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Artsy hideaway along a beautiful coastlineArtsy hideaway along a beautiful coastline

Cannon Beach, OregonCannon Beach, Oregon

If you’ve ever flown along the Oregon coast, you won’t be surprised that National Geographic named Cannon Beach one of “The World’s 100 Most Beautiful Places.” But there’s nothing like getting out on the sand, wiggling your toes, and smelling the salty air—especially as winter approaches. Waves batter the famous Haystack Rock extra hard, skies (and sunsets) can be dramatic, and the chill gets you in the mood to relax in front of a fire and savor a steaming bowl of clam chowder. Plus, in early November this little arts mecca serves up its annual Stormy Weather Arts Festival. But Cannon Beach makes a perfect weekend getaway any time of year.

  • The iconic Haystack Rock rises through the mist off the coast of Cannon Beach, as viewed from Ecola State Park. Photo by Ed Wrzesien via Flickr.
  • Winter days often bring dramatic clouds to the Oregon Coast. Photo by Colette Cassinelli via Flickr.
  • Haystack Rock is a National Wildlife Refuge where seabirds, including tufted puffins, like to nest. Photo by Diana Robinson via Flickr.
  • Dramatic skies, seabirds, crashing waves, rocky shores, and tidepools—this is classic Cannon Beach. Photo by Evan Balbier via Flickr.
  • These elk are crossing Ecola Creek just after dawn on a frosty morning. Photo by LDELD via Flickr.
  • The view over an isolated cove, looking north from Ecola State Park just after sunrise. Tillamook Lighthouse sits offshore, on a rocky outcrop. Photo by Michael Matti via Flickr.
  • Visitors enjoy the art during the Stormy Weather Arts Festival. Photo courtesy CannonBeach.org.
  • An artist encourages a young visitor to help him finish his painting during the Stormy Weather Arts Festival. Photo courtesy CannonBeach.org.
  • Steidel’s Art is a fanciful and cozy gallery with paintings and sculpture by Bill and Sam Steidel. Photo by Peterson Photography.
  • Beautiful glass art in the windowsill at Icefire Glassworks. The building’s hand-hewn cedar posts and steel brackets evoke Pacific Northwest Native American art. The hinges on its doors are of material salvaged from a shipwreck, and the roof is recycled metal. Photo by Nicholas Morin.
  • This Cannon Beach home seems almost cradled by the surrounding forest. Photo by Peterson Photography.
  • Beachfront homes and inns at Cannon Beach, Oregon. Photo by Peterson Photography.
  • Ecola Seafood is both a casual restaurant and fresh fish market. Photo courtesy Ecola Seafood.
  • The Stephanie Inn offers ocean and Haystack Rock views. Complimentary perks include a gourmet chef’s breakfast buffet (how about lemon curd-stuffed French toast with Grand Marnier strawberries and bacon?), afternoon Northwest beer and wine gathering and evening Nightcap in the oceanfront library, and electric vehicle charging stations. Photo courtesy Stephanie Inn.
  • At the Stephanie Inn, rooms include gas fireplaces and Jacuzzi Pure Air Baths. On-site massage suites and services are also available. Photo courtesy Stephanie Inn.

Fly to Astoria Regional Airport, where you can have a rental car waiting if you arrange ahead. From there it’s a scenic, 30-minute drive south to Cannon Beach. Nearly four miles of sandy beach stretch north and south of downtown. Your eye will continually be drawn just offshore to the iconic Haystack Rock, one of the world’s largest natural monoliths.

Just north of downtown Cannon Beach, Ecola State Park offers sweeping viewpoints of the rocky coast as well as easy trails through the rain forest. Herds of elk often mill about, especially in winter. Two miles south of Cannon Beach, Arcadia Beach State Recreation Site has picnic areas, more rock formations, and tidepools. Walk north to Silver Point or about a mile south to Hug Point. During low tides you can walk around Hug Point to find sea caves and a small waterfall. Ten minutes south of Cannon Beach, you enter Oswald West State Park, nearly 2,500 acres with several miles of hiking trails, including an easy trail to the beautiful cove of Short Sand Beach. Get panoramic ocean views from the highway turnouts on the edge of Neahkahnie Mountain.

You can walk through a temperate rainforest in Ecola State Park. Photo by LDELD via Flickr.

Known as one of the Northwest’s top art towns, Cannon Beach is filled with art galleries as well as specialty shops and cafés. The Stormy Weather Arts Festival, held in early November, has grown into a showcase for visual and performing arts. Galleries, shops, hotels, and restaurants host a variety of writers, singers, composers, painters, and sculptors. In March, there’s a wine and culinary festival, while June brings a sandcastle contest. Live theater performances run year-round at the Coaster Theatre Playhouse.

Steidel’s Art Gallery is always a favorite, not only for the art but also the down-home wooden building. Mosey around town to find numerous charming old homes, their woodsy exteriors weathered to a pale gray. Visitors can watch glassblowers at Icefire Glassworks, where glass pieces line the walls of the rustic gallery. Browse the stacks at Jupiter’s Rare and Used Books and then taste the goods at the Oil and Vinegar Bar. Or stop by the Cannon Beach Distillery, where award-winning spirits are fermented, distilled, matured, and bottled entirely from scratch, on site, using no purchased or blended alcohols, no chill stabilizing, no artificial color or flavor, and minimal filtration.

Enjoy a bowl of clam chowder or a plate of fish and chips at Morris’ Fireside Restaurant. Photo by George Vetter/Cannon-Beach.net.

With a steady stream of visitors, Cannon Beach certainly doesn’t hurt for restaurants. The casual Ecola Seafood offers strictly fresh, ocean-caught halibut, salmon, Dungeness crab, tuna, and seafood cocktails. Eat it here or take some home (salmon jerky is good to have in the airplane). Stop by Crêpe Neptune and watch as they create your sweet or savory crêpe. On cold days there’s nothing like Morris’ Fireside Restaurant, where you can sip your chowder in a cozy log room in front of the fire.

Cannon Beach offers a wide selection of beachy accommodations, from the affordable Grey Whale Inn at the quiet south end of town to the boutique oceanfront Stephanie Inn where you can indulge in a fireside massage, exceptional Northwest fine dining, and legendary (complimentary) breakfasts.

One of Cannon Beach’s special secrets is EVOO. They have a culinary gift shop but also offer cooking classes and even culinary tours of Italy. Their dinner shows are fabulous: You and your friends gather around the chefs’ kitchen-bar, where you’ll watch them prepare three entrees paired with three wines, followed by a great dessert. Savor each plate as you discuss the food and wine with the chefs and your companions. You can try the recipes at home—better yet, plan another flight to the Oregon coast for another EVOO dinner show and weekend at beautiful Cannon Beach.

At EVOO, you’ll enjoy lively discussions and good wine as classically-trained chefs prepare a multi-course meal for you and your companions. Photo courtesy EVOO.

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Crista Worthy

Crista Videriksen Worthy

Crista Videriksen Worthy has been flying around the United States with her pilot-husband Fred and their children since 1995, and writing about fun places to fly since 2006. She has single-engine land and sea ratings. Her favorite places to explore are the backcountry strips of Idaho and Utah's red rock country. She currently lives in Idaho and serves as editor of The Flyline, the monthly publication of the Idaho Aviation Association. To suggest future destination articles, send an email to [email protected]
Topics: US Travel

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