There’s no sea breeze in the Rose City, but with two popular beach towns just 90 minutes away, it’s easy to take a day trip to the Pacific Ocean from Portland. Travel west on U.S. 26, through the lush Coast Range mountains to connect with U.S. 101. Head south a few miles to Cannon Beach, an artsy coastal village, or venture north to explore the old-school boardwalk offerings of Seaside. No matter which you choose, you’ll find stunning seascapes and welcoming vibes.
This scenic town claims two coastal landmarks: Ecola State Park and Haystack Rock. Named for a native word for “whale,” Ecola State Park’s stretches of rugged, forested headlands offer outstanding hiking and quick access to cliff-framed Indian Beach. Just to the south, iconic Haystack Rock rises 235 feet above a long, sandy beach and some of the best tide pools on the coast.
The lively midtown area of Cannon Beach is home to a vibrant arts scene. The dozen or so galleries include the Cannon Beach Gallery Group and the DragonFire Studio and Gallery, which offers seasonal workshops.
For a java break, stop into Sleepy Monk Coffee Roasters for locally roasted, organic pours and house-made scones and muffins. (At night the café becomes an Irish restaurant.) Cap a day with a meal at Bill’s Tavern and Brewhouse, a favorite for its seafood-centric pub grub and house microbrews, like the award-winning Duck Dive Pale Ale.
Seaside has been a destination for families since the turn of the 20th century, thanks to beloved attractions like the Promenade, a 1.5-mile, lamppost-lined walkway built in 1920. To see the strip in style, rent cruiser beach bikes from Prom Bike & Hobby Shop. Just off the Promenade, the landmark Seaside Aquarium is the one of oldest on the West Coast, dating to 1937. Inside, kids (and kids at heart) delight in feeding the resident seals or exploring the “touch tanks” with their dozens of colorful sea creatures. Don’t miss a whirl on the beloved Seaside Carousel, which features 24 ornate carousel animals, all based on figures at San Francisco’s American Carousel Museum.
From the fishing city of Astoria to the tide pools of Yachats, the Oregon Coast is a rugged, unspoiled treasure that begins 90 minutes from Portland.
Get the full Oregon Coast experience with chilly Northwest surfing, tide pool viewing and a warm cup of clam chowder.
Up to 20,000 gray whales migrate along Oregon's coast every winter and spring. Spot them from these four locations.