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Cannon Beach, Oregon Is a Vacation Spot for All Ages

I love sharing great finds, and Cannon Beach, Oregon is a spectacular find for the whole family. I’d never heard of this charming resort town until last June.  I was browsing through the bookshelf in the Yosemite Falls gift store and picked up a copy of 1000 Places To See Before You Die. I flipped to the section on the Oregon coast. I was planning to be in Portland for my cousin’s wedding and wondered where else I could explore after her wedding. I read the descriptions of Cannon Beach, Haystack Rock, and Ecola State Park and made a note to do more research when I got home.

Now that I’ve been there I can see why they’re listed in the book. It’s a spectacular spot to enjoy many different forms of nature in close proximity. There are nine miles of walkable beaches with rock formations called “sea stacks.” Haystack Rock is the third largest of these coastal monoliths in the world. The rock is 235 feet tall and around it are tide pools that cover the length of three football fields.

The colorful tide pools are called Marine Gardens. I spent two days exploring them—one day with shoes and one day without. Barefoot was way more fun and made it easier to see the creatures up close and personal. Friends of Haystack Rock volunteers were offering tips on how to enjoy the varieties of marine life. My guide, who was from Germany, pointed out seastars, anemones, sand crabs, mussels, and something new to me—chitons. These slow-moving mollusks have eight overlapping shingled plates that look like armor. They eat the algae that clings to the rocks and floats in the water.

low tide

The volunteer also let us look through her binoculars at some of the birds nesting on the rocks. There were gulls, cormorants, and puffins to name a few. I picked up two brochures from the display on the Friends’ truck and learned that this non-profit’s mission is to provide guidance and support for the Haystack Rock Awareness Program. They also protect the area from damage so that my granddaughters and others will be able to enjoy them in the years to come.

In addition to the sea life, there’s Ecola State Park, a lush rain forest where I hiked on a trail that offered magnificent coast views of the rocks and wound down to the beach. In the picturesque town of Cannon Beach exquisite hanging flower baskets and English gardens decorate the fronts of many shops and galleries.

In town I noticed everyone was carrying pink and white striped bags. Then I came upon the pink and white striped store front and knew why: Bruce’s Candy Kitchen! They’ve been in business since 1963 and make 20 different flavors of salt water taffy. You can watch them make taffy and taste a sample. I walked out carrying my own bag of some of the best hand-made chocolates I’ve ever tasted.

And speaking of enduring food institutions…Pig ‘N Pancake restaurant, a Seaside, Oregon breakfast place started in 1961, opened one in Cannon Beach in 1997. I enjoyed the best Swedish pancakes with the best  lingonberry sauce I’ve ever eaten. I also lucked out and was there for the local farmers market.  I bought two locally grown nectarines that were so sweet I wish I’d shipped home a bushel.

Cannon Beach is truly a gem and what makes it a winner is that it’s great for all ages.

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