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'Old Oregon Coast' Feel Meets Modern Swank at Manzanita Charmer Hotel

Published 5/17/24 at 6:45 p.m.
By Andre' Hagestedt, Oregon Coast Beach Connection

(Manzanita, Oregon) – Tiny Manzanita is big on delights. Seemingly a little off-the-beaten-path of Highway 101, it sits to one side of the major coastal route instead of the road running directly through it, as most beach burghs have it. Consequently, it isn't always as filled with the masses as its neighbors to the north, Cannon Beach and Seaside. (Photo Oregon Coast Beach Connection)

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Quaint and cute are really the two operative words in the Oregon coast town that is Spanish for “little apple.” It has by city decree preserved that sense: no gaudy commercial signs or chains allowed, and the result is a very genuine experience. Even most of the buildings have either that rustic wooden siding or an old school exterior that's been spryly painted.

Among them is a cluster of small buildings facing the beach and just steps from the sand, a few with garages beneath. If there's a sense here of the “Old Oregon Coast” (a catch phrase from the last decade that speaks to the retro feel of some spots), that's just about right. The Ocean Inn sprung from buildings constructed in the '40s, and is now a lovely little lodging with bright colors and old designs on the outside and gobs of retro-meets-modern on the inside.

Ocean Inn was scooped up by Janice Zagata and her husband Larry way back in the '90s, when Manzanita was really still a cloistered discovery. Like the town, it's packed with cute little finds and surprises.

The delights begin in the details. Among the features are coffee from Astoria Coffee Company, dark chocolates made for them by Bruce’s Candy Kitchen in Cannon Beach, and cookies by local legend The Roost Cafe in Wheeler.

Then there's the beach itself. Ocean Inn is literally just steps to the expansive sands of Manzanita Beach: to the right is looming Neahkahnie Mountain and to the left are the sprawling miles of sand that eventually end with the Nehalem Spit. You can rough it by hiking for miles here into untamed grasses and haulouts of various wildlife, or you can simply chill with a walk towards the mountain and the curious weather it creates for itself (look for the headland to occasionally wear a cloud “hat.”)

At this part of Manzanita, head south and you get more of a south coast vibe, really: that completely hidden, wilderness sense of isolation that comes just outside of places like Port Orford, Gold Beach or Bandon.

While Ocean Inn doesn't exactly have all ocean views, most units do, and even those that don't often have sizable peeks of the waves from many of the windows of this adorable, 10-unit motel.

Eight of them are condo-like units and two with kitchenettes, and a few with comely carports beneath. Larger rooms have one bedroom, a full kitchen and wood stoves; and two of them come with ground floor decks facing the ocean. Others come with small balconies overlooking the ocean.

One room not only has a decent peek of the ocean view but it has a Jacuzzi. Another two have smaller views of the ocean. There is one ground floor room that is ADA compliant too.

Insides are magnificent woods in many of the walls, including a few with knotted pine that brings you straight back to that “Old Oregon Coast” vibe. One of the oceanfront units sports a gleaming off-white color scheme with a vaulted ceiling and a mesmerizing half-circle skylight above the deck entrance.

Originally, the biz was a vacation rental setup, and the one building in the front was four units that were rented that way. Much of the buildings came from what all began as apartments back in the '40s: you can see that in the historical photo above. In the late '90s, some of the partners in the biz changed, Janice hopped on with her husband, and some buildings were torn down and replaced by others.

By the early 2000s, the configuration of Manzanita's Ocean Inn was born, and through the early 21st the biz saw at least two tsunami scares and one big tornado that cut through downtown and ripped out a third of the trees in the Tillamook Coast burgh.

The folks at Ocean Inn recently snapped the Northern Lights during that jaw-dropping event on May 10, 2024. The building and biz have also had the opportunity to see some extraordinarily beautiful moments.

These days – as pretty much always – there is free wi-fi at the Ocean Inn, along with big screen TVs and a host of other distinctive amenities. Their website also has the only webcam for Manzanita, which is handy if you want to check out Oregon coast conditions before launching west from the valley. 32 Laneda Ave. Manzanita, Oregon. 503-368-7701. 866-368-7701.

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Andre' GW Hagestedt is editor, owner and primary photographer / videographer of Oregon Coast Beach Connection, an online publication that sees over 1 million pageviews per month. He is also author of several books about the coast.

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