Oregon's coast is not, on the whole, wealthy. But there's one 15-mile stretch of Range Rovers, two-story beach houses and fit, middle-aged hikers straight out of Big Little Lies. Cannon Beach has long served as the Oregon Coast's playground for Portland's well-to-do: a stretch of taffy shops with wooden signs, grandparent-approved art galleries and overpriced restaurants where people blow their money before seeing majestic Haystack Rock.
Manzanita, a few miles down U.S. Highway 101, is now joining the party. Seemingly, there's a Sotheby's sign planted on every third house, plus new restaurants are popping up there, next to two of the state's most scenic parks.
Stock up on party supplies
Oregon Coast Cannabis (868 Laneda Ave., 503-368-4200, orcoastcannabis.com) is the only dispensary between Seaside and Rockaway Beach.
Its aesthetic is a beach-bum take on the popular hippie-chiropractic-office vibe of upscale Portland dispensaries, and it carries more than 50 varieties of flower. Grams begin at $6 and the staff will walk you through the menu to find the ideal flower, or through the full-spectrum selection of edibles from posh producers including Grön and Laurie + MaryJane.
Survey the town
After you've, ahem, used your supplies, it's time to get some fresh air. Manzanita can be traversed entirely on foot. Anywhere in town, you're just 10 minutes away from the windswept, driftwood-strewn Manzanita Beach, which is perfect for walks and gloomy photos of waves or foggy Neahkahnie Mountain in the distance.
Eat a Portland-nice dinner
With a specials menu written on a large mirror and adorably illustrated cocktail menu, Blackbird (503 Laneda Ave., blackbirdmanzanita.com, 503-368-7708) is a small-town slice of upscale Portland. You'll want to order a handful of smaller dishes, including two large slabs of roasted bone marrow, which are a steal at $10. You're on the coast, so spring for the pricey fresh oysters ($18/half-dozen, $34/dozen).
Eat a secret dessert
Save room for dessert at the Sand Dune Pub (127 Laneda Ave., sandunepub.com, 503-368-5080). The spacious, wood-floored pub decorated with beer paraphernalia and surfboards has a killer, silky-smooth peanut butter chocolate pie that sits off-menu because Laura, who has been making it for years, kept getting bogged down with pie orders when it was front and center.
The pie should be washed down with a $5 pint from of one of Sand Dune's 15 craft taps and enjoyed on its spacious patio.
The morning's activities take you to Nehalem, a tiny town 2 miles inland from Manzanita. You've got a big day ahead of you, so load up at Wanda's Cafe and Bakery (12870 H St. wandascafe.com, 503-368-8100), an adorable diner in a converted house decorated with old board games, commemorative plates and vintage toasters.
Spend the morning on the Nehalem River
You're going to be spending the next two hours burning that big breakfast off on a guided tour of the beautiful Nehalem river. Kayak Tillamook (kayaktillamook.com, $65/person) provides kayak tours across the north coast, and our winding trip around the islands and floodplains of Nehalem Bay offered the chance to see elk, bald eagles, great blue herons and river seals.
To reach the docking site, follow Highway 101 south out of Nehalem and over the bridge spanning the Nehalem River. The docking site and its accompanying parking lots are visible from the bridge. Turn right onto Tideland Road and into the parking lot.
Eat some of the best chowder on the coast
You're going to be starving once you wrap up your trip round the river, but you're in luck: Buttercup Ice Creams and Chowder (35915 N U.S. Highway 101, buttercup101.com, 503-368-2469) is one of the best lunches on the coast, and it's right around the corner.
Chef Julie Barker makes her seasonal, locally sourced chowders to order, throwing veggies and fresh seafood in a saucepan and cooking it up in a few minutes. Barker's favorite is the vegan Thai, which you should order with seafood. Our favorite was the spring clam, deep and fragrantly floral with a kiss of lemon. Finish it off with a scoop of her marshmallow ice cream.
Get a cup from a local roaster
It's time to descend into the tourist maelstrom of Cannon Beach, so you'd better be awake for it. Sleepy Monk Coffee (1235 S Hemlock St., sleepymonkcoffee.com, 503-436-2796) has been roasting coffee in Cannon Beach for more than a quarter of a century. Its flagship cafe is an adorable cabin where you can get a strong, dark cup and a crispy buttermilk bar from Dundee's Donuts in Seaside.
Never say die
You're just across the street from Haystack Rock. If it's not too windy, take your coffee to go and head down to the beach for some selfies. At low tide, there are pools of sea stars and anemones at the base of the 235-foot tower of basalt. At high tide, you can wander around looking at cool dogs frolicking in the surf.
Break the loop
You've got a late afternoon to enjoy, so head a few miles north of Cannon Beach to Ecola State Park. There you'll find the 3-mile Clatsop Loop Hike. The last half-mile flattens into a large campground, with an excellent view of the "Terrible Tilly" lighthouse a short walk toward the coast. You can follow the official loop—which will take you up a fairly dull, hamstring-torching inland slog of steep gravel road—but you're better off hiking the flatter, windier coastal path up and down, which provides excellent views of the coast most of the way. At the trailhead, go left towards signs for Indian Beach and follow the path up. From downtown Cannon Beach, head north on North Hemlock Street, turning right on 3rd Street onto Fir Street. Take a left onto East 5th Street, veering right onto Ecola State Park Road. Follow the road north until you reach the Indian Beach trailhead.
Drink some whiskey, from scratch
Many Oregon distilleries aren't "true" distilleries, instead buying neutral spirits made elsewhere, then adding flavor, age and marketing.
Not the excellent Cannon Beach Distillery (255 N Hemlock St., cannonbeachdistillery.com, 503-436-0301), where distiller Mike Selberg makes some of the best booze in Oregon from scratch.
Cannon Beach Distillery maintains a shop with regular hours, but if you're in the south end of town, swing by its production facility on Hemlock. It doesn't maintain regular hours, but if you're lucky you'll catch Selberg there, where he'll pour you tasters of his highly-sought-after whiskies.
Get a really cheap dinner
Cannon Beach is a town that specializes in pub grub and uninspired meat-and-two-veg meals at exorbitant prices. This makes the no-nonsense Tom's Fish & Chips (240 N Hemlock St., tomscannonbeach.com, 503-436-4301) a godsend. Its unpretentious, nicely charred cookout cheeseburgers and three-piece baskets of fish 'n' chips cost half what they do at most other places in town, while its cup of chowder is housemade and rich with creamy goodness.
Yes, there are two shiny new craft breweries in Cannon Beach. But unless you're a partisan of one, you're better off drinking with the locals at Cannon Beach Hardware and Public House (1235 S Hemlock St., cannonbeachhardware.com, 503-436-4086).
This pub, also known as the Screw & Brew, is a humble hardware store that also has six taps and a cocktail list that begins with a rusty nail. It's the only bar in Cannon Beach that doesn't seem to be geared exclusively toward tourists. And, if you need to pick up a tiki torch or caulking gun, you're in the right place.
Yes, you're heading back to Manzanita, and you're heading there early, because you can't miss out on the freshly baked cardamom cinnamon rolls at Bread and Ocean (154 Laneda Ave., 503-368-5823). The line forms at 7:30 am, when the rolls are still warm in the middle and gently crisp on the outside, each bite full of fragrant spices and covered with just enough icing to be luxurious. Your final hike for the weekend will be a big one, so you won't be disappointed when the breakfast sandwich stacked with ham is a little bigger than you expected it to be.
Soar among the falcons
At just under 5 miles, the Cape Falcon hike is on the right side of the best way to enjoy a morning without returning to Portland completely depleted.
The Cape Falcon trailhead is about a five-minute drive north of Manzanita up Highway 101 in the heart of Oswald West State Park. Follow the signs into the park and to the trailhead, where a large parking lot will alert you that you're in the right place. Highway noise quickly dissipates into the gentle gurgle of streams and mini-waterfalls, which helps makes this quite a muddy trek during the spring. About halfway up you'll reach an overlook where you can see the Blumenthal Falls cascade into the Pacific.
You'll know you're approaching the top when the forest clears to salal. As you reach the striking southward viewpoint at the terminus of Cape Falcon, you may be greeted by the sight of the cape's namesake dancing in the wind over crashing waves below.
Cape Falcon Hike trailhead is in Oswald West State Park. From downtown Manzanita, drive 4.5 miles north on Highway 101 and follow the signs for the Cape Falcon trailhead.
Get on the level
Now that you're tuckered out, coated in mud and ready to head back to Portland, prime yourself for your return with a visit to Sea Level Bakery and Coffee (3116 S Hemlock St., sealevelbakery.com, 503-436-4254), just up U.S. Highway 101.
In an Instagrammable A-frame, Sea Level serves housemade breakfast pastries, loaves of fresh bread and sandwiches alongside Heart Coffee and charcuterie from Olympia Provisions. It's a perfect fusion of Portland and coast, full of guys in cool sneakers and Blazers hats as well as monied-looking moms, both of whom will be rightfully taking photos of their lattes and breakfast buns.
STAY THE NIGHT
Nehalem Bay State Park campground
Nehalem Bay State Park, 34600 Gary St.
Does a yurt count as a yurt if it's as good as a motel? On the north side of Nehalem Bay State Park campground is a semicircle of green tents that, for $44 per night and up, provide enough sleeping room for at least five people (the precise number is determined by your dedication to the college lifestyle) as well as heating, outdoor grills and parking, with nine yurts available for staying with pets. Sure, bathrooms are a short walk away. But so is the ocean, bucolic Nehalem Bay, bike and horse trails, and a friendly pack of deer that may gently amble in front of you as you leave for downtown Manzanita, which is only a 20-minute walk up the road.
San Dune Inn
428 Dorcas Lane, Manzanita, 503-368-5163, sandune-inn-manzanita.com.
Despite being much smaller and less popular than neighboring tourist paradise Cannon Beach, Manzanita is home to plenty of upscale hotels catering to the new wave of monied Oregonians and Californians. None of these places offers you the opportunity to watch dozens of classic VHS tapes like the San Dune Inn.
Though it's stock standard as far as roadside motels are concerned, the rooms are cheap and you're in the heart of Manzanita, where you can enjoy Michael Bay's classic The Rock after stumbling home from the Sand Dune Pub.
Schooner's Cove Inn
188 N Larch St., schoonerscove.com, 503-436-2300
Cannon Beach is awash in unremarkable mass-market hotels. But unremarkable means clean and warm, and the Schooner's Cove Inn provides large rooms on the beach for about $150, if you're willing to forego a beach view from your room. If you're celebrating something, another hundred bucks will get you that sweet look at the ocean.