If I could name the best Pacific Ocean beaches in the USA, it would be Hawaii, La Jolla (San Diego), and Cannon Beach, Oregon. Oregon Coast usually overlooked by its neighbor, California,
although could easily compete with it and win. But thanks to it, Oregon Coast remains less crowded and more pristine. “Must-see In USA: Cannon Beach” is about planning the trip and the most interesting places to visit.
Must-see In USA: Cannon Beach. Planning the trip
Best time to visit
Unlike La Jolla, Cannon Beach doesn’t have ideal weather year-round.
Early Fall and late Spring are the best time from our perspective for Oregon Coast vacation. Although it could be wet, windy, and foggy, there is a big chance of clear weather. Plus long daylight hours and little crowds.
Summer brings more crowds and a chance of hot weather. Speaking about temperatures, I would rather build a bonfire at the Oregon Coast, than lay at the beach during summer. 😀
Winter: from mid-October through May be prepared for the rain season. Wet, windy, and foggy weather is common for this time of the year.
What’s so special about Cannon Beach
Cannon Beach is much more than just a beach, it’s one of the liveliest coastal towns along the Oregon Coast. It is hosting more than 750 000 visitors annually, many of them from Portland. Besides Haystack Rock Cannon Beach has puffins, tide pools, a lovely beach, amazing ocean views, craft beer, and seafood.
Plan from a couple of hours to a couple of days to explore Cannon Beach.
1. Tide pooling
The tidal pools (viewable only during low tide) around Haystack Rock serve as a great place to learn about wildlife:
Expect crowds during the summer months. As a backup option, check out Indian Beach or Hug Point. Haystack Rock is part of the Oregon Coast National Wildlife Refuge Complex. What you can observe during low tide:
2. Must-see In USA: Cannon Beach. Puffins
Lots and lots of tufted puffins could be found at Haystack Rock from April to August.
Before Covid, from May to Labor Day, the Haystack Rock Awareness Program (HRAP) presented interpretive programs during low tides right at the Haystack Rock. Trained volunteers would let you use the binoculars; without it, it’s closer as you can take a look:
3. Exploring the beach
Cannon Beach is four miles long, with fine sand, and really wide during low tide:
During high tide, the beach is shrinking almost entirely and waterproof boots are necessary:
Rain or shine, it is always a pleasant time to spend at the beach, especially for kids. Sometimes, you can find a real gem, like giant kelp:
4. Wild Bunnies at Tolovana Beach parking lot
Playing with wild bunnies at the Tolovana Beach parking was one of the highlights of the trip for our kids. I don’t know how those fluffy creatures got there but it was a nice surprise to find them on the same spot 3 years later! Look for the grassy area between Tolovana parking lot and Tolovana Inn hotel:
5. Exploring the town
Cannon Beach is a coastal city with 1,700 residents. We like to walk its streets: checking the small library, Bruce Candy Kitchen, local art galleries, and Whale Park – a nice secluded sandy area, perfect for watching the sunset over the ocean and playing with sand/water during the day.
6. Cannon Beach food
Cannon Beach is a great place to try some coffee, seafood, handcrafted beer, and pastries. Our favorite was brunch at Sea Level Bakery + Coffee. This cafe is just one block from Cannon beach, 5 minutes walk from the Tolovana parking lot. During Covid, only a pick-up option is available.
Also, check out Mo’s restaurant, located right at the Tolovana Beach State Recreation Site. It has good oyster stew and plenty of ocean view tables:
7. Must-see In USA: Cannon Beach. Swimming
Swimming in the Pacific is bitterly cold. When our friend took a dip into the ocean in the first days of June, locals were applauding her up at the beach! Pictured below: typical summer at Cannon Beach:
8. Cannon Beach bonfire
When there is no fire ban in effect, you can build a bonfire (small isolated fire) right at the beach, day or night! For us, bonfire under the stars accompanied by sounds of crashing ocean waves was one of the most memorable experiences of the trip.
Cannon Beach: Must-see Beach In USA. How to dress for the Oregon Coast
Dress in layers, even during summer. A waterproof jacket, shoes, and warm sweater are a must for the October-May months (rainy season). I wear Dr. Martin shoes for 90% of the trips year-round in the Pacific North West. Unless it’s pouring rain, they serve great. I love those boots.
Don’t forget an extra change of clothes, especially for kids – they will be wet for sure any time of the year!
Oregon Coast: Great movies and books for kids/adults we love and recommend
“Goonies” (1985), is a Steven Spielberg movie that took place in Astoria, Oregon. Pirate treasure, friendship, booby traps, etc. 😀 It is fun to watch with the entire family and is the best possible introduction to the Oregon Coast! IMDb 7.8.
“Overboard” (1989) is another cool and hilarious movie about Oregon Coast. It is one of my favorite “If you have a bad day movie”:). IMDb 6.9.
Must-see In USA: Cannon Beach. My Maps with all listed places
Cannon Beach Essentials
- Real kite and/or pocket kite for kids. Due to constant wind and a lot of space around, Oregon Coast is a great place for kite flying!
- Binoculars, camera.
- Waterproof jackets, boots, sunglasses, hat, sun hat, sunscreen.
- Change of clothes.
- Water, thermos, snacks.
- Check the tide schedule before tide pooling and puffin watching.
Thanks for reading! 🙂
San Diego: unique La Jolla tide pools, seals, sea lions, caves, and Dr. Seuss.