Best Things to do in Cannon Beach
Sandy toes and salty kisses…decorated a sign in a beachfront window along Cannon Beach main street. We were ready for some beach fun in this quaint seaside town nestled between forested headlands and miles of beaches along the Pacific Ocean.
Named “One of the World’s 100 Most Beautiful Places” by National Geographic, this town is one of our favorite destinations on Oregon’s coast. The iconic 135-foot Haystack Rock, one of the most photographed landmarks, stands in the sea on the 4-mile stretch of beach.
Located just a couple hours from Portland, and about 4 hours from Seattle, sharing our recommendations on what to do, where to stay & dine while in Cannon Beach.
What to do in Cannon Beach!
Walk the beach!
Cannon Beach has a long stretch of sandy beach with spectacular rock formations along the coast, including the famous Haystack Rock. Beachcomb, build a sandcastle, watch the sunset.
Visit Ecola State Park:
Walk in the footsteps of Captain William Clark and visit this beautiful state park on the edge of Tillamook Head. From here, you can see the Tillamook Rock Lighthouse, just to the north of Cannon Beach. There are several hiking trails, picnic areas, and viewing points for bird and whale watchers. You might even spot herds of roosevelt elk grazing in the meadows and bald eagles flying overhead! If you’re visiting Cannon Beach in March, you might be lucky to see the migrating gray whales.
There are a few trails nearby including the Tillamook Head National Recreation Trail starting at Indian Beach to Seaside, or to the south, Oswald West State Park offers miles of trails. For hikers wanting more of a challenge, trek up to the Saddle Mountain’s Peak located about 20 miles east of Cannon Beach.
Oregon Coast Bike Trail:
Bike along the coastal trail that follows highway 101. Panoramic views are particularly noted south of Cannon Beach to Arcadia Beach or Hug Point. For cycling enthusiasts, bike the 16-mile trail south to Manzanita, and stop along Oswald West State Park.
If you want to ride along the beach, contact Sea Ranch Stables, and meet the horses – Bart, Waffle, Dancer, Ulysses, Nellie, Gardita!
Grab a Crepe and Shop
There are several shops tucked away in courtyards, along the main street, and art galleries. Flower boxes decorate most of the store fronts and it’s fun to window shop too. Stop at the local crepe stand and take a stroll. Don’t Miss! Icefire Glassworks Gallery where you can watch artists glassblowing.
Cannon Beach is home to pelicans, tufted puffins and terns nesting on Haystack Rock, and common murres on Bird Rocks near Chapman Point.
Go Tide pooling:
At low tide, we spotted green and teal blue sea anemones, purple and orange star fish, and some crabs near the tide pools at Haystack Rocks.
Visit the Cannon Beach History Center to learn about the town’s history and stories about loggers, Native Americans, and early settlers. There’s also the Maritime Center, a museum preserving the heritage of the Columbia River region.
Surf and Boogie Board:
There are several surfing spots along the Oregon Coast – great place to learn how to surf and boogie board.
Festivals! Check for dates and events, click here – there are lots of festivals in this town from Kite Festivals to Food/Wine Festivals, a Stormy Weather Festival, Mimosa Madness, and a Sandcastle Day. We happened to visit when the Corgi Invasion was in town – hundreds of adorable Corgis!
(Suggested by Alexander, our concierge at Cannon Beach Hotel)
Oswald West State Park: If you want several hiking trails and scenic views, visit the park named after Oregon’s 14th Governor. Oswald West State Park contains Neahkahnie Mountain, Short Sand Beach, Short Sand Creek, Necarney Creek, Cape Falcon, Smugglers Cove and the Oregon Coast Trail. Directions: Take Hwy 101 South and drive about 9 miles from Cannon Beach.
Hug Point State Park: This state park has a scenic beach, hidden caves, waterfalls and lots of areas to explore. Tip: visit this beach at low tide, so you can hug the rock at the left end of the beach. Directions: Go South on Hwy 101 for about 5 miles.
Arcadia Beach: You’ll find interesting rock formations and tide pools on this beach just 2 miles south of Cannon Beach.
Youngs River Falls: If you enjoy waterfalls, visit this picturesque spot where you can hike to see this natural beauty. Head north on Hwy 101 from Cannon Beach for about 23 miles, and take the Hwy 202 exit. Check directions for Youngs River Road, and signs that point to Youngs River Falls.
Fort Clatsop and Fort Stevens: Visit the Lewis and Clark encampment at Fort Clatsop located north on Hwy 101 from Cannon Beach. Also, visit Fort Stevens, a coastal defense fort used during the Civil War up to WW II days to protect the entrance of the Columbia River, also located north on Hwy 101 from Cannon Beach.
Seaside or Gearhart Golf: Practice your swing at the 9-hole golf course at Seaside along the Necanicum River and just 300 ft from the ocean. Or play golf at 18-hole golf course at the McMenamins in Gearhart, oldest golf course in the Pacific Northwest. North of Cannon Beach in Seaside.
Drive to Manzanita: There are several beach destinations along the Oregon Coast to stop and visit, including one of our favorites Manzanita Beach.
Tillamook Cheese Factory: World famous Tillamook Cheese has a factory south on the Oregon Coast in Tillamook. You can go on a self-guided tour of the factory and learn about cheese making, taste some cheeses and buy some products. Tip: Try the delicious ice cream! Directions: Take Hwy 101 South for 23 miles, and follow the signs to the Tillamook Factory – enjoy the scenic views along the way.
Stepping into this charming boutique B&B, we were greeted with freshly baked cookies, and hot beverages. The lobby exudes coziness with comfy arm chairs, a fireplace, bowls of local salt water taffy and vases with fresh flowers.
Centrally located in the heart of Cannon Beach, and just 1 block to the beach, a short walk to Haystack Rock, and about a 10-minute walk to downtown.
Our suite was custom-designed with fine furnishings, a fireplace and a four-poster bed, plush linens, towels & robes, and a claw foot soaking tub.
This historic bed and breakfast lodging is the oldest on the Oregon Coast, and just celebrated their 100th anniversary in 2014! Owner Claudia Toutain-Dorbec, Innkeeper has gracefully restored this B&B into a luxurious boutique hotel. The staff is friendly and trained with the art of hospitality, and ready to help you with excursions, scenic tours and local activities.
Located downstairs at the Cannon Beach Hotel, guests and visitors can dine at the Cannon Beach Café, a Parisian Style cafe restaurant. The Franco-American cuisine is fresh, healthy and delicious!
Each hotel guest enjoys a deluxe continental breakfast with mimosas, famous house-made granola, freshly prepared hot frittata, hash browns, croissants, and more in the hotel café. The café serves lunch and dinner to the public, and the music of Edith Piaf, Frank Sinatra or Yves Montand adds to the ambience.
1116 S. Hemlock Street – Midtown – Inside the Historic Cannon Beach Hotel – Phone: (503) 436-1392
For a fine dining experience and if you want to celebrate a special occasion, you’ll want to book a reservation at Newmans at 988. Simple elegance welcomes guests with white table clothed tables and fresh roses in this intimate restaurant.
Serving classic French Italian cuisine with a focus in the Piedmont and Genoa areas of Italy. Chef John Newman, C.E.C., a James Beard Recipient, and Manager Sandy Newman are owners of this French Italian restaurant in the center of town.
We savored the handmade lobster ravioli and rack of lamb on the ala carte menu or you can order the chef’s prix fixe menu that changes nightly. Newmans at 988 has received many culinary accolades, including “Restaurant of the Year” by the Daily Astorian.
Chef de Cuisine Abe Bund, Sous Chef Eric Kliewer and Sous Chef ⁄ Pastries Riley Hazen team up with Chef Newman to create a memorable meal on the Oregon Coast.
One of the most popular places in town for brunch, Lazy Susan Café offers waffles, omelettes, homemade muffins, salads and quiche. Delicious! This family managed restaurant is owned by Rosa and Aristeo and they add their special touches to meals with friendly personal service.
Global Adventuress would like to thank the Cannon Beach Hotel, Newmans at 988, Cannon Beach Café and Lazy Susan Café for hosting us during our stay.
Good to Note: This trip, we started our drive from Astoria, overnighted in Cannon Beach, and went as far south as Tillamook, about 1/3rd of the Oregon Coast. We will continue our adventures along the Oregon Coast next year from Tillamook to Florence further south near the California border, and add more favorites to this list as we discover the southern coastal area.