With so many hiking trails around every curve of Highway 101, the breweries, candy stores, and bakeries are just fueling stations for the Oregon coast’s star attractions: waves, waterfalls, and woods.
Because I love watching surfers, we started our longest day on the coast at Short Sand Beach in Oswald West State Park. Just follow the wet-suited ones from the parking lot down the wooded trail to Smugglers Cove, where giant logs and driftwood bits frame the wave riders. When the beach crowded with people, we escaped up a trail under a canopy of western red cedar, western hemlock, and Sitka spruce trees—then popped into nearby Manzanita for snacks from the local grocer.
In contrast to Oswald’s forested grandeur, the main thoroughfare at Hug Point State Recreation Site is a sandy beach. We went there next and snapped photos of wide waterfalls and multicolored caves. I couldn’t believe I’d never been to this popular little spot before, but with so many trails and turnouts to explore along the coast, even the oldest destinations can feel new to discover.
On our last morning, we stopped at Sea Level Bakery + Coffee at the quiet southern end of Cannon Beach. For breakfast, I splurged on a very urban meal—an açai bowl topped with fresh fruit and granola—and Stumptown coffee. It was just the fuel I needed for our final stroll of the weekend at Ecola State Park. One of the first places I remember hiking as a kid, Ecola is a well-traveled spot for good reason: The views of the ocean and rock formations are nothing short of stunning.
After the quick breakfast-burning walk, it was time to head back on Highway 26 toward Portland. But on our way, we couldn’t help but turn back the clock one last time for lunch in Elsie, home to Camp 18, the iconic restaurant/monument to Oregon’s logging history. My husband and I grabbed a burl table under a mounted elk head for some beef stew. With its giant wooden bear statues and lumberjack proportions, Camp 18 is a classic Northern Oregon coast roadside attraction. And like so many of the stops we made in the area, it’s just as much fun to visit as an adult.