I’m a big fan of the mini vacation. 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.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in June 2020, shortly after the blog was launched, and has been updated to reflect current COVID-19 travel parameters.
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 1 hour, 22 minutes from Portland, OR; 3 hours from Eugene, OR; and 3 hours, 43 minutes from Seattle, WA – and can draw quite a crowd year-round.
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!
Travel considerations during COVID-19. As a blogger who started my journey since coronavirus, I struggle to align my desire to share amazing places, with my understanding that any travel during these times involves individual risk as well as risk to local communities. When visiting Cannon Beach, please be mindful of the fact that over 60% of the local population is over the age of 60 and considered high-risk. My sense is that many people will continue to travel locally, and as long as they are doing it responsibly and are following current guidelines these experiences can be positive. I spoke with several local business owners and employees, and they all expressed their commitment to health and safety for all involved.
At the time of this post, Cannon Beach was downgraded from the “Extreme Risk” category, to the “High Risk” category of the new COVID-19 restrictions. Click here for details on what is allowed under each category. In a nutshell, indoor dining is allowed (25% capacity) with takeout preferred, and hiking and other outdoor recreational pursuits are allowed.
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 trail can be steep and slippery. COVID-19 update: All Ecola trails are open and passable but may be muddy and have downed trees from recent windstorms. The park and the main road into the park are both open, the Ecola Point parking area is open, and the restrooms are open. Click here for updates.
Visit Fort Clatsop National Memorial. Just about 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: The visitor’s center, including restrooms, are presently closed until further notice. The gates are open to access the fort and trails from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily. Click here for updates.
Last but not least: if weather permits try a little boogie boarding or surfing! Summer is considered the best time for surfing in Cannon Beach and Tolovano Beach, but click here for more details including surf forecast and surf reports.
A Few Ideas of Where To Eat in Cannon Beach
We have enjoyed the following family-friendly restaurants in Cannon Beach, OR:
Pizza a’ Fetta, in downtown Cannon Beach, is a kid-pleaser. COVID-19 update: order online options are available.
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 in Cannon Beach
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 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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