The North Oregon Coast is a truly magical place and unlike anywhere else most people have ever been. Between charming downtown districts, locally owned restaurants, shopping, tide pools, wildlife, and miles of empty beaches - there is something for everyone here. Each small town along the coast has a unique vibe, but it’s easy to find things to love about each one. Enjoy learning about our corner of the world, through the eyes of people who live here, by navigating through the Community Highlights, which are organized by town from north to south. Join me on an insider's tour of the North Oregon Coast!
Are any of your local favorites missing from my lists? Please let me know via email!
Astoria is the crown jewel of the Oregon Coast. With local breweries and watering holes, museums, pristine nature, and a wonderful community, there is nothing this small but bustling town can’t offer.
It only takes a stroll down the main drag of town to understand what makes this community special. No large chain stores in sight, this town thrives on locally owned and operated clothing stores, restaurants, pet stores, and more. Don’t worry if you need your big box stores to survive, Costco, Home Depot, Walmart, etc., and just over the bridge in Warrenton.
There are a variety of preschools and homeschool co-ops in the area, as well as public schools for each education level. Some co-ops emphasize science, while others are nature based. With some networking you’ll be able to find the right fit for your family. Astoria also offers a substantial amount of family based activities. During the summer enjoy life outside - a plethora of parks, easy hikes, bonfires, outdoor markets, and waterfalls await. In the winter treat your family to a movie, the aquatic center, a gymnastics class, scenic drives for storm watching, and holiday events.
Astoria is home to Columbia Memorial Hospital, which has an emergency room, cancer center, an array of therapies, and a large network of doctors and pediatricians. There are many dentists, optometrists, and therapists to choose from in Astoria and the surrounding areas. For some more extensive healthcare needs, a trip to Portland may be in order, but for the most part quality care can be found locally.
Astoria is a very pet friendly area. Drive-thrus have treats for your furry friends, some stores allow them to accompany you, and there are plenty of groomers and dog walkers. The trails are dog friendly (on leash, please!) and the beaches are just miles and miles of doggy freedom.
Helped by the fact Astoria is a tourist destination, food lovers delight in the choices and quality of food that can be found locally. Not only are the restaurants locally owned, there are also food carts and breweries to enjoy. No matter your palette, something in town will be right up your alley.
Bakery: Blue Scorcher
Book Stores: Lucy's Books
Coffee: Coffee Girl
Date Night: Fort George
Deli/Corner Market: Peter Pan Market
Dentist: Klemp Family Dentistry
Dessert: Blaylock’s Whiskey Bar
Farmers Market: Astoria Sunday Market
Grocery Store: Astoria Co-op
Hotel: Cannery Pier Hotel
Jewelry Store: Holly McHone Jewelers
Massage: Watershed Wellness
Meal With A View: Bridgewater Bistro
Shoes: Gimre's Shoes
Toy Store: Purple Cow Toys
Veterinarian: Astoria Animal Hospital
WARRENTON & HAMMOND, OREGON
With a population just over five thousand, Warrenton is Astoria’s cute little sister. Home to the big box stores of the North Coast, Warrenton has two distinct areas. Downtown Warrenton is wholesome and charming - there is a market, post office, hair salon, Dairy Maid (best milkshakes in the entire world), and a few other small town necessities. The main street area is surrounded by housing and quiet streets. In contrast to the small town feel, you’ll find one of the busiest intersections in the area at the 101 and Ensign Lane. This intersection is home to Costco, WalMart, Goodwill, Home Depot, Dealerships, Office Max, Petco, TJ Maxx, and a handful of other larger retail stores.
While the traffic of the big stores makes Warrenton feel a lot bigger than it is, being that those stores serve the whole region and parts of Southern Washington, once you leave the vicinity you could be in any other small coastal town. The houses are charming, the people are nice, and families can be seen walking, biking, or kayaking every day of the week.
Warrenton has several pre-schools, a grade school, middle school, and high school. There are several dance studios, homeschool families, and a cute little library. There are many opportunities for children to spend their time outside. Warrenton has outdoor attractions for most interests - there are state parks, Cullaby lake swim area and playground, miles of riding/walking trails in Fort Stevens State Park, kayaking and swimming, beaches, and wildlife viewing areas.
Warrenton does not have a hospital, but Columbia Memorial Hospital is just over the bridge in Astoria. There are doctors, dentists, physical therapists, and other medical specialists right in Warrenton. Columbia Memorial has a primary care office and urgent care in the heart of Astoria. Like all the small coastal towns, you’ll find yourself needing to head to Portland for anything serious, but most medical needs can be met locally.
Warrenton is home to Bayshore Animal Hospital, one of the leading veterinary offices on the coast. There are several other vets, many groomers, dog training, and the only dog park in the area. There are numerous places for dogs to run off-leash, swim in the lakes, and live their best doggy lives on the beach. Warrenton is a great place to be a dog!
The food scene is not as large in Warrenton as it is in Astoria, but there are several really great restaurants that are sure to satisfy. Nisa’s Thai Kitchen, El Catrin, and Arnie’s are mouthwatering favorites - and there are several other bars/restaurants to explore. As mentioned above, be sure to try a milkshake and fried snack from Dairy Maid. Fred Meyer is the primary grocery store in town, complete with home, clothing, and garden sections. Wal-Mart is also available for grocery, home, and clothing needs.
Bank: TLC Credit Union
Barber & Hair Salon: Classic Cuts, Allure Spa & Wellness
Clothing Store: Goodwill
Coffee: The Human Bean
Dance Studio: Encore
Date Night: Bonfire on the Beach
Dentist: Alexandroff Dentistry
Dessert: Dairy Queen
Diner: Arnie's Cafe
Grocery Store: Main Street Market
Gym: Fitness 1440
Just For Fun: High Life Adventures
Meal With A View: Picnic at Coffinberry Lake
Seafood: The FishMongers
Veterinarian: Bayshore Animal Hospital
Gearhart is a charming tiny town nestled between Seaside and Astoria, with a population around 1,500. The town doesn’t have a single stop light, if you can picture how tranquil that is! Gearhart is a golf lover's paradise, home of Gearhart Golf Links, the oldest golf course west of the Mississippi. While there may not be an abundance of shopping and restaurants, it’s a stones throw to find plenty of options for dining, shopping, and entertainment.
Gearhart is the type of town you can let your kids ride their bikes around without worry. It doesn’t technically have a school in the town limits, but Gearhart Elementary is right on the edge between Gearhart and Seaside. Older children will go to Seaside for their schooling. There are several homeschooling families as well as nature school and co-ops that families belong to. While there aren’t many activities geared towards children, there are endless trails, beaches, and open spaces for them to spread their wings. Seaside is just a few miles down the 101 and has plenty of entertainment for those rainy winter days.
Being a tiny town, Gearhart does not have a hospital or urgent care, however it is home to Pacific Medical Group, a doctor and surgical center. There are also a couple dentists nearby and the closest hospital is Providence in Seaside. A new Columbia Memorial urgent care recently opened in Seaside that is modern and well staffed. Like with all the other small coastal towns, residents head to Portland for any significant medical needs.
If your pets love wide open trails and long beaches, they’ll love Gearhart. With several dog trainers and Safe Harbor Veterinary Hospital serving the Gearhart area, the needs of all furry residents will be met (or ones with scales). The closest dog park is in Warrenton, but with miles of open spaces, it’s hardly a necessity.
Most Oregon locals become acquainted with McMenamins sooner or later. The Pacific Northwest is littered with these unique and often quirky properties, and Gearhart is home to the Sand Trap Pub. This property has the pub, a hotel, golf course, and can accommodate events. Many locals spend their weekends enjoying the view and partaking in some drinks and food by their fire pits or taking in the fresh ocean air blowing across the golf course. The little downtown area also has a terrific bakery and there are a few other restaurants dotted along the 101. Seaside, Astoria, and Cannon Beach have many offerings for coastal food lovers.
Art Classes/Gallery: Trails End Art Association
Bakery: Pacific Way Bakery
Bank: Columbia Bank (Seaside)
Cannabis Dispensary: Sweet Relief
Coffee: By The Way
Date Night: Bike ride to the Sand Bar
Dentist: Gearhart Dentistry
Dessert: The Sweet Shop (also wine!)
Farmers Market: Seaside Farmers Market
Grocery Store: Safeway (Seaside)
Hotel: Gearhart By The Sea
Massage: Shear Pleasures Salon & Spa
Meal With A View: Picnic on the beach
Parks & Trails: Gearhart Ridge Path Loop
Rainy Day Fun: Gearhart Bowl
Restaurants: McMenamins Sand Trap Pub
Veterinarian: Safe Harbor Animal Hosptial (Warrenton)
Seaside is the quintessential beach town. Broadway is the bustling main street, with restaurants, schools, hotels, and tons of entertainment for the whole family. While it’s a main hub of tourism and activity for the Oregon Coast, once you leave the heart of town you’ll find quiet tree lined streets full of families riding bikes and walking dogs. Seaside is a nice mixture of young families, retirees, and everything in between. For people wanting to be near all the activity, but able to easily turn down the noise of the busy beach town, Seaside is a dream.
Seaside is a very kid friendly town. Between outdoor ropes courses, the large arcade, paddle boats, and the best ice cream on the coast, there is no doubt that kids were in mind when the town was being built. There is a brand new high school and middle school that opened in the fall of 2020. The elementary school also underwent renovations. Like all the other Oregon Coast towns, Seaside has a large homeschooling community and is fairly close to the only charter school in the county. There are also several preschools and a few co-ops. Kids truly love living in Seaside.
Seaside is home to Providence Hospital, which serves all of the lower county. There are two urgent care offices, one being the brand new CMH location. There are many doctors, dentists, and other medical professionals in Seaside. Naturopathic doctors can be hard to find in smaller towns, but Seaside does have one. The next closest Naturopath is located Astoria. As with all small towns, you’ll need to head to Portland for any major medical emergency or need.
Pets are welcomed with open arms in Seaside. There are many dog friendly patios for dining, pet stores for all your furry (or feathered) friends’ needs, and miles upon miles of beaches and trails. Seaside doesn’t have leash laws on the beaches, which is wonderful, but it’s important for a dog to come when called during off leash play for its safety. There are several veterinary clinics and most offer grooming as well. Oh, and Ruby’s Roadside Grill has a dog menu worth checking out!
Some of the best restaurants on the coast call Seaside their home. Seafood tends to be a fan favorite when you’re a stone's throw from the ocean, but there are many other options including gourmet pizza, Thai, Mexican, cafes, and good old American pub food. Seaside has a Safeway grocery store and a health food store. Seaside is also a great place to grow your own food. Lyle’s is a great place for plants and advice on what grows best in the area.
Art Gallery: Fairweather House & Studio
Bank: Bank of the Pacific
Book Stores: Beach Books
Coffee: Brew 22
Corner Market/Deli: Tsunami Sandwich Company
Date Night: Swing sets on the beach & ice cream - embrace your inner child
Dentist: Seaside Family Dentistry
Dessert: Sea Star Gelato
Farmers Market: Seaside Farmers Market
Grocery Store: Hamilton Market
Hotel: The Seaside Oceanfront Inn
Massage: At the Water's Edge
Meal With A View: Maggie's On The Prom
Veterinarian: Seaside Pet Clinic
CANNON BEACH & ARCH CAPE, OREGON
Perhaps the most iconic view of the Oregon Coast, Cannon Beach is home to Haystack Rock, made famous by The Goonies. Cannon Beach is a small but bustling town, full of happy families during the summer, and slows down to a crawl during the winter months. Cannon Beach is a tourist destination so there are countless great dining opportunities, adorable streets lined with shops, and plenty of events during the warm summer months. This town is unique in that it can feel like any other quaint coastal town once you’re off the main drag where the tourists and activity are centered. Arch Cape is Cannon Beach’s quiet neighbor to the south. It’s a quiet community snuggled up to the ocean. People residing in Arch Cape will utilize services in Manzanita, Cannon Beach, or Seaside.
Cannon beach is home to The Cannon Beach Academy, the only charter school in the county. There are also public school options, homeschooling, and several homeschool co-ops. Cannon Beach generally attracts older residents, so there aren’t as many child related activities as some of the other coastal towns. The bright side is that there is always a lot to do outside, and Seaside is just down the highway and they’ve got a plethora of child centered activities (even a little theme park and large arcade). Arch Cape is home to Fire Mountain School, a small private preschool through grade 4.
Being that Cannon Beach is such a small town (population 1750) it does not have a hospital or urgent care. The closest hospital is Providence in Seaside. There are urgent care clinics in Seaside and Manzanita. Cannon Beach does have a local doctor, but many people find themselves seeing doctors in some of the bigger neighboring towns. The closest dentist is in Seaside and there is an acupuncturist in Cannon Beach. As with all coastal towns, people head to Portland for major medical issues.
Cannon Beach and Arch Cape are very pet friendly. Your furry friend can join you on many dining patios in town, hit the trails (on leash), and run to their heart's content on the beach. There is a local pet store called Puppy Love by the Sea which carries many toys and grooming items. Petco is the largest pet store in Clatsop County, located in Warrenton. The nearest vet is in Seaside and there are trainers that travel the whole coast to meet with pet families.
Cannon Beach is home to the best dining on the coast! The view at the Wayfarer, the patio at Driftwood, and the seafood at Castaways can’t be beat. There are breweries, bistros, breakfast/brunch spots, and everything in between. A great thing about being a touristy area is that there are also a lot of easy to grab options like crepes at Crepe Neptune and pizza by the slice at Pizza A’fetta. For our fellow sweet tooths, there is a fabulous chocolate cafe as well as Bruce’s Candy Kitchen. The local grocery store is Fresh Foods, and the closest large grocery chain is Safeway in Seaside.
Bank: Columbia Bank
Clothing Store: Cannon Beach Clothing Company
Coffee: Sleepy Monk
Cooking Classes: EVOO
Corner Market/Deli: Mariner Market
Date Night: Public Coast Brewing C0.
Farmers Market: Cannon Beach Farmers Market
Furniture Store: Sesame and Lilies
Grocery Store: Fresh Foods
Hotel: The Stephanie Inn
Jewelry Store: The Golden Whale
Massage: Elements By The Sea
Meal With A View: Wayfarer
Rainy Day Fun: Icefire Glassworks
Seafood: Ecola Seafoods
Toy Store: Geppetto's Toy Shoppe
MANZANITA & NEHALEM, OREGON
Once a thriving fishing and logging communities, Nehalem, Manzanita and Neakhanie are now peaceful yet sleepy little areas snuggled up to the Nehalem River and ocean. These tiny towns are small enough where most locals nod with recognition, yet still busy enough to blend in with the visitors and enjoy miles of beaches to yourself if that’s the desire. Being the smaller of the two, Nehalem and Neakhanie consist mostly of housing, while Manzanita has many shops and a flourishing tourism industry. Like many of the smaller coastal areas, these little towns tend to come alive in the summer. These communities are equidistant from Seaside and Tillamook, so locals tend to go to either of these for services not provided locally.
Nehalem is home of Nehalem Elementary School, which serves the surrounding areas. Fire Mountain School, the only private school in the area, is just north of Nehalem and proudly serves these communities. In the 2021-2022 school year they will also be offering outdoor school, which is a huge draw for nature loving families. Students need to travel to Neah-Kah-Nie middle and high school in Rockaway Beach. Despite the limited school options, the area is child friendly and families can be found spending a good deal of time outside.
Manzanita does not have a hospital, but it does have urgent care that can handle non-emergency needs. The nearest hospitals and dentists are either in Seaside or Tillamook. Manzanita does have a doctor and a natural healing clinic. Unfortunately many of the smaller coastal towns do not have a plethora of choices when it comes to medical care, but speaking from experience making the occasional trip to a larger town or Portland does not feel inconvenient.
Manzanita and Nehalem are both very pet friendly locations. With seven miles of beach to enjoy, dogs can run to their heart's content. There is a pet shop called Four Paws on the Beach which carries food, toys, and most other things furry friends need. There is not a veterinarian local to the area, but there are several in Tillamook.
Being a tourist area has it perks… and good food is one of them! In stark contrast to the tiny population, there are a plethora of very highly rated restaurants to choose from. From thai, to pizza, to pub food, there are many excellent options. Nehalem also has a bakery and cafe called Wanda’s that is fully stocked with delicious treats and generously sized meals. The area has several small grocery stores, but locals also find themselves going to Safeway in Tillamook or Seaside for larger grocery runs.
Art Gallery: Amanita Gallery
Bank: US Bank
Clothing Store: Unfurl
Coffee: Manzanita Coffee Co.
Corner Market/Deli: Manzanita Grocery & Deli
Date Night: Live music and dinner at the Friday Farmers Market
Dessert: Schwietert's Cones & Candy
Farmers Market: Manzanita Farmers Market
Grocery Store: Fresh Foods
Gym: Fit Manzanita
Hotel: Sunset Surf Motel
Massage: Spa Manzanita
Meal With A View:
Rainy Day Fun:
Seafood: Riverside Fish and Chips