Link to Day 1: tripadvisor.ca/ShowTopic-g1438848-i12636-k77…
We woke up on day 2 to quite cool, dreary weather. It was quite early and Seaside was blissfully peaceful and empty. We knew we had to take advantage of it, so we bundled up in our jackets, grabbed an extra large coffee from a coffee shop by the beach, and spent about an hour strolling along the expansive sand through the mist. I remember thinking how much bigger the beaches were than our local beaches in Vancouver, as well as being impressed by how white and fine the sand felt! With the weather, it didn’t quite feel like it was the peak of summer, but it was lovely nonetheless.
After our walk, we grabbed our bags and checked out of the hotel. We decided to opt for a simple inexpensive breakfast, and stopped at the Seaside Safeway on our way back to US-101. For less than $5, my husband got a breakfast sandwich and I got a yogurt with granola and a banana. We decided to take our food with us to our first stop of the day: Ecola State Park. We found the park easily from US-101 (Oregon has excellent signage), with my husband again very much enjoying the windy/narrow road into the park, especially the hairpin turns. When we arrived, there was only one other car in the parking lot, for people who had camped (open air style) in the park overnight. They were still sleeping, and we enjoyed a very quiet breakfast on a picnic bench overlooking the ocean. In addition to a nice picnic area, Ecola State Park had a few beautiful viewpoints over the ocean. We especially enjoyed the view of Tillamook lighthouse, which is located on a tiny island in the distance. There are signs explaining the history of the lighthouse, and it is almost an eerie sight to see it peaking through the fog on the isolated island.
Still hopeful for better weather, we left Ecola State Park, and continued south towards Cannon Beach. The town itself seemed quite lovely (and probably would be a better fit than Seaside for my husband and I on future trips), as was the beach. We spent some time taking photos of Haystack Rock and exploring the surrounding tide pools. I was excited to spot some baby birds living on Haystack rock. This definitely seemed like a “must do” for any first trip to the Oregon Coast. Just south of Cannon Beach, we stopped in Oswald West State Park, where we took a fairly short hike (about 15 minutes) through the forest to reach the beach at Smuggler Cove. The forest walk was pretty, and the beach was clearly very popular with surfers. We watched them briefly, before heading back to the car.
We continued on to Tillamook, where we made the obligatory stop at Tillamook Cheese factory. I was expecting it to be a madhouse (and it was), but I think it was worth the stop overall. We took a quick look around on our own, trying to avoid the majority of the big lineups to purchase snacks and ice cream. We did take a pass through the sample buffet (where it was neat to try all the different flavours) and spend some time picking out some items to take for lunch. We ended up with some cheese (which could be purchased in mini ‘individual’ serving sizes – perfect since one can only eat so much cheese in one sitting!), a locally-made wine salami, some crackers and a chocolate truffle for dessert.
We packed these items in a cooler, in hopes of finding a nice location for lunch at our next stop. With scenic driving one of the primary goals of our trip, we opted to leave US-101 and take the “Three Capes Loop” out of Tillamook. That “loop” was a bit disjointed, as a result of the section of the road north of Cape Meares being closed. Instead of heading northwest from Tillamook to Cape Meares and then heading south to Cape Lookout, it was instead necessary to head southwest from Tillamook, before heading north to Cape Meares and then backtracking along the same route to Cape Lookout. I hope that made sense. I can attest to the fact that the road north of Cape Meares is very much closed: there is literally a sign blocking the road immediately past the turnoff for Cape Meares.
While researching the trip, there appeared to be a bit of an ongoing debate on whether or not the Three Capes Loop is worth it or not. We found it to be a nice drive, and we enjoyed Cape Meares. However, if your time is pressed, I don’t think it is essential or particularly unique from other scenic areas along the coast. For us, taking the route was consistent with our plan on trying to generally pick the most scenic route over the quickest route.
We made it to Cape Meares without any difficulty, and were able to find a quiet, but unfortunately viewless, area to eat our lunch. We very much enjoyed our food from Tillamook, with the highlight being the amaretto chocolate from “Spokandy” a Spokane, Washington chocolate company. I think my husband was ready to backtrack to Tillamook to stock up on more. We even had some company for lunch: a little chipmunk that was willing to resort to extreme cuteness in an effort to get a taste of our lunch. After lunch, we checked out two sites at Cape Meares: the lighthouse, and the Octopus Trees. Both were very easy to access, and worth the short walks to see. The lighthouse was quite tiny, but cute and it was our first chance to get “up close” with one on the trip.
Leaving Cape Meares, we sort of sped through the rest of the loop. We enjoyed the drive very much and saw some nice viewpoints, but didn’t end up stopping at Cape Lookout or Cape Kiwanda. I’m sure they are lovely, but having already stopped at three parks we decided to continue along (particularly given the continuing overcast weather). Our next stop was in Otter Rock, first to see the Devil’s punchbowl and then to taste some wine at the Flying Dutchman Winery. I love visiting wineries, so I was pretty excited about this stop, particularly since at was about 4:30 pm and the perfect time for a glass of wine after a long day! I enjoyed the wine I tried (particularly they Cabernet Franc reserve), but I ultimately decided to pass on buying a bottle, which were a bit pricy (~$30-45). For the price, I would have liked to be able to the bottle I purchased home with me to enjoy later, and unfortunately, being from Canada means that we would only be able to take four bottles with us, so I decided to reserve my quota! The hosts were very nice however, and I’m very happy we made the stop.
Our last stop of the day (phew) was at the Yaquina Head lighthouse. It is the type of lighthouse that you envision when you thinking of a traditional lighthouse, and was very beautiful (and again, a bit eerie – it made me think of the movie Shutter Island!). The head was surrounding by several large ocean rocks that were very populated with birds (which unfortunately meant certain areas around the lookout point were a tad smelly, but definitely worth enduring for the view!).
Exhausted, we made our way to Newport and checked into our hotel at the Whaler Motel. The hotel was very nice, and right across from the ocean. I’m obviously not very familiar with Newport, but it seemed like it was maybe a bit out of the way from the ‘main’ part of town, just based on how quiet the area was. We thought this was nice after how busy Seaside had been (at least the area we were in). We decided to try Stone Crest Cellars for dinner, based on its excellent TripAdvisor reviews. As it was a Saturday night, we were worried about trekking over there only to find it full. We called, and were able to get a reservation for a table for 2 an hour later at 7pm. We were also glad we called, since they emphasized that their restaurant was NOT at their bed and breakfast location (which we had been looking at online). That saved us an accidental trip quite far out of the way.
We were able to walk over to Stone Crest (it was only about 10 minutes away from our hotel), and were pleasantly surprised with how nice the inside of the restaurant was. I was excited to try the wine tasting: you get to try five types of wine for $5, with the $5 being refunded if you purchase a bottle. I was envisioning this as really being a ‘tasting’, in that I would try the five wines side by side, and then pick my favourite to order a bottle of to go with dinner. Based on this expectation, my husband opted not to get any wine, figuring we’d share a bottle once I had selected one. The tasting ended up being more of a flight: I got very generous pours of each wine, brought one at a time, over the course of my meal. This made the flight incredibly reasonably priced, and I really enjoyed all the wines that I tasted. However, it meant I was getting different types of wine a bit randomly through the course of our meal (versus say, pairings with different courses), and it meant that my husband was sitting without a drink, watching me do the tasting. I didn’t try my last wine until after my main was done, which meant we never ended up ordering a bottle. Knowing what we do now, I think we should have either both ordered a flight or ordered a bottle from the start. Despite that one complaint, we enjoyed our food, received excellent service, and found the restaurant to be quite reasonably priced for the quality.
On our walk back to the hotel, we popped into a grocery store and purchased a bottle of wine. We enjoyed the wine (with some free popcorn from the lobby of the Whaler Motel) at a table in our hotel room, overlooking the ocean. Given that it was chilly outside, it was a lovely place to be able to sit and enjoy the view.
Up next – more Oregon Coast en route to Gold Beach.