The unseasonably hot, hot temperatures in the Willamette valley beckoned us to head for cooler environs, so on to the beach we went! This wasn’t a spur of the moment event, we had planned it weeks ago (to get overnight accommodations any weekend on the Oregon coast you most surely need a reservation). Heading west on Highway 26, the infamous “Sunset Highway”, we left on our 1 1/2 hour journey. With car windows down, tunes cranked up, the blistering heat slowly dissipated as we ascended the Oregon Coast Range.
Relief at last!
So often on the Oregon coast, even if the day is warm, the sun does not shine. I remember my very first glimpse of the Pacific ocean on a cold winter day in ’96. Where the fog was so thick I couldn’t see the ocean more than 15 feet ahead of me. But this weekend, the mid-Spring weather gods were upon us, and sunny skies (mostly) prevailed.
We arrived just around 4pm at the Sunset Surf Motel, in Manzanita. Quite possibly the most affordable accommodations with the best view of the ocean on the northern Oregon coast. I was able to score the best room, with a view of the Pacific on 3 sides, for around $130 for a Saturday night stay! Granted, this property was not the Ritz, but it had a modern kitchenette, a renovated bathroom, a mini sofa and a comfy king bed. After settling in and relaxing while people-watching with a mid-afternoon beer, we headed up the street to the Manzanita Market to buy fixin’s for dinner.
Spectacular sunsets were a theme in our weekend beach adventure, so about an hour before sunset we headed up to Ecola State park. There were several picnickers and photographers there at the ready to witness that evening’s show “brought to you by mother nature.”
The Next Day
After a lovely in-room breakfast of eggs on Italian toast, we decided to grab a coffee and pastry for the road. The Bread and Ocean Bakery has fresh, in-house specialty pastries, artisan sandwiches and a full coffee/espresso menu. Oh, the divine orange-glazed roll! So addictive, thank goodness we were leaving town. The joint was hoppin’ on a Sunday morning, but the line moved quickly, and we were soon on our way.
Okay, now to burn off those carbs! Neahkahnie Trail is just a few miles north of Manzanita, and just south of Cannon Beach. Parking at the south trailhead, we meandered through old growth forests until we came upon a rickety swing bridge.
Not long after, we reached a somewhat secluded beach. I say “somewhat” because at first look it seemed as though we’d be alone, but cross the smooth rocks and chilly stream, round the bend and you’ve discovered Oregon’s surfing capital.
After hiking for about an hour, we reached the north trail head. Follow the highway south a bit and we reach our car. On to Seaside!
I won’t talk a lot about Seaside here because even though it’s a nice enough destination, with a huge, fantastic beach, in my opinion it’s a tourist trap. Been there, done that. My husband was in the market for a kitschy t-shirt, so we stopped, shopped, and had a lovely outdoor lunch at the Seaside Brewing Company. This is a great family place, where you can even bring your pooch! Ask your server, and they will loan your canine friend a water bowl while you dine.
Blink and You’ll Miss It
We had a free night to use up at a McMenamin’s hotel, so we opted for the Gearheart Hotel. Gearhart is a sleepy, tiny Oregon coast town. Blink and you’ll miss the downtown area. (No traffic lights here, don’t’cha know!) Keep your eyes open and you’ll discover a great antique shop and art gallery. I hear tell that Gearhart is also home to the Pacific Northwest’s oldest golf course, the Gearhart Golf Links. There’s also a golf course next to the hotel, but yeah, we don’t play golf. So why are we staying here?
Why, Fort Steven’s State Park, of course! Unless you’re camping in the park, Gearhart is a nice home base for this expansive state park. Turns out the beach here holds the remnants of a 125-year-old ship wreck, and the best sunset I’ve ever witnessed (and I’ve been to Hawaii.)
There are countless gems to discover on the Northern Oregon coast. I’ve been coming here for 15 years, and I’m sure I haven’t seen everything (yet). Where do YOU go when relaxing on the Oregon beach? Tell me!