Beach walks, fresh local seafood and luxurious lodging make for a perfect vacation Story and Photos By Marguerite Cleveland
Cannon Beach was named by National Geographic as one of the world’s 100 Most Beautiful Places in June 2013 as well as the staff’s pick for Best Beach Towns in July 2014. With the Oregon icon, Haystack Rock, dominating the beach, it is easy to see why it earned these monikers. The village of Cannon Beach manages to have a sleepy, small-town vibe yet has all the amenities that visitors desire. Its architecture is reminiscent of East Coast island beach towns like Martha’s Vineyard. With scenery this lovely, plan your trip around time exploring the beach and coastline views, meandering through local shops, art galleries and restaurants, and throw in a day trip along the coast.
There are many lodging options in Cannon Beach, but I just love a good beach house. During my stay I called the Baker Beach Cottage home, conveniently located within a short walk to the beach and Haystack Rock. Or head the other direction and you are a few houses down from town. This cute cottage offered all the comforts of home and had some fun extras like an outdoor fire pit with Adirondack chairs and a separate bunkhouse with two sets of bunk beds to sleep four in addition to the three-bedroom cottage. Beachcomber Vacation Homes offers a variety of rentals in various sizes and price points.
The Beach North Coast beaches are a wonder to behold with sandy beaches speckled with rocks and cliffs. Whether you pull off at viewpoints or walk for miles on the beach, you will want to make beachcombing a big part of your trip. There are usually warning signs posted near the beach; when visiting Oregon beaches, always make sure to read the warnings about sneaker waves and tsunamis. The beaches can also be chilly even in the warmer months, so dress in layers to stay warm.
Start with the almost 4 miles of beach surrounding Haystack Rock. Familiarize yourself with a tidal chart. Low tide is the best time to see tidal pools and to get a closer look at the “Rock.” From February to April, the Haystack Rock Awareness Program has volunteers that set up each day to provide visitors with printed resources and knowledge about Haystack Rock. In April you can see the cute Tufted Puffins nesting. For a great overlook of the village and Haystack Rock, drive up to Ecola State Park which has panoramic views of Cannon Beach and the historic Tillamook Rock Lighthouse, as well as scenic hikes.
You don’t want to miss Hug Point State Recreation Site, which is 3 miles south of Cannon Beach. Make sure to visit around low tide for the best experience. Enjoy the sounds of rushing water at the beachside waterfall. There are sea caves and rounded rocks covered with bright green seaweed, which make this a great place for photos. Arcadia Beach State Recreation Site, a short two-minute drive south of Cannon Beach, offers a long beach walk that connects to Hug Point. It is worth a stop on its own merits and provides a unique beach with great views.
Food The area has a bounty of Pacific Northwest culinary delights from craft distilleries and breweries to local farmers markets. One place you don’t want to miss is the Ecola Seafoods Restaurant and Market, a favorite with locals and visitors alike. After recovering from a fire last July in the midst of their peak season, they are back in business in a beautiful space which serves as a market and restaurant. The Beckmans run a family owned enterprise with husband Jay operating two fishing boats to provide fresh, local seafood and wife Cindy who runs the market and restaurant. They succeed through word of mouth.
“People come because they are getting fish from boat to table, sustainably line-and-hook caught with no gill nets. Our seafood is not farm raised and that makes a big difference,” said Cindy. It really does make a huge difference in taste. You can purchase a variety of fish, crab or shrimp to take home or order from the counter and enjoy on site. Two must-haves are the halibut fish and chips and an Oregon shrimp and Dungeness crab boat. This melding of two allows you to have both, and it is so good and fresh. You can enjoy with the Beckman’s homemade cocktail sauce but that crab with a squirt of lemon is to die for.
The Village The village is such a fun place to stroll around. At the end of Taft Street (where the Baker Beach Cottage is located) sits the EVOO Cannon Beach Cooking School. This fun business offers cooking shows where you watch a chef prepare a gourmet meal and you get to eat it too. Check their calendar for availability. If not, make sure to stop by and visit their shop with a variety of cooking-related merchandise. Bruce’s Candy Kitchen is always a hit with house-made candy as well as a great selection of what I call ‘vintage candies,’ which are those fun products you grew up with. There is a local market for groceries. I always love a good wine shop of which there are two. The area is a nice easy stroll with art galleries and lots of other cute shops.
You may want to drive from this side of town further north to the Cannon Beach Hardware & Public House. This cool, kitschy place is a local favorite and is known as Oregon’s first hardware store to serve beer and wine. Yes, you can enjoy a brew while you shop the aisles. This is one of those stores that have a little bit of everything. While in the area make sure to visit The Sleepy Monk for coffee. This place was recommended over and over by locals, and it is a popular joint.
Road Trip Plan to take a day and drive down the coast to Tillamook to tour the cheese factory and have some of their great ice cream. Grab a North Coast Food Trail guide, which has some great suggestions for things to see and do. The little towns of Manzanita, Wheeler, Rockaway Beach and Garibaldi are so quaint and worth a stop for coffee or lunch. On my trip I drove straight to Tillamook with a stop in Manzanita for lunch and then slowly worked my way back to Cannon Beach with numerous stops along the way. Many of the marinas you will pass sell seafood and will cook crab for you when in season. A short detour from the coast is Nehalem. Stop into the Nehalem Bay Winery and enjoy a glass of wine on the deck overlooking farmlands before heading back to Cannon Beach for the sunset. If you are running late, as the sun comes down fast, there are plenty of scenic overlooks to stop at. If you are looking for a truly relaxing vacation, Cannon Beach checks all the boxes. The Specifics Visitor Information Cannon Beach Visitors Information CannonBeach.org Where to Stay Beachcomber Vacation Home BeachComberVacationHomes.com Where to Eat Ecola Seafoods Restaurant and Market EcolaSeafoods.com Things to Do North Coast Food Trail NorthCoastFoodTrail.com