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Oregon Travel: Favorite Beaches of Early Summer


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, Wadport, Yachats & Florence.


Secrets of the Season

Oregon Travel: Favorite Beaches of Early Summer

Manzanita's beaches are a short walk to its many amenities

(Oregon Coast) – Summer is unofficially here, according to the thinking of many, now that Memorial Day Weekend has sprung upon us. But the truth is that it’s still spring and summer doesn’t really start until later in June. The weather this month can still be a bit topsy turvy, with the sun remaining a little elusive at times and temperatures occasionally a wee bit on the chilly side.

June means the very beginning of the heavy tourist season, but not quite packed all the time, as you’ll often find in July and August. This means, however, that you’ll still find plenty of deserted beaches, more sand dollars, slightly less lodging prices, and smaller lines at your favorite diner – at least most of the time.

It also means you may want to find a beach close to the amenities and shelter of one of many charming beach burghs along the Oregon coast, or at least a quick shot to your car, since the weather can still take a quick turn south rather abruptly. Such beach towns include Manzanita, Seaside and Newport's Nye Beach area.

Lincoln City Vacation Homes There’s something for everyone among this selection of wondrous homes: smaller homes with a view to a large house that sleeps 15. All the homes are either oceanfront or just a few steps away from the sand – 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, depending on the home: 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 are allowed in some homes – ask ahead. Each comes with complete kitchens so you’ll have a home away from home. Most have the seventh night free. Prices range from winter $85 to summer $230 per night. www.getaway2thecoast.com. 541-994-8778.

Yet one of the more sublime pleasures can be strolling along the beach, even on a long hike, through one of the coast’s notorious light drizzles. It can get rather warm, even in these slightly wet conditions. However, you’re just as likely to find warm, dry and sunny this month days as well, making it perfect to continue on walking and exploring, and not worrying about how close the shelter of town is.

It all depends on how hardy you are. In any case, here are suggestions for beaches that work for long explorations and yet provide a quick jump back into civilization and away from the weather, should you need it.

Freaky and Fun in Florence

A small bundle of attractions spanning several miles create a huge carnival of fun and unusual possibilities at the north end of Florence – from miles of dunes, trails and campgrounds to a patch of meat-eating plants.

The U.S. Forest Service-run Alder Dune Campground features 17 campsites and full amenities, plus access to all sorts of dunes and nearby Baker Beach. There are RV sites as well. You’ll also find picnic tables and three pristine, lakes in the middle of the dunes, two of which are primed with trout periodically. The main parking lot and its lake make a beautiful, pastoral respite, with added value given by the viewing platform.

The campgrounds have primitive tent sites and RV sites, and each has a fire pit. Trails to the beach are about 2.5 miles worth, with the trails to the dunes only a quarter mile hike. There's also a boat launch.

Head east, just after the Alder Dune entrance, and you’ll find the Sutton Recreation Area, Sutton Lake and its amenities. Six miles of trails crisscross between here, the beach and Alder Dune Campground. There’s a boat launch, rest rooms, picnic tables and 80 campsites for both tents and RV’s.

Miles of trails crisscross here, and you may even be able to spot a black bear.

Head a tiny bit south, and you’ll find the wacky Darlingtonia Botanical Wayside. This one features insect-chomping plants that mostly live between Florence and northern California. These rarities sit around, just waiting to catch bugs with their sticky parts, then slowly digest them. Insects are lured by the colors and smells that attract them, and they soon find themselves confused by clear areas that look like exits, only to get sucked into sticky parts that eventually cause their demise.

Picnic tables abound here, and this rainforest-like park features a wooden walkway which keeps you elevated and away from the protein-hungry plants.

The wayside is free, and you’ll find it just off 101, near Mercer Rd.

Awed in Yachats

About 25 miles up the road from Florence, you’ll discover the ultra charming tiny village of Yachats, with beaches largely made up of basalt slabs that create a constant drama of wave action.

One major attraction, Smelt Sands State Recreation Site, sits at the north end of town. Find Lemwick Lane – or just follow the state signs – and you’ll wind up at the famous Smelt Sands. It’s here that the paved, three-quarter-mile 804 Trail begins, and the gravel parking lot greets you with some informative signage about the geology and history of the place, as well as a metal sculpture by a local artist.

The spot was so named because it was heavily used in the pioneer days for dip netting of smelt – small, silvery fish considered quite tasty. There are also restrooms here.

Many beautiful things in Yachats seem a testament to the fierce determination of locals to keep their town a wonder to behold. The Yachats 804 Trail is another big example of this.

It wouldn't exist if not for a decade-long legal battle over a resident who tried to block access to the Smelt Sands Beach area in the 70's. Locals discovered a long-hidden county road right-of-way there. Then, after ten or so years in the Supreme Court, this three-quarter-mile stretch of land was handed over to the county, and in the early 90's became this gorgeous, handicap-accessible trail.

These days, you can walk this living monument and have close access to tide pools, major rock formations, and a few interesting, slightly quirky homes - such as one that looks like a ship.

Not far from that funky ship-shaped residence, look for one of the more spectacular blowholes on the coast. At the right high tide, this spouting horn can soar maybe 20 or 30 feet into the air.

In other spots, you’ll find odd little pockets of beaches that seem to pop up like sandy surprises between the enormous, craggy rock slabs.

The trail drops off after meandering into a meadow and behind a motel – dumping you off onto a sandy stretch that goes for seven miles to Waldport.

Unbelievable Moments in Cannon Beach

Tradewinds Motel, Rockaway Beach. All rooms at the Tradewinds Motel are immaculate and have TV’s, VCR’s and in-room phones with data ports. The oceanfronts all have a queen bed, a double hide-a-bed, kitchen, cozy firelog fireplace and a private deck. Some oceanfront units come with all those amenities but the kitchens. Both types sleep up to four people. Others are appointed with a queen bed, small fridge, and coffee maker – sizable for a two-person romantic getaway, yet still perfect for those on a budget. There is an elaborate oceanfront Jacuzzi suite that has two bedrooms, coming with a kitchen, double hide-a-bed, fireplace and private deck, sleeping as many as six. For those wanting bigger accommodations for family reunions or large gatherings such as weddings, some rooms can connect to create two-room and three-room suites. Some rooms are pet friendly.523 N. Pacific St., Rockaway Beach. (503) 355-2112 - 1-800-824-0938. www.tradewinds-motel.com

Ecola State Park is the classic spot for the area, a day-use area that sits just north of the city limits, after a mile and a half drive through a thick forest - after the signs proclaiming the park’s entrance.

The main section of the park is Ecola Point, where numerous viewpoints offer you glimpses of Cannon Beach, Haystack Rock and Tillamook Rock Lighthouse. It’s a popular spot for whale watching during the twice-yearly migrations.

There is also a trailhead leading over another bluff to Indian Beach – another mile away. There you'll find the crescent-shaped Indian Beach filled with cobblestones, where there are more lovely views of Tillamook Rock Lighthouse and where numerous rocky shapes stand and get slammed by large waves. At the cove’s southernmost end, you can amble over some large boulders and reach more rock slabs to sit on, perfect for watching the water rage against other wedges that dare stand against it.

This rocky semi-circle is enclosed by two headland areas, with maybe a quarter mile worth of walking area, with a viewpoint and a picnic table sitting above its southern end.

At the parking lot for Indian Beach is the main trailhead going over Tillamook Head. It’s another six miles to Seaside from there.

Rockaway's Lesser Known Angles

At the northern end of Rockaway lie its last beach accesses – Nedonna Beach and Manhattan Beach State Recreation Site - which sit at the southern end of Nehalem Bay.

There’s parking here, and over a large dune you’ll find a log-covered beach that soon gives way to enormous amounts of sand. And not far from there, the north jetty of Nehalem Bay is accessible, where you can crawl up the huge boulders and amble around for a while, catching glimpses of the sea making its way into Nehalem Bay.

Down the road, Rockaway Beach is a long stretch of town that has a rustic, rugged and slightly Victorian vibe in many spots. Many of the homes here look like they were built back in the late 1900’s when the town was a resort bustling with wealthy and middle class Portlanders. But these have often been gussied up in interesting colors or decorated with wacky sea flotsam.

Rockaway tries to be commercial and touristy, but it doesn’t always succeed – thankfully. It still retains a sleepy, rugged quality in spite of the copious lodging and a few oddball, curio shops. The main attraction is still the beach, with about seven miles of it in either direction – all of it close to the town’s amenities, as all of Rockaway sits up against this strand.

The most recognizable landmark on 101 is the main park and access, with the big red caboose catching the eye This now houses the town’s visitor center. The parking lot also features restrooms and a viewing area. During the summer, this beach has a giant volleyball net set up. There are also a myriad of stores nearby.

The other big landmark isn’t on land at all. Rockaway is famous for the Twin Rocks - the double rock arches laying just a ways offshore. You can check these out with pay binoculars from this main wayside.


D Sands Condominium Motel, Lincoln City. Getting a free, fresh baked cookie upon check-in is just the beginning. Every room is beachfront, and it's all right up against Lincoln City's most famous stretch of beach, next to the D River. Each room, comes as a suite or mini-suite, and has a kitchen and balcony or patio. Some have gas fireplaces, while all have a DVD Players with movies available for renting (and movie rentals come with free popcorn). There's a heated indoor pool, a spa, and this fabulous beach is lit at night. Rooms sleep anywhere from two, four to six - including a deluxe fireplace suite. Gift certificates are available, and they offer special occasion packages as well. To make a reservation and see a virtual tour of the rooms, visit our website at www.dsandsmotel.com. 171 S.W. Highway 101. 800-527-3925.


Inn At Spanish Head, Lincoln City. It's 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. Enjoy dining in the penthouse restaurant and bar - whether you’re in the mood for a casual meal or a candlelight dinner. They offer an array of seafood specialties, juicy steaks and other Northwest favorites, including a decadent Sunday buffet. Rooms range from bedrooms to studios to one-bedroom suites with microwaves and refrigerators to full kitchens. Hotel amenities include wi-fi, spa, saunas, exercise room and a year-round heated swimming pool. Kids will love the game room and easy beach access. Full-service conference and meeting rooms for that inspirational retreat; extensive, gorgeous wedding possibilities. Near the south end of Lincoln City at 4009 SW Highway 101. 1-800-452-8127 or 541-996-2161. www.spanishhead.com



THE TIDES BY THE SEA, Seaside. For over 80 years, The Tides has been a favorite of Seaside visitors. History meets modern luxury here. 51 oceanfront condos, individually owned and decorated. Find suites for couples, small apartments with fireplaces and kitchenettes, one or two bedroom family units with fireplaces, kitchens and dining rooms. There are wonderful oceanview cottages that sleep anywhere from two to eight people, with two bedrooms, some with lofts, fireplaces and kitchens.
Meanwhile, the heated outdoor pool, enormous grounds with picnic tables and location at the quiet southern end of Seaside make for some memorable means of play and repose. 2316 Beach Drive. 800-548-2846. www.thetidesbythesea.com.



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.
All of the units boast two bedrooms, two bathrooms, designer kitchens, wireless broadband Internet, fireplaces, Jacuzzi’s and private decks - surrounding you in soothing relaxation. We have a friendly staff dedicated to high quality and superb customer service. 140 NW 48th Street, Newport. (541) 265-3751. (800) 870-7795. www.starfishpoint.com


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 our entire property for 20-26. All units 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. Enjoy comfy robes & slippers, luxury bath amenities, quality linens and more. See us on The Travel Channel's "Great Escapes" show in August 2006. 741 S. Downing St., Seaside. 800-738-6691. www.SeasideSuites.com



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