We lived on the Oregon Coast for 3 months in the summer of 2017 but didn't get up to Cannon Beach once! We finally made it here in September 2018 when we were living in the Seattle area. It is a very popular tourist destination and upon arrival, we could understand why. There are many beautiful beaches along the Northern Oregon coast and the little town of Cannon Beach is perfect for a weekend getaway.
DAY 1 FRIDAY 09.21.2018
The plan for Friday was just to get the drive started and park at the Dismal Nitch rest area [46.249255, -123.860549], which is just across the bridge from the Oregon border.
We stopped in Olympia for a bathroom break and decided to get dinner while we were there. We found a gem of an Asian restaurant, K-Town Rice Bowl & Korean Fusion. We took it to go and the food was fantastic. Very fresh and good quality. It was the number one restaurant in the area on Yelp and I can understand why. I’d highly recommend it.
After dinner, we finished the drive and parked at the rest area. It is a very nice spot. The parking area is right on the water and has really pretty views.
DAY 2 SATURDAY 09.22.2018
We woke around 7am and it was a very cool, cloudy, and hazy morning. We drove over to Astoria and found a place to park close to the water to make coffee and tea in the van. It was so foggy and started to rain just as the coffee was ready. We weren’t going to let the rain stop us from our explorations and we had a big day planned! Here’s what we had in mind...
Del Ray Beach State Rec Site (to drive on the beach!)
Ecola State Park
Hug Point State Rec Site
Back to Ecola State Park for Indian Beach
Back to Del Ray Beach
Lodging: Del Ray Beach Parking Lot
Del Ray Beach State Rec Site: I had never driven on the beach before so this might have been my favorite place of the whole trip (as you'll see later, we came back a few times). In my research of places we could 'camp for free', I stumbled upon the parking lot for this beach. When I went to the satellite view on google, I saw a ton of cars on the beach and that's when I discovered miles of beach that doubles as a road. We came here first after coffee as a place we could cook breakfast. I was kind of nervous about driving on the beach in case the van got stuck. All the other vehicles we saw were Jeeps and pickups. It turned out to be no problem as long as we stayed on the smoothed out part! We found a spot and made breakfast while the rain continued.
Ecola State Park: After getting some thrills out of driving on the beach, it was time to head to Ecola State Park for the famous overlook of Cannon Beach and Haystack Rock. NOTE: There is a $5 entry fee for this state park. If you're looking for the lookout, turn left after the fee-station and there is a large parking area. It's a fairly short walk to the lookout.
Cannon Beach: As the drive continued south, it was time to visit Cannon Beach and see Haystack Rock up close! There is a free public parking lot at [45.889618, -123.962796], however, considering how busy it can get, it's kind of small. Once you find a place to park, walk over to the large beach and have some fun!
Tillamook Creamery: This stop is about an hour south of Cannon Beach but was a definite on the list and was totally worth it. We probably ended up spending almost 2 hours here, too (partially because it was so busy). The place was just completely remodeled and looks beautiful. Upstairs are the free (delicious) cheese samples and downstairs is a large storefront, restaurant, and of course ICE CREAM! For lunch, we split a cheese pizza and the buffalo mac n cheese. The pizza was delicious. I was pretty disappointed with the mac n cheese (especially with a high price of $14!). The sandwiches looked good. The ice cream was totally worth the 30 minute line. It was so fresh, very reasonably priced for the portion size, and soooo good. 2 scoops = $5 (and there's no tax in Oregon).
Hug Point State Recreation Site: On our way back up north from Tillamook, our first stop was here. Parking area located at [45.829185, -123.960214]. I believe parking here is free. There are no signs regarding fees. It's a very short walk to the beach from the parking area. It's a large beach where you can hang out and relax. There is also plenty of exploring to do with various rock structures, caves, and even a waterfall.