Oregon Coast Beach Connection - lodging, dining, news, events and more

Bizarre Bar Tales of the Oregon Coast - Part 1


Covering 180 miles of Oregon coast travel: Astoria, Seaside, Cannon Beach, Manzanita, Nehalem, Wheeler, Rockaway, Garibaldi, Tillamook, Oceanside, Pacific City, Lincoln City, Depoe Bay, Newport, Waldport, Yachats & Florence.


Secrets of the Season

Bizarre Bar Tales of the Oregon Coast - Part 1

By Andre' Hagestedt

Once, at Maxwell's in Lincoln City, I was attacked onstage by a tourist who insisted on joining in my karaoke moment. It's proof that even though a girl is hot, she can be seriously annoying

(Oregon Coast) – After that most delicious sunset on the beaches, after the sun slides down below the horizon, and the night descends on the foggy, freaky shoreline we all know as the Oregon coast: this is when the region shows its true colors.

It’s when the denizens of the coastline come out in full force – the people who people the hotel counters, the restaurants and the tourist attractions. But it’s also where the tourists run wild and amok, purportedly freed from the confines of their work-a-day existence in the valley towns they come from, and apparently no longer tied to the rules of civilization that normally guide them throughout their lives.

The Ocean Lodge. There will not be another property built like this in Cannon Beach in our lifetimes. Rare, premiere ocean front location; handsome, dramatic architecture and tasteful, fun (nostalgic) beach interiors. Overlooks Haystack Rock. 100 percent smoke free. Imaginative special occasion packages. Massive wood burning lobby fireplace. Library w/ fireplace, stocked with impressive book collection. Pet and family friendly. Lavish continental buffet breakfast. In-room fireplaces, mini-kitchens. Jacuzzi tubs in select rooms. DVD players, complimentary movies. Morning paper. Warm cookies. 888-777-4047. 503-436-2241. 2864 Pacific Street. Cannon Beach, Oregon. www.theoceanlodge.com

It’s the nightlife of the Oregon coast – and it’s a serious freakzone of inadvertent entertainment, legendary odd behavior, and a litany of weird bars and their even weirder patrons who run the gamut from pleasantly amusing, absolutely kooky to downright unruly and unpleasant.

This is the coast after dark. It’s an adventure that I have been engaged in for more than ten years now, as I’ve wandered that 180-mile stretch between Astoria and Florence, digging deep into anything coastal, and living life “loco” – or “la vida local,” as I prefer.

Like some sort of sauced version of Lewis and Clark, with a compass in one hand and a stiff drink in the other, I’ve explored coastal bars since 1993. These are just a few of my adventures, in largely chronological order.

And it’s so big it requires two parts.

But first, I must do a bit of background explanation.

In the late 90’s, when I became the main music and nightlife journalist covering Salem, I discovered how inherently violent that town was. I still have a printout from OLCC (Oregon Liquor Control Commission) that shows how Salem was statistically so far above the rest of the state for bar fights that it’s mind-boggling. I still, to this day, have an email folder full of reports from various Portland musicians how disturbing that town was to perform in, with all the fights and confrontations they had to deal with. Some even go back to the 70’s, with rocker Jon Koonce’s experiences there.

The point of all this is to note how typically violent and sickening Salemites tend to be at home and across the state – at least the bar hopping crowd. This fact slapped me in the face one day about 1993 – long before my stint at Salem’s newspaper – when I was hanging out at the infamous PipTide in Newport one weekend, during the Seafood & Wine Festival.

Newport's bayfront: these creatures may live in and around the water here, but people resembling them drink at the town's dive bars

Early 90’s

It was 1993, at the PipTide (now another bar occupies that spot). I had noticed a few Salem folks there, and said my cursory hello’s, as they were kind of an undesirable crowd.

All of a sudden, a massive fight broke out, with an enormous wave of people crammed together, shifting back and forth as fists flew and bodies heaved from one side of the bar to another, like some enormous ocean wave made of humans.

I soon realized half that cluster of around ten people was comprised of Salem faces. Not a moment of hometown pride, by any means.

Me - during days of weirder hair color - clowing around outside the infamous (but now sadly defunct) Gales in Manzanita

Lincoln City’s only resort hotel built right on the beach with all oceanfront rooms - nestled against a rugged cliffside overlooking a soft, sandy beach. Dine in penthouse restaurant and bar, for casual meal or candlelight dinner. An array of seafood specialties, juicy steaks and other Northwest favorites, including decadent Sunday buffet. Rooms range from bedrooms to studios to 1-bedroom suites with microwaves and refrigerators to full kitchens. Also, wi-fi, spa, saunas, exercise room and year-round heated swimming pool. Kids will love the game room and easy beach access. Full-service conference/meeting rooms for that inspirational retreat; extensive wedding possibilities.

oregon coast lighthouses on dvd

Mid 90’s in Newport Northward

The PipTide was still around for a brief period, and yielded more than a few surreal moments, especially with the crummy relic bands that inhabited that place with their buttrock cover tunes and mullet haircuts. This place, and the brief existence of an all-ages club called Cape Fear, drew me to Newport about once a month, partially under the guise of covering music for Salem’s paper.

Thanks to Robert, the owner of Cape Fear, I was introduced to Moby Dick’s, which at the time was still a small, weirdo dive bar with a load of seventies décor smothering the interior, not the least of which was the cheesy oil painting of a sailing ship with working lights embedded in it. It was here I was introduced to a wacky local character I’ve heard was called “Poet Paul” (although I can’t confirm this, as he seems to have disappeared). He was famous for telling bawdy jokes, including one told to me that referenced my spiky blond hair at the time.

Seaside at night: truth is stranger than fiction here, when alcohol is involved

At the end of ‘96, my girlfriend at the time and I went for a four-day trip up the Oregon coast from Florence to Astoria, spending our evenings in every bar possible. At the time, the Lotus was still raging in Florence, with a strange blues band on the night we were there. Another bar on the waterfront – now long gone – boasted rounded, maritime windows and creepy, elderly patrons with barely a full head of teeth between them all.

A1 Beach Rentals, Lincoln City. Perfect for large family vacations all the way down to a getaway lodging for two - with over 25 vacation rental homes to choose from. A breathtaking collection of craftsman or traditional beachfront homes, or oceanview houses – from one to seven bedrooms. In various areas of Lincoln City and overlooking the beach, with some in Depoe Bay. All kinds of amenities are available, like hot tubs, decks, BBQ, rock fireplaces, beamed ceilings and more. Some are new, some are historic charmers. Lincoln City, Oregon. 1-(503)-232-5984. www.a1beachrentals.com.

A couple days later, we were in Seaside, where I first discovered the bar that would eventually become Girtle’s. I walked in on one of the most surreal experiences I’ve ever had, with a drugged out local claiming he knew me (and I’d never been there before), a midget wandering the place in a drunken haze, and a weird man singing karaoke while either pacing nervously back and forth or half lying down on the dance floor. It was all very reminiscent of David Lynch’s “Fire Walk With Me” movie.

Then next night, we were in Astoria, at some bar that no longer exists. Some woman with a faint moustache was hitting on me a bit, right in front of my girlfriend, constantly going on about how she’d never met anyone like me. Whatever that meant. I risked anger from my lady and kept this wacko engaged in conversation anyway, because she was so amusing. She even drew me a strange picture on a napkin, apparently depicting me as a Mayan god or something, and gave it to me.

Goofy times at the new Moby Dick's - which isn't quite as funky as it used to be, but strange encounters can still be had

We ended the night at the Labor Temple, where the décor was odd enough, including giant photomurals of forests. There were the remnants of a redneck wedding party there, who didn’t take to my Portland-esque hipster look too well, and gave me a couple threatening comments.

Later, two of them – who were, hilariously, brothers – got in a massive fight, actually rolling around the floor all over each other, like in some old style western movie. It was the second or third such raucous fight we witnessed that night, and we left shortly after. One of the bartenders muttered something about it being no big deal because they were brothers and it happened all the time. I wonder what OLCC would have to say about that.

The discovery of the nasty cowboy hat at Girtle's - with Allison behind me

Arch Cape Property Services. Dozens of homes in that dreamy, rugged stretch between Cannon Beach and Manzanita known as Arch Cape. Oceanfront and ocean view , or just a short walk from the sea.
All homes are immaculate and smoke free; some pet friendly (with a fee). Some with broadband, indoor or outdoor hot tubs, fireplaces, decks, and fire pits or barbecues. Call about tempting winter specials that go until March (not valid holidays, however). www.archcaperentals.com 866-436-1607.

More of Seaside’s Wacky Side

After that initial experience at Girtle’s and those in Astoria, I was enthralled by the inadvertent wackiness and humor of coastal bars. I came back for more.

The summer of ’97, my girl and I wound up in Seaside again, this time with another couple, and again wandering into Girtle’s. There, some morbidly obese man and another musician comprised a one-band band-plus-one, playing cheesy tunes from a variety of eras. My friend Jason and I watched in glee at the wild, weird mating behaviors of tourists on the dance floor. Jason coined the unforgettable phrase “trailer park princess” to describe the antics of one skank. I’ve never forgotten that one.

Fast forward to 2005. My Portland friend Allison grew up in Seaside, and I drove her out there to hang with an old friend of hers. We all eventually meet up at Girtles, where Allison and I discover some old, disgusting, dirty cowboy hat sitting in the bar. Thanks to all the liquor we’ve downed, we wind up fighting over the nasty thing. “No, it’s mine,” she says. “No, I found it,” I said.

My friend's adorable dog, posing with me and the disgusting cowboy hat found in Seaside

Newly renovated, 30 upscale rooms, on north end of Lincoln City, close to everything. Spa-like feeling, w/ luxury linens & robes, pillow top mattresses, flat screen TV's, granite counters and more all add to pampering. Oceanfront and ocean view units w/ gas fireplace. Hot Tub units. Romance packages. Luxury Room for every budget: meeting and wedding spaces too. A month later she gives it to me as a birthday present, and once we were sober, neither of us can figure out why we fought over the horrid hat.

My experiences at Girtle’s almost always include something off the wall. One highlight is watching the owner zip around the bar on a segway (huh?). He had a small fleet of them for a while, which he was intending on renting out for the upcoming summer months.

Stay tuned for part 2 of this sauced adventure, coming next week. There, you’ll witness the stunningly surreal, mind-bending world of one bar in Lincoln City, more encounters with goofy rednecks, and an interesting list of scandalous, bizarre things.

D Sands Condominium Motel, Lincoln City. Free, fresh baked cookie upon check-in is just the start. All rooms beachfront and up against Lincoln City's most famous stretch of beach: the D River. Each room comes as a suite or mini-suite, and has a kitchen and balcony or patio. Some w/ gas fireplaces, while all have a DVD Players; movies to rent come with free popcorn. Heated indoor pool, a spa, and this fabulous beach is lit at night. Rooms sleep from two, four to six - including a deluxe fireplace suite. Gift certificates orspecial occasion packages. www.dsandsmotel.com. 171 S.W. Highway 101. 800-527-3925.

Weiss' Paradise Suites & Vacation Rentals - Seaside

Unique Luxury Accommodations in Seaside. 1BR Suites, 1BR & 2BR Duplex Units and 3BR Houses, units for 2-8 people. Rent entire property for 20-26. Close to beach, river and Broadway St.
Suites are designed for two adults; vacation rental units for families. All units have kitchen and many have fireplace, deck and jetted tub. Comfy robes, slippers, luxury bath amenities, quality linens and more. 741 S. Downing St., Seaside. 800-738-6691. www.SeasideSuites.com

Lincoln City Vacation Homes Something for everyone: smaller homes with a view to a large house that sleeps 15. All are either oceanfront or just a few steps away – all with a low bank access and fantastic views. Most are in the Nelscott area; one is close to the casino. You’ll find a variety of goodies: fireplaces, multiple bedrooms, dishwashers, Jacuzzis, washer/dryers, hot tubs, cable TV, VCR, barbecues; there’s a loft in one, and another sprawling home has two apartments. Pets allowed in some homes – ask first. Each comes with complete kitchens. Most have seventh night free. Prices range from winter $85 to summer $230 per night. www.getaway2thecoast.com. 541-994-8778.

Tradewinds Motel, Rockaway Beach. All rooms are immaculate and have TV’s, VCR’s and in-room phones w/ data ports. Oceanfronts have queen bed, a double hide-a-bed, kitchen, cozy firelog fireplace and private deck. Both types sleep up to four people. Others are appointed for a two-person romantic getaway, yet still perfect for those on a budget. Elaborate oceanfront Jacuzzi suite has two bedrooms, kitchen, double hide-a-bed, fireplace and private deck, sleeping as many as six. For family reunions or large gatherings such as weddings, some rooms can connect to create two-room and three-room suites. Some rooms pet friendly. 523 N. Pacific St., Rockaway Beach. (503) 355-2112 - 1-800-824-0938. www.tradewinds-motel.com

Inn at Cannon Beach. Beautifully wooded natural setting at quiet south end of Cannon Beach. Great during winter storms with a new book by the fireplace – or when the sun is out for family fun and beach strolling. Handsome beach cottage-style architecture. Lush flowering gardens and naturalized courtyard pond. Warm, inviting guest rooms. Continental buffet breakfast. Warm Cookies. Family and Pet Friendly. Welcome gifts. Smoke-free. Complimentary Wireless Connectivity. Wine and book signing events. 800-321-6304 or 503-436-9085. Hemlock At Surfcrest, Cannon Beach, Oregon. www.atcannonbeach.com.

STARFISH POINT Newport - Offers only the finest in luxury condominium lodging. Every unit is focused on the beauty of the sea and the beach.
All units boast two bedrooms, two bathrooms, designer kitchens, wireless broadband Internet, fireplaces, Jacuzzi’s and private decks. Friendly staff dedicated to high quality and superb customer service. 140 NW 48th Street, Newport. (541) 265-3751. (800) 870-7795. www.starfishpoint.com


Prepare for Freaky, Creepy Mole Crabs on Oregon Coast Beaches The little critters make the tideline bubble and feel really weird as they run across your feet

Watching Transformations of Oregon Coast Beaches Seasons change and so do beaches, revealing different sides and a variety of eye-popping sights

Structures Found on Oregon Beach May Be 80,000 Years Old - They are the remnants of a forest apparently 80,000 years old, found at Hug Point

Day or Night Mysteries and Merriment on Oregon Coast It's more than just nightlife that comes to life, but the beaches offer major opportunities

Oregon Coast Travel Site Goes Wireless Provides Lodging Reports - Oregon Coast Beach Connection now has mobile lodging and dining listings, along with weekly lodging availability reports

Back to Oregon Coast Beach Connection


Oregon Coast Lodging
Cannon Beach Lodging
Nehalem Bay Lodgings
Manzanita Hotels, Lodging
Three Capes Lodging
Pacific City Hotels, Lodging
Lincoln City Lodging
Depoe Bay Lodging
Newport Lodging
Waldport Lodging
Yachats Lodging
Oregon Coast Vacation Rentals
Oregon Coast Lodging Specials

Dining Guide
Cannon Beach Dining
Manzanita, Rockaway, Wheeler Dining
Pacific City, Oceanside, Netarts, Tierra Del Mar Restaurants
Tillamook Bay Restaurants, Dining
Lincoln City Dining, Restaurants
Depoe Bay Restaurants, Dining
Newport Restaurants, Dining

Waldport, Yachats Restaurants, Dining
Florence Restaurants, Dining
Restaurant Reviews

Coast Events Calendar
Seaside, Cannon Beach Calendar
Manzanita, Rockaway Events
Tillamook, Pacific City Calendar
Lincoln City Events Calendar
Newport, Depoe Bay Events Calendar
Yachats Events Calendar

Oregon Coast Weather

Oregon Coast Travel News

Coastal Bars, Lounges

Oregon Coast Complete Guides every beach access, attraction

Search for Oregon Coast Subjects, Articles

Explore Every Beach Spot

For over 80 years a favorite of Seaside visitors. 51 oceanfront condos, individually owned and decorated. Suites for couples, small apartments with fireplaces and kitchenettes, one or two bed family units with fireplaces, kitchens and dining rooms. Oceanview cottages sleep anywhere from two to eight, w/ two bedrooms, some with lofts, fireplaces and kitchens. Heated outdoor pool, enormous grounds w/ picnic tables - all at quiet southern end of Seaside.

Breathtaking high panoramic beach views from oceanfront rooms, spacious family suites & fully equipped cottages.  Known for gracious hospitality, the sparkling clean Sea Horse features a heated indoor pool, dramatic oceanfront spa, great whale watching, free deluxe continental breakfast, conference room, free casino shuttle & HBO.  Fireplaces, private decks and spas are available in select rooms.  Close to shops, golf, fishing & restaurants.  Pets are welcome in select rooms.  Senior discounts.  Kids 18 and under stay free in their parent's room.  Very attractive rates.

20 gorgeous homes sleep up to 18; doubled that with some side-by-side homes. Some pet friendly. Cottages to massive homes; new oceanfront to renovated historic beach houses. All over central coast w/ Lincoln City, Otter Rock, Boiler Bay and Nye Beach. Long list of features, including barbecues, large decks, antique furnishings, wood stoves, gas fireplaces, hardwood floors, Jacuzzis and hot tubs. Most have movies, music, books. Gift basket w/ goodies in each

Oregon Coast event or adventure you can't miss

17 lavish, beachfront suites feature Jacuzzi or outdoor hot tub, gas fireplace, luxury robes & linens, TV, two-headed showers. Three large suites have kitchens. Private deck w/ BBQ available. No smoking or pets. Perfect for romantic getaway, honeymoon.

Feed the seals! One of the oldest aquariums in the U.S. is here in Seaside, Oregon, right on the Promenade

Condo-hotel that offers the amenities of a fine hotel, but also includes ownership of a vacation home on the north Oregon coast. It is a unique opportunity, as condo owners have an opportunity to share in the revenues of their unit. All have either spectacular, nearly aerial views of the ocean and city, or they gaze out at the lush forests of the coast range mountains. There are private balconies in all rooms, which come as studios or units with one bedroom or two - as large as 850 square feet. Each is fully furnished. $189,000 to $449,000, (with most in the $300,000 range.) When owners are not using their units, they may be rented out as hotel rooms, and owners may share in those revenues.