I’m a big fan of mini vacations. Getting away for three or four nights by car is just enough time to recharge and explore an area, but not so long that you will be derailed from bigger travel savings goals. We have taken many trips like this along the West Coast, including two to Cannon Beach, and when I first took in this spectacular coastline I wondered why I would ever need to step on a plane again.
Cannon Beach is a small coastal city in northwest Oregon featuring a long sandy beach with tidepools, sweeping views, a quaint downtown with galleries and restaurants, and hikes through the mossy rainforest. It is located fairly close to several northwest cities – about 3 hours, 43 minutes from Seattle; 3 hours from Eugene; and 1 hour, 22 minutes from Portland – and can draw quite a crowd. COVID-19 update: Cannon Beach is presently in Phase 2 of reopening with the city beach, parking, and restrooms open. Click here for up-to-date information.
When to go. When to go is a matter of personal preference. We prefer to go in the off season, mostly to save money, but also to avoid big crowds. Of course, many people prefer sunny beachy weather, but keep in mind that the Oregon coastal cities rarely hit more than the upper 60s in the hottest months. Cozying up by the fire and braving coastal storms can be fun too. Rainfall might be a bigger consideration. Cannon Beach gets 92 inches of rain on average per year, compared to the U.S. average of 38 inches, so bring your wellies!
A Few Ideas of What to do in Cannon Beach
Go beachcombing and explore tidepools. Many of the best tidepools in Cannon Beach are in the shadow of iconic landmark Haystack Rock, a 235 foot seastack, with nesting seabird habitat. Click here for information on tidepool etiquette and tide charts.
Visit Ecola State Park, go on a hike, and take in the breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean. Just a short drive from the north part of downtown Cannon Beach, there is a wonderful 2.5 mile hike through the Sitka spruce forest with panoramic views of the ocean, just the right length for a family hike. Take care as this can steep and slippery. COVID-19 update: Note, due to landslides and COVID-19, Ecola State Park may currently be closed, click here for updates.
Visit Fort Clatsop National Memorial. Just about a half an hour north of downtown Cannon Beach, Fort Clatsop National Memorial features an educational interpretive center, as well as a replica of the historic fort. This fort was the encampment of the Lewis and Clark Expedition in the Oregon Country during the winter of 1805-1806. COVID-19 update: Generally, it is open every day of the year except for Christmas, but due to the pandemic the fort and visitor center are presently closed. It will be reopening under the phased approach, though, so click here for updates.
Last but not least: if weather permits try a little boogie boarding or surfing!
A Few Ideas of Where to Eat in Cannon Beach
We have enjoyed the following family-friendly restaurants in Cannon Beach, OR:
1. Pizza a’ Fetta, in downtown Cannon Beach, is a kid pleaser. COVID-19 update: order online options are available.
2. Sweet Basil’s Café, tucked off the main drag with a diverse “farm to table” menu, does not appear to be super kid friendly at first glance. That is mostly because it is small and often has live music. We have eaten there on both occasions, though, and appreciated the special menu for the kids as well as the eclectic offerings for us. COVID-19 update: They are presently offering takeout only Saturday and Sunday.
3. Toms Fish & Chips, while fish and chips can be hit or miss in touristy towns, you have to have fish and chips at the coast. COVID-19 update: They are now open with no phone orders.
Where to stay. There are many lodging options in Cannon Beach, including beachfront resorts with pools, but both times we visited we have chosen to stay at the more affordably priced Inn at Cannon Beach. We appreciated its reasonable price, that it is one block from the beach, that it is family and dog friendly, that movies and games are available, and that it includes a decent breakfast. (You can help yourself to cookies, cocoa, and coffee too!) My kids are still talking about the frog pond and semi-tame bunnies in the garden courtyard. COVID-19 update: The Inn is presently open and welcoming guests with increased sanitation protocols.
Rain or shine, there is something for everyone in this wonderful beach town, so pack your swimsuit and your rain gear and get out there.
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