Cannon Beach is most known for the Haystack Rock, a picturesque rock formation jutting high into the sky along the beach. Although the beach is what draws most tourists to this small town, there’s more to do and see than hanging out on the beach!
For a more detailed look into what you can do with 24 Hours in Cannon Beach, check out my post, here.
(1) Haystack Rock
Spend some time on the beach building sand castles, watching sunset, enjoying a fire, and admiring the massive rock formation home to hundreds of common murre birds.
(2) The Town
There are several small boutiques, restaurants, and coffee shops to hang out in when you need a break from the outdoors. For ideas on where to eat, check out my post on Cannon Beach, here.
(3) Ecola State Park
A short drive north of town is the Ecola State Park with beautiful views of Cannon Beach and hiking trails along the coast.
(4) Silver Point Interpretive Overlook
Before you leave Cannon Beach, make a short stop at the Silver Point Interpretive Overlook for one last view of Cannon Beach and Haystack Rock from afar. The exact location and photos can be found on my post about visiting Cannon Beach, here.
Tip: We drove for a while before making our next stop, but if you’re looking for additional stops on your road trip consider these:
(1) Rockaway Beach. There are a lot of restaurants and a long stretch of beach, making it a great spot to stretch your legs and eat lunch. For more information on Rockaway Beach, click here.
(2) Nestucca Bay Wildlife Refuge. If you’re a bird lover and looking for a nature-filled vacation, add this wildlife refuge to your itinerary. We watched hundreds of birds soaring over the refuge as drove past. There’s more to do here than just bird watch, too. There’s also hiking and kayaking opportunities. For more information, click here.
(3) Devil’s Lake. There are a lot of places along the Oregon Coast with “Devil” in the name. Maybe it’s because they were dangerous for explorers, but I like to think that even the Devil wanted to stay in Oregon because its so beautiful. We drove around this lake on our way to our first stop. If you are camping (or want to stay in a yurt) on your road trip, there is a state park along this lake, making it an ideal stop on your itinerary. For more information about the park, click here.
(4) Depoe Bay. This town seemed very popular. Restaurants with ocean views lined the main road, there’s a long stretch of beach, and lots of small hotels. But, the reason I suggest it is because you can play in a Mud Flat Golf tournament during April! Lincoln City, hosts a community days event and playing golf on the mudflats in Siletz Bay is one of the events. I had difficulty finding information about this event, but here is one article. But if normal golfing is more your style, there were a lot of golf courses in this area.
Our first stop on the road trip was in Otter Rock to see the Devil’s Punchbowl. It’s a small park, so unless you plan on visiting the beach, plan on spending less than 30 minutes here. Or, you can have a picnic at one of the many picnic tables or eat at Mo’s Seafood restaurant (it will be busy). Also, there are public restrooms at this park.
There is a limited amount of parking available. If you’re lucky you can snag a spot close to the park along the road, but most likely you’ll need to turn down Ave C and park in the small parking lot. Or, turn down an unmarked road between Ave C and Ave B for additional parking.
Address: 1st Street, Otter Rock, OR
(1) Devils Punchbowl State Natural Area
Walk through the park for views of the coastline before reaching the Punchbowl (aka the Arch). You can look down into the Punchbowl from the park. Another option is to go inside! We had no idea this was an option, otherwise we would have planned to do so. If you want to walk around inside the Punchbowl, do so only at low tide!
Beach access is across the road from the restrooms. Based on a photo I saw, it appears the trailhead for access to the Punchbowl is down Ave C, past the parking lot. There should be a sign.
(2) Flying Dutchman Winery
Before leaving, pick up a bottle of wine for the night! Do a little wine tasting and buying at the Flying Dutchman, located straight across from the park. We purchased a bottle for our overnight stay at the Heceta Lighthouse Bed & Breakfast. It was perfect because we were able to share our wine with other B&B guests.
Yaquina Head Lighthouse
Hours: Park grounds open at 8 am in the Spring and 7 am in the summer. Closes at 5:30 pm during the week, at sunset Friday-Saturday.
Fee: $7 per vehicle
Tours: Find out more about tours here as times vary depending on the season
Lunch in Newport
Our original plan was to eat lunch at a hotel located on the coast, overlooking the ocean. Unfortunately the Lodge at Otter Crest restaurant was already closed until dinner by the time we arrived. Instead we went to the Yaquina Head Lighthouse and then stopped for a late lunch in Newport (recommended to us by the staff at the Otter Crest).
Address: 325 SW Bay Blvd, Newport, OR 97365
Hours: 11 am – 9 pm
Located on Yaquina Bay, this restaurant offers lunch with a view. There’s also entertainment in the form of sea lions! If you sit outside on the deck you can watch sea lions fight over the best sunbathing spots. They’re kind of jerks and overly dramatic but its fun to watch.
If there’s a wait when you arrive, stroll along the pier and watch the sea lions or take in views of the bay. Next door is a gift shop with an underwater aquarium (which we didn’t have time to check out because our table was ready as soon as we entered). Across the street is a candy store, so you can purchase dessert before lunch.
Newport was very busy when we visited in mid-April. I imagine this town is very crowded during the summer months. Parking is limited, but there is a small parking lot across the street from the restaurant, next to the candy shop. We were lucky and found a spot when we arrived.
The last stop on our road trip before heading back to Portland, was the Sea Lion Caves in Florence. It may be a very touristy place to visit, but I remember coming here as a kid with my family and wanted to revisit with my husband. Plus, I love watching sea lions.
The Sea Lion Caves is a privately owned wildlife preserve with the largest sea cave in America. The Stella sea lion can come and go as it pleases from the cave and the rocks along the coastline. How many you see on your visit, if any, will vary. We went on a day when there were over 100 in and around the cave. There is also a lot of information inside the cave so you can learn about the sea lions.
Before taking the elevator down into the cave, head down the cliff for a scenic view of the coastline and more sea lions on the cliff ledge. Inside the cave, there is another scenic view! From here you can see, beyond a waterfall, the Heceta Head Lighthouse.
Tip: There is a small viewing area into the caves, so if you don’t want to fight for photos, get there early. There is a small ledge where you can rest a travel-sized tripod (like the Joby GorillaPod) to help you take long-exposure shots. No flash photography is allowed!