Things to do in Cannon Beach
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23 Adventurous Things to Do in Cannon Beach

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Not only is Cannon Beach arguably the state’s favorite beach, but it’s even been voted one of the best beach towns in the country by Nat Geo!

Undoubtedly, this spot is one of the first images that come to mind when considering exploring the Oregon Coast.

Haystack Rock majestically juts out of the ocean, marine life thrives in the tide pools, hidden coves pump out surf, and epic trails stretch on for miles…

There are so many things to do in Cannon Beach and its surroundings. Here’s your guide to the coolest adventures around!

Table of Contents

23 Things to Do in Cannon Beach

Map of Cannon Beach and the surrounding area.
Click the image to view the clickable map of things to do in Cannon Beach.

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1. Take a Walk to Haystack Rock (The Most Famous Thing to Do in Cannon Beach!)

You can’t list things to do in Cannon Beach without mentioning the iconic Haystack Rock. This impressive rock formation rises directly up from the shore, and at low tide, beachgoers can walk right up to it.

Haystack Rock on Cannon Beach reflecting on the sand at golden hour.
Haystack Rock on Cannon Beach is a gorgeous sight.

The rock towers 235 feet out of the sand, and when you reach it, you will find a rainbow of sea stars and other fascinating tidepool creatures, with diverse birdlife flying overhead.

It is less than a mile to walk from the parking lot to Haystack Rock directly, but there are plenty of other things to admire if you want to take the hike a little further.

Two people walking on a beach by Haystack Rock on Cannon Beach.
Enjoying sunset near Haystack Rock

NOTE: This is a wild area, and we want to keep it that way! Don’t climb on the rock, don’t touch anything (the oils on your hands can kill marine life), and keep your dog on a leash if you bring them.

Tips for visiting Haystack Rock:

  • Try to arrive right at low tide to avoid the crowds and snag a good parking spot. Both lots fill up quickly!
  • Use this alley for direct access to Haystack Rock.
  • Go to the left of the rock for the best tide pools and marine life.
  • Go to the right of the rock for the best birdwatching (including the elusive tufted puffin).
  • Bring a pair of binoculars or a camera with good zoom to see puffins.
  • The parking situation is not great, but this is the closest lot to Haystack Rock.

RELATED: 17 BEST Oregon Coast Towns to Visit

2. Stick Around Cannon Beach for a Sunset and Beach Bonfire

Cannon Beach is mostly known for Haystack Rock, but there’s more to do here than that. To really make a day of it, stay until the sun starts to set; the sunsets are out of this world!

Once the sun has gone down, it is time for a magical beach bonfire. It is one of the few beaches on the coast that allow bonfires, but there are a few rules you’ll need to follow.

People on beach watching sunset on Cannon Beach out to ocean and rocky island.
Watching the sunset is one of the best things to do in Cannon Beach.

Fires can’t be larger than three feet, you have to burn clean wood, and you can’t burn too close to the grassy shoreline.

It’s the perfect beach to roast s’mores under the stars and listen to the sounds of the waves!

3. Skip the Crowds By Heading to Tolovana Beach State Recreation Site

Cannon Beach and Haystack Rock are famous for good reason—it’s a gorgeous spot and undeniably one of the best things to do in Cannon Beach. That being said, on a busy weekend, it’s borderline overhyped.

Beautiful nature abounds in this area, and if you’re not a fan of tourists photobombing your pics and disturbing your peace, head to the Tolovana Beach State Recreation Site instead.

Mostly empty Tolovana Beach on and overcast day.
A very empty Tolovana Beach

It’s way more chill, you won’t have to fight for a parking spot, and you can even see Haystack Rock and some other cool rock formations from here!

4. Wander Around Cannon Beach Town

It’s easy to get caught up in the natural beauty of Cannon Beach, but don’t forget to explore the town itself! The town is pretty quaint, with loads of small-town charm.

Nina walking through a cute area of Cannon Beach town.
Nina exploring a super cute area of Cannon Beach town

There are adorable shops, lots of little markets, art galleries, and more. The main drag is snuggled up right next to the beach, so you can pop back into nature pretty easily once you’ve had your fill of the “city” life.

5. Stop In for a Beer at Public Coast Brewing Co.

After a busy day in Cannon Beach, head to Public Coast Brewing Co. This nice little brewery blends in with the rest of the town, and if you didn’t know any better, you might think it’s just another house.

Customers sitting outside Public Coast Brewing Co. in Cannon Beach drinking a beer.
Public Coast Brewing

It is, in fact, an awesome brewery with a large outdoor eating area, a nice bar inside, and tons of award-winning beers on tap. You can order typical pub food to go with your beer, and there’s plenty of seafood on the menu if that’s what you’re after.

They have some pretty cool and creative things on tap, too. Nina had a mango jalapeno sour, just to give you an idea. It was just as good as my coconut brown ale!

Garrett holding a glass of dark ale in Public Coast Brewing co. in Cannon Beach.
My coconut brown ale

For all the non-drinkers and sweet tooths out there, the brewery makes its own root beer and root beer floats.

6. Stuff Yourself With Seafood

It’s not just the brewery that has fresh seafood on the menu. There are tons of places all around town offering up fresh catches of the day, and eating seafood is one of the best things to do in Cannon Beach.

The Ecola Seafood Restaurant and Market is a top contender for all things from the sea, especially their fish and chips.

Delicious looking seafood taco.
Try ALL of the seafood!

If you’re on the beach and don’t want to wander too far off the sand, the Wayfarer Restaurant and Lounge serves up fresh seafood and great views of the ocean to boot.

Cannon Beach is a foodie paradise, and whether you like seafood or not, you’ll find plenty of great places to dine after a busy day of exploration.

7. Learn About the Town’s Past at the Cannon Beach History Center & Museum

Whether you’re a history buff, looking for something to do on a rainy day, or searching for free things to do in Cannon Beach, a visit to the Cannon Beach History Center and Museum ticks all the boxes.

The sign and exterior of Cannon Beach history center and museum.
Outside Cannon Beach History Center

The museum features rotating exhibits, so depending on when you visit, you may be able to learn about things like shipwrecks off the Oregon coast, Native American longhouses, and more. There is also a permanent interpretive exhibit centered around the people of Cannon Beach throughout time.

Just to the right of Cannon Beach is Ecola State Park, one of our favorite state parks on the coast!

The entrance road to the state park twists and winds through an old-growth forest until you emerge at one of the state’s most iconic viewpoints.

Nina walking along a trail between bushes overlooking Bald Point.
Nina enjoying the views at Bald Point

The park stretches for 9 miles along the coastline and is a perfect place for surfing, hiking, wildlife watching, sightseeing, and tide pool exploring.

You can hike along most of the park’s coastline on the Tillamook Head National Recreation Trail or take the shorter Clatsop Loop hike to get some good views of the area.

View of Tillamook Lighthouse from Ecola State Park day use area.
Tillamook Lighthouse off the distant shores of Ecola!

While you’re at Indian Beach, look out for marine life in the tide pools and keep a keen eye open for eagles, elk, and even migrating gray whales during the winter and spring months.

READ MORE: Your Guide to Ecola State Park on the Oregon Coast

9. Wander Along the Coastline at Hug Point State Recreation Site

The Hug Point State Recreation Site is seriously stunning. Picture deep-sea caves carved into the sandstone and a seasonal waterfall running down the cliff of this rugged stretch of coastline. Although the area is small, it certainly packs in a lot of beauty.

Misty view of people walking on a beach in the distance surrounded by large rocks at Hug Point.
Hug Point on a misty day

Hug Point sits between Manzanita and Cannon Beach and used to be a stagecoach route that ran along the beach before the highway was built.

The main activity here is to take a walk along the beach and admire the incredible cliffs. There are some cool sea caves to explore and interesting rock formations.

Wedding furniture set up on a beach besides a rocky headland in Hug Point State Park.
Hug Point

You should be able to see Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach in the distance. The walk is about half a mile one way, so nothing too strenuous.

READ MORE: Your Guide to Hug Point State Recreation Site

10. Reconnect With Nature at Oswald West State Park

The beautiful Oswald West State Park spans four miles along the Oregon Coast.

The park has it all, with miles of trails leading through the dense, temperate rainforest, breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean, and secluded sandy beaches.

The park is popular with beachgoers, hikers, and surfers, with plenty of outdoor recreation opportunities. A 13-mile stretch of the Oregon Coast Trail winds its way through the park, extending to the town of Manzanita.

The two large coastal landmarks of Cape Falcon and Neahkahnie Mountain are also located within the park and offer some great hikes.

View from the Falcon Trail down to Oswald West State Park beach in Oregon.
View over Oswald West

There are a few day-use picnic areas, and in the old-growth coastal forest, you can find some of the state’s largest Sitka spruces.

This vast treasure is undoubtedly one of the most impressive coastal state parks in Oregon and a must on a list of things to do in Cannon Beach.

READ MORE: Your Guide to Oswald West State Park

11. Hike Cape Falcon Trail (Our Fav Thing to Do Near Cannon Beach)

Distance: 4.5 miles
Type of Trail: Out & Back
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation Gain: 580

The Cape Falcon hike is undoubtedly one of the most scenic on the Oregon Coast and is a must when it comes to things to do in Cannon Beach.

The cape sits in Oswald West State Park, and the trail begins at the northernmost end of the parking area, although really, it can be accessed from anywhere in the park.

Aerial view of rocky headland with ocean in background at the end of the Cape Falcon trail near Cannon Beach.
Hiking the Cape Falcon Trail is one of the best things to do in Cannon Beach.

It is certainly an achievable hike at roughly 2 miles long one way, taking you at first through a coastal forest of Sitka spruce, with many glimpses of the Pacific Ocean through gaps in the trees.

If you want to continue the hike, once you reach the top of Cape Falcon, you can carry on north on the Arch Cape-to-Cape Trail which takes you 6.9 miles to Arch Cape Creek.

READ MORE: Hiking the Cape Falcon Trail on the Oregon Coast

12. Beach Bum

The Oregon Coast is anything but a tropical destination, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find some great beaches for bumming.

With soft sand, warm summers, and incredible scenery, one of the best things to do in Cannon Beach is to park your bum on a beach!

View across an empty Crescent Beach on an overcast day in Ecola State Park.
Take time to explore Crescent Beach

Best Beaches in Cannon Beach:

  • Short Sand Beach – Surfing.
  • Cannon Beach – Haystack Rock and town access.
  • Tolovana Beach State Recreation Site – Less crowds but close to Cannon
  • Arcadia Beach – Tidepooling.
  • Crescent Beach – Huge beach with nearby hikes.
  • Hug Point State Recreation Site – Sandstone cliffs and caves.
  • Chapman Beach – Few crowds and lots of birdlife.
  • Indian Beach – Surfing, tidepooling, and nearby hikes.

RELATED: 23 Amazing Beaches in Oregon and What To Do Nearby

13. Hang Ten

The Oregon Coast is famed for its impressive waves, and Cannon Beach has plenty of great spots for surfers of all levels to hang ten.

Some of the more popular beaches will have equipment rentals available, and you can even get lessons if you’re a total newb.

Surfer with surfboard by beach sign with beach in background at Short Sand Beach.
Enjoy a number of water sports at Short Sand Beach

Best Surf Spots in Cannon Beach

  • Cannon Beach
  • Short Sand Beach
  • Indian Beach
  • Smuggler Cove

RELATED: 9 Epic Beaches for Surfing in Oregon—Beginner To Experienced!

14. Spend a Day at Short Sand Beach

Short Sand Beach is a hot spot for surfers, but there’s plenty to do here both in and out of the water. The beach lies in a sheltered cove, surrounded by thick forest and edged by volcanic basalt and sandstone cliffs.

This is a beautiful place to spend the day and a great thing to do near Cannon Beach. Go skimboarding, boogie boarding, fly a kite or go for a paddle.

The beach can be reached by a short walk through the forest from Oswald West State Park’s main parking lot.

Walk down the trail, following the curves of Short Sand Creek through the forest before reaching a picnic area overlooking the beach. From the beach, if you are up for a bit of adventure, you can do the Cape Falcon hike we talked about above!

READ MORE: Short Sand Beach on the Oregon Coast – Hike, Surf, Chill

15. Look For Epic Views Along the Neahkahnie Mountain Hike

Distance: 3.4+ miles
Type of Trail: Loop
Difficulty: Moderate-Hard
Elevation Gain: 1,000+ feet

The Neahkahnie Mountain Hike takes you up to the exposed summit of Neahkahnie Mountain.

Towering at 1680 feet, it is one of the highest points on the West Coast of the United States and is located in Oswald West State Park. The view from the peak out over the Pacific Ocean is stunning, especially on clear days.

View over beach, ocean and coast from Neahkahnie Mountain in Oswald West State Park.
Epic views from Neahkahnie Mountain

There are a few different routes you can take to reach the mountain’s peak, depending on your ability—All routes offer stunning views!

Whichever route you decide to take, the hike itself is beautiful, lined with wildflowers and passing through Sitka spruce forests, but it is the views from the peak that will take your breath away.

RELATED: How To Do an Oregon Coast Day Trip From Portland

16. Discover Devil’s Cauldron

The incredible Devil’s Cauldron is just a few minutes south of Cannon Beach and is well worth a visit.

The stunning cove is bordered by towering cliffs that jut down straight into the ocean, making for a pretty impressive sight. Standing at the overlook and watching the waves crash into the cliff is one of the best things to do in Cannon Beach.

View of Devil's Cauldron looking down from the cliffs.
View of Devil’s Cauldron in Cannon Beach

The trail to the overlook is very short at just a quarter of a mile but is moderately steep, so be prepared for a bit of a climb.

Alternatively, if you are up for a bit of a walk, start at the parking lot at the main section of the park (where you park for Short Sand Beach/Cape Falcon hike) and take the 3-mile round trip via the Elk Flats trail to the overlook.

RELATED: A Legendary Oregon Coast Road Trip – 35 Stops & 3 Itineraries

17. Check Out the Cool Wildlife at Cannon Beach

Cannon Beach is the place to head if you are a bird-watching enthusiast. Huge colonies of seabirds flock around the offshore rocks, and birds such as Tufted Puffins can be seen at Haystack Rock. Brown Pelicans skim the surf, and if you look up, Bald Eagles sail through the skies.

Tufted puffin with its wings spread perched on a rock.
See Tufted Puffins around Haystack Rock

But it is not just the birds that call the area around Cannon Beach their home.

Around 18,000 gray whales make their migration past the shore every spring and winter, which is one of the most magical things to view if you are lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time!

There is also a chance of spotting a few other species of whale off the coast at any point throughout the year, but the gray whale is by far the most common. Keep your eyes peeled for seals and sea lions at the beaches or the viewpoints around town.

Whale tail protruding from the ocean seen from a whale watching tour.
Don’t miss see whales off the coast!

People also head to the area to view the herds of Roosevelt Elk, which can often be seen emerging from the edges of the surrounding rainforest to graze in the coastal meadows.

TIP: Your best chance for spotting Elk is either in the early mornings or in the late evenings.

RELATED: 11 Stunning Things To Do on the North Oregon Coast

18. Enjoy the Peace and Quiet of Arcadia Beach Recreation Site

Although it’s located just three miles south of Cannon Beach, you’ll feel worlds away from the busy city center at Arcadia Beach Recreation Site.

This one-mile-long sandy beach/park offers outdoor recreation in spades: you can beach comb, go tide pooling, explore sea caves, or hop on one of the scenic trails.

Jagged rocks on Arcadia Beach Recreation Site on a cloudy day.
A stunning beach!

There are several incredible rock formations to be found, and even a waterfall. If you look carefully, you will still be able to see the ancient road that was blasted out of the rock to allow horses to get over the point and back.

19. Look for Marine Life in the Tide Pools

Explore the pools and discover cool, colorful marine life along the coastline.

Tidepooling is one of the best things to do in Cannon Beach: you can expect to find sea stars, sea anemones, hermit crabs, mussels, limpets, and who knows what else!

Beautiful orange starfish in shallow tide pool.
Check out the tide pools around Arcadia Beach

Where to Go Tidepooling Near Cannon Beach:

  • Haystack Rock
  • Silver Point
  • Indian Beach
  • Ecola Point
  • Hug Point

TIP: The best tide pool experience is usually at extremely low tides so double-check before heading out.

Nearby Things To Do From Cannon Beach

Check out these other worthwhile things to do just about an hour or less away from Cannon Beach.

20. Journey South to the Tiny Town of Manzanita

Just south of Cannon Beach, you will find the cute little town of Manzanita.

Take a stroll along the sand and enjoy the incredible views of Neahkahnie Mountain. The town is tiny, with just over 600 people, making it a true hidden gem.

Aerial view over Manzanita town and beach.
Visiting Manzanita is one of the best things to do near Cannon Beach

Surrounded by huge coastal attractions, it remains a little off the radar, ideal if you are looking for a quieter escape on the Oregon Coast.

The beach here is wide and long, and there are plenty of hiking opportunities, such as the 1-mile round trip to the beach in Oswald West State Park.

There are plenty of cute shops to browse, plus, the culinary scene is pretty special. Get a cinnamon roll at Sisters And Pete’s Coffee And Treats, and stroll Laneda Ave.

21. Camp Out at Nehalem Bay State Park

Nehalem Bay State Park is a beautiful place to visit if you have somehow run out of things to do at Cannon Beach. It has literally miles of beach to enjoy, a huge campsite, and even an airstrip.

Campervan parked up in Nehalem Bay State Park campsite with a backdrop of trees.
Us camping at Nehalem Bay State Park in Lucy!

The state park itself is located on a long sand spit, with Neahkahnie Mountain towering behind it. There are some great trails here, including the 1.8-mile Nehalem Bay Trail and the longer 4.2-mile Nehalem Spit Trail, which takes you all the way down to the end of the spit.

There is a boat ramp right on the bay for fishing, kayaking, and crabbing, and there is a bike trail that runs along the bay shore. It is also a good spot for beachcombing and wildlife watching, so keep your eyes peeled for elk, deer, seals, and plenty of birdlife.

View across a beach at Nahelam Bay State Park to a mountain covered in clouds.
Beach at Nehalem Bay State Park

TIP: This is also our best recommendation for a place to camp that’s near Cannon Beach! We love it here.

READ MORE: Your Guide to Nehalem Bay State Park

22. Take a Day Trip to Seaside Town

Exploring the town of Seaside (aka the ‘Jewel of the Oregon Coast’) shouldn’t be missed on any trip to Cannon Beach.

The town is not only historical, being the last stop of the Lewis and Clark expedition, but it also has a beautiful beach, lots of shopping and eateries, and tons of other fun things to do.

Swan boats on the canal in Seaside - one of the best places to visit near Cannon Beach.
Visit Seaside from Cannon Beach

If there is only one thing you do in Seaside, it should be to walk the Seaside Promenade.

The 1.5-mile prom is the perfect place for a stroll, a morning jog, a bike ride, or a spot for people-watching, dating all the way back to the 1920s. End your walk at the roundabout that is a tribute to Lewis and Clark.

The town’s waterways provide scenic avenues for kayaks, canoes, and paddleboats so that you can see the town from a different perspective.

Group of people kayaking down the Necanicum River in Seaside.
Kayak in Seaside

Be sure to sample some of the delicious Seaside seafood, including arguably the best clam chowder in the world, and browse the three unique shopping districts in the town.

READ MORE: 13 Adventurous Things to Do Around Seaside, Oregon

23. Take On the Saddle Mountain Hike

Distance: 4.7 miles
Type of Trail: Out and back
Difficulty: Difficult
Elevation Gain: 1,794 feet

The Saddle Mountain Trail is a very popular hike located near Cannon Beach. It is a 4.7 mile round trip trek, with a nearly 1800-foot elevation gain, so get ready to get your sweat on.

Start the hike from the campsite area near the parking area, following a paved trail, and before long, you will enter a stunning forest made up of red alder, followed by Douglas fir and Sitka spruce.

Summit of Saddle Mountain covered in patches of snow.
Hike Saddle Mountain

Once you reach the peak, you will be rewarded with mountain-top views that reach from Mount Hood all the way to the Pacific Ocean. You may even be able to see Washington’s three stratovolcanoes in the distance!

RELATED: 17 Breathtaking Oregon Coast Hikes

Where to Stay Near Cannon Beach

Below, you’ll find some great spots to stay, but we have more suggestions in our article on the best hotels in Cannon Beach!

The Shell Cottage

This adorable dog-friendly cottage is in a quiet residential neighborhood within walking distance to the beach and town center. There is a full kitchen, WiFi, and a gas fireplace.

Check Price 

Cannon Beach Tree House

This cozy one-bedroom is nestled in amongst the trees and has ocean views. It is close to Cannon Beach and has a full kitchen, WiFi, and a balcony.

Check Price

Cottage by the Sea

This cozy two-bedroom cottage is perfect for water lovers – it’s just two blocks away from the beach and s short walk from Tolovana Beach State Recreation Site. It features a modern kitchen and a private deck with a barbecue.

Check Price

La Bella Vita

This sweet vacation cottage has two bedrooms and is a short walk to the beach. There is a full kitchen, a large deck with an outdoor grill, and it is pet-friendly.

Check Price

👉 More Accommodation in Cannon Beach

We hope this post helped you better explore the things to do in Cannon Beach! Check out more posts on the Oregon Coast.

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