About an hour and a half from Portland, Ore., the upscale coastal community
of Cannon Beach has much to recommend it.
Fewer than 2,000 residents make their home here, but the incredible scenery,
sophisticated tourism infrastructure, and proximity to the metropolitan areas
of Oregon and Washington make it a popular vacation destination.
Cannon Beach has everything a good beach town needs: saltwater taffy,
restaurants for all budgets, shops and galleries, and a wide, sandy beach. Nine
miles long, the beach invites strolling. Bring your jacket, however -- this
isn't Malibu! Temperatures hover in the 60s (°F) on summer days, while winter
days are in the 40s and 50s. Typical of coastal weather, freezing temperatures
are not common or prolonged; winter lows average in the high 30s. Rainfall is
heaviest in the winter, averaging around 10 inches/month November through early
March, and summers are quite dry.
It's easy to find your way around in Cannon Beach. Everything is within a
block or two of Hemlock Street, the main drag running north-south and roughly paralleling
U.S. Route 101. The highway can be accessed at either end of town.
My perfect day in Cannon Beach starts with a stroll on that beach, watching
the sun kiss the shoreward side of Haystack, then a hearty breakfast.
Eschewing chain stores and restaurants, Cannon Beach successfully encourages
small businesses. Restaurants range from basic and family-friendly joints such
as the "Pig 'N Pancake" to the traditional steak-and-seafood "Driftwood Inn" to the
natural, organic, and healthfully delicious "Sweet Basil's Café." My personal
breakfast favorite is the "Lazy Susan Café," set just off the main road and
offering a gorgeous menu of omelettes and other brunch fare.
I also try to fit in a visit to the "Cannon Beach Bakery." While its claim to
fame is its "Haystack Bread," I can't pass up the pecan rolls --
gooey, crusty, impossibly messy cinnamon rolls topped with more pecans than
they can possibly hold. NOT a good bet for eating in the car unless you plan to
have your rig detailed afterward.
After breakfast, active opportunities beckon. Ecola State Park, at the north
end of town, has a variety of trails, including a two-miler from Ecola Beach to
Indian Beach. On a nice day, the six-mile trail to Tillamook Head is a good
choice. Nearby Hug Point and Oswald West State Park, both just moments away by
car, are also good places to explore, stroll, or -- depending upon conditions
-- sea kayak.
After an active morning, strolling the shops and galleries is a fun way to
spend the afternoon. Grab an ice cream cone in lieu of lunch (you're on
vacation, remember?), and lose yourself in a book store, become a kid again at
a kite or toy shop, or pretend you're Mrs. Thurston Howell III at one of the
ritzier galleries. Who knows? You might find that perfect Oregon artist objet
d' arte you can't live without.
Another walk along the beach, with or without a tidepool visit, makes a nice
interlude before dinner. Grab a shower, put on a clean pair of jeans or khakis,
and take your choice of all of those fabulous seafood eateries you passed on
your afternoon walk. It doesn't get much better than a day at Cannon Beach.
Sally O'Neal explores the world and her native Pacific Northwest and writes
weekly for sportsmansguide.com.