While visiting Portland, Oregon last October, I took a drive out to the coast for the afternoon. I’ve dreamed of visiting the Oregon coast since I was young and watched the movie, Goonies. The Pacific coast is just so different than the Atlantic coast which I’m used to from living in Boston.
I got a bit of a late start after a long day the previous day that started with a 5am flight out of Boston. So, I knew I wasn’t going to see all that I wanted to see, but that was fine, something is better than nothing. It was pretty rainy in Portland, so I did get a bit nervous about the weather, but the further west I drove, the rain started to taper off and I ended up with a nice dry day and even some sunshine.
My first stop was Seaside, Oregon. This is the perfect beach resort town with plenty to see and do for the entire family. The beach in Seaside is absolutely beautiful, perfect place to get some sun, play in the sand, go for a swim and it has some of the best surfing in the Pacific Northwest. I was definitely impressed with the waves at this beach, I could have watched them all day, waves are so relaxing to me.
One of the most popular things to do in Seaside is to walk the Promenade. This 1.5-mile oceanfront promenade has been here since 1921 and is the perfect spot for a walk, run or bike ride. The views along the Promenade are just stunning. Located along the Promenade is the Seaside Aquarium. The Aquarium is definitely a popular spot especially for families. The aquarium has been in Seaside since 1937 and while visiting, feeding the harbor seals is a must.
After spending some time walking along the Promenade and on the beach, I walked thru town. There is so much to do in town: take a ride on the carousel, play some games in the arcade, shop in the gift shops and one-of-a-kind shops or even just take a stroll and people watch. And if you work up an appetite with all that activity, there are plenty of food options in Seaside. From the typical beach food like pizza, ice cream and saltwater taffy to sit down restaurants featuring everything from Seafood to Italian to Mexican to Chinese to Pub food, Seaside has it all.
Seaside is more than just a beach resort town; it also has its place in history! Seaside is known as the end of the Lewis and Clark expedition. In 1804, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark set out to explore the land west of the Mississippi which was just acquired in the Louisiana Purchase. Seaside is said to be the last place they stopped in 1806 before turning around to head home. There is a statue where the road ends near the Promenade to commemorate this.
Ecola State Park
After spending some time in Seaside, I headed south to Ecola State Park. This park encompasses 9 miles of the Oregon coastline. It’s the perfect spot for hiking, wildlife viewing, beach access, picnics and stunning views! I could not get over how beautiful the views were and coming from Seaside where the sun was shining made the foggy coastal views in Ecola State Park that much more impressive.
Driving into the park, you follow a road thru the forest which can be narrow at times, but also very beautiful. It definitely makes you feel like you are out in nature. You will then come to the coast with its cliffside views high above the ocean where you can also view the historic Tillamook Rock Lighthouse off in the distance.
While the views are spectacular on a sunny day, I’m so grateful that part of the time I was there was somewhat foggy. The foggy view of the ocean below was just stunning! It was pretty crazy how quickly it went from sunny to foggy to sunny again while I was in the park.
There are many short hiking trails within the park and also sections of hiking trails in the park are part of larger trails, like the Oregon Coast Trail, which an 8-mile section of this trail is located within Ecola State Park. There is also the challenging 5-mile Tillamook Head Trail which starts just south of Seaside and takes you to Ecola State Park.
Being that the park sits high above the Pacific Ocean, it’s no stranger to weather related damage. When I visited in the fall of 2021, there were certain trails that were closed due to landslides. As of the writing of the post in February 2022, the entire park is closed due to a landslide on the Ecola Park Road, which you take into the park. Please make sure to check the website before visiting for the status of the park.
Next, I was off to probably one of the most well-known spots on the Oregon Coast is Cannon Beach, famous for the 235-foot Haystack Rock. Haystack Rock has been listed as one of the World’s 100 Most Beautiful Places by National Geographic and it’s definitely a sight to see. I’ve been wanting to see Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach in person since seeing it in the movie Goonies when I was a young kid. It was as impressive in person as it was seeing it in the movie all those many years ago.
Haystack Rock is said to be formed by lava flow millions of years ago. It can be accessed by foot at low tide, making it a great time to view the sea life in the tide pools by Haystack Rock. When I visited, the tide was coming in and boy was it coming in fast, definitely something to watch out for at Cannon Beach. At one point, I was very far away from the edge of the water and next thing I knew I had to run so as not to get wet from the incoming tide. And I was not alone, there were many others running with me.
Haystack Rock is also a great place for bird viewing year-round and in the early spring to mid-summer, you might even catch a glimpse of a Tufted Puffin. Time for me to plan a trip during that time of year so I can see the puffins! I had no idea before this trip that puffins could be found in the Pacific Northwest.
Other than Haystack Rock and the Beach, there is plenty of shopping, art galleries, restaurants and craft breweries to try. I had a late lunch at Pelican Brewing Company. It was a great spot, not far from the beach and they had outdoor dining which was a plus as it was the only warm and sunny day while I was visiting Oregon, so it was nice to enjoy the vitamin D! Pelican Brewing Company started in 1996 about 65 miles south of Cannon Beach in Pacific City, Oregon. They have a terrific food and beer menu; I ordered the Beer Sausage Flatbread which had roasted tomatoes, ricotta cheese and beer sausage. To accompany it, I had a Sea’N Red Irish-Style Red Ale as recommended on the menu.
I spent a very quick afternoon exploring the Oregon Coast and really barely scratched the surface. I think another trip to Oregon is in order so I could spend a few days exploring the coast, including making it down further south along the coast. This was definitely a great overview of what to expect from the Oregon Coast.
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