Thursday, May 29, 2008

Tour of Cannon Beach

We started off our anniversary trip to Oregon with two nights on the coast at Cannon Beach. If you ever find yourself in Oregon, you need to visit this seaside town! I take that back. You *need* to find a way to be sure you find yourself in Oregon at some point! And book yourself for a couple of nights at Sea Sprite on the Estuary.

We adored this inn! It is a 3-story house located right on the estuary at the end of the beach. We loved the location, which provided more seclusion from the busier areas of the town, but had fabulous views of the rocky coast and estuary with easy access to the beach. The decor is perfect and exactly what you would expect from a seaside inn. Shells and calm, fresh colors in shades of blues, tans, and yellows with wood floors, tile in the bathroom and carpet in the bedroom & living room.

It had all the amenities we could ask for from a large jetted tub (that I frequented with a book and a candle during our stay!) and glass shower to flat screen TV's in both the living room and bedroom to a fully equipped stainless steel kitchen.

There is a wooden balcony off the kitchen with two teal adirondack chairs and a fabulous view of the coast, perfect for reading or watching the sunset with a glass of wine.

It was luxurious and comfy. The perfect spot to spend a couple of days relaxing and celebrating our first year as husband and wife. After our two night stay in this cute little inn, we were wishing we didn't have to leave!

Our first evening in Cannon Beach was our anniversary, so we celebrated with one of our favorites, steak, at JP's on the main street in town. There aren't a lot of upscale restaurants to choose from in Cannon Beach, but I had heard good things about JP's and a little celebration was in order! Our steaks were good, but I have to say that it didn't compare to our dining experience at The Nest. There were no choices in sides and I love me some potatoes with a good steak. I missed my potatoes. But, they had warm, fresh bread that was memorable. If you know me well, you know that I have been known to choose a restaurant based on their bread.

The main street in the downtown district is lined with charming little shops, benches along flowery paths, and cottages turned cafes. It is definitely worth it to take a couple of hours to wander through the shops and meet the locals.

The afternoon that we strolled through the downtown was misty and gray, the gloom that often comes to mind when you think of the rainy Pacific Northwest. Damp & cool enough to chill your bones. But, the colorful flowers tucked along every path and surrounding every sign added such cheer that you couldn't avoid a little smile. The tulips were by far the largest I've ever seen...and I've been to Holland. The blooms were as big as my fist!

In this square, there is glam little shop, Josephine's, that is chock full of all things French & Euro, sparkly and chippy vintage.

This cute little candy shop has an area for candy making demonstrations. Unfortunately, they weren't making any sweets during our visit, but it would be fun to watch through the large viewing windows if they had a batch in progress! I actually managed to escape without indulging my sweet tooth, but be forewarned that it will require large doses of self restraint to stay back from those glass cases filled with chocolates and goodies.

I love this sign on the door of Bruce's Candy Kitchen because it captures the essence of the slow pace of this little seaside town. Neighborly. Relaxed. Quaint. sigh

We had lunch at this super cozy cafe, a perfect stop for the gray, chilly, misty day. It is tiny, with only a handful of tables, but has the welcoming feel of someone's cottage. Mismatched colorful floral & striped tableclothes, real wood planks lining the walls, fresh mini bouquets spilling out of old glass jars on each table, and a basket of magazines and newspapers to read with your coffee.

My hubby enjoyed a steaming, flavorful bowl of the seafood stew, while I had a ham, broccoli & cheese quiche. I'm not a huge fan of fruit sides that are filled with cantaloupe & honeydew (just not my favorite fruits) and pineapple (I'm allergic.) I was pleasantly surprised when my plate arrived with generous portions of ripe strawberries & freshly sliced bananas. I don't even like bran muffins, but this one quickly disappeared off of my plate!

After a couple of hours strolling through the downtown district, we walked along the beach to explore Haystack Rock. (Disclaimer: Haystock Rock has an elusive tendency to always appear closer than it actually is! Do a little research for a close parking location for a proper short walk, or plan to turn it into a loooong walk.) The sea fog actually made for beautiful views of Haystack Rock and luckily, the mist had subsided and the sun actually peaked out several times over the course of the afternoon.
During our walk along the beach, I was on the hunt for a whole sand dollar. Cannon Beach is known for them! After spotting many "fakes" with broken edges hiding in the sand, I discovered the elusive whole sand dollar! My hubby laughed at my childlike excitement. We brought it home to join the conch shell on our dresser that came home from our honeymoon in St. Lucia.

Surrounding the bottom of Haystack Rock is a marine wildlife preserve. There are knowledgeable volunteers that share interesting information about the plants and animals you can see. You can only explore the area around Haystock Rock by foot during low tide. There is a lazy sea lion hiding in the picture below...

Nearly every square inch of the huge rocks are covered with these small clams. Busy crabs scurry through the shallow wading pools between the rocks (but the water is only shallow during low tide!) Colorful sea anemones are tucked in the shade beside the large rocks, and you can reach in and touch their jelly like tentacles.

After a day of exploring, we decided to pick up a "gourmet" pizza and head back to our suite to relax and watch the sunset. I had read good things about Fultano's Pizza, so we ordered a wood-fired spinach and chicken pizza with a side of their cheesy breadsticks. The flavor was excellent, the toppings were plentiful and hearty and the crust had the perfect crunch to the outside while being soft on the inside. We would highly recommend Fultano's for a family friendly or relaxed meal in Cannon Beach.

On our second day in Cannon Beach, we woke up to bright sun that had burned off of the fog and clear blue skies! We headed up to check out the view of Haystack Rock on a sunny day. I don't know if you can tell from the pictures, but it is huge! (See the tiny little dots of people along the beach?) It is 235 ft. tall and the third largest monolith in the world! What is a monolith, you ask? A monolith is a geological feature such as a mountain, consisting of a single massive stone or rock.

We drove about 10 minutes to the local Ecola State Park, which I would highly recommend for beautiful views of the coast. If you can't or don't want to take a taxing hike, you're in luck because several of the best viewpoints have drive up access. From the parking lot, it is a short walk to the overlooks. There are tons of picnic tables in the area with gorgeous views and trees for shade. I was kind of kicking myself for not thinking of grabbing lunch to go from one of the many local cafes and bringing it up for a picnic. You can see Haystack Rock in the far distance of this picture.

Except for a couple of visits to California, this was one of my first experiences with the West Coast. Growing up in Ohio, our visits to the beach were always to the East Coast...Florida, Virginia, North Carolina. The east coast beaches are beautiful and in my opinion, it's hard to go wrong with any beach! (I haven't been to Northeast beaches yet....hopefully some day!) But, can I just say that I think I'm partial to the west coast beaches now?! I love the rocky coasts and mountains in view. It just makes the scenery that much more interesting and beautiful. I can hardly think of a better combination than mountains and beach all in one place!

Even though I was looking forward to our time in Portland, my heart was a little sad to leave this seaside town behind. I could easily have spent a week here, relaxing and exploring at the slower pace. But, we had more fun planned in the city, so it was time to hit the road....


Lauren said...

Beautiful pictures!

Songbirdtiff said...

It looks like you had a really lovely vacation. Congratulations on your first year of marriage!

emily said...

First off, I just have to say I think this is the longest post I've actually ever read. Congratulations! you kept me interested! Those pictures just kept drawing me I kept reading and reading! Confession time: I don't think I've ever thought about the fact that Oregon has a coast. Can you tell I've never been further west than Texas? I'm such an east coast girl. But you sure have me wondering about the west coast: mountains AND beach all in one shot? Pretty awesome.

I feel as though I've just been on vacation. Except for the fact that my tummy is growling rather than feeling satisfied from all that yummy food! Thanks for sharing it with us!

Dawn-Hydrangea Home said...

You just brought back so many memories. My husband and I just celebrated our 16th wedding anniversary and we went to Oregon for our honeymoon. We wanted to ski in the summer (on Mt Hood). We also spent a week on the coast and visited Haystack rock too! Such a beautiful area - we have to go back!

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