The first Europeans to arrive were members of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. In the winter of 1805, their salt stores were depleted, and they constructed a salt-collecting cairn. By boiling sea water, they collected four bushels (28 gallons!) of salt before they moved on in the spring to help preserve the game and fish they caught. Seaside holds an event every August to commemorate this first visit by Europeans known as the Salt Maker’s Return. As more settlers arrived, it continued to grow, and was incorporated in 1899.

Seaside began to take its current form when Alexandre Gilbert moved to town in 1912. Gilbert fought in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 and later found respite in Seaside. He developed much of the town’s real estate, served as mayor, and donated his own holdings to the city, creating the mile-and-a-half long beach side promenade, or ‘prom,’ as it is known today. His original ‘cottage’—which has been greatly expanded—now serves as a local inn called the Gilbert House.

This Oregon town has long been host to a prominent political scene. Until this year, the Dorchester Conference was held in Seaside. Founded by Bob Packwood in 1964, the convention acts as a gather for conservative and independent organization and political activism. Several presidential candidates have attended.

Today, the town is home to roughly 6,500 permanent residents, though many more pass through every summer. Broadway, the town’s main drag, is the site of several choice restaurants and bars. Casa del Sol offers authentic Mexican, while you can grab the best of the daily catch at Norma’s. Zinger’s offers homemade ice cream for desert.

Seaside is full of art, politics and culture. The Seaside Jazz Festival occurs every year and attracts some of the best traditional jazz and swing groups on the continent. Their 4th of July celebration boasts one of the larges displays of fireworks on the West coast, and the town throws an art walk on the first Saturday of every month. The Miss Oregon Pageant occurs at the Seaside Civic and Convention Center every year. Finalists move on to compete at the national Miss America Pageant. Swing by the prom on Labor Day to see the finish line of the annual Hood to Coast and Portland to Coast relay races.

Just a short walk away from the Lewis and Clark monument stands the Seaside Aquarium, which displays several examples of the local fauna—some of which you can touch yourself—and conducts educational workshops. The aquarium also houses the skeleton of a gray whale which stretches 35 feet.

The beach and the ocean offer so many fun and healthy distractions. For surfers, the beach off Seaside has one of the best breaks in the Pacific Northwest. Rentals, lessons and sales are widely available. Non-surfing visitors might prefer a kayak instead. Along the beach and inland, long trails are maintained throughout the year. Perfect for mountain biking or hiking, if you love the outdoors, you’re sure to find something that suits your fancy.