Post Summary: The Best Things To Do In Cannon Beach, Oregon
The Oregon coast is one of the most special places in the Pacific Northwest.
Whether you’re planning a trip to the Oregon coast to relax or are hoping to pack in as many fun things to do in Cannon Beach as possible, we’ve got you covered with all the best activities to achieve both goals.
In fact, Berty and I have seen it in every form – we come here year after year, living in the Pacific Northwest!
Whether you’re a visitor or local alike, keep scrolling to learn all about what to do in Cannon Beach, Oregon!
Cannon Beach at a Glance
- The temperature rarely gets above 80 degrees
- The biggest attraction in Cannon Beach is Haystack Rock
- Cannon Beach is one of the most popular Oregon coast destinations for a quick Portland day trip.
- Located 80 miles west of Portland, and 200 miles south from Seattle
- 750,000 visitors come to Cannon Beach every year
- There is a 4-mile stretch of beach in the main part of town, which includes Haystack Rock Beach and Tolvana Beach State Recreation Area.
Where is Cannon Beach?
Cannon Beach is one of the most well-known Oregon coast towns with an incredible beach and view of the famous Haystack Rock.
It has a vibrant year-round community of 1,547 people, there are over 750,000 visitors annually! It’s such a special place that both visitors and locals adore.
The main feature that makes Cannon Beach, OR unique is its iconic Haystack Rock, which is one of many sea stacks along the Oregon coast.
Within the town, there are lots of cute nooks, coffee shops, restaurants, stores, and viewpoints that capture the heart of any visitor. Really, it’s a lovely place to be year-round!
How To Get To Cannon Beach
Cannon Beach (and many other Oregon coast beaches) is extremely accessible from Highway 101 and its nearby cities.
Cannon Beach mostly sees visitors from Oregon and Washington, which includes cities like Portland, Salem, and Vancouver, WA.
The most common way to get to Cannon Beach is via Portland. You’ll take US-26 the entire way for 80 miles. The drive from Portland is just under 1.5 hours, making it the perfect weekend trip from Portland!
Don’t have a car? No problem! You can also take a bus from Portland to Cannon Beach through Northwest Point.
A bus goes between the two cities (among others as well) twice a day in the morning and evening, and you can purchase tickets through Greyhound and Amtrak. The trip takes just under two hours.
The 19 Best Things To Do In Cannon Beach
1. Stare in Awe at Haystack Rock
If you’re wondering what to do in Cannon Beach during your Oregon coast vacation, you MUST visit the waterfront to see the iconic Haystack Rock. In fact, you have to go out of your way NOT to see it, it’s the biggest icon on the beachfront!
Being the centerpiece of town, Haystack Rock is one of the most famous features of the PNW and is a beauty to see!
Haystack Rock is 235 feet tall and is home to many species of birds, including the Tufted Puffins, Pelagic Cormorants, Pigeon Guillemots, and Western Gull.
2. Explore the Cannon Beach Tide Pools
Tidepooling on the Oregon coast is one of the best activities for kids in the PNW, because it’s interactive, fun, and such a unique experience!
Besides Cannon Beach itself, some of the best places to go tidepooling on the Oregon coast are at Indian Beach in Ecola State Park, Silver Point, and Ecola Point.
In Oregon coast tide pools, you’ll see lots of sea urchin, mussels, crabs, giant sea stars, anemone, and MORE!
Before you go, be sure to check out the tide charts. The best time to see the most critters is during low tide, so you’ll want to know when that happens.
3. Scout For Puffins
Every year from April through early July, Tufted Puffins call Haystack Rock home.
Perched proudly upon the massive Haystack Rock, the Tufted Puffins show off their sleek, black bodies, brightly-colored plumage, and thick, orange beaks.
You can see these special birds during puffin season from Cannon Beach, diving swiftly into the ocean to catch fish for their hatchlings. By August, the baby birds are ready to join their parents in the open sea!
4. Have a Picnic On The Beach
Who doesn’t love a picnic with a view?
For a romantic date or solo snack break, go on a picnic while at Cannon Beach! You can find a spot just out of high tide range, in the tall grasses near the entrances to the beach.
5. Take a Picture at the Iconic Alleyway to Haystack Rock
The “Alleyway to Haystack Rock” is one of the best photography spots in Oregon!
It’s located off S Hemlock St and between Forest Lawn Rd and Viewpoint Terrace. It’s a little tricky to find, but if you do, you’ll get epic photos of the iconic view.
Bring your travel photography equipment and get ready to shoot some jaw-dropping pictures of Haystack Rock!
6. Explore Secluded Beaches Minutes Away From Cannon Beach
If you’re looking for things to do near Cannon Beach, there are TONS of great options! One of the best things about the Oregon coast is that there are so many fun things to do within close proximity of one another–especially Oregon’s beaches!
To the south of Cannon Beach, check out the cove at Hug Point State Recreation Area. Just a four-minute drive past that, Short Sand Beach in Oswald West State Park are great for picnicking, photography, and other beach activities!
To spice up your beach visit, plan a beach bonfire on the Oregon coast! There are 7 beaches on the Oregon coast that allow beach bonfires, including Cannon Beach and some coastal campgrounds.
7. Try Your Hand at Surfing
Cannon Beach is the perfect place for some ocean fun, and bodyboarding/surfing is the way to go!
It’s one of the best places to learn how to surf, as the coastline is protected and the waves are often gentle and smooth (during the summer months when the swell conditions are smaller)!
If you ever have any questions about safety concerns or where best to surf, talk to the lifeguard on duty.
NOTE: Check tide charts before you go and be aware that tidal change can happen quickly on the Oregon coast.
8. Fly A Kite
Flying a kite is one of the most unique things to do in Cannon Beach, and the best thing about this beach activity is that it’s perfect for people of all ages!
You can bring your own or purchase a kite at the Kite Factory (aka Pinky’s Kite Factory).
When it’s windy, you can spend an entire day flying a kite at Cannon Beach!
While you take turns with the kite: Try beachcombing! It’s a fun way to find treasures along the sandy shores.
9. Have A Beach Bonfire
There are 7 beaches along the Oregon coast that allow beach bonfires, including some beach campgrounds.
It’s a great way to enjoy the sunset with friends, the calm, long evenings, and make delicious s’mores!
NOTE: Protect our natural lands and call the park’s department ahead of time to see if there are any fire restrictions in the area. Fires are not allowed during fire season, so it’s critical that you know the rules!
10. Watch The Sunset on the Beach
There’s something so peaceful about watching the sunset over the ocean!
One of the best places to see it happen is on Cannon Beach or at Silver Point Interpretive Overlook.
In each of these places, you’ll get sweeping views of the horizon and the sun dropping behind the famous Haystack Rock.
Oppositely, here’s how to wake up for sunrise, if that’s more your jam!
11. Try Some Oregon Coast Beers
The Pacific Northwest is known for its breweries, and the Oregon coast is home to many of them!
Pelican Brewery has been a favorite of ours for years, and there are locations all along the Oregon coast–including Cannon Beach!
12. Venture over to Hug Point State Recreation Area
With a secret waterfall, secluded cove, and tidepools, visiting Hug Point State Recreational Area is a must!
You can reach the seasonal waterfall by walking north from Austin Point toward Hug Point. After the short walk, you’ll reach the waterfall that’s carved into sandstone cliffs. Here, you’ll also find tons of critters in tide pools!
What makes Hug Point State Recreation Area unique is that stagecoaches used to travel the beach before the highway was built. It was the only way to travel this area of the Oregon coast! During low tide, they rode fast and hugged the point carefully (hence the name!) to avoid the water.
Found just north of the parking lot at low tide, you can walk along the original stagecoach road. The road still shows wheel ruts carved into the rock!
13. Go Whale Watching
If you visit the Northern Oregon Coast at the right time, you might be able to spot these majestic creatures!
Whale season in Cannon Beach is mid-December through mid-January and mid-March to mid-April when they migrate.
The best places to see whales on the Oregon coast are from viewpoints in Ecola State Park, from the grassy dunes just north of Haystack Rock, and beachfront balconies in town.
14. Wander the Adorable Shops in Downtown Cannon Beach
Downtown Cannon Beach is charming and full of fun shops, restaurants, and things to do.
15. Grab Some Local Coffee
One of our favorite things to do around Cannon Beach is try out local coffee shops.
16. Explore The Nearby Towns
What’s great about this area of the Oregon coast is that there are so many charming seaside towns that are so fun to visit.
You can either visit them all by taking a big Pacific Coast Highway road trip, or go on day trips from where you’re staying in Cannon Beach.
Take a day trip to these towns:
- Manzanita, OR (20-minute drive; 14 miles)
- Seaside, OR (14-minute drive; 9 miles)
- Astoria, OR (41-minute drive; 25 miles)
- Pacific City, OR (1.5-hour drive; 64 miles)
17. Enjoy the Arts of Cannon Beach
Sometimes it can get a bit chilly, so staying inside and visiting art galleries is one of the best things to do in Cannon Beach in winter!
Cannon Beach has over 15 art galleries that are all special in their own way.
With that, there are often special events throughout the year, including the Stormy Weather Festival in November, where you can learn all about local artists’ work.
If you’re still in the mood for supporting local artists, check out the Coaster Theater Playhouse, which puts on six shows every year.
18. Cannon Beach History Center and Museum
Berty and I love to visit museums when we go to destinations!
The Cannon Beach History Center and Museum is a great way to learn about the local history and history of the greater PNW.
Here, you’ll see lots of photos describing the history of Cannon Beach, view exhibits of PNW artists, see PNW fossils, tour a historic cottage, and more!
19. Take A Hike
There are so many wonderful Oregon coast hikes nearby the area:
Here are some hikes you must do during your visit to Cannon Beach:
- Crescent Beach Trail in Ecola State Park (moderate 2 miles out-and-back with 488’ elevation gain)
- Tillamook Head Trail in Ecola State Park (moderate 6.3 miles with 1,350’ elevation gain)
- Elk Flats Trail (moderate 2.9 miles out-and-back hike with 616’ elevation gain)
20. Take A Scenic Drive
There are some pretty incredible scenic drives on the Oregon Coast, and many of them are close to Cannon Beach!
One of our favorites has to be the Three Capes Scenic Loop. Located near Pacific City and Tillamook, this half-day trip takes you to three iconic capes. It’s a morning full of gorgeous scenery, hiking trails, and lots of delicious food stops!
FAQs about Visiting Cannon Beach
When is the best time to visit Cannon Beach?
One of the best things about Cannon Beach, Oregon is that it’s lovely year-round!
Because of its location on the Oregon coast (The Northern Coast), it has fairly temperate weather that doesn’t reach any extremes.
It’s generally cooler in the fall, winter, and early spring, with some rainy and windy days.
When spring turns to summer, Cannon Beach is often sunny and warm! With a wetsuit (or swimsuit, if you’re brave) you can even get in the water comfortably.
During this time, you might catch sight of a whale or two, as the best time to see them is mid-December through mid-January and mid-March to mid-April when they migrate.
So, it’s always a good time to visit Cannon Beach, making it a great romantic Oregon getaway for the weekend or during longer breaks!
What should I pack for Cannon Beach?
We’ve got you covered with everything you should pack for your trip to the Oregon coast.
Our list is even organized by season, so you’ll find everything you’ll need no matter what time of year you visit.
The main essentials you’ll need are good shoes, clothing, gear, food, and sunscreen!
Where should I stay in Cannon Beach?
Because there are a lot of visitors each year (over 750,00!), the charming town has lots of lodging accommodations.
The most common lodging options in Cannon Beach are camping on the Oregon Coast, staying at a beachside resort, or renting a vacation home or AirBnB.
The Wright’s for Camping campground is a convenient and cheap option.
If you go camping, don’t forget to pack all your essentials! We’ve got a complete camping packing list that will help prepare you for your trip to the Oregon coast.
Why is Cannon Beach famous?
Cannon Beach is most famous for its massive, 235-foot-tall Haystack Rock that towers over the Pacific Ocean.
It’s also known for its art scene, which you can see for yourself at any of their many art galleries.
Can you drive onto Cannon Beach?
No, you cannot drive onto Cannon Beach.
Make sure you double check the restrictions and know what’s allowed before you drive onto the beach.
Are dogs allowed on Cannon Beach?
Yes! Dogs are allowed, as long as they’re on a leash or are voice-controlled by their owner.
Bring on the beach toys!!
What are some of your favorite things to do in Cannon Beach? Tell us in the comments!