For a coastal city that is less than 2 miles long, Cannon Beach packs an impressively diverse wealth of attractions and amenities.
On a day trip to the small community off U.S. Highway 101, you can experience arts and culture, outdoor adventures, delicious cuisine, and natural wonders — all within walking or biking distance. That’s not to say you shouldn’t explore the nearby area: Oswald West State Park, home of Short Sand Beach and Cape Falcon Marine Reserve are just a few miles south of Cannon Beach. But almost everything you could want in a vacation, whether traveling with family, furry friends, a partner, or on your own, can be found within the confines of this quaint coastal city.
Where to stay
Cannon Beach is coming back to life as local and statewide restrictions put in place to help stop the spread of the coronavirus are lifted. Nearly every manner of lodging is present within the city, and since early June, these overnight accommodations are gradually becoming accessible again.
Thanks to the plethora of short-term rentals located on Hemlock Street, the main thoroughfare, and sleepy side streets, you can easily find a beach house to reside in for a few days or a couple weeks.
The Cannon Beach RV Resort, on Elk Road off the east side of U.S. Highway 101, and Sea Ranch RV and Stables, near the northern entrance to town, accommodate a variety of campers, trailers and tents.
If camping is not your forte, you can stay at one of Cannon Beach’s numerous upscale hotels, such as the elegant Stephanie Inn located in the southern part of Cannon Beach known as Tolovana. Although you are about a mile away from downtown, where a majority of the city’s shopping and dining is located, the hotel rests on the oceanfront and offers spa services, a gas fireplace in every guest room and complimentary gourmet breakfast buffet.
Another oceanfront property located near the Tolovana Beach Wayside is the Tolovana Inn. With kitchens in the suites, you can prepare your meals on-site or take the complimentary shuttle downtown to dine at a restaurant.
For lodging situated closer to the hustle and bustle, Land’s End at Cannon Beach is an intimate hotel, blocks away from dozens of restaurants, coffee shops, and boutiques. Accessing the beach to have a bonfire or build a sandcastle is as simple as walking outside and down the steps at the west end of Second Street.
Where to eat
One of Cannon Beach’s novelties is the lack of fast food eateries and chain restaurants. One of the few establishments part of a franchise is Pig ‘N Pancake, which has sister locations in Seaside, Astoria, Newport and Lincoln City. However, the restaurant, located at the south end of downtown, was established by a local family in the late 1990s and still uses original recipes for its buttermilk, Swedish, sourdough and French batter pancakes.
For tasty and reasonably priced lunch fare, visit Seasons Café, which is tucked away on an alley between Hemlock and Spruce streets. The café has recently reopened for sit-down dining, although their sandwiches and wraps — including the popular grilled club wrap, antipasto and Aussie dip — make good companions for a picnic in the park across the street.
On the north end of town, Castaway’s is a quaint restaurant that serves Cajun-Creole fare, along with French and Caribbean cuisine. They are still closed for dine-in services, but you can order their daily ravioli special, seafood linguini, creole etouffee, or other dishes to enjoy.
No road trip would be complete without coffee. Cannon Beach has some of the best offerings in that department as well. Sleepy Monk Coffee Roasters, in midtown, is well-known not only to locals but also visitors across the country for its coffee varieties, which are sourced internationally, certified organic and roasted in small batches on-site. If you get there early enough, you also have your pick from an array of pastries, which are, as a sign at the store suggests, baked fresh “while you were sleeping.”
If you’re in Tolovana, visit Sea Level Bakery + Coffee, located less than a block away from the beach and open daily. While you are currently unable to sit inside, you can purchase food to-go at the door or on the company’s website. For non-coffee drinkers, the cafe offers tea — along with fresh-baked breads, cookies, sandwiches, maple bourbon sticky buns and soups.
Where to explore
With Ecola State Park indefinitely closed because of landslides on the trail, visitors may be wondering where they can go for their nature fix. However, Cannon Beach has an abundant of green spaces that get you outdoors without leaving city limits, including Les Shirley Park, and the Madison Street park.
The Cannon Beach Nature Loop Hike is an easy, 2.1 mile walk that is suitable for the whole family. Begin with the interpretive trail around the wastewater treatment pools, abundant with waterfowl. Continue south and pass through a small spruce forest reserve, a quiet neighborhood along South Elm Street, and some woodlands before emerging on East Gower Avenue.
You can also take the east exit into Cannon Beach — where the RV park is located — and continue down Elk Creek Road to the Ecola Creek Forest Reserve trailhead. The approximately 1,040-acre area is mostly forested and open to hiking and fishing.
Finally, no day trip is complete without a visit to the beach for a walk in the soft sand or a surf in the ocean. Haystack Rock itself is a marine garden and wildlife refuge. The area around the enormous monolithic rock, accessible at low tide, is teeming with sea anemones, urchins, sea stars, shellfish and other marine life. Volunteers with the Haystack Rock Awareness Program are often on-hand during the day to offer tips and help you explore the area without damaging the unique ecosystem.