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