With its dramatic rock formations and expansive stretch of sand, Cannon Beach is one of the most spectacular spots on the Oregon Coast. In the summer, visitors flock to this scenic coastline to swim in the ocean and play on the shore. During the fall and winter months, swirling mists turn the beach into a mysterious wonderland. As you choose from the many beautiful Cannon Beach vacation rentals, consider their proximity to these fun, kid-friendly activities.
1. Explore the Tide Pools
As the tide goes out each morning and evening on Cannon Beach, it traps sea creatures in the pools of water that form in the hollows of rocks. The best place to see the tide pools is Haystack Rock, which features a large surface area and a variety of hidden treasures. Watch the starfish float under the surface of the water, and look for sea anemones, hermit crabs, and barnacles. You might even spot a puffin or two. Wear sturdy shoes for easier walking, and explore the outer edges of the rock to find small and large pools.
2. Play on the Sand
Cannon Beach is famous for its long, wide strip of sand. The beach is so large that it’s a breeze to find a private spot, even in the height of summer; simply wander north or south from Haystack Rock. Enjoy sunbathing, build sandcastles, or take a dip in the ocean when the weather is warm. During cooler days, enjoy long walks and excellent shell-picking along the shore. Be sure to come back at the end of the day, when the sky lights up with brilliant colors.
3. Cook Dinner Over a Fire
Pack a picnic basket, and head to the beach for lunch or dinner with your little ones for an exciting bonfire on the sand. Fires are legal in Cannon Beach, as long as you make them west of the sea grasses to avoid wildfires. Driftwood makes excellent fuel; use only smaller pieces if you’re gathering it from the beach. During wetter months, purchase firewood from gas stations and grocery stores in town.
4. Hike Ecola State Park
Bring your hiking boots to Ecola State Park, a stunning spot located just north of Cannon Beach. Here, you can explore an extensive network of hiking trails, many with spectacular ocean views. Start with the Clatsop Loop Trail, which follows the 2.5-mile route of a historic Corps of Discovery expedition along the coast. Other trails take you past an old lighthouse, through the forested hills, and along Indian Beach. After you’re done, head to the park’s upper viewpoint for panoramic views of Cannon Beach.
5. Take a Family Surf Lesson
Experience the famous Oregon coast waves with a surf lesson. Companies such as Cannon Beach Surf can design a custom lesson for the whole family, so your little ones can ride the waves safely. Most outfitters provide wetsuits to keep you warm, as well as personalized instruction and rental equipment. Once you’re comfortable on the water, opt for a gear rental package and head out to explore the low, rolling surf.
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6. Go Whale Watching
Twice a year, gray whales migrate through the ocean near Cannon Beach, creating excellent whale-watching opportunities. Bring your little ones down to the beach to spot whales breaching. If you aren’t having any luck, head up to Ecola State Park for excellent views from above. If it’s in the budget, head out for a whale-watching boat ride to see the animals up close.
7. Explore Downtown Cannon Beach
Cannon Beach has a lovely, walkable downtown area that’s great for families. Pick up coffees and hot chocolates from Insomnia Coffee, and head for bustling Hemlock Street. Enjoy fruit-filled crepes at Crepe Neptune, or stop for a snack at Chocolate Cafe. Adorable downtown shops offer a range of souvenirs, toys, and clothing, so your little ones can buy the perfect vacation memorabilia. After a day of shopping, get in the spirit of Cannon Beach with a casual meal at Tom’s Fish N Chips.
8. Learn About Lewis and Clark
Bring history class to life with a visit to key locations visited by Lewis and Clark. Stop by Whale Park in Cannon Beach to see the southernmost point of the famous expedition; the explorers and their Native American companion Sacajawea stopped here to examine a beached whale. The Lewis and Clark expedition ended just a few miles north in the town of Seaside. Here, you can check out a bronze sculpture of the men and see the view that ended their 4,000-mile trip in 1806. End your day with a visit to the Fort Clatsop Lewis and Clark National Historical Park, about 25 miles north.
9. Visit Hug Point
A few miles south of Cannon Beach, Hug Point offers exciting natural formations and a glimpse into the past. In Oregon’s early days, settlers traveled by stagecoach along the beach; visit at low tide to see the stagecoach tracks in the rocks, just north of the parking lot. Bring sturdy, waterproof shoes and walk around the point at low tide to explore the two large caves on the shore. The park is also home to a towering waterfall and a lovely stretch of beach.
10. Try Surf Fishing
Take advantage of the rolling waves on Cannon Beach with an afternoon of surf fishing. Visit a local fishing shop or outfitter to rent surf rods, and head for the ocean. Kids and adults can have fun dodging waves and learning how to manipulate the long rods, and nothing matches the excitement of reeling in a fish. If you’re visiting with small children, head to nearby Necanicum River for excellent salmon and steelhead fishing.
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