Savor 20-plus flavors of Tillamook ice cream at Pop's Sweet Shop in Gearhart, Ore.
Whether you’re heading oceanward to escape the urban crunch of Portland or you’re trekking north for beachy relaxation, the towns strung along Oregon’s north coast deliver. These five spots, starting where the Columbia River spills into the Pacific and ending about 65 miles south, are easy to get to and easy to stay in. Although their summer temperatures don’t often top 70 degrees, these communities give off a mellow beach feel, with long stretches of flat sand and a family-friendly vibe. Astoria—celebrating its bicentennial in 2011—marks the west end of the Lewis & Clark Trail and boasts the Columbia River Maritime Museum, with a modern shape that mimics the waves of the river. Antique stores and fresh seafood are the draws in tiny Gearhart. Just south of it, Seaside lures visitors with its kid-pleasing promenade and beach volleyball tournaments. Cannon Beach remains popular year-round: in summer for its dramatic shoreline, in the off-season for the Stormy Weather Arts Festival. Head to Manzanita for organic baked goods and an old-growth forest. As locals to the North Coast are quick to mention, the infamous Oregon rain comes mainly in the winter, leaving the summer months for stretching out on the sand with a trashy novel and a bag of saltwater taffy. For the rest of our Oregon North Coast package, check out these articles:
Astoria: American history and movie history collide
Cannon Beach: Dramatic skies and solitude
Gearhart: Old-fashioned candy and pure relaxation
Manzanita: Go for the baked goods, stay for the trees
Seaside: Family fun with seals and wheels, arcades and ales
Photography by Michael Mathers
This article was first published in June 2011. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.