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Covering 160 miles of Oregon coast travel: Seaside, Cannon Beach, Manzanita, Nehalem, Wheeler, Rockaway, Garibaldi, Tillamook, Oceanside, Pacific City, Lincoln City, Depoe Bay, Newport, Wadport, Yachats & Florence.

Spring is here. Are you ready?

Quirky and Fun Discoveries on the Oregon Coast

By Andre' Hagestedt

View from above Manzanita

(Manzanita, Oregon) - It's known as having some of the cleanest beaches in the world. Oregon's coast is a serious treasure trove.

Then there's the Nehalem Bay area, on the northern coast, with its legends of buried treasure around tiny Manzanita, possibly sequestering the real thing in its thick envelope of slightly mysterious forest. It's an area that seems to never cease in its revelations and hidden delights. No matter that you may be a frequenting regular, the beaches, Neahkahnie Mountain and the three tiny towns of Nehalem, Wheeler and Manzanita which comprise the bay area always yield new discoveries.

The San Dune Inn is one of those, even for addicted veterans of the area like myself, who visit here almost every week from the metropolitan area of Portland, some 100 miles away. While there's a lovely little local nightlife hotspot called San Dune Pub just stumbling distance away, the San Dune Inn - a very family-friendly motel - is one of those lurking surprises awaiting.

Not many lodging spots can claim to have a vast array of freebies like bikes, game equipment, popcorn and movies. But San Dune does. Stay at this charming, unassuming place just steps away from Manzanita's main drag - Laneda Avenue - and you'll find stuff for volleyball and other games suitable for the sand, as well as beach balls, bikes and simple sandcastle-making gear like buckets. It's a kid's dream come true.

At 41, and a kid at heart, all these playthings are a dream come true for me as well.

Perhaps what charmed me the most about this place upon my first few visits was the thick London accent of owner Brian and his down-to-Earth approach, as well as the kids' stuff available for play. And then there was that really adorable dog: Buddy. This tiny little pup was so fluffy and soft he felt more like a stuffed animal. But he was the real deal, and loves greeting guests as they come in.

The "Ethel" sculpture outside San Dune is made from discarded metal

On this stay, Brian's wife, Billie, hooked me up with a lovely little room on the westward end of the motel. From here, you could just barely hear the waves of Manzanita's beaches in the middle of the night, lulling you to sleep. The room is immaculate, with a color theme of blue, coming complete with a coffee machine, VCR and TV, a blow dryer hooked into the wall, a small fridge and even a shower cap.

The San Dune Inn has 14 such cozy rooms, all of them with VCR's, cable TV, the small fridge, microwave and access to all the cool freebie amenities for sand play, as well as free movies, games and even books. Six of the rooms feature full kitchens with separate living room and bedroom areas. Plus, the place is pet friendly - and there's this nifty little barbecue area out back with a tent next to it.

For me, as the middle-aged kid with a surreal sense of exploration, I was interested in playing with the bikes. After a party at a friend's house nearby, I took one for a joyride on the beach. I'm not sure zipping around at three in the morning is what the Hines had in mind for these, but I was filled with a load of childlike joy. It's been perhaps 20 years since I rode one, and I discovered the old adage is true: you never forget how.

Subsequent visits found me reveling more in the slight kookiness of this place. Brian has quite a raucous sense of humor, and is great for a fun spot of conversation. I've gone on late, nocturnal bike rides with regularity now, thanks to Brian and Billie. In recent years, they acquired a somewhat wacky statue of a heron made from found junk, called "Ethel." Intriguing, pretty and yet delightfully off-kilter.

I've also found myself going through their extensive library of flicks, taking in all the M. Night Shyaliman movies they have.

In the end, I discover the San Dune is perfect for families with kids - or adults who act like kids. Next time, perhaps I'll take the more grownup route, take a friend and we'll stay in and enjoy one of their fairly large selection of movies. Or maybe we'll both act like kids and play with the beach toys and bikes again. You'll find it about a block away from Laneda, at 428 Dorcas Lane. Bring your pet, look for the big sign on Laneda pointing the way, or see www.sandune-inn-manzanita.com. 503-368-5163.

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BREATHTAKING CLIFFTOP IN NEWPORT

STARFISH POINT is located on the Central Oregon Coast - in Newport - and offers only the finest in luxury condominium lodging. At Starfish Point, every unit is focused on the beauty of the sea and the beach.
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www.starfishpoint.com

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In Awe of AstoriaASTORIA
Where the Columbia meets the Pacific, Land of Lewis & Clark and loads of atmosphere & history
Serenity in SeasideSEASIDE
The Promenade, Tillamook Head, family fun & broad, sandy beaches
Cavort in Cannon BeachCANNON BEACH
A mysterious lighthouse, upscale yet earthy, a huge monolith, fine eateries & an art mecca
Annihilating  Beauty of Nehalem BayNEHALEM BAY
Manzanita's beaches, Nehalem and Wheeler's quirky beauty; laid back Rockaway
Time Trip Around Tillamook BayTILLAMOOK BAY
Garibaldi, Barview, Bay City, Tillamook & an oceanfront ghost town
Triple the Pleasure in 3 CapesTHREE CAPES LOOP
The hidden secret of the coast: Cape Meares, a lighthouse, Oceanside, Netarts and Pacific City
Lovely Lincoln CityLINCOLN CITY & THE CORRIDOR OF MYSTERY
Miles & miles of unbroken beaches, Cascade Head, Neskowin and many manmade attractions
Divine Depoe BayDEPOE BAY
A spouting horn downtown, freaky hidden cliffs and whales, whales, whales
Nature in NewportNEWPORT
Time-tripping Nye Beach, a bustling bayfront, marine science-central and two lighthouses
Staggering Seal RockWALDPORT / SEAL ROCK
Pristine, even secretive sands and wild geologic landmarks
Aargh, there's no alliteration with Yachats - but it IS unbelievableYACHATS
Constantly dramatic wave action, a mix of the rugged & upscale
Unsurpassable Upper LaneUPPER LANE COUNTY
25 miles of deserted beaches & oodles of wonders
Fine Times in FlorenceFLORENCE
A lighthouse, ancient bayfront and miles and miles of fluffy dunes

 

Cannon Beach Ecola Creek Lodge

Ecola Creek Lodge, Cannon Beach. In a quiet neighborhood, this longtime coastal landmark boasts a koi/lily pond, spacious lawns, gardens, stained glass windows and wireless internet – all in a slightly Victorian vibe. With some rooms pet friendly, you are a couple minutes walk from town and close to the beach. Guests also get access to a full recreational and exercise facility. Wild bunnies provide an adorable addition to your stay, making for an especially serene coastal experience. 208 5th St. www.cannonbeachlodge.com. 800-873-2749.