Photo by  Grace and Jaden

The Oregon Coast is part of the great Pacific Rainforest, the largest temperate rain-forest in the world. Stretching 350 miles from Astoria to Brookings the scenery is stunning at every turn. Beautiful, wide sandy beaches set against dramatic rocky coastlines call out for long walks no matter what the weather. Just under two hours from Portland, the town of Cannon Beach is known for Haystack Rock, an icon of the Oregon coast and a charming place to spend a few days.

Tripper Tips:

The weather on the coast can be unpredictable. December- February is rainy season with late spring becoming drier and summer the driest. A magical part of being on the coast is experiencing the atmospheric changes—the fog rolling in, the clouds thick as a wall surrounding Haystack Rock, the sun bursting through the maritime layer—all beautiful. Be prepared by bringing layers! For hiking enthusiasts we strongly recommend that you check out Saddle Mountain which is about a 20 minute drive from the Stephanie Inn. The hike begins at an elevation of 1650 feet and  climbs to a  height of 3290 feet over  2.75 miles of  fairly steep  terrain. The challenge  pays off handsomely for those who refuse to  quit.  From the summit (on a clear day) you are able to see the Columbia river feeding into the Pacific Ocean in addition to the peaks of Mt Rainier, Mt. Hood, Mt St. Helens and Mt Jefferson.  Bring plenty of water and maybe even a picnic lunch to enjoy up top!

Stay: Check in to the three-story Stephanie Inn, right on the beach with sweeping views of Haystack Rock and the needles. Rooms are large and very comfortable, if not quite stylish, and top floor rooms have spacious balconies; perfect to watch sunset. The vibe is sweet, rather than sophisticated, with charming touches including an afternoon wine tasting hour, evening nightcap at 9, and homemade cookies available all day. (Stored in the ceramic house, next to the front desk.)

Coffee: After or before the complimentary breakfast at the hotel head to the adorable Sleepy Monk, for very good organic coffee roasted right in Cannon Beach.

Hike: Walk in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark at Ecola State Park, just a 5-minute drive from downtown Cannon Beach. This is one of the best spots for panoramic views of the Coast—the sea stacks and small islands to the South, and to the West, Tillamook Rock, Oregon’s only offshore lighthouse. There are both walking and hiking trails and beach access at Indian Beach, popular with surfers. We hiked the 4-mile Tillamook head Trail climbing up through a tall forest of Sitka Spruce before reaching the top.

Lunch: How can you not love the concept of the Screw and Brew: half hardware store, half restaurant. The funky space more than delivers with good burgers, salads and fish sandwiches.  At Ecola Seafoods, a fish market with a bunch of tables, the packed house doesn’t seem to mind the no-frills-atmosphere as they happily consume steamers, clam chowder, fish and chips, and grilled locally caught salmon or halibut. The fresh Dungeness crab meat cocktail and a whole cooked crab were the clear favorites at our table.

Town: Cannon Beach is a cute beach town with shops and galleries. If the line isn’t too long at Osburns, get an ice cream and walk around after lunch.

Beach Biking: The Stephanie Inn has bikes for guests to use; don’t miss the opportunity to ride them on the beach. The sand at the waters edge is hard packed, making for a great ride. At low tide you can go for miles. We rode in the direction of Tolovana State Beach, continuing past Silver Point and Humbug Point and turning around at Hug Point. Along the way the scenery constantly changes; the crowds by Haystack replaced by isolated stretches of beach, sea caves, high dramatic cliffs, and an old road bed that is now a path of barnacles and green algae.  (If you just want to play around, recumbent bikes can be rented at Family Fun Cycles at Tolovana Park.)

The Rock: At low tide, walk right up to Haystack Rock to explore the tidal pools where kids of all ages are looking for starfish, crabs, shrimp and anemones. Tufted Puffins arrive late spring and summer to join the thousands of birds already calling Haystack home. Friends of Haystack are on hand to answer questions and to safeguard the ecosystem of this incredible monolith, formed from lava flows millions of years ago.

Dinner: When I mentioned to a friend I was visiting Cannon Beach, she told me stop what I was doing and immediately call EVOO for a dinner reservation. She was so adamant, that I didn’t argue, and I was lucky enough to score a reservation. Chef Bob Neroni and his wife Lenore Emery have been welcoming guests for over 10 years to their unique venue, a combination cooking class and fine dining experience all in one. Watch each dish prepared with lively discussion from Bob and Lenore, who have a light banter that comes from years of experience. They use only the best ingredients--organic, local, and seasonal in their Mediterranean inspired menu. The food was delicious, sophisticated and layered, and the wine pairings were well thought out and complimentary. This was a fun night out and no visit to Cannon Beach would be complete without a stop at EVOO.

Night Skies: Sunset is late in the summer, sometime around 9PM, allowing you to pack the most in a day. Luck plays a part here, as one day the colors can be spectacular and the next night a wall of clouds can roll in shutting down the sun splash. As the daylight fades away, a surprise awaits, as small beach bonfires begin doting the beach in small pockets for miles.

Must do: Arranged ahead of time, the Stephanie Inn will set up a beach bonfire for you complete with all the s’mores fixings. Song lyrics for Kumbaya not included.

**A special thank you to photographer Grace Hurtienne of Grace and Jaden, a husband and wife team who specialize in wedding and travel destination photography and cinematography. Click here to see their stunning photographs and the schedule for their upcoming workshops.

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Christiana Hedlund was born and raised in the Beautiful Pacific Northwest. A gypsy at heart, she has always been fascinated by the diversity of our world's cultures. When she's not on the road, painting, studying, or looking for new portrait subjects, you can find her locked in her studio in Portland, Oregon. Often, holding a brush in one hand and a cup of strongly brewed coffee in the other. View her talented work here, and check out her ideal day in her hometown. 

Tripper Tips:

Sleep at the centrally located The Nines across from Pioneer Square or the hip Ace Hotel housed in a historic landmark property.

Get out of town…less than 2 hours away visit the Willamette Valley, Oregon’s famous wine region. Or head to Cannon Beach, a 2-hour drive and stay at the Stephanie Inn.

Can’t get to Portland, but happen to be in NY, head to Pok Pok in Brooklyn. A sensation when it first opened, it has now moved to a bigger space across the street from the original. Order extra wings, they are addictive.

Start: A perfect day in Portland has to begin with a good cup of coffee. Our city has some of the best small batch roasters in the world. Start at Heart on E Burnside. They roast their coffee in the middle of the shop so you can take in the aroma while you sip your americano. Heart is also impeccably designed, so I like to spend a few moments just looking around for inspiration. 

Shop: Next door to Heart is one of my favorite shops in Portland, Palace. I call Palace my girly wonderland. It is an artfully curated boutique with a mix of vintage and new clothing, specialty food, organic body products, perfume, ceramics, paper goods, and artful little things. The girls that work there are lovely and French gypsy jazz is always playing.

Eat: By now you’ve probably worked up an appetite. I’d walk down the block to The Screen Door for some southern brunch. If the line is too long, and it usually is, I’d head to Broder or to their NE location Broder Nord. Broder is a Scandinavian breakfast place that is also tastefully designed and the food is always flawless.  Try the Lefse (Norwegian potato crepes) or the Aebleskiver’s (Danish pancakes) with lemon curd and lingonberry jam.

Get Moving: If it’s sunny outside I’d spend the afternoon going on a walk in Forest Park.  Forest Park is one of the largest urban-forested parks in the country. Connected to Forest Park is the Japanese Gardens, which is also very lovely and perfect for a stroll if you don’t want to hike.

West Side: If the weather is rainy, I’d stay on the west side of town and make a visit to the Portland Art Museum and Powell’s Books. PAM has a pretty solid permanent collection and a nice selection of NW Native American art. Powell’s, in the Pearl district, is dubbed Powell’s City of Books, and claims to be the largest independent new and used bookstore in the world. I could easily spend all day here getting lost in book heaven.

Dinner: Head back to SE for dinner at Pok Pok on SE Division St. Lines can be long here but it’s worth the wait to try Andy Ricker’s thai food. Some of my other favorites are Bollywood Theatre (Indian food), Le Pigeon (French), and Olympic Provisions Northwest.

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