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.
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.
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.
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.
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