This article appears in July 17 Travel page.
The city of Cannon Beach, known for its long, sandy shore, is less than four miles in length and quaintly village-like, decorated with flower-strewn pathways and courtyards leading to restaurants, lodging, shopping and art galleries.
Here you won’t find any big-box stores, drive-throughs or neon flashing lights. What you will find is one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, a memorable arts-and-nature-centric town, and a rock.
Haystack Rock, a National Wildlife Refuge, rises 235 feet from the shoreline in the middle of Cannon Beach. It is a major landmark in Oregon and home to a plethora of species of birds, including the tufted puffin, black oystercatchers, brown pelicans and bald eagles, plus a large array of tidal pool life. At low tide, visitors can walk all around the spectacular rock created over 17 million years ago, likely the result of an underwater volcano.
There are over a dozen art galleries in Cannon Beach. Because of the natural wonders all around, artists have long gathered here to use the location as inspiration.
Festivals, too, have cropped up around the arts: The Spring Unveiling Arts Festival, Stormy Weather Arts Festival and Earth & Ocean Art Festival are among them. There is even an annual Cannon Beach Sandcastle Contest each June.
Cannon Beach wasn’t always known by that name. The story goes that in 1846, a cannon — mysteriously British — washed ashore after the shipwreck of the USS Shark. The cannon was a portion of the wreckage discovered. The name Cannon Beach was officially adopted by the city in 1922. The cannon was restored and is now on display in an outdoor viewing case at the Cannon Beach History Center & Museum.
Cannon Beach is surrounded to the north, south and west by parks and natural areas, namely Ecola State Park, Arcadia Beach, Hug Point and Oswald West State Park. Visiting nature enthusiasts flood in seeking excellent birding opportunities, a winding drive through moss-covered rainforest and numerous hikes within 15 minutes.
In Cannon Beach individual, family and chef-owned restaurants are plentiful and the norm. Fresh and local is the approach here. Culinary options range from fine dining with wine pairings to counter service. Whether simple or complex, dishes are further enhanced by the breezy salt air.
A favorite of visitors and residents alike, Wayfarer Restaurant & Lounge specializes in upscale seafood. Oceanfront from the inside, it touts the best view of Haystack Rock of any restaurant in town.
In Cannon Beach, visitors won’t have to choose between dining and their favorite beer or must-have coffee. There is a host of breweries and coffee houses that also offer casual dining.
While there are no chain hotels here, the lodging options are many. First, choose between oceanfront or near the ocean. Then, choose among inns, boutique hotels, resorts, cottages, vacation rentals and campsites. The Hallmark Resort & Spa features a modern spa. Its pathway to the beach also presents guests with a short walk to Haystack’s tidepools. Tolovana Inn, with amenities including a saltwater pool and spa, offers a family fun destination or a quiet retreat. With a few considerations guests might even be able to bring their pets along.
Only 90 minutes from Portland, the mild climate is a big draw. No matter what time of year, dress in layers and bring sunglasses.
• Cottage & Garden Tour Weekend, Sept. 13-15: Cannon Beach History Center & Museum’s annual fundraiser. 503-436-9301 or cbhistory.org.
• Earth & Ocean Art Festival, Sept. 20-22: Artists flock to this region for its awe-inspiring natural beauty. This new festival showcases artistic inspirations that raise awareness of the pristine coastal region through an appreciation of the arts. 503-436-1533 or cbgallerygroup.com.
• Stormy Weather Arts Festival, Nov. 1-3: Meet visual and performing artists and discuss their work, listen to local musicians, take in gallery events and experience why Cannon Beach has been recognized as one of “The 100 Best Art Towns in America.” cannonbeach.org/events-and-festivals/arts-events/stormy-weather-arts-festival