Seaside Towns of Northwest Oregon

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seaside  004We arrived in the town of Seaside, Oregon’s first seashore resort. A brief tour of the town revealed shops and art galleries as well as carnival rides, arcades, bumper cars, paddle boats, a carousel and an oceanfront promenade. It’s also a great location from which to explore the other seaside towns of northwest Oregon.  The area where the Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean and where Lewis and Clark ended their journey of discovery.seaside  001

And we continued to discover deserted beaches on the coast, enjoying having them all to ourselves.seaside  032

seaside  034seaside  033Another beach we enjoyed was the lovely, wide beach in the town of Cannon Beach. Although this beach does get a crowd in the summer, as Portlanders come here to get away from the city.

Cannon Beach is the trendy sister to Seaside. This “picture-perfect village by the sea” has lots of fancy boutiques and restaurants, art galleries and public art.

But what we really came to see, besides the beach, was Haystack Rock, one of Oregon’s most famous landmarks. It’s a 235 foot tall monolith that juts out of the water and is protected under Fish and Wildlife regulations as a Marine Garden and seabird nesting refuge.seaside  035

seaside  042Common murre, pigeon guillemot, seagulls and cormorants nest there. And then there are the tufted puffins. They burrow into the side of the rocks to build their nests and stay there for a few months between Spring and Summer. These are adorable birds. So high up off the ground and deep within the side of the rock their nests are safe from land and flying predators. Perfect.

There were volunteers on the beach with scopes to help everyone get a closer look at the birds. And of course they provided a wealth of information.

seaside  041seaside  076Cannon Beach also has some interesting tidepools. But this time we were focused on the birds. In addition to the ones nesting on Haystack Rock, oystercatchers nested by the shore. The male and female take turns sitting on the nest, but one is always there to protect their young. There are also bald eagles occasionally flying over Haystack Rock preying on the common murres and their young. We saw more and more bald eagles as we moved north along the coast.

seaside  043One evening, we visited Cannon Beach to watch the sunset. Turned out sunset was not very bright, but the hour just after sunset was beautiful. Hector says that that hour is called the blue hour.  And it was.seaside  045seaside  044seaside  046seaside  121

seaside  017Another day we drove north to meet our friends Nina and Paul in Astoria. Astoria is the salty older sister to the towns of Seaside and Cannon Beach and the oldest settlement West of the Rockies. With a deepwater port, Victorian houses, museums, a bridge that connects Oregon to Washington and more. Astoria did not seem quite as touristy as her sisters and was very, very cool.seaside  018

And I will always know Astoria as the place where I had my first beer flight. At Fort George Brewery, a place recommended by Nina and Paul. Delicious.seaside  019

seaside  020seaside  021seaside  124seaside  023After our beers, we went in search of the perfect fish and chips, located in a land locked boat turned food stand appropriately named Bowpicker Fish and Chips, but it was closed.

But Hector was also on a mission to eat in a waterfront “shack”, so we drove over to Rogue Ales Public House on Pier 39, a marina across a wooden bridge that we’d discovered earlier. This place had good beer and decent food and also allowed dogs on their deck, which is pretty common in Oregon.seaside  026seaside  024

seaside  022seaside  028seaside  025seaside  027Their beer was pretty good, although I preferred the beer at Fort George Brewery.  They do get extra points for their location and their doggie menu. But best of all was the company.seaside  029

seaside  030Another day we drove north again to the Lewis and Clark National and State Historical Parks. Actually several parks with lots to see.

Gorgeous Beach? Check. Several of them.seaside  007

seaside  005Shipwreck? Check. The wreck of the “Peter Iredale” at Fort Stevens State Park is another iconic spot, with huge pieces of iron and the skeleton of a ship fully exposed in the sand during low tide.seaside  006

seaside  118seaside  117We visited twice, during the day and to watch the sunset. Striking.

seaside  120seaside  012Secluded river beach? Check. Columbia River Beach at Fort Stevens State Park. Dark sand, beautiful driftwood and views of the Columbia River bar and Cape Disappointment.seaside  011seaside  010

seaside  048seaside  050History?   Check. The Lewis and Clark river and the replica of the winter encampment where Lewis and Clark settled for the three months after they reached the Pacific at Fort Clatsop State Park.seaside  049seaside  047seaside  051seaside  052

More amazing places and views? Check. The South Jetty, built by the Army Corps of Engineers at Fort Stevens State Park. With an observation tower that has more views of Cape Disappointment.


seaside  089seaside  090A drive south from Seaside took us to the Tillamook Air Museum.  It is not much of an airplane collection but the main attraction is the enormous building it is housed in.  A cavernous WWII blimp hangar made of wood.  Cool.

seaside  086seaside  088We had lunch on the docks in the fishing village of Garibaldi and watched as “the Blade” skillfully turned giant fresh caught fish into fillets for the fishermen.seaside  087seaside  116The National and State Historical Parks also include Cape Disappointment State Park, more on that in the next post.seaside  109

seaside  115seaside  111On our next to last day at Seaside, we returned to Cannon Beach to check out the sand sculptures at the 50th annual Cannon Beach Sandcastle Contest.seaside  107

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Teams of up to ten … with LOTS of buckets

Teams of up to ten … with LOTS of buckets

After being stuck in traffic along with Portlanders, we finally made it to the event after the winners were announced.seaside  112

There were lots of great sand sculptures, and some not so great ones made by various amateur groups.

But the “masters” (these are groups who’ve won the contest previously) were pretty incredible. You be the judge.

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seaside  085We’ve already decided that our stay on the coast of Oregon was too short, and we’ll be back.

~ Brendaseaside  119

16 thoughts on “Seaside Towns of Northwest Oregon

  1. Talk of Masterly photography… these photos are just beyond commentary, absolutely brilliant… the post, from the hands of a master writer… this blog picks you up and transports you to place you will never get to visit and when finished you feel as though you have just been there… thank you…

  2. Like you, our days in Astoria was also short and I did not see that gorgeous blue sunset! I was hoping you would have gone to the Astoria column,for great views. Too bad Bowpicker was closed, their fish and chips remained the best so far in our travel. Thanks again for these awesome pictures, hector.

    • We’ve just arrived in Forks, had no signal at our last campground 🙁 Are you in La Push yet?

  3. This trip was one we did on a motorcycle trip one June. Seaside is the only town we’ve been totally rained out. We had to spend an extra day and sit in the hotel because it poured all day. One day is a lot when you only have seven days for touring. I am really looking forward to returning with the motorhome one day to revisit these places and spent time exploring. Thanks for taking me back:) Sounds like a wonderful time. So glad you met up with Paul and Nina to sample the local brewery.

    • I know what you mean about losing a day in a seven week trip. You should definitely visit again.

  4. We hit all of these places when we were in Oregon a couple of years ago. You brought back such wonderful memories for us. Hector, I can honestly say that I have never seen such stunning photography of Cannon Beach or Ft. Stevens at sunset. You outdid yourself on this post. Brenda, you look like a dark beer lover…my kinda gal! 🙂

    • They were such beautiful places but I also agree he took outstanding photos. And yes, I’m a dark beer lover!

  5. Hector and Brenda – I haven’t checked the blog in awhile and I was blown away by these photos of the Northwest! The sunset at the shipwreck is amazing as is the reflection off the big rocks in the water.

    • Hi Linda! Hi to Don … welcome back to the blog, glad you liked the post. Sign up as a follower and you’ll get the new posts via email!
      Good to hear from you. Hector

  6. Wowee! Another amazing post? Check! ; )

    Especially love the blue hour photos. So when’s the book coming out? The Adventures of Brenda & Hector: The Most Amazing Travel Guide Ever!!!

    A big hug,

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