8.5’ with two chairs, but I brought my own.
The breeze had calmed, and it was a perfect 59ºF at 10pm. I was happy that no one else was out on their balcony because they are pretty close and not private. Below me I could see a nice little playground with a fort structure, a swing and such, and the two firepits you can enjoy if lucky enough to get to one first. The hotel will provide marshmallow roasting sticks, but you bring your own marshmallows. They have a pool with a lift, but we didn’t all come prepared to swim, and didn’t have time anyway. They were taking reservations for one group at a time, as a COVID precaution.
The breakfast box offered in lieu of the regular complimentary Continental breakfast bar (due to COVID) was not too bad: 2 boiled eggs, a cheese stick, a small pre-package muffin, packaged apple slices and peanut butter. I got an OJ on the side (pretty tiny), but there was no milk offered.
Roseburg is less than 3 hours from Portland, unless you hit traffic. It took us 4 hours to get home, but we also took 15-20 min to go through a car wash along the way. Temperatures in Roseburg late July 2020 were mid-90s. But it was the same in Portland. It was just hot everywhere, it seemed. Unreasonable for the Pacific Northwest, in my opinion. We’re supposed to be cool!
I've been in a wheelchair for 30+ years. It poses some challenges for traveling. Maybe others can benefit from my experiences.