About two hours’ drive from Portland, Cannon Beach is known for its natural beauty, thriving arts and craft community, and charming village atmosphere maintained through strict limitations on the number of large chain stores and restaurants.
Cannon Beach’s wide shoreline stretches for 9 miles (14 kilometers). It’s part of Oregon’s 363 miles (584 kilometer) of coastline, all of which is open and free for public use. From mid-December to January and March to June, keep your eyes on the sea as you may spot migrating gray whales.
If you prefer a walk in the forest, explore Ecola State Park. For a small admission fee you can walk trails through coastal forests thick with conifers and dotted with viewpoints. Don’t miss the south facing view from Ecola Point, which looks out over Cannon Beach’s famous landmark, Haystack Rock.
Haystack rock is a 235-foot-high (72-meter) basalt sea stack flanked by two other rock formations known as the Needles. At the base of these monoliths are tide pools teeming with crabs, algae, anemones, sea stars and other organisms. Haystack Rock and its surrounding intertidal pools form a marine garden and are an Oregon Islands National Wildlife Reserve. Climbing the rock is not permitted and you must not disturb or remove the wildlife.
Back in the quaint Cannon Beach village, wander down Hemlock Street, where you’ll find most of the boutiques and art galleries, and the cozy Coaster Theatre Playhouse. There are also stores specializing in antiques and collectibles, home décor, surf wear, gourmet food and textiles. Watch local glass-makers in action at Icefire Glassworks. Glass art can be purchased at many of the local galleries.
Festivals in May and November showcase the best of the area’s new art. In June, thousands of visitors come to the Cannon Beach Sandcastle Festival, which has been running since 1965. Visit the Cannon Beach History Center and Museum year round, Thursdays through Monday. The Museum is home to the original cannon, from the shipwrecked USS Schooner Shark, for which Cannon Beach was named.