rugged coastline oregon coast at cape meares with waterfall

The Best 5 Day Cannon Beach Itinerary With Kids

The Oregon Coast is the perfect place to take your kids for vacation. With 363 miles of coastline, all of which are public lands, there is so much to explore! Cannon Beach has all the small town charm, incredible natural beauty, and is a great base location for exploring the Northern Oregon Coast. With 5 days on your Cannon Beach itinerary, there are tons of great activities you can do. Our itinerary was focused on outdoor activities so we could get the most out of the surrounding nature and beautiful coastlines. We tend to have our happiest moments when we are in the fresh air and exploring. Enjoy!

woman smiling with two dogs cannon beach oregon

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Day 1: Arrive in Portland!

You will likely start your Cannon Beach itinerary in Portland. I would highly recommend taking a few hours to explore the city. Portland is known for excellent food, coffee, and beer.

Things to Do in Portland
  • Stop by the food trucks
  • Grab dinner – whatever type of cuisine you want, Portland has it all!
  • Get a beer at a brewery (most are kid friendly)
  • Get donuts at Blue Star – they have amazing flavors like Blueberry Bourbon Basil and Creme Brulee. I personally recommend skipping voodoo doughnuts (it is a kind of fun experience, but the doughnuts are not good!)
  • Eat ice cream at Salt & Straw – “ice cream for the curious” is their motto and they are known for unique ice cream flavors. However, they still have several classic flavors if you have picky eaters.

If you have extra time to spare or are driving in from the East, I would highly recommend checking out waterfall alley in the Columbia River Gorge. Multnomah Falls is about 40 minutes from Portland (in the opposite direction of Cannon Beach). Our favorite falls are Multnomah Falls and Bridal Veil Falls (~1.0 mile round trip hike). There are several other waterfalls along this drive if you want to spend more time here before heading to the beach.

Proceed to your accommodations in Cannon Beach and get settled in. If you have extra time this evening check out the beach and your first glimpses of Haystack Rock for sunset.

Total Drive Time: 1.5 hours to Cannon Beach (not including any drive time if you road tripped here)

Day 2: Explore Cannon Beach

Obviously, this Cannon Beach itinerary is going to include some time at the one of the best beaches on the Oregon Coast. Start your day with breakfast at the Wayfarer in Cannon Beach. We had an amazing crab eggs benedict and the most delicious bacon we’ve had in a while. They also have a kids menu available.

Check the tide schedule and get ready to go to the beach. Bring your beach blanket, towel (we love this big beach towel), beach toys, and snacks to Cannon Beach near Haystack Rock to do some beach combing and tide pooling if the conditions are right.

Get a picture with your little ones at the path up the stairs near Haystack Rock (find the location on the map below!) Then go home and regroup for lunch. We picked up snacks and sandwich supplies for the week at Fresh Foods Cannon Beach.

Head back to the beach to catch the sunset. We tried to visit a different beach for sunset each night (Hug Point, Arcadia Beach, and Cannon Beach). This night we got pizza from Pizza a’fetta and ate it on Cannon Beach. You could also set up your camp chairs and make a fire to make the night extra special. Check the local fire restrictions for this year for more information.

Total drive time: None! Staying in Cannon Beach for the day.

Day 3: Cape Meares & Tillamook

Eat a quick breakfast at Crepe Neptune this morning and get in the car to drive the Three Capes Scenic Loop (or part of the loop). We only drove to Cape Meares, but if you’re feeling up for a longer drive you could drive the whole thing (~35-40 miles). This day is built around just going to Cape Meares, but you will have time to drive the entire loop in one day if you choose.

Stop #1: Neahkahnie Viewpoint

Start in Cannon Beach and make your first stop at one of the Neahkahnie Viewpoints for an epic view from high above the coast. This is just a quick pull off on the side of the highway but definitely worth seeing.

Stop #2: Cape Meares Lighthouse & The Octopus Tree

Continue your drive to the Cape Meares Lighthouse. Walk about 0.4 miles round trip to the lighthouse and make sure to look at the incredible views on both sides of the Cape Meares hike. Then walk up above the parking lot a quick 0.3 miles roundtrip to the Octopus Tree.

Stop #3: Roseanna’s Cafe, Oceanside

Get back in the car and stop by Roseanna’s Cafe for some delicious desserts. We also ate some amazingly fresh seafood here that we loved. They don’t have a kids menu, but the desserts are sure to be a crowd pleaser. Make sure to double check their hours as they appear to change by the season.

Stop #4: Tillamook Creamery

Now head back to Tillamook and visit the Tillamook Creamery. This is always a hit with kids, and adults who love free cheese (me!) Watch some cheese being made, and maybe buy a few snacks from the gift shop. Optional stop on the way home by the Tillamook Country Smoker Outlet for some excellent priced smoked meats and jerky.

Stop #5: Back to Cannon Beach for Sunset at Hug Point

Head back to Cannon Beach and watch sunset at one of the beaches like Hug Point (see if you can find the Hug Point waterfall!), have a relaxing night in, or get dinner and a local beer at the Pelican Brewing Company in Cannon Beach.

TIP: The original and best Pelican Brewing Company location is in Pacific City, Oregon. If you make it down that far, definitely make a stop. This restaurant is right on the beach and has amazing views!

Total drive time: 2.5 hours

Day 4: Short Sand Beach and Oswald West State Park Hike

Start the day with Coffee and Pastries at the Sleepy Monk Coffee Roasters in Cannon Beach. You have to try whichever savory scone they have whipped up that morning, and trust me when I say it’s the best scone I’ve ever had. Take your breakfast and walk along the beach as you look for sand dollars and seashells.

Get your beach gear together and head to Short Sand Beach which is located inside of Oswald West State Park. For this trail, you have to park in the parking lot across the highway and follow the 0.5 mile one way path to the beach. This also connects with the Old Growth Forest Trail (0.2 miles). Set up and enjoy your beach day here. If you’re lucky you may be able to watch local surfers. And depending on the season you may see a surprise waterfall at this beach. I recommend checking the tide schedule before visiting any of the beaches.

Come back and enjoy dinner at the Driftwood or get a quick bite to eat at Mo’s Seafood before enjoying sunset at Acadia Beach.

Total drive time: less than 30 minutes

Day 5: Ecola State Park and head home

On the last day of your Cannon Beach itinerary, spend the morning with a cooler bag packed breakfast to eat at the picnic tables at Ecola State Park. Enjoy the beautiful drive in through the lush forest. You have to pay $5 to park your car at this state park. Then you can walk around the kid friendly trails and take in the beautiful views.

Drive back to Portland and waste some kid energy at the Oregon Zoo (you have to reserve tickets ahead of time) before you fly or drive home and then dream about the Oregon Coast until you can visit again!

kid on table in front of view at ecola state park on a rainy day

Optional: If you have extra time to spend, I would recommend walking around the Cannon Beach downtown to look at shops and pick out souvenirs. And if you are able to spend a half day driving up to the charming town of Astoria you won’t regret it. Get coffee at Coffee Girl on Pier 39 in a historic cannery and watch (and listen) to the sea lions who frequent the rocks. Then walk the Cathedral Tree Trail or all the way to the Astoria Column if you are feeling more ambitious.

Cannon Beach Itinerary Map

Cannon Beach Itinerary: Overall Thoughts

Must See: Sunset at the all the beautiful beaches in this area!! We loved this, and it’s a great time to snap some pictures of your little ones you can keep forever. Also, tide pooling if you have the opportunity is such a fun activity here.

Would Skip: I would skip going to Seaside or the Seaside Aquarium. You’ll still have fun if you stay in Seaside but it is less picturesque and charming in my opinion than most of the other towns in this area.

Next Time: I would love to drive the full Three Capes Scenic loop next time, I’ve read that Cape Kiwanda is amazing and definitely worth stopping at.

What other things do you love about Cannon Beach? Check out our post on 10+ Reasons to Visit Cannon Beach! Don’t fret if the weather isn’t perfect, we have you covered with 12 fun things to do in Cannon Beach when it’s raining.

Happy travels!

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  1. This is so helpful! I’ve gone to the Oregon coast a million times and some of these places I’ve never heard of. We’re going in a couple weeks and now we are going to try out a few of your recommendations. Good work on this!

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