There are many charming stops along the 360-mile long Oregon Coast: Cannon Beach, Astoria, Manzanita, and Bandon are each renown in their own way. Many visitors head straight to the larger towns like Seaside, Lincoln City, or Newport. But while these coastal destinations attract most of the tourists, there are lesser known gems where you can still find quiet, secluded beaches even on the busiest holiday weekends. Pacific City, Oregon, located nearly halfway between Lincoln City and Tillamook, is one of those gems.
I admit I may be a little biased toward this charming town, as our family owns property in Pacific City. But the same things that drew us to this peaceful, picturesque coastal town will draw you in as well.
A little more out-of-the-way than some of the better known towns along the Oregon Coast, Pacific City rivals Cannon Beach for its natural beauty. With its own Haystack Rock (a landmark commonly associated with Cannon Beach) and ample tide-pooling opportunities during low tide, it lacks nothing found at other popular Oregon beaches. To the contrary, its signature sand dune sets it apart from other beaches, offering spectacular views and invigorating climbing opportunities.
From dawn ’til dusk, a steady stream of ant-like adventurers make the trek up the massive dune, a trip which takes between 10-20 minutes or more, depending on the shape you’re in. On top, those who make the effort are rewarded with enticing views of the entire coastline in both directions. You may want to bring your binoculars–during certain times of the year migrating whales can be seen from here. The speedy and fun running descent back down to the beach completes the adventure.
And with a year-round population of just over 1,000 residents, Pacific City rarely feels crowded. While most people head to the beach near the Pelican Brew Pub (where you will pay $10/vehicle to park), you can often find a nearly empty beach less than a mile away by parking at the no-fee Bob Straub State Park instead.
Kayakers can also spend half a day exploring the inlet river that runs through town. Rentals are expensive here so bring your own if you can. Horseback riding and even camel rides on the beach can be arranged for those so inclined. Bikers may wish to rent sand bikes to ride up and down the beach. Parasailers are also often spotted practicing here, and surfers show up daily to brave the cold water in hopes of catching the perfect wave.
Vacation rentals for every budget and family size abound in Pacific City. There are also a few hotels and RV parks to choose from. And when meal time rolls around, there are just enough restaurant choices to satisfy nearly any craving: from pizza to burgers, and tacos to Pan-Asian. A favorite for breakfast is the Grateful Bread Bakery, which offers a delectable vegan scramble in addition to traditional breakfast favorites. And when you’re ready for dessert, stop by the Cape Kiwanda Marketplace for some Tillamook ice cream, or choose from nearly a dozen unique flavors of fudge.
Pacific City has everything to offer in a coastal town, with a fraction of the crowds. Being less than two hours driving distance from downtown Portland, it makes for a charming and peaceful weekend getaway year-round.