Cannon Beach: Small Town Charm and Stunning Scenery on the Oregon Coast

A short drive from Portland, Cannon Beach is a great place for a rustic, gorgeous beach holiday

Credit: Taraneh Ghajar Jerven


Cannon Beach boasts 4 miles of golden beach with rugged coastal rock formations

Credit: Taraneh Ghajar Jerven


Beachfront cedar-shingled cottages in downtown Cannon Beach retain old-school charm

Credit: Taraneh Ghajar Jerven


Haystack Rock soars 235 ft. out of the Pacific and is home to puffins, seagulls and hundreds of tide pool communities

Credit: Taraneh Ghajar Jerven


Nearby Indian Beach in Ecola State Park attracts amateur and seasoned surfers

Credit: Taraneh Ghajar Jerven


Horseback riding and funcycling are two favourite visitor activities

Credit: Taraneh Ghajar Jerven


Cannon Beach has 44 public access points along four miles of beach

Just 1.5 hours from Portland, Oregon, Cannon Beach offers small-town charm, golden beaches and outdoor adventure for every type of traveller 

The Oregon coast is a moody, unexploited cobalt stretch, that surpasses that of neighbouring states Washington and California. But with 400 miles of secluded beaches, it can be hard to choose the perfect beach town.

Cannon Beach Holiday

Cannon Beach, just 80 miles (one and a half hours) from Portland, is the ideal town for a summer beach holiday. Although explorers Lewis and Clark trekked along Cannon Beach in 1806 in awe of the coastal rock formations, golden beach and giant Sitka spruce forests, it wasn’t until the 1930s, with the completion of Highway 101, that Cannon Beach became a summer getaway.

Cannon Beach retains the old-school, small-town charm that neighbouring Seaside (north) and Tillamook, Lincoln City and Newport (south) have forfeited to strip malls.

Expect rustic cedar shingled beach houses, 4 miles of pristine beach, and a handful of upscale shops and galleries mixed in with the fish mongers and ice cream parlours. For adventure seekers, surf board and bike rentals, plus access to the wild beauty of oceanfront Ecola State Park, offer unlimited opportunity.

Where to Eat and Drink in Cannon Beach

Downtown Cannon Beach has a handful of options for families and couples looking for the catch of the day.

The Wayfarer Restaurant & Lounge (1190 Pacific Drive), with a view of Cannon Beach’s iconic Haystack Rock, is the first choice for diners who crave scenery at sunset. Reservations are a must. While prices reflect location more than culinary skill, The Wayfarer turns out above average seafood including Rockfish tacos, Dungeness crab sandwiches topped with locally made cheddar, and Oregon hazelnut-crusted Rex Sole.

Bill’s Tavern & Brewhouse (188 North Hemlock) is the go-to for locally brewed suds, burgers and fish and chips. The most quaffable of the fine selection of beers at Bill’s is the award-winning, super hoppy Duck Dive Pale Ale.  

The Driftwood Inn (179 North Hemlock St.) has been serving classics like Crab Louie, Dungeness crab casserole, chowder and buttery razor clams since 1940. The patio, with a view of the main downtown pedestrian drag, is the perfect place to people watch with a sundowner.

Mo’s Fish Shack (195 Warren Way) is your beachfront chowder destination. Paul Newman and Robert Kennedy raved about it. The recipe hasn’t changed in 50+ years.

Grab picnic supplies at Surfcrest Market & Deli.

Finish by strolling over to Osburn Ice Creamery (240 North Hemlock St.) This ice cream parlour makes its own and has irresistible local, seasonal flavours like tart blackberry swirl and chunky Marion berry pie.   

Beaches and Hikes

Cannon Beach has 4 miles of beach with the unmissable Haystack Rock, jutting 235 ft upwards into the Oregon coastal skyline. Many families choose to camp out for the day, enjoying the tide pools, strolling, funcycling and even beachfront horseback riding.

For the more adventurous, nearby Ecola Sate Park is a must-visit. Amateur and seasoned surfers of all ages gravitate to the park’s hidden gem: Indian Beach. The best place to book surf lessons and rent surf equipment in Cannon Beach is Cannon Beach Surf School, which offers two days of private instruction at Indian Beach for $205, including equipment rental. The knowledgeable instructors cover everything from safety to how to read the surf report and surf vocab like “assmuncher.” Best of all, they let students keep the equipment overnight, should you want to keep surfing after the one-on-one.  

Hikers and nature enthusiasts rave about Ecola State park for its 10+ miles of vigorous trails through old growth forests. After grueling ascents, you’re rewarded with a stunning view of the sea. Lucky hikers will also catch a glimpse of pelicans, puffins, basking sea lions and Rooselvelt elk.     

Cannon Beach Accomodations

You’ll find every type of accommodation solution in downtown Cannon Beach, from cottage rentals to motels and beachfront resorts

Haystack Lodgings is a good bet for affordable inn-style rooms, often with kitchenettes, and rustic cottages. Surfsand Resort (beachfront, overlooking Haystack Rock) is popular with families after an easy, contemporary solution. The Waves Motel offers budget-friendly rooms for couples.