The Oregon Coast is home to some of the most stunning landscapes in America. Moody beaches provide the backdrop to jutting sea stacks and wallowing waves. The seafood is the freshest you’ll find just about anywhere. For fans of the ocean, it’s a must-see sometime in your life.
When we found out about Cannon Beach, Oregon, before embarking on a trip to the Pacific Northwest, one look was all it took to work it into our travel plans. Located a mere 90 minutes from Portland by car, you may recognize its sweeping scenery and the majestic Haystack Rock from The Goonies. It’s a charming beach town, whether you’re sunning there in the summer or prefer the chillier off-season winter weather. You should spend as much time as possible in Cannon Beach, but if you’re only passing through for 24 hours, these are the things you absolutely must work into your schedule.
This stunning sea stack is more than a picturesque photo op. Standing at 235 feet tall, Haystack Rock is a bird sanctuary in the summer and home to marine invertebrates all year long. Pay it a visit to check out all the activity in its surrounding tide pools and catch a glimpse of a nesting puffin if you’re lucky.
Ecola State Park
Before we did anything in Cannon Beach, we drove to the scenic outlook of Ecola State Park to take in the spectacular view. Along the park’s nine miles of coastline, you can hike, surf, picnic, explore tide pools, and experience the magnificent beauty of the Oregon Coast. Sea stacks and an abandoned lighthouse punctuate the sky. And keep your eyes peeled, you might spot deer or even whales as they migrate during the winter and spring months.
EAT & DRINK
Public Coast Brewing
“Beaches Forever. Beer for Everyone.” That’s the motto you’ll see splashed across the wall at Public Coast Brewing, a mural done by Portland-area artist Zach Yarrington. There’s something heartwarming about seeing those words after spending a day taking in Cannon Beach’s landscape—you immediately know you’re in good hands. Opened earlier this year by Ryan Snyder and chef-turned-brewer, Will Leroux, Public Coast features nine original beers on tap from a People’s Pale Ale to Uncle Fred’s German Wheat to Black Stack Stout. Every Friday, Leroux debuts a Flavor Keg, his weekly creation that’s included things like Rosemary IPA and Dried Cherry Stout in the past. Make sure you order some grub because the meal at Public Coast was one of the best we had in Oregon. Loaded burgers, crispy onion rings and juicy wings sit alongside lighter fare like locally caught fish tacos and hearty salads. Wash it all down with Leroux’s homemade root beer, served solo or with vanilla ice cream in a classic float.
Wayfarer Restaurant & Lounge
This oceanfront restaurant boasts the best view in Cannon Beach, so it’s a great place to grab a meal while catching the sunset over Haystack Rock. Chef Josh Archibald focuses on letting Mother Nature shine, so fresh, sustainable ingredients always come out of his kitchen. Oregon seafood is the star of the menu with dishes like Pacific Razor clams, lightly breaded with a sesame coating and sautéed in butter, and Hazelnut-Seared Rex Sole. If you’re not a fan of the fishes, Wayfarer serves a dry aged bone-in rib eye that’s not to be missed, house-made ravioli, and plenty of soups and salads for those looking on the lighter side. And they’re open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner–so you have a few chances to experience a meal.
Ecola Seafood Restaurant & Market
Fisherman Jay Beckman and his family opened Ecola Seafood back in 1993 and have been serving locals and visitors ever since. Beckman has been fishing the Oregon coast for 40 years, so you can count on all the seafood here being line caught, wild, and the freshest in town. Stop in for King Chinook salmon or halibut to throw on the grill, or grab a snack of crab cocktail and salmon jerky.
We saw Pelican Brewing’s signature tap all throughout Portland, so we decided to stop into their new Cannon Beach brewery for a beer flight and snack. They opened just in time for the 2016 season and have been packing the house ever since. This location has a huge selection of their award-winning beers on draft, so we suggest trying more than one to taste the full spectrum of what they can do. Salads, burgers and flatbreads make for a great snack or meal whether you’re stopping by for happy hour or settling in for the night.
Related: The ultimate Portland travel guide
Surfsand is more than just a hotel—no matter how long or how far you’ve been traveling, it feels like you’re home, if only for one night. The beachfront property has a breathtaking view of the Pacific Ocean and Haystack Rock, which you can fully enjoy with cabana service and a nightly bonfire, complete with s’mores. We recommend booking a suite, available with one or two bedrooms, a large private balcony, and bathroom with soaking tub and rain shower. Most rooms come equipped with a gas fireplace and all include a microwave, mini fridge, and coffee maker. The indoor pool is massive—perfect for a rainy day or evening swim—and the sauna will help you relax after getting your workout in at the fitness center. On-site restaurant Wayfarer offers room service and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, so you don’t have to wander far for a good meal. But the best part about Surfsand Resort is the staff—friendly, accommodating and knowledgeable, they’ll help you get the most out of your stay in Cannon Beach.
A huge thank you to Toyota for lending us this gorgeous 2016 Avalon that took us on our adventure from Portland to the Oregon Coast. The V6 engine is powered by 268 hp and 248 lb.-ft. of torque, but don’t let its power fool you—it gets an estimated 31 mpg on the highway and boasts an Ultra Low Emission Vehicle certification. Heated and cooled seats, wireless smartphone charging, and a touch screen display that puts navigation, weather and music at your fingertips let you customize every ride to suit your needs. Pair that with safety features like lane departure alert with steering assist, and you have one of the best cars of the year. We’re partial to the Ohh La La Rouge with matte black rims, but there’s a color for everyone.
Photos courtesy of Max Schwartz, Surfsand Resort and Toyota