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Cannon Beach, Oregon Travel Guide
Last Updated: Sep-01-2013, Hits: 6,986, Rating: 4, Reviews: 1, Votes: 1 Bookmark and Share
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Cannon Beach, Oregon Travel Guide Restaurants (26)
Hotels and Lodging (31)
Bars and Nightlife (3)
Attractions (20)
Services (6)
Maps (1)
Links (4)
Oregon Travel Forum (20)
Seaside/Gearhart, Oregon Travel Guide
Location: North America
Geography: Beach, Forest
Vacation Type: Family, Romantic, Relaxation
Popularity: Off-the-Beaten Path
Costs: Moderate, Expensive
Attractions: Scenery, Camping, Fishing, Spa & Wellness

Facts and Stats:
Population: 1,680
Land Area: 1.5 square miles
Country Dialing Code: 1
Area Code: 503
Languages: English
Electricity: 110V
Currency: U.S. Dollar
Time Zone: Pacific (PST) UTC-8/UTC-7 (Summer)
Current Time:

Note: This travel guide also covers the unincorporated community of Arch Cape.

Cannon Beach is a quaint, upscale beach escape on the northern Oregon Coast that is best recognized for its landmark, Haystack Rock. Cannon Beach also offers nice beaches, art galleries, shops, spas, and excellent food. Unlike many of the "has been" fishing or logging towns on the Oregon Coast, Cannon Beach has been a tourist destination for a very long time.

Cannon Beach is located on the northern Oregon coast in Clatsop County. The downtown area is located at the northern end of the town and borders Ecola Creek to the north. Across the creek to the north is a mostly residential neighborhood. To the south of downtown toward Tolovana Park is Haystack Rock which is the 3rd largest coastal monolith in the world. The rock and surrounding areas are a wildlife preserve that is home to tidepools and many species of birds. Be very careful not to disturb the wildlife in this area.

Just outside Cannon Beach are a number of state parks in the coastal rainforest that provide plenty of hiking opportunities.

The town itself is long and only 3 blocks wide in most places. It is bordered on the east by Highway 101 and the beach & Pacific Ocean to the west.

Brief History:
Like the rest of the Oregon coast, the area around Cannon Beach was originally inhabited by Native Americans of the Tillamook Tribe. The first documented non-native visitors were members of the Lewis and Clark expedition who were staying at Fort Clatsop 20 miles to the north. In 1805, two members of the expedition returned from Cannon Beach with blubber from a beached whale located near the mouth of Ecola Creek. William Clark and 14 companions (including Sacagawea) headed south in 1806 and arrived in Cannon Beach 3 days later. In his journal, Clark described the journey as "the Steepest worst and highest mountain I ever assended …" and described the view from the cliffs as "…the grandest and most pleasing prospects which my eyes ever surveyed, in front of a boundless Ocean…". On arrival, they discovered the whales skeleton and local tribesmen cooking the blubber. The party bartered for blubber and whale oil, and returned to Fort Clatsop. Clark named the creek in "Ekoli" which is Chinook for "whale". The creek was later renamed Elk Creek and a town of the same name was settled.

In August 1846, the U.S. Naval schooner Shark, arrived off the mouth of the Columbia River (present day Astoria) after a 25-day passage from Honolulu. On September 10, the ship attempted to cross the bar and was beached on Clatsop Spit. In an effort to save the ship, the captain ordered the masts to be cut and the cannons to be thrown overboard to lessen the weight. The ship was destroyed before all of the cannons were jettisoned, and a large portion of the ship washed ashore near Arch Cape.

In June 1894, a cannon was spotted at Arch Cape Creek by mail carrier George Luce. With the help of his Nehalem neighbors John and Mary Gerritse and their team of horses, Luce succeeded in pulling the cannon out of the sand.

In 1922, the town was named Cannon Beach and the creek was renamed Ecola Creek in honor of William Clark.

Amazingly, in 2008, 2 more cannons were found during an exceptionally low tide.

People & Culture:
Cannon Beach is a laid back, relaxing, safe community full of friendly residents and 750,000 annual visitors. For such a small town, there is also a large number of art galleries featuring talented Pacific Northwest painters and sculptors. The arts are further supported by several art festivals throughout the year which include Spring Unveiling in early May, Plein Air & More in June, and the Stormy Weather Arts Festival in November. The Savor Cannon Beach wine and culinary festival in March also features local works of art. Performance arts can be viewed at The Coaster Theatre where community members put on plays and musicals.

Shopping is another popular activity with dozens of specialty stores and boutiques to choose from.

The city hosts a popular, annual sand castle-building contest in June.

Food & Nightlife:
Cannon Beach offers a number of high-end dining options to match the upscale lodging. Pacific Northwest cuisine, which features continental influences paired with local, fresh ingredients, is featured, however, there are a number of international cuisines featured in the town.

Due to community resistance, you will not find strip malls with chain restaurants or stores here. If that is what you are looking for, head a few miles north to Seaside. Nearly all of the businesses in Cannon Beach are locally owned which bolsters the charm of the town.

To be frank, the nightlife in Cannon Beach is fairly sad. There aren't very many watering holes, and even fewer that stay open late.

Money & Costs:
Most of the lodging in the area ranges from moderate to expensive, and there aren't many options for the budget traveler. Its pretty much the same story with the dining scene. Lodging is much less expensive during the off season (winter).

Oregon has no sales tax, but you will have to pay an 8% lodging tax.

There are a couple of banks in town and several ATMs. A better selection of banks can be found in nearby Seaside.

Tipping in restaurants is the standard U.S. 15-20%.

Getting There & Around:
There is no airport in Cannon Beach. Seaside and Warrenton to the north both have landing strips, but are not served by any commercial airlines. Greyhound offers bus service from Portland, but travel by car is the most common method of transportation.

If you are coming from another coastal town, you would take Highway 101 which runs north/south along the coast. If coming from anywhere else, you will most likely take Highway 26 out of Portland for 75 miles and then head 5 miles south on Highway 101.

Once in Cannon Beach, the downtown is very walkable, and there are a couple of bicycle rental shops available in town too. There are plenty of nearby attractions that will require a car to get to, however, unless you took a bus to the coast, you will already have a car. Sunset Empire Transit provides bus service between Astoria and Cannon Beach, and also provides service within Cannon Beach.

The table below shows the distances between Cannon Beach and nearby cities.

Seaside9 miles
Manzanita14 miles
Warrenton22 miles
Astoria25 miles
Tillamook41 miles
Pacific City65 miles
Portland80 miles
Lincoln City84 miles
Newport109 miles

The weather in Cannon Beach tends to be mild with sunny warm (not hot) summer days, cool summer nights, and stormy winters. Summer highs range from the mid 60's to the low 70's with rare occasions when the mercury hits 80. Summer nights will average in the mid 50's which means that no matter what time of year you visit, you will need warmer clothes. Winter storms can be violent with lots of rain, strong winds, and surging seas. July through September are the best months to visit.

Below are the current conditions and weather forecast for Cannon Beach, Oregon.

The table below shows the average high and low temperatures.

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Avg High 50 53 54 57 61 64 67 68 68 63 55 51
Avg Low 36 37 38 41 44 49 51 52 49 45 40 37
Precipitation 10.27" 9.57" 8.44" 5.74" 3.96" 3.00" 1.63" 1.34" 3.00" 6.07" 11.38" 11.34"

Tips & Additional Information:
  • Cannon Beach is very dog friendly. Many of the lodging options allow dogs, shops often offer doggie treats, and many restaurants allow your dog to dine outdoors with you. In town, your furry friend must be on a leash (max 6 feet) and on the beach under voice control.
  • You can't pump your own gas in Oregon.
  • Cannon Beach is in a tsunami zone and you will likely see brochures, evacuation routes, and other preparation evidence around town. There is no need to worry as the likelihood of a tsunami is very, very low. However, if you feel the ground shake, head for the hills.
  • Whale watching is a year-round activity at the coast. Ecola State Park is the best place in Cannon Beach for viewing.

  • Photo Gallery

    User Reviews (1)

    Reviewed by: sloshed
    Review date: Sep-01-2013

    Compared to many of the other Oregon Coast towns, Cannon Beach is more upscale with nicer lodging, and finer dining. Of course, it has a large beach with Haystack Rock towering over it too. The town is very dog friendly, and dogs are everywhere. Families might find that Seaside has more to offer kids. Also, there is only 1 gas station in town and it is hard to find. It is located at the RV Resort at the southern end of town right before you get back on highway 101. As you would expect, they charge 40-50 cents more per gallon that you will find in Portland. 

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