N. Oregon Coast's Tillamook County Glows with Holiday Happenings
Published 11/26/2016 at 3:43 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff
(Tillamook, Oregon) – Unknown to many, the Oregon coast has some of its most interesting aspects this time of year – and not just storm watching. The post-storm beaches are full of fascinating finds, but the entire shoreline has a unique beachy cheer for the holidays. It's the perfect time to take a break from the madness of inland shopping malls and hectic traffic, and you can still get in a fair amount of Christmas gift gathering in a less frantic atmosphere. (Above: Manzanita dressed up for the holidays.)
On the north Oregon coast, Tillamook County also hosts a wide array of holiday events and vibes – many of them a very different nature you won't find anywhere else. Delight in local festivities while perusing artisan shops, local food and fair, a good book by the fire, long walks on the beach, or holiday activities including Tillamook County’s Candy Cane Express, “Festival of Trees” or the popular New Year’s Day Polar Plunges.
Of course, there is the much lauded Whale Watch Week at the end of the month.
On December 3 and 4, and then again on December 10 and 11, you can hop on the the magical Candy Cane Express train ride on the historic Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad. Mr. and Mrs. Claus visit with passengers over hot chocolate and cookies during this one-hour, round-trip excursion between Garibaldi and Rockaway Beach along the Tillamook Bay, and through the rugged Nehalem River Canyon. The train sparkles with Christmas lights and holiday merriment as it travels near the Pacific Ocean.
The event is open to all ages. Tickets may be purchased online or onboard the train in the caboose for $20 per adult, $19 for seniors and $15 for children. The train departs Garibaldi at 10 a.m., Noon and 2 p.m. For more information on the Candy Cane Express or the Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad, visit www.oregoncoastscenic.org or call 503-842-7972. Tillamook Bay, Garibaldi, Bay City
The Tillamook Festival of Trees happens December 3 – 9. Local organizations, individuals and groups come together to decorate tabletop and full-sized Christmas trees for the annual Tillamook County Pioneer Museum fundraiser. The trees along with additional silent auction items, wreaths and centerpieces are auctioned at the gala event on December 9 at 5:30 p.m. Anyone may purchase a tree. Phone bids as well as in-person bids are accepted.
The trees are available for viewing December 3–9, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday (extended hours until 7 p.m. on Wednesday, December 7). Tickets to the gala are required and can be purchased at the museum or by calling 503-842-4553. Tickets are $35 in advance or $40 at the door, if it is not already sold out. Proceeds from this year’s fundraiser are earmarked to purchase a motorized “people mover” for Kilchis Point Reserve for people who are otherwise unable to make the two-mile round-trip hike.Tillamook Bay, Garibaldi, Bay City
Then on New Year's Day, 2017, in Manzanita and Oceanside, there are the famous Polar Plunges. The Manzanita Polar Plunge began 11 years ago with a few friends being silly and has grown into hundreds of people joining the New Year’s morning Polar Plunge into the frigid ocean waters of Manzanita, Oregon.
Local spa owner Janice Gaines helped started this “FUN-raiser.”
“We're up to 300 or 400 people taking the plunge, plus another couple hundred watching,” she said.
This is not an organized event. However, if you want to join the ranks, be ready and listening at 11 a.m. for Gaines to shout her annual “GO!” Meet at 10:30 a.m. at Neahkahnie Beach just north of the Reed Road and Nehalem Road intersection. Look for the fire.Nehalem Bay- Manzanita, Wheeler
The Tillamook County Family YMCA is hosting the 4th Annual Oceanside Polar Plunge Challenge on New Year’s morning. Gather at Oceanside Beach no later than 9:45 a.m. and listen for the 10 a.m. horn to take the plunge. Participants warm up with bonfires, coffee and hot chocolate. Three Cape Loop: Pacific City, Oceanside, Netarts
Find more events and aspects of the holidays at the Tillamook Visitors site.
Then on December 27 through the 31st, it's Winter Whale Watch Week. Whale watch interpreters will be at four places in Tillamook County from 10 a.m. - 1 p.m., helping you spot the giants of the deep as they move on their southern migration. You'll find them at Cape Kiwanda, Cape Lookout, Cape Meares and the overlooks at Neahkahnie mountain above Manzanita. The volunteers also help you learn about the whales' migration and feeding habits.
From late December through to the end of January, more than 1900 whales will be passing by Oregon’s coast on a southerly jaunt towards the waters of Baja, where females will give birth and other females will get pregnant, only to all return in March as they swim to feeding grounds in the north. Whalespoken.org. Where to stay for these events - Where to eat - Map and Virtual Tour of Three Capes - Map and Virtual Tour of Manzanita, Rockaway Beach
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