12 Fun Things To Do In Cannon Beach on the Rugged Oregon Coast

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Things to do in Cannon Beach - view of Haystack Rock from Cannon Beach
Haystack Rock is one of the Pacific Ocean views in Cannon Beach. Photo credit: Sarah Morgensen
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If you’re looking for a super spot for your next girlfriend getaway, look no further than Cannon Beach, Oregon, in the gorgeous Pacific Northwest. You’ll find rocky coastlines to explore with stunning viewpoints, including the iconic Haystack Rock.

An easy day trip from Seattle and Portland, Cannon Beach offers plenty of hiking trails, fun places to grab a cocktail, fabulous seafood, and a super cute downtown shopping area. My mom, sisters and I enjoyed every minute of our annual girl’s trip in this quaint beach town. Here are some of our favorite things to do in Cannon Beach.

Read More: Epic Mother/Daughter Trips to Bond with Your Best Girl

Things to do in Cannon Beach - Haystack Rock in the surf in Cannon Beach.
Haystack Rock in the surf in Cannon Beach. Photo credit: Sarah Morgensen

1. Visit Haystack Rock

Our first stop was to check out all the cool rock formations. There is none better than the iconic Haystack Rock. Featured in television series and movies like “The Goonies,” chances are you’ve likely seen photos of the gigantic rock and its neighboring sea stacks.

Located right off the Oregon coast in Cannon Beach, pictures don’t do this gorgeous seascape justice. You have to see it for yourself.

Haystack Rock is a protected wildlife refuge area, so take care not to disturb the delicate surroundings while you’re enjoying the area.

SheBuysTravel Tip: Check the tide chart and visit at low tide to walk out to the rock for an ultra-cool experience.

2. Get Out In Nature

Cannon Beach offers great outdoorsy activities, including my favorite, hiking. Less than 5 miles to the north of town, Ecola State Park is home to stunning coastal scenery and beautiful beaches just waiting to be explored. I love to hike and choose semi-challenging trails. All the trails we hiked at this state recreation site were well-marked and well-maintained.

Here are great hikes within Ecola State Park:

  • Tillamook Rock Lighthouse Loop –  .5-mile easy hike to the lighthouse viewing area. Bring your binoculars so you can get a look at the lighthouse, 1.5 miles offshore.
  • Indian Beach Trail – 3.8-mile moderate intensity, stunning ocean views.
  • Clatsop Loop Trail from Indian Beach – 2.9-mile loop trail, moderate intensity, gorgeous forest and coastal views.

Read More: What to Wear for Hiking in the Summer

Things to do in Cannon Beach - Incredible views At Oswald West State Park.
Incredible views At Oswald West State Park. Photo credit: Sarah Morgensen

Oswald West State Park is another beautiful place to hike with trails of all ability levels. The park is located just 10 miles south of Cannon Beach.

SheBuysTravel Tip: Make sure you have good hiking boots. The trails can be wet and muddy so you’ll want shoes with good grips. I bought Oboz hiking boots and I love them.

3. View Magnificent Art

If you like unique art, you’ll love all the original pieces you’ll find in Cannon Beach. Named one of the 100 Best Art Towns in the United States, Cannon Beach hosts multiple art fairs annually. It’s also home to more than a dozen art galleries where you can browse works by local, regional, and, national artists.

IceFire Glass Works offers gorgeous glass art of all shapes and sizes. You’ll also find beautiful, gift-worthy pieces at Dragon Fly Gallery.

4. Experience The Magic Season

The fall and winter months are known as the magic season in Cannon Beach and this is when things get interesting. Instead of the gentle waves of summer, the magic season brings unpredictable and often stormy weather to this coastal town, which creates magnificent, crashing waves inland.

When we were there in June, the weather was perfect, with bright sunshine and clear blue skies, but we still saw plenty of action in the Pacific. The intensity of the waves can be surreal at times. I could watch the waves crash against the rocky coastline for hours!

The raging surf can also be enjoyed indoors. These restaurants and resorts have stunning ocean views.

  • Hallmark Resort and Spa offers prime wave-watching from the comfort of your room.
  • Oceanfront Stephanie Inn. This upscale spa-like oasis is the perfect place to relax as you listen to the surf from your balcony.
  • The Wayfarer Restaurant offers breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week – with views of Haystack Rock.
Things to do in Cannon Beach - The Surf at sunset.
The Surf at sunset. Photo credit: Sarah Morgensen

5. See Migrating Whales

Go to Cannon Beach during gray whale migration season and you’ll likely catch sight of these majestic creatures as they make their way between Alaska and Baja Mexico. Prime whale-watching migration occurs between May and October.

It’s estimated that up to 20,000 gray whales make the trek so if whale watching is on your radar, you might luck out. If you want to increase your odds, take a short drive to nearby Depoe Bay to visit the Whale Watching Center.

6. Go Tidepooling

Tidepooling is big in Cannon Beach. For those unfamiliar with tidepooling, it’s the art of exploring pools of seawater during low tide. In these mini-oceans, you’ll discover all sorts of sea creatures and marine life.

Be on the lookout for crabs, seastars, snails, barnacles, mussels, and anemones. You may even catch seabirds like pelicans and tufted puffins in the area.

Things to do in Cannon Beach - Candy Selections at Bruce’s Candy Kitchen Cannon Beach.
Candy Selections at Bruce’s Candy Kitchen Cannon Beach. Photo credit: Sarah Morgensen

7. Shop Downtown Cannon Beach And Beyond

Whether you’re into fashion, jewelry, or dog supplies, or just want to wander in and out of cute boutiques, downtown Cannon Beach is the place to go.

Start with a visit to Bruce’s Candy Kitchen, and watch the candymaker pull taffy!  We also loved these shops:

  • La Luna Loca – cute tops and accessories.
  • Staghorn Mercantile – So many adorable items for home.
  • Geppetto’s Toy Shoppe – All the fun toys you can imagine.

8. Hops And A Hammer

Cannon Beach Hardware and Public House is a local favorite that offers a unique combination of hardware supplies and craft beer, wine, and food.

If craft beer is your thing, there are quite a few breweries in town if you’d like to try a local brew. Other options for awesome food and drink include:

9. Practice Yoga At A Cool Studio

One of the best mornings we spent in Cannon Beach was doing yoga at Cannon Beach Yoga Arts. If you like yoga, it’s fun to try out local yoga studios and get some zen while on vacation! We stopped by Sleepy Monk Coffee Roasters for a delicious latte afterward.

Things to do in Cannon Beach - woman stands outside downtown store under sign reading Cannon Beach Soap & Candle.
Exploring downtown Cannon Beach. Photo credit: Sarah Morgensen

10. Browse Local Books

Stop at the Cannon Beach Library to see what the locals are reading. Plus, they offer a bin full of free paperbacks!

For more bookish fun, head to Cannon Beach Book Company, just down Hemlock St. This independent bookseller will give you great recommendations. I didn’t buy any books because I picked up a couple of free books from the library, but this place is a book lover’s delight.

11. Snap Incredible Photos

I love, love, love to take photos, and I filled my phone with gorgeous snaps from around town. Cannon Beach and the surrounding Oregon coast are full of prime photo ops.

Some of my favorite spots are Haystack Rock at sunset, the sea views from Ecola State Park, Hug Point, and Lion Rock, just south of Cannon Beach.

SheBuysTravel Tip: For a fun shot of Haystack Rock, drive up South Hemlock Street. Snapping from here to get a cute, peekaboo view of the iconic rock.

Things to do in Cannon Beach - view of Haystack Rock from South Hemlock.
Haystack Rock from South Hemlock. Photo credit: Sarah Morgensen

12. Enjoy Time With Your Pup

Cannon Beach is super dog-friendly. So many people had their dogs with them while we were there that I felt like a bad dog mom for leaving my pup at home.

Dogs can play on the beach off-leash as long as they’re close to their human companion plus many local restaurant patios are dog-friendly.

And, your pup will be more than welcome at the pet shops downtown, Four Paws on the Beach, and Fetch Cannon Beach.

Fun Things for the Next Visit

My first trip to Cannon Beach won’t be my last. There are so many more things I’d love to do, including an extended Oregon Coast road trip. Here are some of my must-sees for when I return:

Where To Stay In Cannon Beach

Lots of people from Portland and Seattle, Washington, come to the northern Oregon coast for weekend getaways. While visiting Cannon Beach is quite popular, the good news is that there are quite a few nice places to stay in town.

Things to do in Cannon Beach - the author relaxing in an Adirondack rocking chair at The Inn at Cannon Beach.
Relaxing at The Inn at Cannon Beach. Photo credit: Sarah Morgensen

Inn at Cannon Beach

While we thought about a bed and breakfast, we ultimately chose to stay at the Inn at Cannon Beach for its favorable price point and convenient location. it’s super close to the beach and Haystack Rock.

Even if you can look at pictures and read reviews online, you never really know what you’re getting until you check out the place for yourself. Even though the online reviews were good, I was pleasantly surprised by the Inn at Cannon Beach.

This charming property is a gem. The guest rooms surround a grassy courtyard that’s meticulously maintained.

Adirondack chairs are scattered throughout the grounds, and the firepit is the perfect place to wind down and enjoy the coastal night. And they even had a s’mores kit for a beach bonfire.

The adorable local bunnies, seem to love the place, too. We spotted many bouncing around the grounds, munching on grass.

Things to do in Cannon Beach - Two women stand on either side of and motion toward a monument sign reading 'Inn at Cannon Beach'.
The Inn at Cannon Beach, an ideal stay for our girl’s trip. Photo credit: Sarah Morgensen

Vacation Rentals

Cannon Beach is a super popular destination on the Oregon coast and vacation rentals can be hard to come by, especially in the busy summer months. If you prefer relaxing in a vacation home while in town, check out some of these options:

How to Get To Cannon Beach

Cannon Beach is located on the North Oregon Coast, about 2 hours West of Portland and 4 hours South of Seattle. We flew into Portland International Airport and chatted the whole 1 hour and 45-minute drive to the coast.


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