The Pacific ocean is only 1h30 from Portland. So when the weather is nice and you have a free day, you have to go there! Obviously we are in Oregon so except if you REALLY like surfing and have a VERY thick wet suit, you don’t go to the beach to swim here. But it is great anyway. I don’t know what is so relaxing about seing the sea/ocean… but it is. Love it!
The Oregon Coast is pretty extended so we’ve only gone to the Northern part for now. Here are the places we’ve visited so far and my opinion/recommendation for each one.
Astoria is a small town on the very north of the Oregon coast. You have some sort of a city center but to be honest it looks like it is stuck in the past. Let’s just say that you definitely don’t go there for the shopping experience even if some buildings are still quite nice.
Anyway, what Astoria is the most known for is the sea lions! If you’ve never seen/heard sea lions before, you have to go there! The sound they make is pretty disturbing at first (when you don’t know what it is) but very funny. If you go to Buoy Beer (we ate there and it was pretty good), they also have a ceiling floor with sea lions right under. Pretty cool for the kids (and the kids at heart!).
The ocean view is also very nice as Astoria is located at the mouth of the Columbia river so right in front of the Southern Washington coast.
Recommendation: I wouldn’t spend an entire day there but it is definitely worth to stop. We paired it with Seaside on the same day (see below) and I think it was a good choice.
Seaside is more a destination for families. The main attraction is the beach (once again, not really for swimming – even though some people do) and the city center is full of ice cream/arcade games/souvenirs stores. Even if it is nice, the landscape is not the most amazing one there is.
Recommendation: I wouldn’t go back. I guess that says a lot. However, as I said, I would recommend it for families. You have everything you can possibly need to spend the entire day there, enjoying the beach.
I think that Cannon Beach is the #1 destination for a day at the beach here. First, it is the closest one if you come from Portland. Second, the beach is amazing with the famous rocks in the middle of the water (the Haystack Rock is even accessible by foot at low tide). Third, the city has managed to preserve a small-town vibe by discouraging big companies like MacDonalds to come. You can easily find different kind of local restaurants though.
To go to Cannon Beach, you have to drive through the forest. For that reason, I think that it is worth the trip all year long. Obviously it is great in spring and summer but the drive there must be beautiful in autumn too with all the leaves changing colors.
Recommendation: I would definitely go back! I loved it but my advise would be to be careful on when you go. Do yourself a favour and skip long weekends for instance. Or be ready to spend much more time in the car than usual.
Tillamook / Cape Meares
I discovered Tillamook last month a bit randomly and what a nice surprise it was! The city itself has nothing special. I only stopped there to get something to eat. What you have to do is drive up to Cape Meares.
The drive only is amazing. It was so nice that I stopped a couple times to take pictures. There are beaches along the way so if you want to get your feet in the sand, you can definitely do it there.
Once you get to Cape Meares, you’re at the top of the cliff so you can enjoy a 180 degrees view of the coast. Each side is totally unique, it almost feels like you are not at the same place whether you look right or left. Bonus: there is a small lighthouse. Super cute!
Similar to what I said for Cannon Beach, you have to driver through the Tillamook State Park first and then the Cape Meares lighthouse is located in the middle of another park. It must be beautiful all year long.
Recommendation: I think this is my favorite part of the Oregon coast so far. You have everything: the beach, the amazing landscape with the rocks in the middle of the ocean, a lighthouse. And also, much less people! Definitely worth driving a little bit longer.
I hope you liked it and found it interesting. Let me know if you ever visit one of these places or if you have other ones that I should check out.