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I recently had couple girlfriends visit me from out of state and we enjoyed a fantastic weekend hitting many highlights along the northern Oregon coast. Here’s a list of what we did with two full days and two nights (leaving on the 3rd morning). I hope you can discover some inspiration for creating your own perfect weekend at the coast!
We took Highway 26 from Portland to Cannon Beach. It’s a beautiful drive and under 1 ½ hours from most areas in Portland, which unfortunately can make it a traffic nightmare. Try to get on the road early if traveling on a summer or holiday weekend.
We only took a brief stop in Cannon Beach to use the restroom and get Sleepy Monk coffee. Sleepy Monk roasts their own organic beans right there in Cannon Beach and makes their own syrups and pastries. You can also buy freshly roasted beans for a decent price.
If hiking isn’t your jam, or you want to get right to the sand, Cannon Beach makes the perfect stop. It’s one of my favorite beach towns, with a plethora of quality gift and art shops and the iconic Haystack Rock overlooking a lovely beach.
Neahkahnie Mountain Hike
Our next stop was the trailhead for Neahkahnie Mountain, about 20 minutes south of Cannon Beach. There are both north and south trailheads for this hike. It’s only 1.5 miles from the south trailhead to the top, but you have drive up a gravel road to park, which can be a problem for low cars. It’s closer to 3 miles from the northern trailhead to the summit, but the trail leads you through a gorgeous variety of flora and fauna and you can get some lovely views of the ocean while you are climbing. Since we had three cars in our group, we parked one at the south trailhead, then shuttled back to the north and all started the hike from there.
We hiked on one of those perfect Oregon days! It was warm and clear, with just enough breeze to keep us cool while we hiked. I would skip this hike if it was foggy or pouring rain, as the view would be obstructed. We ate lunch at the top perched on rather uncomfortable rocks, but the view made it all worth it. It was an easy jaunt from the summit down to the south trailhead. If I didn’t have two cars, I would have hiked down the northern side again, though, because it’s so much prettier.
Neahkahnie Mountain is doable by anyone with a moderate level of fitness. It’s short enough that you do not need to carry a large pack and the elevation gain is pretty reasonable. You do, however, need to have sturdy shoes, the ability to clamber over rocks and tree roots, and be able to walk at least 2 miles uphill. Always bring water, a snack and a jacket/sweater when hiking.
Tillamook Cheese Factory
The ice cream counter at the Tillamook Cheese Factory
Upon getting to our car again, we winded our way south on highway 101, enjoying views of the ocean, farmland and small towns that we passed. The Tillamook Cheese Factory made for a fun roadside stop. The newly remodeled visitor’s center has spacious restrooms, a large gift shop, a viewing platform where you can see the cheese being made on a working day, cheese curd samples, a cafe and best of all, an ice cream counter. Since we happened to hit the factory on a sunny holiday weekend, the ice cream line was horrendously long. Tillamook ice cream really is delicious and worth the wait!
Newport is the coastal town that gives you a taste of everything! A large harbor, a photogenic bridge, two lighthouses, tidepools, the Oregon Coast Aquarium, Ripley’s Believe It or Not, a long stretch of beach, shops, restaurants……there really is something for everyone. My friends and I had one full day in Newport, so we walked on the beach, visited the Yaquina Head lighthouse and tidepools, window shopped at Nye Beach and the bayfront, and walked the boat docks in Newport bay.
With more time, or different interests, a visit to the Aquarium is worthwhile or it’s an easy drive down to Yachats and Cape Perpetua (one of my other favorite Oregon coast spots).
We were thrilled to see whales off Yaquina Head. Some of them were within 100 feet of the shore! It was magical. You can see whales off the Oregon coast all year round, but spring and fall are particularly good times.
In August and early September, fisherman often sell fresh fish right off the docks in Newport Bay. It was a family tradition of mine to go down on Labor Day weekend and buy tuna and salmon off the docks. You can get the freshest fish possible, sustainably caught and incredibly tasty for a really good price!
We ate at Nana’s Irish Pub and Panini Bakery in Nye Beach (both excellent), Lucky Thai Elephant on 101 (good). Mo’s and The Chowder Bowl are both known for their seafood.
The Sylvia Beach Hotel
This quirky, literary themed bed-and-breakfast is my favorite place to stay in Oregon! The building is perched on the bluff overlooking Nye beach, and you can walk to shops, restaurants or the beach. A fantastic breakfast is included with the price of you room.
Each room is named after a different author with decorations themed after the life and times of the author and/or stories they wrote about. For example, the Jules Verne room has a nautical theme, the Austen room is old-fashioned and elegant, the Shakespeare room is decorated with swords and heavy drapes, and the J.K. Rowling room has Moaning Myrtle peeping over the toilet. So many charming options. Many of the rooms are very budget-friendly. Sunday nights, weeknights and the winter season are the cheapest times to visit.
It’s important to note that Sylvia Beach is not a traditional hotel. The rooms are small, there are no TVs and no Wi-Fi. What do you do instead of watch TV? Why, read in the library of course! This cozy space is on the 3rd floor, overlooking the ocean. There are games, puzzles and a large collection of books. You can make tea or coffee in the kitchenette, or sip on the complimentary spiced wine in the evenings. Reading, sipping wine and listening to the wind whistle around the eves is the epitome of coziness!
In the evenings, the Tables of Content restaurant opens for service in the hotel dining room. The experience is more like a private chef’s dinner than a traditional restaurant. You must have reservations and pick your main entree ahead. All courses are included for a flat rate. The food is fresh, local and delicious, with unusual options such as the seared cheese with a mint-basil sauce that I enjoyed for an appetizer on my most recent visit. A treat for the taste buds! Guests are seated at communal tables, and with dinner often taking three hours, you really get to know your table mates. To enjoy the the experience, come with conversation skills sharp and a book or two to discuss.
An incredible sunset captured over Nye Beach
It’s always sad to leave the beach, but I can take a sense of peace with me as I head for home. And, of course, start plotting the next visit!
Looking for accommodation on the coast? Use my AirBnb referral link to get $40 off your first stay!