By Valerie Mellema
The north Oregon coast is perhaps one of the country’s most beautiful vantage points of the Pacific Ocean. Anyone visiting will experience nature in its raw beauty, something that is tantalizing and enjoyable for just about anyone. Spend time playing in the sand dunes or trek across the heavy terrain. You can visit lighthouses that are centuries old or stop at any of the beaches to truly enjoy the experience of Pacific Ocean beauty.
The north Oregon coast starts in the northern-most part of the state with the city of Astoria, and covers the area down through Newport. Here is a look at several of the activities, attractions and outings you will enjoy in several of those larger cities along the coast.
One of the state’s most historic cities, Astoria is rich in tradition and historical architecture and makes for an excellent stop for everyone in the family. It is located on the Columbia River, which provides plenty of water activities at their best. Astoria also is a great town for those looking for hiking and trekking opportunities in the region, or for those who just want to stay someplace where there are tremendous views of the water.
Seaside and Cannon Beach
Seaside and Cannon Beach are among the most popular destinations on the Oregon Coast and are especially attractive to families. Here, you can easily find a nice, comfortable cabin or condominium rental for a family (as well as many hotels). Because they are located the shortest distance from Portland, these cities are prime destinations for visitors from Portland, especially during the summer months for family vacations. The wide, expansive beaches in Seaside are unforgettable and you’ll also want to be sure to stop at the Seaside Aquarium. Ecola State Park is one of the best locations for a seaside picnic. Many activities take place in Seaside during the summer including volleyball tournaments and fishing outings.
Cannon Beach is another outstanding option – in fact, this beach was named by the Travel Channel as one of the seven World’s Best Beaches. You will find the famous Haystack Rock stuck in the sand here. Also, peer out into the water to see the Tillamook Rock Lighthouse, which is a well-known historic landmark. Cannon Beach also features a number of great activities and museums, including fine dining and a variety of deluxe accommodations. This is a major tourist area during the summer months, but Cannon Beach still feels like it is a slice of small town America and therefore feels very homey and charming.
The Manzanita area of the north Oregon cost is made up of three smaller towns named Wheeler, Manzanita and Wheeler. This is definitely the place to go if you are looking for historic towns filled with many recreational opportunities. There is plenty of outdoor recreation here, including maybe the favorite pastime for visitors: fishing and crabbing. For those looking for activities on the water, Manzanita offers kayaking, boating and other water sports. In Wheeler, you can go horseback riding right on the beach at Nehalem Bay State Park.
Rockaway Beach is known for its unique train that rolls through the center of the city. This is a small town, and you’ll love how this town feels. Be sure and check out the many unique shops and, if you want simple, inexpensive beach fun, Rockaway Beach is a great choice. Virtually all of the city is located right off the beach.
Tillamook is not on the coast, but is about 15 miles inland. Here, you will find many fun things to do including a stop at Cape Meares. There are also a number of great foods and experiences that you will enjoy. At the top of the list should be a visit to the Tillamook Cheese Factory, known for some of the best cheese in the country. You can shop and taste a few items, learn how this delicious cheese is made, and definitely enjoy the overall atmosphere. Other things to see here include the Air Museum, the Munson Creek Falls, and the Octopus Tree located in Cape Meares.
If you plan to visit the north Oregon coast for a romantic getaway and want someplace quiet, consider Pacific City – a small town that lacks the summer crowds you may find elsewhere, and that is still very much pristine. The beach is quite beautiful and there are plenty of things to do. You can fish, or take a boat ride down the Nestucca River. There are always great sand dunes to explore. Go horseback riding or enjoy a small picnic on the beach.
One of the premiere destinations for visitors to the Oregon Coast, Lincoln City offers an exceptional selection of accommodations and restaurants as well as great beaches and ocean views. Altogether, there are seven miles of beaches to enjoy, as well as such attractions as great shops, golf courses and even a casino. Also, when you visit, enjoy Regatta Grounds Park Nature Trail, Spring Lake and the many small shops that dot the landscape. Lincoln City also has the first major Factory Outlet Center, Tanger Factory Outlet Center, in the state. And if that’s not enough 680-acre Devils Lake is popular for kayaking, water skiing, jet skiing, wind surfing or fishing. There are a number of launching ramps and parks on the lake, including a State Park and a City Park–Regatta Park with a gorgeous kids’ play area and picnicking area that were both built by the local Rotarians.
During the 1900’s, the Nye Beach area of Newport was the top visitor attraction on the Oregon Coast. Today, you can still see why — Newport is like a picture postcard, nestled between the mountains, the Ocean and beautiful Yaquina Bay. The Nye Beach area still is quite popular with its shops, galleries, book stores, eateries and lodging. And one other thing you’ll notice in Newport: fishing here is big-time, with the commercial fleet adding still more nautical flavor to this picturesque community. You’ll find the commercial fleet in the Bayfront area of Newport, another great place to shop and enjoy fresh seafood in chowder houses along this special part of the Oregon Coast.
There are plenty of activities around Newport as well. Enjoy hiking the forest trails where you’ll find plenty of wildlife and great ocean views. There are not one, but two historic lighthouses to add to your photo album. Down on the sandy beaches there is plenty of driftwood and shells and other treasures.
For those visiting the north Oregon coast, there is something to do here for just about anyone. The food, the people, and of course the beaches make it a prime location for a large family or a couple — and everyone in between.
For more information on the Oregon Coast, contact the Oregon Coast Visitors Association at 888-628-2101, or visit www.visittheoregoncoast.com.
The coastal view from Neahkahnie Mountain, courtesy of Greg Vaughn.