The charming coastal town of Cannon Beach is a popular weekend getaway destination for Oregonians and visitors from around the Pacific Northwest. If you’re in Portland, you can also add Cannon Beach as a day trip to your itinerary!
Cannon Beach may be small, but it’s quite famous and has been featured in tons of TV shows and films, including Point Break and The Goonies. That’s hardly a surprise because Cannon Beach has miles of pristine beaches, jaw-dropping views of the coast, a waterfall, and several state parks nearby.
You won’t have difficulty filling out your list of Cannon Beach activities. From seeing puffins at Haystack Rock to shopping for local goods at the farmer’s market, there’s something for everyone here. Cannon Beach also has an amazing craft beer scene, plus there’s nothing like eating saltwater taffy while watching the sun sink into the Pacific Ocean.
With so many things to see and do, it’s hard to know where to begin! So we’ve compiled our list of the absolute best things to do in Cannon Beach for you. Fill your Cannon Beach bucket list with these must-see attractions, and there’s no doubt you’ll have an amazing time exploring this lovely corner of Oregon!
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15 Fun and Unique Things to Do in Cannon Beach, OR
1. See Adorable Puffins at Haystack Rock
Haystack Rock is one of the top things to see in Cannon Beach. This 235-foot-tall stack of prehistoric basalt rock is a marvel to behold, especially during sunrise or sunset when the light reflects off the water and casts a beautiful glow. It’s also one of the most photographed sites on the Oregon Coast, so don’t forget to snap a selfie while you’re there!
But the real stars of the show are the adorable tufted puffins that make their nests on Haystack Rock each year between April through the start of July. During this time, their normally gray plumage takes on a bright orange hue, making them even more fun to spot. Seeing them huddle in a circus (yes, that’s what a group of puffins are called!), dive into the water, or fly back to their nests with a beak full of fish is sure to be a highlight of your trip.
Bring your binoculars, or join the annual “Welcome Home” event led by the Haystack Rock Awareness Program. They set up telescopes on the beach for puffin viewing and share interesting facts about these fascinating birds.
2. Sip on Brews at Pelican Brewery
After a day of exploring, head to Pelican Brewery for a refreshing pint of beer. This Cannon Beach institution has been brewing up award-winning ales since 1996.
We love how most of their creations are named after an element of Cannon Beach and the surrounding coast! For instance, try their Pelican pilsner, Tsunami stout beer, and Hazy Rock pale ale. They also have a rotating series of seasonal brews, like their citrusy Sea Hops that tastes like a sunny day at the beach.
Not a big drinker? Get Pelican Brewery’s sparkle hops, a non-alcoholic craft beverage made with sparkling water, natural flavors, and hops.
If you need another reason to drop by Pelican Brewery during your Cannon Beach trip, check out their Coastal Collaboration Series. Local breweries team up with Pelican to create one-of-a-kind, small batch beers that are only available at their taprooms. All of the proceeds go to a different local and coastal charity each month, so you can drink up knowing that you’re supporting a good cause!
You can find Pelican Brewery’s Cannon Beach location on South Hemlock Street, just a few blocks from the beach. If you like, you can get some drinks and food to go, then enjoy them at one of the nearby parks or on the beach.
3. Enjoy the Outdoors at Ecola State Park
Getting lost in the natural beauty of Ecola State Park is one of the coolest things to do in Cannon Beach. This 1,023-acre nature park is home to old growth rainforests, ancient rock formations, tide pools, and plenty of hiking trails with stunning ocean views.
Ecola State Park is perched on the cliffs right off the edge of Tillamook Head, which offers panoramic views of the Coast Range, Neahkahnie Mountain, and, of course, the Pacific Ocean.
The two main attractions at Ecola State Park are Indian Beach and Ecola Point. You’ll find picnic tables, barbecues, and a restroom at both Indian Beach and Ecola Point, making them great places to relax and enjoy a picnic lunch with a view.
In particular, following the trails of Ecola Point will lead you to amazing views of the Tillamook Rock Lighthouse, one of Oregon’s key landmarks.
As for hiking, you’ll be spoiled for choice! An eight-mile stretch of the Oregon Coast Trail winds through Ecola State Park. Follow this south, and you’ll end up at Crescent Beach’s steep descent.
If you’re pressed for time, we suggest heading straight to the Clatsop Loop Trail. This trail was used by Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery on their journey westward, so you’re literally following in the footsteps of history!
4. Explore Hug Point’s Deep Caves and Waterfalls
Hug Point State Recreation Site is where you’ll find some of the best sights in Cannon Beach. Located just five miles south of town, Hug Point boasts a seasonal waterfall, sandstone cliffs hiding deep caves, and tide pools that only reveal themselves during low tide.
Aside from being one of the most popular things to do in Cannon Beach, Hug Point is also an important historical site.
Back in the day, before the construction of the highway, Hug Point was a key spot for stagecoaches traveling up and down the Oregon Coast. Pioneers can only pass through the beach on this stretch of the Oregon Coast. Because the cliffs are too steep and the beach is too difficult to pass (even during low tide), they had to “hug” the point to get around it. That’s where the name Hug Point came from!
After exploring Hug Point’s stagecoach trails, tide pools, and caves, sit on one of the picnic tables near the beach, which also has a restroom for your convenience.
5. Go Surfing at Short Sand Beach
Fondly called “Shorty’s” by Cannon Beach locals, Short Sand Beach is one of the best places in Oregon to catch some waves.
This beach is located within Oswald West State Park and you can get there straight off Highway 101. You’ll need to walk half a mile from the beach parking lot to reach the scenic beach, but the path itself is absolutely beautiful and totally worth it. It’s surrounded by a dense growth of hemlock, cedar, fir, and spruce trees, and you may even spot a diving falcon or a soaring eagle!
On Short Sand Beach, you can go paddling, sunbathing, and, of course, surfing! Short Sand Beach is also where the trailhead to Cape Falcon is located. This hiking trail is near the coast, so there are tons of viewpoints along the way where you can snap photos of the coastline.
Remember to venture to the northern end of Short Sand as well. This is where you’ll discover the Blumenthal Falls, a 45-foot waterfall that tumbles into the ocean.
6. Try Your Hand at Tidepooling in Cannon Beach
One of the coolest things to do in Cannon Beach is to explore the tide pools – it’s like a beachcomber’s paradise!
Tidepools form when the ocean’s waves crash against rocky shores and create small pools of water. These tide pools are home to a diverse array of marine life, including sea anemones, barnacles, crabs, urchins, and starfish.
The best place to go tidepooling in Cannon Beach is Haystack Rock. Before you venture out, though, make sure to read up on tidepool safety. Check the tidepool conditions and only go during low tide. And never turn your back on the ocean! It’s also prohibited to take anything within 300 yards, and while the place is dog-friendly, your furry friends must be leashed at all times.
You can also join one of the Haystack Rock Awareness Program’s interpretive programs. These regularly happen at the base of Haystack Rock, and the interpreters will happily help you identify the different creatures you find in the tide pools.
7. See a Show at the Coaster Theatre Playhouse
Built in the 1920s, the Coaster Theatre Playhouse started out as a popular roller rink and was later used as a silent movie house. Remodeled into a theater in 1972, the Coaster Theatre Playhouse now stands proud as a Cannon Beach institution. It’s the home of live theater in the area, featuring musicals, plays, and events throughout the year.
If you want to catch a show while you’re in town, check out the Coaster Theatre Playhouse’s website to see what’s playing. The playhouse offers a wonderful variety of shows, from classics like Murder on the Orient Express to performances by local talent.
8. Shop at the Cannon Beach Farmers Market
If you’re visiting Cannon Beach between June and September, be sure to swing by the farmers market. It’s located at Gower Ave. and Hemlock St. and usually goes from 1 pm to 5 pm. The market is just a few minutes away from the shopping district at Midtown, so you can pack your day with activities!
The Cannon Beach Farmers Market is small but mighty, and you’ll find all sorts of local goodies here. One thing we love about the Cannon Beach Farmers Market is that it’s an all-edible market. That means there are yummy things to eat and drink everywhere you turn!
Some of the mainstays are premium cheeses, baked goods, artisan breads, wild-caught seafood, all sorts of meat, and of course, fresh fruits and veggies. There’s often music playing in the background, and it’s the perfect place to do some people-watching. It’s also super family-friendly, so bring the kids along!
Before you leave, we recommend grabbing some things for a picnic lunch. You can find a nice spot on the beach or in one of Cannon Beach’s state parks to nosh on your goodies.
9. Sample Some Saltwater Taffy at Bruce’s Candy Kitchen
Another icon on Hemlock St. is Bruce’s Candy Kitchen. Opened in 1963, this is the place to go for saltwater taffy, fudge, and other homemade treats in Cannon Beach.
The store is small but packed to the brim with candy! The main attraction is the saltwater taffy, which comes in 37 flavors, with new flavors rotating in all the time. If you can’t decide which flavor to get, you can sample them all with the assorted pack. Some of the most popular flavors are Cannon Beach Sea Salt, Butterscotch, Banana, Caramel Apple, Chocolate Peanut Butter, and Oregon Hazelnut.
Bruce’s Candy Kitchen also sells bulk candy treats, so stock up on your favorites to take home with you. They have everything from gummies and jelly beans to licorice and lollipops. We like how they have sugar-free options too, so everyone can indulge their sweet tooth!
10. Wander Along Downtown Cannon Beach
One of the best things to do in Cannon Beach is simply to wander around downtown and take in the friendly coastal atmosphere. Pop into one of the boutique stores and art galleries that line the streets, or sit down for a cup of coffee and just relax.
If you’re in the mood to shop, go to the Cannon Beach Mall, Village Center, or Sandpiper Square. Once you’re done exploring the downtown area, stroll over to Midtown for even more shopping options. You could easily spend an entire day poking around all the shops!
End your adventure in the Tolovana Area. You can hang out at Tolovana Park, then continue toward the 3-acre Tolovana Beach State Recreation Site. We like how you can still enjoy beach activities at Tolovana, but it’s generally less crowded than other spots in Cannon Beach, like Haystack Rock.
11. Take a Day Trip to Seaside
If you’re looking for things to do near Cannon Beach, consider taking a day trip to historic Seaside. This nearby beach town is just a short drive up Highway 101.
A cool thing about Seaside is that it was the very last stop on the Lewis and Clark Expedition! As you walk around town, you’ll see references to this everywhere.
There are also plenty of fun things to do in Seaside. Walk along the Seaside Promenade, which has been there since the 1920s. The town is also surrounded by waterways where you can go kayaking, paddle boating, and canoeing. And then there’s the Seaside Aquarium, where you can check out all of the fascinating sea creatures.
Once you work up an appetite, be sure to try the clam chowder at Dooger’s Seafood & Grill before making your way back to Cannon Beach!
12. Have a Beach Picnic and Bonfire at the Haystack Rock Trail
The sunsets at Cannon Beach are out of this world! There’s no better place to experience them than along Haystack Rock Trail. The trail passes through beautiful stretches of beach, and the further down you go, the fewer people there are.
Pack a picnic and bring some chairs, then wait for the sun to start setting. As the sky turns a deep red and orange, you’ll see Haystack Rock silhouetted against the horizon. It’s a truly magical experience that you won’t soon forget!
To top it all off, you can build a bonfire on the beach and spend the evening roasting marshmallows and chatting with friends. Cannon Beach is one of a handful of places on the coast that allow bonfires, and there are even companies that offer bonfire packages complete with wood and s’mores fixings.
13. Visit the Cannon Beach History Center & Museum
Visiting the Cannon Beach History Center & Museum should be at the top of your Cannon Beach bucket list. The museum preserves the history of the local area and is full of interesting exhibits.
One of our favorite parts is the Shipwreck Exhibit, which looks back at the thousands of ships that have wrecked along the Oregon Coast. There’s also the permanent exhibit called Cannon Beach: A Place by the Sea, which is a visual feast that will walk you through the area’s history. Learn all about the Tillamook Indians, the expedition of Lewis and Clark, and the early settlers of Cannon Beach all the way to World War II and the present day.
The Cannon Beach History Center & Museum also hosts historic walking tours, concerts, field trips, lectures, and other events throughout the year. Check their website to see what’s going on during your visit!
14. Hike Through Oswald West State Park
A Cannon Beach trip is not complete without a visit to Oswald West State Park. This state park is one of the most beautiful places on the Oregon Coast and is complete with fantastic views of the coast, thick trees, and various terrains.
There are tons of different trails to explore in Oswald West State Park. We recommend the Cape Falcon Trail, which takes you through a thick forest of Sitka spruce and Douglas fir trees. The trail ends at a rocky point with views of the ocean. If you’re up for a challenge, hike all the way up to Neahkahnie Mountain, where you can look as far out as Cape Lookout.
The Devil’s Cauldron is another must-see spot in Oswald West State Park. It’s a cove with clear, blue-green water that’s bordered by high cliffs. Listening to the waves crashing against the rocks is incredibly peaceful and relaxing and one of the coolest things to do in Cannon Beach.
15. Go Whale Watching Off the Oregon Coast
Massive gray whales migrate up and down the Oregon Coast between March to April and December to January. They’re also one of the most majestic things to see in Cannon Beach!
There are several viewpoints along the coast where you can see these giants of the sea, but the 1,600-foot Neahkahnie Mountain is among the best. The viewpoint at Clatsop Loop Trail also offers excellent whale watching opportunities. Alternately, Ecola State Park offers plenty of vistas where you can spot migrating whales.
If you want to get up close and personal with the whales, there are several charter companies that offer whale watching tours. These tours take you out on a boat, so you can see the whales swimming, feeding, and even breaching right next to you!
You can also join one of the whale watching programs coordinated by the Oregon State Park at a few spots along the coastline. The events typically happen at the end of December and March. Volunteers help you spot the whales and share information about their behavior and habits!
There you have it! The 15 best things to do in Cannon Beach, OR. What’s your favorite thing to do in Cannon Beach? Let us know in the comments below!
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