Discover the Northern Oregon Coast: Five-Day Itinerary to Explore Astoria, Cannon Beach, Manzanita, & Tillamook

Marisa Flukinger in a black jacket
Curated By

Marisa Flukinger

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  • Oregon

  • Active Travel

  • Adventure Travel

  • Nature Escapes

  • Outdoors

  • Sightseeing

  • Entertainment

Short sands brudge
Curator’s statement

My family has lived in Astoria since my great-grandparents settled on the east end, above Alderbrook, in 1908. The original home where my grandmother grew up still sits overlooking the mighty Columbia River, which has been an integral part of my family's livelihood for more than 115 years; the home remains in my family today.

Astoria is a port city situated on the Oregon coast where the Pacific Ocean meets the Columbia River. It is the oldest city in the state and is a not-to-miss stop in your coastal Oregon travel plans. Astoria’s shops are trendy and unique, the sights are breathtaking, and the food and drink are second to none.

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Where to stay

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Cannery Pier Hotel & Spa

Boutique spa resort built on a pier that's 650 feet into the Columbia River.

Stephanie Inn & Dining Room

Stephanie Inn, nestled along the Oregon coast in Cannon Beach, offers a serene retreat with oceanfront elegance. With luxurious accommodations, gourmet dining at the Stephanie Inn Dining Room, and panoramic views of the Pacific, the inn provides a refined and intimate escape for guests seeking coastal charm and relaxation.

The Ritz-Carlton, Portland

The Ritz-Carlton, Portland, is an urban sanctuary in the heart of the city's cultural district. With luxurious accommodations, fine dining, and a commitment to sustainability, the hotel provides a sophisticated and eco-conscious retreat for guests exploring the vibrant arts and culinary scene of Portland, Oregon.

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  • $100 hotel / resort credit.

  • Welcome amenity.

  • Breakfast daily.

  • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

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Day 1: Travel to Astoria: Where the Pacific Meets the Columbia

Beautiful green trees

The first thing you need to know about Astoria, Oregon, is that the nearest commercial airport is in Portland, Oregon (PDX), just over 94 miles away via I-5. I suggest renting a car in Portland, as there are few public transportation options on the Oregon coast. If you would like to be a part of a tour group, there are options for that as well. I like the freedom to explore on my own time.

Once you arrive in Astoria, find your hotel and settle in. If you stay at the historic Hotel Elliott, you will be in the heart of town, within walking distance of most of Astoria’s downtown district. If you stay at the Cannery Pier Hotel in Uniontown on the west end, you will be right on the river (literally). They have a complimentary vintage chauffeur car, or you can walk or bike the Astoria Riverwalk to downtown. The distance from Uniontown to the East End Mooring Basin is about 2.5 miles, and most of Astoria’s popular sites lie within that radius.

You will likely be getting into Astoria around lunchtime and will be hungry. If you are looking for fresh fish and chips, the Bowpicker is delicious and a world-renowned spot for fish and chips, where they fry up tuna fish and chips from an old wooden fishing boat - this is a non-negotiable stop for most visitors. After lunch, grab a sweet treat at Frite and Scoop nearby on the Riverwalk. They have made-from-scratch ice cream with flavors like Astoria Fog and Hokey Pokey.

You should take the afternoon to discover the Columbia River Maritime Museum. The Maritime Museum is a great place to explore the history of the Columbia River and hear the stories of the legendary Columbia River Bar, which is one of the most dangerous passages in the world! The museum offers many wonderful exhibits, including a 3-D theater and the Lightship Columbia.

Now that you have your sea legs, it's time for a drink at Fort George Brewery - they have indoor and outdoor seating and a beer pier in Uniontown from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Astoria is known for having great local spots to enjoy brews, wine and cocktails. Another great place for delicious locally brewed beer is Astoria’s Buoy Beer. Stop by the Breakside Astoria, Brut Wine Bar, or the local Tiki Bar Dead Man’s Isle. These spots are all within walking distance of each other and are worth a visit.

For dinner, the options are endless. Love fresh, local seafood? Try South Bay Wild or Silver Salmon Grill. Are you looking for a casual local watering hole with great food? Stop by the Portway Tavern. Just want to have pizza? Try Fultano’s Pizza - they deliver and are a local favorite. Special night? See what’s on the menu at Curruthers or Bridgewater Bistro. Reservations are not required for most restaurants, but I would recommend calling ahead for Carruthers and Bridgewater.

Day 2: A Day in Astoria: Eat, Drink and Explore

bridge at sundown

For breakfast, I recommend the Astoria Coffee House. After your meal, stroll along the Astoria Riverwalk towards the west. While walking, view the Megler Bridge, which towers over the west end of Astoria. The Megler is the longest continuous truss bridge in the nation. Visitors love to make the four-mile drive over the bridge from Oregon to Washington - it’s a sight to see.

While strolling, you may hear the ding-ding of “Old 300”. You can hop on the Astoria Riverfront Trolley for one dollar and ride from one end of Astoria to the other. This ride is about an hour round-trip, but feel free to hop off wherever you want. For two dollars, you can ride all day!

After taking in the sights and sounds of the trolley ride, consider browsing through the local shops downtown. You will find many unique and one-of-a-kind places to find souvenirs and local goods. Astoria has no big-box stores, so every dollar spent here goes directly into this fabulous community, and there is no sales tax in Oregon. Don’t miss scouring through Vintage Hardware’s expansive collection and finding the perfect gift from FinnWare’s lovely Nordic goods. You can also stop into Josephson’s Smokehouse for some locally smoked salmon - it makes a great gift, and they offer shipping.

While downtown, you can work your way to the beautifully restored 1884 Flavel House Museum. Visitors love to view and tour this lovely mansion, which Captain George Flavel and his family once occupied. You can also tour the Oregon Film Museum and see the jail where Goonies was filmed! The film museum can give you information on all things Goonies, Short Circuit, Kindergarten Cop, Benji The Hunted and many other movies filmed in Oregon.

After lunch, grab your car and ascend the streets of Astoria on your way to the Astor Column. On your way up, you can admire the historic homes perched on the steep streets of Astoria’s hillside. Park your vehicle for a small fee and make the 164-step spiral climb to the top if you dare. You will have a panoramic view of the City of Astoria, Washington State, the mighty Columbia River, and Saddle Mountain from the top. You can see most of these views from ground level, too, but it is spectacular from the top of the Column. Buy a wooden glider from the visitor's center and fly it from the top! Check that one off your bucket list!

Watch the sunset from the Astor Column tonight or Sunset Beach, then make your way back downtown to have drinks, dinner or both.

Day 3: Cannon Beach via the Oregon Coast Highway

large rock in body of water next to beach

After breakfast, check out of your hotel, get in your car and head for Cannon Beach, Oregon. Cannon Beach is about 25 miles away from Astoria on the 101 South, and it is a must-do during your Oregon Coast trip. Grab a coffee on your way out of town at Journey’s End Coffee Shop, a local drive-thru favorite, and head out.

About halfway to Cannon Beach is the popular tourist town of Seaside, Oregon. Seaside is a much-loved destination on the Pacific Ocean. This stop can make a whole day of fun, food, and exploring. For this trip, though, I recommend turning off the 101 at Broadway Street to drive around the “Seaside Turnaround.” You will drive through the heart of downtown Seaside on Broadway, leading up to the famous turnaround. This is a popular spot for photos, so hop out and take a few. Get back on the 101 and continue towards Cannon Beach. Ensure you have a full fuel tank for this leg of the trip, as stations are limited after Seaside.

You can enter Cannon Beach at any of the exits, but I advise staying on the highway, driving to the far end of Cannon Beach, and turning off the route at Sunset Boulevard to view Haystack Rock first. Haystack Rock is one of Oregon's most recognizable landmarks and is stunning in person. I recommend returning for sunset, so a drive-by viewing suits this part of your day. Then, make your way to Ecola State Park. These two destinations alone can take up as much or as little time as you want. Each of them could be a whole day of exploring.

While you are in Cannon Beach, you can choose your adventure. If the outdoors and hiking are your thing, this area has some of the best trailheads around, so get your boots on and hit the trails! Please be prepared; some of these trials are for skilled hikers, so research before you go.

If shopping and sightseeing are more your style, Cannon Beach’s downtown area is beachy and charming, and the shops, art galleries and restaurants are all walkable and worth a visit. If you are looking for a meal downtown, the Driftwood is a local favorite. Or if you are craving casual fare, locals love Cannon Beach Hardware. For a special meal, try the Wayfarer Restaurant.

After lunch, head to the beach for some exploring. Discover the colorful sea life in the tidepools and learn about the Tufted Puffins that occupy the Rock in the spring and early summer. Stay to watch the sunset at Haystack Rock - the sunsets here are some of the best in the world.

Make your way to your hotel for an evening glass of wine and dinner. I recommend a stay in Cannon Beach at the Stephanie Inn. It overlooks the beach and has a beautiful view of Haystack Rock. The Inn at Cannon Beach on the south end is also a great option.

Day 4: Oregon Coast Highway to Manzanita & Tillamook

Sea in the sunset

After breakfast, check out of your hotel and continue on the scenic Oregon Coast Highway journey for about 14 miles to the gorgeous beach town of Manzanita, Oregon. About halfway there, make a stop at Short Sand Beach. Short Sands is a popular destination for surfers and is a great place to see some breakers. The hike is relatively quick and weaves through old-growth Sitka spruce trees - it is worth the effort.

The drive from Cannon Beach to Manzanita is one of the most beautiful drives I have ever taken. There are a few cool pull-out spots for photos along the highway - stop for a fantastic shot of the Pacific Ocean. You can spend the day in Manzanita shopping, dining, or golfing, or you can continue down the coast to Tillamook, Oregon, and visit the famous Tillamook Creamery. The Tillamook Creamery has over one million visitors annually and is a fun place to stop for a free self-guided tour. Try their renowned ice cream and squeaky cheese!

After an afternoon of exploring, make the 73-mile drive back to Portland, Oregon, via OR-6 East to HWY 26 East. Check into the newly opened Ritz Carlton Downtown. Check out the gym and state-of-the-art spa, and have dinner and drinks at their onsite restaurant, Bellpine. Take in the panoramic views of the Rose City from your high-level room in the 35-story masterpiece.

Day 5: Portland, Oregon

A view of a neon sign that reads Portland, Oregon with a white deer above it. There is a vibrant pink sunset and dark clouds hanging above in the background.

Depending on the time of your flight home, you should enjoy a morning walk downtown Portland this morning. There are many unique shops and sites to admire, and the Rose City is a Foodie’s Paradise. For breakfast today, try Mother’s Bistro on SW 3rd - They have an excellent breakfast and brunch menu and have been serving up local favorites since 2000. Grab some Voodoo Doughnuts to take home to loved ones, and head to PDX.

If you have more time to visit, double the itinerary and stay two nights at each location!

Need to Know

For more travel tips, check out Fora Advisor Tammy Bux’s guide, Oregon’s Best-Kept Secret: Columbia River Gorge.

Marisa Flukinger in a black jacket

Travel Advisor

Marisa Flukinger

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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Oregon.