But a short drive northwest of Portland, the popularity of Cannon Beach is due not just to its proximity to big city but also its down-town charm, seemingly endless stretches of sand, inspiring seascapes and photogenic natural landmark, Haystack Rock. Not surprisingly, this wave and weather carved boulder looks surprisingly like a stone haystack, hence, it's place in the sight-seeing annals (Pacific City, farther south, also has a rock that looks like a haystack but Cannon Beach locals will assure you that their rock is the real one), and enjoys a starring role on many a postcard.
Whatever your take on the debate, it's hard to argue with an Oregon Coast sunset: illuminating rocky promontories and haystack-shaped rocks, catching the jade-foam of a wave and throwing a rainbow inland - the show is free to all and dependably spectacular.
In summer, you can spend a good chunk of your visit looking for parking, a reliable measure of this destination's popularity - and it's not just the beach that brings the crowds - what makes Cannon Beach so desirable in part are its cultural offerings, including a number of chic little art galleries (which often feature works by regional artists) and a clutch of boutique shops.
Escape two miles north, having seen the significant sights, to Ecola State Park for a picnic and eagle-eye views of the Pacific Ocean. The Oregon Coast Trail meanders north from here via a popular surfing spot, Indian Beach, to Tillamook Head. At 1200 feet it's hard to see the surf but not the Tillamook Lighthouse built offshore on 100 feet of rock.
Cannon Beach is 78 miles northwest of Portland and 27 miles south of Astoria on Highway 101. To learn more about the area, please select a topic of interest from the navigation bar on the left.