From visiting Haystock Rock and Ecola State Park, to fun festivals and interesting museums, these are the best things to do in Cannon Beach.
If you’ve stumbled across photos of Cannon Beach during your travel planning, I bet you’ve already fallen in love! How could you not? All those stunning views, spectacular beaches, impressive rock formations and extraordinary state parks are enough to capture anyone’s attention.
What most people don’t know is that there’s more to this small coastal city than meets the eye. From contemporary art galleries, charming restaurants and vibrant markets, to beautiful resorts and picturesque cabins, you’ll never run out of things to see. Cannon Beach is definitely a gem on the north Oregon coast!
If you’re thinking of visiting, it’s time to share some of the best things to do in Cannon Beach, so you can plan a trip to remember!
13 Fun Things To Do In Cannon Beach, Oregon
Located just one and a half hours from Portland, Cannon Beach is easy to reach by car. There’s lots to pack in to a trip to the area, so I’d recommend having a thorough read of this guide, then plotting out exactly what interests you. Remember to allow some time to chill out and take in the sights. It’s a beautiful area with one of America’s best beaches, so you don’t need to rush around to have a great time!
It’s also worth bearing in mind that some of these spots get busy at weekends during high season, so if you’re able to visit on weekdays, or first thing in the morning you might have a more pleasurable experience.
Visit Haystack Rock
Haystack Rock is the most recognisable landmark in Cannon Beach, and is one place you can’t miss.
When you first see it, you’ll be completely awe-inspired. It is colossal! Formed by lava flows, along with many capes around, this monolith is bound to take your breath away.
Did you know that Haystack Rock isn’t just a dramatic rock formation, but a National Wildlife Refuge as well?
I would recommend bringing a blanket and staying until sunset to witness some of the most magical views in Cannon Beach! You could also plan a bonfire on the beach, or stay for a bit of stargazing after dark.
Go hiking in Ecola State Park
For nature lovers, this is a must-see park. It stretches over 13 kilometres across the north end of Cannon Beach. It features lavish forests, secluded coves and overlooks the gorgeous Haystack Rock and coastline. Plus, from here you’ll have access to Crescent and Indian Beach which are equally fantastic. You can park at the state park, then head off on foot along the trails to explore its natural beauty.
Take a trip to Oswald West State Park
If you enjoy outdoor activities, one of the best things to do in Cannon Beach is to visit Oswald West State Park. Home to majestic cliffs, a plethora of sandy beaches and hiking trails, waterfalls, forests and meadows, you won’t be left short of beautiful views to take photos of.
I would definitely recommend going on a walking tour, exploring the Neahkahnie Mountain and visiting Short Sand Beach (such a pretty spot). You could also have a picnic on the beach or take a dip in the water if it’s warm enough!
Adventure around Hug Point State Recreation Site
This spot offers all the quintessential beauty of Oregon in one place. You’ll find deep-sea caves that are impressively carved in sandstone and a magical waterfall running through the cliff. Even though the area is not particularly large, it definitely offers some of the most memorable views!
Explore Tolovana Beach State Recreation Site
To the south end of this part of the Oregon coast, you’ll find this haven that offers unparalleled horizons of windswept landscapes and fun Cannon Beach activities. Don’t miss the tidal pools here, they’re amazing!
This is also a great area for nature as well. Plus, you’ll get another perspective of Haystack Rock, and of course, the Tillamook Rock Lighthouse – more commonly known as ‘Terrible Tilly’ due to the dangerous waves that were responsible for the loss of lives. I know it sounds ominous, but I promise it’s a stunning sight to behold!
Learn about art at Icefire Glassworks
You’ll love looking at the beautiful items in this Cannon Beach art gallery. With vases, bowls, jewellery and bespoke pieces of art, all the items here are crafted by the talented hands of local artists. You might struggle to visit without wanting to buy something! Also, if you’ve never seen glass blowing before, you might get to see the artists in action.
See a performance at Coaster Theater Playhouse
One of the most unique things to do in Cannon Beach is to visit this historic site. Lots of people love seeing the plays at this venue. The theatre itself dates back to the roaring 20s, when it was one of THE places to be seen! There’s a constant stream of great performances to watch, including musicals, dance recitals and plays. Check the website and see what’s on during your trip.
Go shopping in Downtown Cannon Beach
If you’re a window shopper like me, you’ll love exploring Downtown Cannon Beach. This are is filled with charming boutiques and specialty shops that will lure you in. There’s something for everyone here too. From artisan jewellery, ceramics and gourmet food products, to souvenirs, home decor (mostly with a coastal theme) to chic clothing, you might splash some cash. If you’re a fan of vintage clothing and decor, make sure you visit the eclectic Vintage Viaje.
Check out the art galleries in Cannon Beach
One of the best things to do in Cannon Beach is visit one of the city’s art galleries. This is a destination with a creative and artistic heart. With so many sublime views all around, it’s hardly surprising so many locals pursued a creative path.
Some of the more notable galleries in Cannon Beach are the Jeffrey Hull Gallery, dedicated to a local painter who masterfully transcribed the landscapes on canvas; the Imprint Gallery, which is a mixed media heaven, consisting of anything from prints to sculptures; and the White Bird Gallery that incorporates fine art with fine craftsmanship.
Experience Cannon Beach’s museums
If you want to know more about the region’s history, the Cannon Beach History Center and Museum will satisfy your thirst for knowledge. Another particularly interesting museum is the Lost Art of Nursing Museum which charts the history of the profession.
Festivals and events In Cannon Beach
While this isn’t a huge destination, there always seems to be a fun festival or event taking place. For example, the Earth and Ocean Arts Festival is dedicated to environmental awareness and showcases the works of many talented artists. It’s the kind of festival where you can get involved too. They usually create a living painting, which is then photographed by drone, for a unique and memorable artwork. How cool is that?
Other highlights of the Cannon Beach calendar include whale watching, Spring Unveiling Arts Festival, the annual sandcastle contest, Fall Festival, Stormy Weather Arts Festival and many more. If you want to indulge in culinary arts, then the North Coast Culinary Fest is the perfect choice to savour some delicious meals! Speaking of food, that brings me nicely to…
Best places to eat and drink in Cannon Beach
When it comes to places to eat in Cannon Beach, it’s hard to narrow it down to just a few. I would recommend EVOO Cannon Beach for locally made fresh food. Everything is made from scratch and there are often demonstrations and cooking classes so you can get involved in making your own meal.
You might also want to visit Pig ‘n Pancake, Cannon Beach Bakery, MacGregor’s and Lazy Susan Cafe for their classic breakfast options and brunches. Lots of these offer amazing cocktails too! The Driftwood Inn is the best place in Cannon Beach for succulent steak dinners.
Take a trip to Castaways for a quaint and cosy ambience, Cannon Beach Smokehouse for smoked meat, wine and brews and Newmans at 988 for fine dining. If you fancy a fresh seafood dinner, Mo’s Seafood and Chowder and Tom’s Fish N Chips are great options.
Oh and for those times when you need a caffeine hit to start your day, Sleepy Monk is one of the most popular places in town. The coffee here is top notch too.
Enjoy a beer at Pelican Brewing Company
Among the unique things to do in Cannon Beach is a visit to this quirky brewpub. You could go on a guided brewery tour, enjoy a tasting, buy a limited-edition vault brew or even try some of Pelican’s barrel-aged collections.
This pub has a friendly laid-back ambience that will make you feel at home. There’s both indoor and outdoor seating and the brewery is open every day, which makes it a perfect Cannon Beach activity for the winter periods as well.
These are some of the best things to do in Cannon Beach, but there are plenty more! No doubt you’ll uncover some of them on your visit to Orgeon! I hope you have an amazing trip and let me know what your highlights are.