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U.S. Travel Tips: More Reasons to Meander Around Manzanita, on Oregon North Coast

Published 5/25/24 at 5:35 a.m.
By Andre' Hagestedt, Oregon Coast Beach Connection

(Manzanita, Oregon) – Heading up or down Oregon's Highway 101, along that winding stretch of Highway 101 between Rockaway Beach and the much-talked-about Cannon Beach, it's kind of a blip as you zip past. Yet you could literally spend days just bouncing around the beaches and the nooks and crannies of this north Oregon coast town and never get bored.

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A quiet but quirky sense of the laidback, along with a few upscale high points and moments of culinary flashiness inhabit this pretty place, all alongside the seemingly endless rugged surprises found in nature. Hiking trails, mountain scenery, soaring cliffs of intricate and engaging shapes, thick forests and then there are those beaches – oh, the beaches of soft sand that really do stretch as far as the eye can see. (Above: a unique cloud formation hovers offshore from Manzanita - all photos Oregon Coast Beach Connection)

Blink and you'll miss it all. Manzanita and its environs are one kick in the eye after another. Starting with what hovers above it: it's one of the most visited sights (and sites) along the Oregon coast – and for damn good reason.

Manzanita viewpoints are what often amaze the most. Neahkahnie Mountain is one of the most spectacular and photogenic spots on the entire coastline, possibly – and only possibly – rivaled by Cape Foulweather near Depoe Bay, Coos Bay's Shore Acres State Park or the overlooks near Heceta Head a ways south of Yachats.

The views from Neahkahnie come in many shapes and sizes. And colors as well.

Sometimes it's the clouds that interact with that always-stunning sea below, like on this moody day where the sun suddenly makes an appearance just before going down.

Other times, even the nighttime views from here sparkle in unique ways that could make other Oregon coast viewpoints seriously jealous, if they were so inclined to the possession of emotion somehow.

Just north of the big Neahkahnie viewpoints are the wilderness and plunging cliff trails of Cape Falcon, which traipse along these precarious edges and ledges to views that downright boggle the mind at all times. They take several miles of hiking to get to and often include heavy inclines. Hotels in Manzanita, Wheeler

Among the striking discoveries are freaky rocky structures like this one, called Cube Rock. It looks much like something left over from another civilization.

Down on the ground, the cozy, comfy sands of Manzanita dead-end at the ragged cliffs of Neakahnie to the north.

There, the soaring tip of Neahkahnie Mountain – about 1600 feet high – beckons you not only with its silent challenge to climb it, but that familiar mound shape also grabs the eye for all sorts of reasons and during all kinds of seasons.

Look to the south and you won't see the end of the sands. They go on way past Nehalem Bay State Park and then onto the Nehalem Bay spit, ending a few miles past. But you might see absolutely stunning stuff like this in those sands.

Another huge attraction here is the Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad, which often stops as far north as Wheeler, but sometimes other tours take you elsewhere. On these, you're aboard an actual antique railcar of one sort or another, and getting chugged along by a real old-timey steam engine.

While the beach is often the main attraction here, don't pass up exploring other parts of the Nehalem Bay, like the tiny towns of Nehalem and Wheeler, with their ingenious little quirky sides, a veritable flood of fascinating antique shops and that engaging bay.

The beaches here change often. All manner of surprises wash up here or take shape here. This beach was even known for producing mysterious chunks of ancient beeswax which apparently came from a Spanish Galleon that crashed near here in the 1700s.

Then, there are the wild sights Manzanita's beach can produce at night.

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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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