Cannon Beach is one of the Oregon Coast's most popular destinations, offering both adventure and relaxation. Anyone who loves wild nature will be thrilled with the great beach access, hiking trails, and rugged scenery. Cannon Beach's quality art galleries, high-end hotels, and superb restaurants will appeal to couples looking for a romantic getaway. Families will enjoy the sandy beaches, picnic spots, and fun shops.
Here are some of the best activities and attractions for visitors to Cannon Beach:
Haystack Rock, said to be the world's third largest monolith, is a Cannon Beach icon. Combined with sand, water, and sky, it makes for some extremely photogenic scenery. Look but don't touch - you can't actually climb on Haystack Rock yourself. The monolith and surroundings are designated a National Wildlife Refuge and Marine Garden, preserved for puffins, sea stars, crabs, and other seabirds and invertebrates. At low tide, expert interpreters from the Haystack Rock Awareness Program are often available to answer questions. Haystack Rock views are available from several Cannon Beach vantages. Many of the town's favorite inns and restaurants look out over the flat sandy beach and the striking rock. One way to experience Haystack Rock is from Tolovana Wayside Park, where you can access and wander the beach.
Two sandy beaches, over 10 miles of hiking trails, picnicking, hiker's camping, and incredible coast views make Ecola State Park a gem of the Oregon State Park system. History buffs will enjoy walking in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark, who visited Indian Beach during their winter at Fort Clatsop in order to check out the remains of a beached whale. The 2.5-mile Clatsop Loop Interpretive Trail takes you along an old road and through steep forest trails. Today, Indian Beach is a popular spot for Oregon Coast surfers (fun to watch). Within Ecola State Park you can enjoy fabulous views both of and from Tillamook Head, as well as a view of Tillamook Rock Lighthouse.
Visit Some Art Galleries
Cannon Beach's art galleries carry works in a variety of media, from expensive fine art to affordable crafts. Many of the works are by local artists and craftsman. Art lovers can spend hours simply hopping between the galleries. A few highlights include the Northwest by Northwest Gallery (fine paintings, sculpture, art glass, ceramics, and jewelry from Northwest artists), Bronze Coast Gallery (fine art including paintings and cast bronze sculpture), and Dragon Fire Studio & Gallery (colorful, fun, and funky art and fine crafts in all media).
Shops and Shopping
After exploring the beach, exploring the shops among the shingled buildings along Spruce and Hemlock beach is an essential part of the Cannon Beach experience. You'll find lots of fun shops carrying unique and interesting items. A few not to miss include Bruce's Candy Kitchen, where you can buy fresh salt water taffy, old-fashion candies, and souvenir and gift items; Geppetto's Toy Shoppe, which sells all kinds of toys; Puppy Love by the Sea, which has great gifts for dogs and their people. There's even an all-year-round Christmas store in Yuletides Christmas Shop.
See the actual cannon that gave the town its name! This small museum focuses on local history, but also offers special exhibitions on a variety of subjects. History buffs will enjoy spending time checking out their collection of old photographs, many featuring Cannon Beach residents and visitors at play.
From Dale Chihuly’s presence in Seattle and Tacoma to Pilchuck Glass School, glassblowing is an inherent part of the Northwest arts scene. The Oregon Coast is no exception. In Cannon Beach, Icefire Glassworks is the place to be if you want to get up close and personal with this complicated artform. Not only can you shop for a unique piece of glass to bring home at Icefire Glassworks, but you can also watch new pieces being blown live in the shop by artists Jim Kingwell and Suzanne Kindland.
Go Tasting at Cannon Beach Distillery
Cannon Beach is an amazing beach destination if you want to hop between shops and art galleries not far from the sand – and nothing pairs nicer with those galleries than stopping for a tasting at Cannon Beach Distillery (at least so long as you’re 21+ and you enjoy gin, rum and other spirits). Cannon Beach Distillery distills, matures and bottles its drinks right in house using top-notch ingredients and aims for every sip to be of high enough quality that you can enjoy it neat and at room temperature, so there are no dyes, sweeteners or other artificial ingredients involved.
After a day spent shopping, gallery hopping and tasting the local beverages, Coaster Theatre Playhouse makes a great evening stop. The theatre puts on both musical and non-musical live shows ranging from “A Christmas Carol” to “Steel Magnolias” to “The Wizard of Oz.” Some shows are great for families, while others make excellent date fare. The theatre is close to Lazy Susan Café, Local Grill & Scoop and within a short walk of the Driftwood Restaurant & Lounge and Bill’s Tavern, if you’re looking to pair a show with dinner.
If you love learning about food and eating food, then a dinner show at EVOO is in order. Shows are offered most nights in any given month and offer a unique experience you won’t find anywhere else nearby. Husband-wife team Chef Bob Neroni and Lenore Emery-Neroni offer dinner, a demonstration and a cooking lesson all in one. As dinner is prepared, you’ll learn tips to help you prepare food at home and you’ll also learn more about what the chef is serving. The menu changes seasonally and always features a three-course meal with each course paired with a wine, as well as dessert and coffee at the end.
While Ecola State Park is closest to Cannon Beach, just a short drive south will take you to Oswald West State Park. This state park offers ample hiking trails as well as a popular sandy beach called Short Sand Beach. From the main parking lot, you can get to Short Sand Beach (fondly called Shorty’s) by walking under Highway 101 and down the trail, following along the creek. Cross the railroad-style bridge when you come to it and you’ll find the beach (and don’t worry – all that might sound like a long hike, but it’s about a half mile from the parking lot to the beach). If you’ve had enough of the beach, you can also hike miles of trails through the temperate rainforest located at this park, too.
Take a Jaunt over to Seaside
While Cannon Beach has plenty to keep any visitor busy, it’s also just about five minutes from another fun Oregon Coast city – Seaside. Where Cannon Beach is artsy, Seaside is all about fun. Where Cannon Beach has galleries, Seaside has a carousel and candy shops. While both are a lot of fun to visit, Seaside has a bit more of a playful side so it’s great for families traveling with kids. Seaside also boasts a long, paved and level boardwalk that’s perfect for a stroll along the water.