Portland > Cannon Beach > Seattle

Jul 9th, 2019, 09:56 AM
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Join Date: Jul 2019
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Portland > Cannon Beach > Seattle

*Posted this on TripAdvisor and got a mean-spirited, snarky response, so i'm trying this forum where everyone seems pretty nice *

Hi all!

My boyfriend and I are coming to Oregon(for the first time!) at the end of August before heading up to Seattle for a friend's wedding. I've already been poring over these forums (as well as Travel Oregon and other sources) but wanted to outline my intended itinerary and ask a few questions regarding logistics etc.

Saturday night: arrive in Portland

Sunday: all day Portland sightseeing

Monday: Rent car and do a full-day trip around the Columbia River Gorge, spend the night back in Portland

Tuesday: Leave Portland and head toward the coast, staying in Cannon beach this night

Wednesday: Cannon Beach

Thursday: Cannon Beach

Friday: Leave Cannon beach and drive north through Astoria before making our way into Seattle

My questions are:

-We are staying in Cannon Beach 3 nights because of the 3-night minimum in August, but does it make sense to drive straight there on Tuesday and use it as a home base to drive up and down the coast over the next few days? Or is there a way to take a more scenic route south to maybe hit Pacific City and then drive up 101 and see the 'scenic three capes' etc and make our way slowly to Cannon Beach? If we did that, what driving routes make sense? Or I guess my question for those who are more familiar is if it's worth it to go further south out of Portland first or if there is no easy way to accomplish that. I also feel like with staying in Cannon Beach we are missing out on the areas further south on the coast.

-On Friday when we drive from Cannon Beach up to Seattle, is there a way to go through Astoria and then make our way through some other must-see areas before arriving in Seattle? Does that make sense logistically for driving as well?

A lot of itineraries I've seen start in Seattle and make their way down so just trying to figure outwhat makes the most sense for the reverse! Thedays we are in Cannon Beach I'd like to explore a lot of surrounding areas so recs are welcome!

-Lastly, we are booked at the Ocean Lodge in Cannon Beach but I was also considering Headlands in Pacific City (my boyfriend wants something'luxury' for our hotel) but I was worried the drive from Pacific City to Seattle on Friday would be a bit too long and I also liked the sound of Cannon Beach better....pros or cons for either hotel or location? (We are in our early 30s and from NYC if that helps).This is both of our first times in the Pacific Northwest!

Thanks so much in advance for your help!
stampeek is offline  
Jul 9th, 2019, 11:43 AM
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Hmmm.... I post on Seattle's Trip Advisor daily, I did not see your post.

Well yes staying in Cannon Beach you miss all the towns south. But you don't have a lot of time, so I don't see this as a big negative. You can't see it all in only 3 days.

I can't think of any "must see areas" between Cannon Beach and Seattle. I just put "cannon beach to seattle" in a google search and a map pops up showing the route thru Astoria, then up to Aberdeen, cutting over to Olympia, then joining I-5 estimated about 4 hours drive (I'd add a little to that time).
suze is offline  
Jul 9th, 2019, 02:37 PM
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It was on the Oregon forum. I saw the first thread, but you had replies, including mine, on the other and it had helpful information.
mms is offline  
Jul 9th, 2019, 03:04 PM
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Thank you both! I'll go take a look! Figured it didn't hurt to post in multiple locations anyhow to get advice. Appreciate the responses!
stampeek is offline  
Jul 9th, 2019, 06:14 PM
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(not that I'm directly responding to your questions, but such is the internet)

With regard to 3 nights in Cannon Beach, and making side trips... you might consider letting Astoria BE one of those side trips, and then, when Friday comes, drive back toward Portland and gtf out of there (and cross into WA) before 2:00pm to beat hideous traffic.

Then you can have a chance at a Mount St. Helens detour (exit #49 in Washington, I believe... IF it is as clear as a bell, then you GO the hour east to the mountain, and IF it is cloudy, you skip it).

That also puts you in range for a detour around Mount Rainier if you so choose.

(*** IF by any chance there is someone on either side of your families who is still into the Twilight movies, you can combine Astoria with a loop that would include St. Helens, Oregon, where scores of Twilight backdrops can be found) (just impressing somebody who loved Twilight might be worth the visit).

For the record, the Oregon coast is nicer than the WA coast, and you sacrifice very little if NOT going from Astoria across the bridge and up the WA coast (provided you'd be going east to Olympia anyway). The better scenery in WA is well to the north.

It makes sense that another Cannon Beach side trip would be south down the coast. Perhaps the rest of the time for Cannon Beach itself.

(partly addressing one of your questions: There isn't much that one could put a finger on that you'd gain tremendously from going south out of Portland and only then over to the ocean on that first day.

Likely best to just go directly to Cannon Beach, play it by ear relating to the weather... STAY put if the weather is sunny and warm, or GO on a day trip straight south on the coast if the weather isn't exactly cozy beach weather)

I hope this helps somehow.
NorthwestMale is offline  
Jul 9th, 2019, 09:43 PM
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Well.. Headlands IS supposed to be really nice.

Honestly you ought to drive down to the beach through McMinnville, perhaps stop at a winery along the way if you are so inclined.

The Three Capes are really nice. You could check them out and them drive to Cannon Beach area for your other two days, stopping in Tillamook for the cheese factory.

Somehow I always thought it was a two-night minimum in Cannon. So I think this would work.
A few other North Coast places to stay for a couple ... you will need to check current reviews:

Stephanie Inn Cannon Beach
Cannery Pier Hotel in Astoria
Hallmark Inn (suite) Cannon Beach south end.
​​​​​​The large B&B in Arch Cape, kinda looks like a castle. (Next to Cannon.)

5alive is offline  
Jul 10th, 2019, 05:28 AM
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I'm not a big fan of Cannon Beach, but if you're booked, fine.

-We are staying in Cannon Beach 3 nights because of the 3-night minimum in August, but does it make sense to drive straight there on Tuesday and use it as a home base to drive up and down the coast over the next few days?
Yes. Regarding north/south excursions from Cannon Beach, by all means the three capes to the south is great, but for my money heading north is very worthwhile. Visit historic Astoria, then cross the (awesome) mouth of the Columbia to Ilwaco and Cape Disappointment. Cape Disappointment offers a couple of lighthouses, great waves-on-rocks scenery, a fine Lewis and Clark interpretive center, even Waikiki Beach (the other one) - lovely. You can also drive up the Long Beach peninsula just north of Cape Disappointment; there are a couple of old-fashioned seaside towns like Long Beach, then up the peninsula on the Willapa Bay side (big wildlife refuge - birders' heaven) you can visit historic Oysterville and if you're fans of the famous bivalve, this is the place.

On the way to Seattle I'd follow the north shore of the Columbia - it's more scenic than any of the Oregon roads, passes through some historic towns, and if you get an early start, it's possible to detour up to the Johnston Ridge Observatory overlooking the Mt. St. Helens caldera. Here's a map showing these places. https://goo.gl/maps/WhAmuvKDDnqxMLdh9

Earlier, I'd look at making sure that on your "gorge" day you head as far east as the Maryhill Museum and neighboring replica of Stonehenge. You could zoom out to Maryhill on I-84. follow the Washington side of the Columbia back as far as Hood River, then take the "historic" Columbia River Highway (old US 30) past all the waterfalls and viewpoints to the Portland area.

Have a look at the McMenamins properties, especially the Edgefield and Kennedy School, as you make lodging arrangements. Very fun places. https://www.mcmenamins.com/
Gardyloo is offline  
Jul 10th, 2019, 06:04 AM
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5alive--I usually say it is a 2-3 night minimum since it varies depending on the property and if it is a weekend. So you are right also We usually got around that and would just call and squeeze in-between other reservations if we wanted to head over for just a night. It is such a nice town with so much to offer, and word has gotten out so it is busier than it used to be, but still so worth it, IME
mms is offline  
Jul 11th, 2019, 11:16 AM
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Thanks all for your amazing and insightful responses! I'm taking notes from everything on this thread now and mapping everything out. Also just went back to TripAdvisor and found the thread with responses that I had no idea existed (TripAdvisor showed them removed from the forum feed as well as from my 'contributions' list in my profile.) Must have been a weird glitch so thanks so much for letting me know!

NorthwestMale : Your advice is great and driving tips are exactly what I was hoping for! Making note to consider Astoria as a day-trip and using your advice to cross over to Washington early friday so we can fit it some extra sightseeing/detours. I guess it's hard for me to imagine distance between places (cannon beach/Astoria as well as Cannon Beach/further south etc) so it's hard for me to gauge what's feasible to visit on any given day. Going north one day and south another sounds perfect. Can't say i'm a giant Twilight fan, but from what I have seen of the movies I know it has amazing scenery so that sounds wonderful. All of your advice is very helpful so thank you!

5alive - The suggestion to stop at some wineries on the way is one of my favorites so will probably try to do that before driving up the coast. Ocean Lodge is a 3 night minimum in august (regardless of days of the week) so I think we are stuck in that plan but planning to drive both north and south during the days as mentioned above. Also might be nice to not move our stuff too many times. Thank you for the other hotel suggestions! I will check availability.

Gardyloo - Yes booked for Cannon Beach but curious why you don't like it? Hoping to explore a lot of the area so hopefully won't matter as much where we are based for the night. Do you think it's feasible to drive up to Astoria out to Cape Disappointment and then further north in one day trip before returning back to Cannon Beach for the night?
THANK YOU for the route map driving directions up to Seattle! Invaluable info! Regarding River Gorge, are you suggesting driving straight east and then visiting all of the waterfalls backwards to avoid the crowds etc?
Honestly have considered the McMenamins properties, especially the ones in Portland....I think they look AMAZING and exactly the kind of place i would love. Unfortunately my boyfriend has different opinions on what he envisions in hotel stays and they look a bit too hippie/unconventional for him (although they look exactly my style). Can you explain a bit more what they are like and the experience? It's hard to tell from pictures/their website.

Thanks again everyone for the help!! Getting really excited for the trip

stampeek is offline  
Jul 11th, 2019, 11:43 AM
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I'm definitely an odd man out when it comes to Cannon Beach, so please don't take my opinion for more than it is - a rather curmudgeon-ish point of view. I find it a little touristy and what the Brits call "twee" - a bit self consciously cute. JUST MY VIEW. Most of the coastal towns in Oregon are pleasant but not particularly scenic or architecturally interesting. My tastes tend to go toward towns that have some history over those that are little more than a string of strip malls running along US 101. On the north coast, for example, I frankly prefer Astoria over Cannon Beach, or across the river mouth, Ilwaco, which is an interesting small fishing town next to Cape Disappointment. Astoria is all about history (Lewis and Clark) and while the beach and rocks at Cannon Beach and Ecola Park are terrific, they're hardly unique along the Oregon coast. Cape Disappointment has lighthouses, hiking trails, hidden coves, crashing waves and beaches, as well as a L&C interpretive center. But I really wouldn't worry about it - with a car you can explore the area to your heart's content; where you actually spend the night isn't very important IMO.

Re the Gorge, at times, driving along the Gorge, the sun angle can be a nuisance. My preferred approach would be to move east quickly to avoid the morning sun washing out the views, then heading west so that by the time you get to, say, the Portland Women's Forum viewpoint or Vista House, the sun is at your back. As far as missing tourists, forget about it; Multnomah Falls will be mobbed whenever you're there (but still stunning regardless.)

McMenamins tries to convey a hippy-ish vibe - bars with lots of Grateful Dead references for example - but they're basically booze and food dispensers with lots of funky art. The Edgefield in particular is quite the place - brewery, winery and distillery on site, vineyards, a spa, golf, gardens, outdoor music, a movie theater... but mainly it's about the various bars and eating places. The Kennedy School in Portland is somewhat similar, but on a much smaller scale. They also have a place out on the coast - in Gearhart I believe (haven't stayed there) and one in Kalama on the Columbia River north of Portland (also haven't stayed.) Their target audience (I think) tends to run to Gen X and Boomers more than Millennials, but that's from me, and I'm no expert. The beer is good, however. They're quite fun, maybe a tad self-conscious, but being able to stay put and not worry about driving after a few pints or nips must be worth something.

Last edited by Gardyloo; Jul 11th, 2019 at 11:47 AM.
Gardyloo is offline  
Jul 12th, 2019, 05:23 AM
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Stampeek--Glad you were able to see the other replies on TA and could see my lengthy response I think you will be very pleased with Ocean Lodge. It is a beautiful property and well regarded. I have not stayed there as our go to is the Surfsand, but friends love the OL too. The only drawback, if you will, is that it is not walkable to downtown. It is if you walk along the beach, but I would not try it along the road as there are no sidewalks and there is an area where the roads twists and sits higher up, so drivers are lookylooing and not looking for pedestrians on the shoulder. Just a heads up on that. If you decide to drive into the main part of downtown, don't try for smack downtown as it gets really busy, but instead park in the small lot across form the Surfsand. Much easier to get in/out of, and a very short walk to the heart of downtown. If you need any other CB suggestions just ask. It is my personal favorite place on the coast to stay.
mms is offline  
Jul 13th, 2019, 08:57 AM
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I also like Cannon Beach a lot. I know what MMS is talking about on the road and I've done it. It's stressful and not ideal. Ocean Lodge is a good place if you've nabbed it.

I mainly made other suggestions in case you wanted to move around or wanted options. I would not recommend though that you backtrack to the Headlands after staying in Cannon, since you are going north. Rather that you move your stay (if possible) and go there for a night first. Hope that makes sense.

Gardyloo is the odd man out, we all like Cannon Beach. But he's got lots of other great suggestions. I do see Cannon Beach as unique. Haystack Rock is phenomenal. It's close to shore and just kind of looms over the beach. Lots of birds flying to/from it. Some tidepools.

Oh, and I don't think your boyfriend will like staying overnight at a McMenamins given your description. Probably best to visit but sleep elsewhere.
5alive is offline  
Jul 13th, 2019, 12:28 PM
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I understand what Gardyloo is saying about Cannon Beach. It's just very expensive but I liked it enough for a couple day stay. I stayed at Lands End which I really liked a lot, they have suites/studios which was nice if you are there very long, it is walkable to the beach and some restaurants, I guess, I was out during the day so had my car anyway.


As for must-sees between Cannon Beach and Portland, I'd say yes, if you are interested in history. The maritime museum in Astoria is excellent, for one thing (this presuming you take that route, as you suggested). I think I did that actually, I can't recall where I was going, I think I also was just doing a day excursion from Cannon Beach. Anyway, the Lewis & Clark national park is up there and I enjoyed that. Again, if you have no interest in that history, maybe you wouldn't. But it's only about 25 miles from Cannon Beach and Astoria isn't that much farther, of course you could do that as a day trip.
Christina is offline  
Jul 13th, 2019, 01:05 PM
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Cannon Beach is visitor central at least it was when we were last there. Lots of traffic, lots of art galleries, haystack rock (and certainly not the only one) which seems to draw people somehow and if your hotel faces the thing it really is hard to take your eyes off of it. Ice cream places, etc., the whole "beachy" thing except people weren't IN the water all that much. Is it memorable and for good reasons? I think it is as was Cape Disappointment, especially that lighthouse which has been featured on calendars for decades. Only you can decide but I wouldn't miss it.
Dukey1 is offline  
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