The beautiful Cannon Beach is one of the most stunning stretches on the Oregon Coast. It is best known for the iconic Haystack Rock which frames its coastline together with the many other awesome things to do in Cannon Beach and the surrounding area. From exploring the art galleries and restaurants in the town itself to the fantastic hiking options, beaches. We had a fun few days exploring Cannon Beach and the surrounding area and have put together this list of the best things to do in Cannon Beach including some tips on how to plan your time here.
Where to stay in Cannon Beach
Many visitors to Cannon Beach arrive on a day trip from Portland but the Oregon Coast is magnificent and Cannon Beach is a great base from which to explore. There is a nice variety of places to stay from oceanfront lodges to more traditional hotel options. Some of our favorites are:
Ocean Lodge: ocean front hotel overlooking Haystack Rock. Rooms are well equipped with kitchenettes and treats include lobby cookies evening wine receptions – check prices now!
Inn at Cannon Beach: located at the quieter south end of the beach, the Inn is well equipped and homely. It’s just a short walk to Haystack Rock – check prices now!
11 Best Things to do in Cannon Beach
From Haystack Rock to Ecola State Park, these are some of our favorite stops on our Oregon Coast Road Trip and the best things to do in Cannon Beach:
1 | Cannon Beach and Haystack Rock
Haystack Rock is the symbol of Cannon Beach and rises majestically above its sprawling sands. The 235 feet tall rock is one of the most popular sights on the Oregon Coast and is designated as a National Wildlife Refuge. At low tide, colorful tidepools showcase a world of starfish, crabs and urchins while the birdlife on the rock itself includes Tufted Puffins, Brown Pelicans and Bald Eagles.
Things to do at Cannon Beach tip: Make sure to check the tide times before visiting Cannon Beach – if you want to walk out to Haystack Rock it is only accessible at low tide. Haystack Rock is protected so it’s not permitted to climb the rock itself, however it’s still nice to walk out and check it out up close.
2 | Take in the views on a hike in Ecola State Park
Just north of the sands of Cannon Beach is Ecola State Park, one of Oregon’s most beautiful state parks. The park stretches for 9 miles along thes coast from Cannon Beach to Seaside.
Ecola State Park has some great hiking trails and the Oregon Coast Trail (OCT) runs through it north to south. Ecola State Park is a day-use only park ($5 for a pass).
Indian Beach, with Haystack Rock to the South and Tillamook Rock Lighthouse to the North, is a lovely stop in Ecola State Park. This rugged stretch of coastline is great for a stroll or simply enjoying the view.
One of the most popular trails in Ecola State Park is the short 2.5-mile Clatsop Loop Trail which starts at Indian Beach. This hike has beautiful views and the route winds along the coast and into the forest. The coastal views along the trail are spectacular, with great views of the Tillamook Lighthouse located off the coast.
If you do plan on hiking, be aware that the weather along the Oregon Coast is extremely changeable. It’s worth checking the weather forecast before your trip and pack the correct clothing and gear.
If inclement weather is forecast make sure to pack good rain gear and hiking boots. We recommend taking a good rain jacket like this one and don’t forget waterproof pants like these!. Make sure to pack sunscreen if good weather is forecast as the UV index is high in Oregon – check prices now!
The Ecola Point day use area was the setting for a well known scene (the Fratelli’s hideout) in The Goonies movie.
3 | Stroll the Prom and Beach in Seaside
Seaside is an old school beach town a 10-minute drive north of Cannon Beach and a great place to visit if you’re looking for some retro beach vibes. Take a stroll along the lovely waterfront promenade, known as the Prom, or along the miles of sandy beach, visit the arcade, ride the carousel and indulge in some of the best ice cream on the Oregon Coast at Sea Star or Zingers. beautiful beach. There are lots of things to do in Seaside if you are in the mood for a fun day out and it is a great for families.
Things to do at Cannon Beach tip: Make sure to stop at Buoy’s Best Restaurant on the way back to Cannon beach – it is up there with the best seafood we ate in Oregon!
4 | Check out the Gonnies Filming Locations
Cannon Beach’s Haystack Rock has featured in many books and movies through the years. The most famous include The Goonies, Kindergarten Cop and Point Break which all shot scenes on the beach. It was on Cannon Beach where the Fratelli car chase came to an end in the Goonies.
Haystack Rock is not the only filming location – in fact, hundreds of movies and tv shows have been shot in Oregon, so much so that there is even a designated Oregon Filming Trail to mark the key locations!
Other Goonies filming locations include the nearby Ecola State Park and the Oregon Coast town of Astoria. If you are a Goonies fan then make sure to set aside some time to check out the Goonies Filming locations located in and around Cannon Beach.
5 | Shopping at Cannon Beach
Cannon Beach is packed with quirky shops, art galleries and great places to eat and drink, so you easily spend a few hours exploring Cannon Beach itself.
One of the most unique galleries is the Icefire Glassworks that produces handcrafted blown glass ornaments and art pieces.
The Pelican Brewing Company is another favorite: a popular Oregon coast based brewry with one of their flagship locations at Cannon Beach, we also love their spot by the beach at Cape Kiwanda – the food and drinks are great and they claim their clam chowder is one of the best on the Oregon Coast!. Another popular shop is the Cannon Beach Distillery, an artisan distillery that produces high-quality spirits that also has a tasting room on-site.
6 | Arcadia Beach
Arcadia Beach is located just a mile south of Cannon Beach and is another beautiful stretch of the Oregon Coast. It’s a lovely alternative to the often busier Cannon Beach.
Arcadia Beach is best visited at low tide when you can walk to the tide pools towards Hug Point and explore the beach around Lion Rock. Higher tides do make parts of the beach inaccessible.
There is a small parking lot located just off the beach so it’s easy to access.
Things to do at Cannon Beach tip: The parking lot is relatively small so make sure to get there early on busy days as it fill up fast.
7 | Whale Watching
During certain times of the year Cannon Beach is one of the best places for spotting gray whales as they swim between Alaska and Mexico with 20,000 whales passing by its shores during the migrations. The whales can easily be spotted from the shoreline twice a year: during mid-December to mid-January and mid-March to mid-April.
Whale Watching is one of the most popular things to do on the Oregon Coast. The state even hosts an annual Whale Watching Week with whale watchers stationed at 20 viewpoints along the coast ready to assist visitors with their whale spotting.
One of the best spots for whale watching is from the viewpoints dotted along Ecola State Park.
8 | Hug Point State Recreation Site
Hug Point is a beautiful beach with a season waterfall.
The area was originally named Hug Point as the 19th-century stagecoaches that used the beach as a road had to hug the cliffs at low tide in order to pass through. There is a beautiful waterfall that falls onto the north end of the beach from the parking area that is especially impressive after some rainfall.
The best time to visit Hug Point is at low tide when it’s possible to walk along the shore and explore the coastline. Make sure to check the tide times here before you visit and plan your visit around low tide.
Things to do at Cannon Beach tip: Hug Point is beautiful and fun to explore however visitors need to be careful with incoming tides and beach conditions as it is possible to get stranded by the incoming tide along the coast at Hug Point
9 | Tillamook Rock Lighthouse
The abandoned Tillamook Rock Lighthouse between Seaside and Cannon Beach is one of the most identifiable lighthouses along the Oregon coast. Nicknamed ‘Terrible Tilly’ due to the difficulty of construction and the number of workers who died making it, Tillamook Rock Lighthouse was decommissioned in 1957. The building changed hands a number of times over the years since going out of service and is now part of the Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge
The best view of Tillamook Rock is from viewpoints on the coast in Ecola State Park. There are two ways to hike to the viewpoints. The shorter and easier route is via the Clatsop Loop Trail from Indian Beach day-use area in Ecola State Park. This hike is a 3-miles round trip and has spectacular views of the forest and coast. The alternative route is via the Tillamook Head trail, a 6-mile moderate difficulty hike that starts just south of Seaside.
Things to do at Cannon Beach tip: The trails to the Tillamook Head viewpoints can be soggy and muddy so we recommend wearing hiking boots/appropriate footwear and gear on these hikes.
10 | Devil’s Cauldron, Oswald West State Park
Oswald West State Park is a 15-minute drive south of Cannon Beach and home to a number of beautiful hiking trails and a beautiful, secluded beach called Short Sands Beach. It is also home to the Devil’s Cauldron overlook.
Oswald State Park also has a lovely half-mile trail through the woods to Short Sand beach, great views of Elk Flats, Devil’s Cauldron and Neahkahnie Mountain. Short Sands beach is popular with surfers due to the reliable waves breaking off the beach.
The most popular trail is the Cape Falcon Trail which has great views of Smugglers Cove and Short Sand Beach. is Oswald West State Park. The trailhead starts at the parking pull-in and is around 4.5 miles out and back to Cape Falcon.
Devils Cauldron is a small cove where the powerful Pacific Ocean waves crash into the cliff wallsone and can be viewed from an overlook in Oswald West State Park.
The trailhead to Devils Cauldron is located on the Oregon Coast Highway to the south of Oswald West State Park and the overlook is at the end of a short trail so only takes an hour to visit. We’ve included all the details on how to get to Devils Cauldron here so you can plan your trip.
11 | Visit Astoria
Astoria is another lovely Oregon coast town located at the mouth of the Columbia River that is a short drive north from Cannon Beach.
Astoria highlights include the 125 foot tall Astoria Column which towers over the city (and its exterior illustrates significant events from the history of Oregon), Downtown Astoria with its mix of historic buildings, independent stores, and local breweries, and the magnificent Astoria-Megler Bridge which connects Oregon and Washington.
Astoria is also well known for featuring in a lot of movies over the years, with one of the best known being the 1980’s classic The Goonies.
For more on Astoria, check out our guide to the best things to do in Astoria.
Fort Stevens State Park is a great stop en route to Astoria. It is home to the shipwreck of the Peter Irdale, a boat that ran ashore in 1906 amid strong winds. All the crew were brought to safety and the Captain toasted the ship with the words ‘May God bless you and may your bones bleach in the sands’. The skeleton of the boat remains on the beach 104 years later.
Fort Stevens State Park also has 6 miles of hiking trails, 9 miles of paved bicycles trails, kayaking, freshwater lake swimming, and historic military ruins – it was an active military reservation servicing the Civil War through World War II and it’s possible to explore one of the batteries, Battery Russell.