Beautiful Things to do in Cannon Beach

February 8, 2021
Things to do in Cannon Beach

Cannon Beach is probably our favorite place on earth, and the first place we tell anyone to visit when they come to Seattle.  

We like to believe that Cannon Beach would be a world-class destination if the weather were about twenty degrees warmer.  It has that pre-historic appearance that is so common on the Washington/Oregon coast. The wide beach runs for miles, laid like a road between a wind-swept forest and the Pacific Ocean. 

This is one of, if not the, best places on the entire Pacific Coast. If you like to walk on the beach and check out the beach shops in town, it doesn’t get much better than here. The following are the ten best things do do in Cannon Beach.

1.  The Beach and Haystack Rock

Things to do in Cannon Beach

Haystack Rock, the iconic, other-worldly monolith that defines Cannon Beach, stands in the surf like a sentinel.  Once upon a time, y’all could climb upon the large rocks between Haystack and the shore, which gave access to a cove where seals hung out.  

Now, the eco-troopers in the red trucks swoop in every morning and monitor the place like prison guards. We’re lucky if we get away with poking an anemone.  We get it, but we don’t have to like it.

It’s hard to beat Cannon Beach when the sun is out, and it rarely feels overcrowded (except during the Sandcastle Contest).  It’s a terrific place to fly a kite or ride a three-wheeled bike.  Set the dog free to chase the gulls or chase them yourselves.  Dig a sandcastle beside a 300’ Kraken and fight to keep the surf from destroying it.  This is our happy place.  We hope you love it, too.

2.  Bruce’s Candy Kitchen

Things to do in Cannon Beach

Bruce’s pink and white awning is unmistakable on the north end of the strip.  A family-run business that has been serving the town since 1963, they make their own chocolate and taffy right there in the shop. It’s delicious!  Take a minute to watch the taffy-making process, then try a piece for free.  

It always feels crowded in Bruce’s — in a good way.  Have you ever felt crowded by candy?  Everywhere you turn is a different sort of candy or toy, all colorful and irresistible.  In the center of the store is a large wooden ship covered in buckets of taffy.  It’s a diabetic feast for the eyes.   We’ve been coming here since 1980 and the place is every bit as good now as it was then.  Click here to visit Bruce’s Candy Kitchen.

3.  Town of Cannon Beach

Things to do in Cannon Beach

We’ve walked the strip of most every town on the Oregon Coast.  Cannon Beach isn’t the biggest or the most affordable town to see, but it is the nicest and most beautiful. CB checks most every important box for a vacation getaway.

The Mariner Market is a great country store and has most every food or supply you need.  There are two impressive candy stores, the above-mentioned Bruce’s, and Schwietert’s (a local chain).  Dubers for Variety has been Cannon’s primary variety store since 1961 and continues to deliver beachy schlock better than the rest.   The Bakery is legit Art galleries seem to multiply like single-celled organisms — I’m not sure who’s loving that (they’re always empty).  Kite shops, surf shops, new restaurants popping up all over; you name it, Cannon Beach has it.

I remember a time when most of the hotels were dumps.  Now the hotels have upped their game. You can expect to spend $200/night or more for a place to sleep.  If that doesn’t fit the budget, Seaside is a neighboring town with rooms closer to $100/night.  For RVers, Cannon Beach RV Resort is the best place to stay with Sea Ranch RV an acceptable back-up plan.

4.  Ecola State Park / Indian Beach

Things to do in Cannon Beach

The most beautiful view of the Oregon Coast might be from Ecola Point.  From the trails on the bluff you can see Bird Rocks at Chapman Point, Haystack Rock and the Needles, Silver Point, and Castle Rock in the far distance.    The trails are short and easy to hike, and the payoff is huge.

Indian Beach has terrific views of the Tillamook Lighthouse and a clean, wide stretch of sand to enjoy.  The rocks at the far south end are great for the kids to climb on and explore.  A nice assortment of smaller sea stacks add to the ambiance.

If you want to get away from the ever-growing crowd at Cannon Beach, give Ecola State Park a try.  

5.  Wayfarer

Things to do in Cannon Beach

If I have a bone to pick with Cannon Beach, it is with the quality of the restaurants.  However, one place that consistently delivers good food is the Wayfarer. In our opinion, the Wayfarer is the nicest restaurant in town these days. 

Established in 1977, this place has watched mid-town CB grow up all around it.  Thankfully they have maintained their sweet view of Haystack Rock despite the vertical rise of nearby hotels.  

The dinner menu is elegant, if not limited, so we are more likely to enjoy a morning meal at the Wayfarer than an evening meal.  The breakfast prices are reasonable — about $15 – the selections are broad, and the food is superb.  We recommend waiting for a window table if one isn’t immediately available because the view definitely adds to the experience.

6.  Seaside Rides and Games

Things to do in Cannon Beach

Seaside is an active beach town seven miles north of Cannon Beach.  Their strip is less artsy and refined than Cannon thanks to the carnival appeal of games and rides.  The town is built specifically for tourism, and that is why we love it (and hate it).

Some of the more prominent attractions are the Funland Arcade, which is three buildings of ticket-producing video games plus a Fultano’s Pizza; the Ten Tiny Tees putt-putt course; the Tilt-A-Whirl/Bumper Cars amusement rides.  Schwietert’s candy store is probably the largest beach-side purveyor of sweets we’ve ever seen, and The Seaside Candyman has every flavor of salt-water taffy known to man (something like 170 flavors).  

If you’re classy and you don’t like cigarette smoke near your baby stroller, perhaps this isn’t your place.  That said, the less-attractive element is avoidable.  

7.  Lewis & Clark Turnaround and Beach Swings

Things to do in Cannon Beach

Continuing with Seaside, at the end of the strip is the Lewis & Clark Turnaround. This is the place where Lewis and Clark supposedly turned their expedition around and headed home.  It has some historical merit, a nice statue, and benches to sit upon. It’s the last structure before you hit the beach.  

Just down the steps from the turnaround is the famed Seaside swing set.  This is nothing but a big swing set on a beach, but at the same time, it’s a big swing set on a beach!  Maybe you have one near your home, but if you don’t, here you go.  It feels a touch stupid to put a basic children’s playground toy on a top-ten.  You’re probably wondering if Safeway Grocer is number eight on the list, followed by a neat-looking tree and the friendly dog we just pet.  

The swing set is magical, seriously.  Kids love it.  We’ve pushed every one of our little ones on it while looking out at the ocean and it’s a good time.  The bigger kids can launch themselves into the sand.  Dogs are running around.  There’s a neat looking tree over there.  Check it out.

8.  Pizza A’ Fetta

Things to do in Cannon Beach

They claim it’s award-winning pizza and we believe them because we want to believe!  It’s even ranked top 50 in the nation according to their website.  No joking, Pizza A’ Fetta makes one of the best pies we’ve ever tasted.  We eat here every single time we visit.  If this place were near my home, it would be the first place I’d call to get sauced.

You can dine in or grab a slice from the take-out window.  Either way works, but the dine-in menu offers a much larger selection.  A slice is about $4, and an 18” pie will run you $30-35.

9. Silver Point / Hug Point

Things to do in Cannon Beach

A forty-five-minute walk down the beach from Haystack Rock, just past the Tolevana Motel, is Silver Point.  It is easy to spy because there are nameless, twin sea stacks in the shoreline.  This is a definitive point to look to and utter to whomever you’re with those famous last words, “Let’s walk to those rocks and back.  My knee feels strong today.”  

Once you arrive at Silver Point (and your knee is functioning well-enough), it is easy to look to the next spot in the distance, Hug Point, and decide you’re up for the challenge.  From Haystack Rock to Hug Point is about four miles.  Hug Point is pretty cool because the tide must be out to get around the rock bench.  On the other side is Hug Point State Park, another beautiful stretch of golden sand.

Hug Point is typically about where we cut the walking, but if you’re a dynamo you’re probably eyeing Castle Rock in the ocean about two miles further.  At this point we say good luck to you.  

10.  Seaside Aquarium

Things to do in Cannon Beach

Let’s be honest:  this is a cute, little aquarium at best.  It’s better than a tide pool so it costs $9 bucks to get inside ($4.50 for kids; 5 and under are free).  They have an array of sea stars, nudibranchs, a wolf eel, and an awesome Giant Pacific Octopus.  All of this is cool, but to me there is one main reason to go:  The Seals.

You can hear the seals barking and clapping before you walk in the door.  They have about ten of them in a small enclosed pool by the entrance.  They are darling creatures, like slick water puppies.  Every-one of them has learned to slap their flipper against their belly or on the water, as if to say, “Look at me!  Feed me!”  For a couple bucks you can buy seal food, and Greta, Cosmo, Scully and the gang will serenade you to throw them the small fish.  It’s hilarious and the kids love it.  Mom and dad love it, too.

Notes:

Best for Children: Bruce’s Candy Kitchen, Seaside Rides/Games

Time to Visit: August, June (sand castle contest)

Place to Camp: Cannon Beach RV Resort, Sea Ranch RV Park

Best Family Adventure: Drive to Tillamook Creamery or Fort Stevens

Most Romantic: Sunset at Haystack Rock, Wayfarer

Best for Photos: Haystack Rock, Ecola State Park

Map of Oregon: Click Here

Things to do in Cannon Beach

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