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9 Incredible Things To Do In Cannon Beach Oregon

Cannon Beach, Oregon invokes images of towering Haystack Rock, relaxing Oregon days, and stunning Pacific Ocean sunsets. 

A vacation to Cannon Beach is something everyone should experience at least once.

From unique stays, local shopping, and nearby adventures, this list has the absolute best things to do in Cannon Beach. 

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Overview of Cannon Beach

Made famous by the movie The Goonies, Cannon Beach is one of the most iconic and recognizable locations in Oregon. 

Cannon Beach is known for stunning Haystack Rock, standing tall in the ocean right off the shore. The beach is long with soft white sand and is popular with tourists, families, locals, and surfers.

But, Cannon Beach isn’t just a beach! It’s also an adorable small coastal city.

A visit to the town Cannon Beach will give you a taste of truly authentic coastal Oregon life.

There are so many things to do in the charming town of Cannon Beach, Oregon!

Psst… If you’re into The Goonies, check out this post about Astoria, Oregon!

Best Time of Year to Visit Cannon Beach

In truth, Cannon Beach is beautiful all-year round. With summer temps topping out in the 60s and 70s, and winter temps bottoming out in the 50s and 40s, you’ll never be too cold or too hot. In my opinion, winter would be the best time of year to visit Cannon Beach. Experience the beauty without the crowds!

Check out this article on 5 reasons why winter is the best time to visit Cannon Beach.

things to do in cannon beach: haystack rock

Best Things To Do In Cannon Beach

Whether you’re a nature and ocean person or one who likes to spend the day shopping, Cannon Beach has something for everyone.

Here are the 9 best things to do in Cannon Beach, Oregon!

Haystack Rock & Cannon Beach

Up first is the obvious choice for things to do in Cannon Beach… Haystack Rock! Haystack Rock is one of Oregon’s most iconic landmarks… largely due to the movie The Goonies. Truffle shuffle, anyone?

Cannon Beach is one of my personal travel highlights

Fun fact: The Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach is one of two haystack rock formations in Oregon. The other one is in Pacific City, just down the coast at Cape Kiwanda.

Haystack Rock is a 235ft sea stack just off the coast, and you can even walk out to it at low tide. At low tide, the base of Haystack Rock is surrounded by tide pools with all sorts of interesting marine life. 

If you want to walk out to the rock formation, be careful. This huge intertidal rock is protected as part of Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge. The structure is home to a wide variety of seabirds, including a colony of tufted puffins. 

In the spring, you may even see a ranger keeping an eye on the rock, warning beachgoers not to get too close… Or try to climb it.

The rock is only exposed during low tide

Walk Right Up To the Wreck of the Peter Iredale

Located a short 30 minute drive up the coast near Astoria lies the wreck of the Peter Iredale. This isn’t in Cannon Beach… but it’s so close! You can’t possibly be so close to a real shipwreck and not go see it. 

The Peter Iredale was a 4-masted behemoth of a ship that ran aground on October 25, 1906. The ship was abandoned and left to rot right on the beach where it landed. 

I went to see the shipwreck at sunset, and it was incredible. In my opinion, sunset is the most magical time to see the remains of the Peter Iredale, slowly succumbing to the sand and saltwater of the Pacific Ocean. 

Check out a tide chart and head out to the shipwreck at low tide. This way, you’ll be able to walk right up to what’s left of the ship, jutting out of the wet sand.

I still can’t believe I took this photo on my iPhone! What a perfect way to end a perfect day 🙂

Grab A Bite and a Brew at Pelican Brewing

You’re going to work up an appetite checking out Cannon Beach and all there is to see and do. 

Head on over to Pelican Brewing for a delicious meal and award-winning craft beer to wind down your day, or just take a break between adventures. 

Pelican Brewing is a coastal Oregon favorite, locally owned and operated – and an industry leader in craft beer. 

This restaurant was one of the highlights of my time in this cute little town. They even have wifi if you are working from the road like me!

Image source: Sean O’Neill on Flickr

Visit Ecola State Park 

Just 3 miles north of town is breathtaking Ecola State Park. Ecola State Park is a dream for sightseers and hikers alike. 

The drive in to Ecola State Park winds through a stunning old-growth coastal rainforest. Depending on the time of year, you’ll see deer and even Roosevelt Elk. 

Ecola State Park is home to some of the most revered lookouts in coastal Oregon. Whether you’re taking a short hike or just picnicking, you won’t be disappointed. This state park makes an excellent picnic spot or day trip during your vacation to Cannon Beach, Oregon. 

things to do in cannon beach: ecola state park

Tillamook Rock and Lighthouse Columbarium

If you have a taste for the macabre (or just love pretty views and lighthouses), this is definitely for you! 

The Tillamook Lighthouse sits 1.2 miles offshore, and the best way to view it is by taking a short hike in Ecola State Park. Bringing binoculars is a bonus, but not necessary! 

Tillamook Head viewpoint in Ecola State Park

The lighthouse is known as “Terrible Tilly”, due to the insanely harsh conditions in which she was built and still sits. 

The conditions are so bad that when the lighthouse was built, no local workers would agree to work on the project. 

Laborers who weren’t familiar with the area were brought in to help build it. The builders were kept away from the locals who might scare them away. Brutal, right? 

The work of keeping the light shining was awful and dangerous, too. One keeper reportedly went insane. 

Today, Terrible Tilly is privately owned by Mimi Morrissette. This lighthouse is now the Eternity at Sea Columbarium. That’s a fancy name for a place to store the ashes of the dead. 

The Columbarium is a hot topic of discussion – the license is no longer valid so no new remains can be placed inside. 

But, for now, the remains of 31 souls are at rest inside the lighthouse as “honorary light keepers”, at home with the seabirds. 

The best viewing of the lighthouse are off of the short Tillamook Lighthouse Trail inside Ecola State Park. 

Can you imagine working here?

Check Out The Tide Pools At Arcadia Beach

Arcadia Beach State Recreation Site is located 3 miles south of the town of Cannon Beach. 

Things to do at Arcadia Beach include picnicking, surfing (or watching the surfers), exploring the beach and of course: checking out the tide pools. 

While the beach at Cannon Beach has tide pools around Haystack Rock, you’ll find many more at Arcadia. Exploring tide pools is one of the best things to do in Cannon Beach with kids. Remember to always keep your eye on the ocean. Waves are unpredictable and can sneak right up!

Explore Sea Caves and Waterfalls at Hug Point

A little further south – about a 7 minute drive from town –  is the Hug Point State Recreation Area. This area is full of history – and at low tide you might even see the tracks of the original stagecoach route that once traversed the area. 

The best time to explore Hug Point is at low tide. Be mindful of this, because you can get stranded by the incoming tide if you’re out exploring Hug Point when it comes in. 

This recreation area has easy beach access and tons of interesting areas to explore. From a beautiful waterfall to mystical sea caves, exploring Hug Point is one of the most unique things to do in Cannon Beach. 

things to do in cannon beach: hug point

Hug Point is magical at low tide

Oswald West State Park and Neahkanie Mountain

Just a bit further south is another incredible coastal area to explore: Oswald West State Park. If you love scenic drives and viewpoints, this is for you! 

This park is situated up high on the coastline featuring rainforests, sea cliffs, beautiful beaches, waterfalls, and more. 

One of the best things to do in Oswald West State Park is take in the views from Neahkahnie Mountain. 

One a clear day, you can see for miles and miles! Neahkahnie Mountain is home to an incredible viewpoint right off of Highway 101. 

Or, if you like hiking, you can dare to tackle climbing this coastal giant.

Neahkahnie Mountain Viewpoint

Explore the Small Town Charm and Shops of Cannon Beach

Last, but definitely not least on the list of things to do in Cannon Beach is exploring the tiny town! 

If you love shopping and exploring small towns, this is going to be one of your favorite things to do in Cannon Beach. 

Whether you’re looking for souvenirs, treats, or locally handcrafted art, taking a stroll down Hemlock Street is where you want to be. 

You can easily spend a day exploring the shops and restaurants of the small town of Cannon Beach.

Then, head out to Haystack Rock to enjoy a stunning Pacific Ocean sunset to cap off your perfect day in this sweet little town. 

Where to Stay In Cannon Beach

There is a wide range of accommodation available in and around Cannon Beach for couples, families, solo travelers, pets, and more. 

For a unique stay and to experience Cannon Beach like a local, check out the available Cannon Beach listings on AirBnB. There are cabins, beach houses, and more! 

Is a hotel more your style? Then you can’t go wrong with these oceanfront lodging options in Cannon Beach

If you’re RVing or tent camping, options abound near Cannon Beach. You can’t camp directly on the Beach, but there are great camping locations. Check out the Cannon Beach Camping reviews on Campendium here

Small Town Charm: Cannon Beach Oregon

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