Ride a vintage steam train, fly a kite, cavort with pirates, discover eclectic art, or gambol on seven miles of sand in an unpretentious beach town.
Area code is 503.
TO DO AND SEE
Nehalem Bay Winery Check out a casual tasting room 15 minutes north of town; listen to reggae as you sip blackberry wine. 34965 Hwy. 53, Nehalem, 368-9463, nehalembaywinery.com . Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad On select days from May through September, you can board a restored steam train for a 90-minute jaunt to the town of Garibaldi and back. Corner of South First Street and Highway 101, 842-7972, ocsr.net . Rockaway Beach Kite Festival This May 17–19 the sky explodes with kites, and gobs of prizes are doled out. Ocean’s Edge Wayside Park, South First Street and Highway 101, 355-8108, rockawaybeach.net/kite-festival.htm . Rockaway Beach Pirate Festival Avast! Eye patch–wearing, sea chantey–singing scalawags converge June 28–30 at Ocean’s Edge Wayside Park for this annual gathering. South First Street and Highway 101, 355-8108, rockawaybeach.net/pirate-festival.htm .
Kettle corn guy No address, no set hours, but if you see a jolly fellow in tie-dye selling bags of deliciousness from his bicycle, you’re set to score a handy train snack. Look for him where the riders board. South First Street and Highway 101. Old Oregon Smokehouse Across the street from the visitor center caboose stands a funky shack said to serve the best chowder on the coast. 120 Hwy. 101, 355-2817. The Picnic Basket No seashore town is complete without taffy. Fudge, ice cream, and other goodies too. 102 Hwy. 101, 355-8500, picnicbasketnw.com/rockaway.php . Rick’s Roadhouse Grab some battered fries to eat on the beach or come for a beer in a convivial tavern. 184 Hwy. 101, 355-2052. Upper Crust Pizza Try the seafood pizzas at this homey family joint. Gluten-free versions available on request. 342 Hwy. 101, 355-3866, uppercrustpizza.blogspot.com .
Cedar Wetlands Preserve Follow the trail, under a mile in length, through this 45-acre city park until a massive red cedar towers before you. Boasting a 49-foot circumference, it’s one of the state’s biggest trees. The preserve runs alongside Highway 101; the trailhead is one block north of Washington Street. 355-8108, rockawaybeach.net/cedar-wetlands-preserve . Lake Lytle This 65-acre lake is kayaker- and angler-ready, with a fishing dock and boat launch. Half a mile north of town off Highway 101. Nehalem Bay State Park For a different seaside experience—dunes, camping, beachcombing, rentable yurts—head five miles north of town on Highway 101. 368-5943, oregonstateparks.org/park_201.php . Rockaway Beach The town’s central attraction is a pristine, wide, sandy stretch, less crowded than beaches in more prominent coastal towns. Launch a kite, admire the Twin Rocks sea stacks, watch for whales, or brave the chilly water.
Flamingo Jim’s Pick up a kite here, plus garden gnomes and vacation trinkets. 234 Hwy. 101, 355-2365, flamingojimsgifts.com . Oregon Du Drops Peruse the gallery of artist James Stephen Du Bois, who since 1999 has been suspending Oregon rainwater in recycled lightbulbs, to oddly soothing effect. 480 Hwy. 101, 355-2541, oregondudrops.com . Rockaway Beach Jewelry Co. Pick your own agate, jasper, or petrified wood from this casual roadside lot, then leave whatever donation you see fit. 506 Hwy. 101, 355-0581.
Photography by Don Frank ; courtesy of Patti Barry (kites, train)
This article was first published in May 2013. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.
Request the Oregon TourBook and the Polk & Tillamook Counties map at AAA.com  or any AAA branch. To find a place to stay, visit AAA.com/hotels . For more information, contact the Rockaway Beach Official Visitors Center: at the historic caboose, 103 South First St., 355-8108, rockawaybeach.net .