Manzanita and Oswald West State Park will forever have my heart. This extra scenic portion of the North Oregon Coast is gorgeous in any season. From summer to winter, here are 21 fun things to do in Manzanita, Oregon.
Oswald West is an hour and a half drive from Portland. With Manzanita another 15 minutes south of Oswald West State Park. Manzanita has that low-key beach town vibe, compared to the more upscale persona of Cannon Beach and Seaside’s family-fun “Coney Island” feel.
Things to Do in Manzanita, Oregon
Here’s what to do near Manzanita, Oregon from outdoor adventures, to food and shopping.
1. Picnic, Play, or Surf at Short Sands Beach – Oswald West State Park
The Oregon Coast has about 350 miles of gorgeous scenery. From cliffs to forests to tide pools, hiking trails and lookouts, surfing and lighthouses. All of the Oregon coastline is open to the public. Thanks to Governor Oswald West (thus Oswald West State Park)! In the 1910s, he designated it the “People’s Coast”. Oswald West, also referred to as Short Sands, is one of the my favorite Portland day trips.
It’s not a secret spot, and can get pretty crowded these days in summer time (for good reason!). The parking lot fills up quick on the weekend. Thankfully, with a half mile of beach front in Smuggler Cove, it usually feels like there’s plenty of room once you get out there. And if you want to try surfing the cold Oregon waves, you can stop at Cleanline Surf Shop on your way through Cannon Beach for rentals, (don’t forget the wet suit!).
The walk to Short Sands beach takes about 10 minutes and is great for those that are not able to do a longer hike, but still feel like you went on a nature adventure. Oswald West is a popular spot for surfing, hiking and picnics, and tide pools. Remember to bring beach gear, water, snacks etc. Once you get out here you’ll want to stay awhile and there are not food and drink options for miles.
And please help keep our beaches clean! Pack it in, pack it out!
2. Highway 101 Viewpoint near Neahkanie Mountain
There are a couple turnout viewpoints between Arch Cape and Manzanita, Oregon. You can see down to Neahkanie Beach and Manzanita for jaw-dropping views! Please use caution in this stretch and slow down for bikes and cars pulling into and out of the the viewpoints.
3. Hike the Cape Falcon Trail
The Cape Falcon Trail in Oswald West State Park loops around to Short Sands beach and out on the cape. This trail can be pretty muddy in winter and spring, so plan accordingly. This is a moderate hike (AllTrails) of 4.6 miles roundtrip and 623 feet elevation gain.
4. Hug it out at Hug Point
At low tide you can walk around the cape at Hug Point. Note: Please use caution, check tide tables and follow signage! This is also a great spot for tide pooling. But you can get stranded by incoming tides if you don’t time it correctly.
5. Neahkanie Mountain Hike from South Side or Manzanita
The Neahkahnie Mountain hike is one of the most popular hikes and viewpoints near Manzanita. While the North side access trail is still closed due to tree blow down, the South Trail near Manzanita is open! This hike is less than 3 miles with panoramic views of the coast from the top. But don’t write this one off as an easy hike, while the mileage is low, the elevation gain is about 900 feet, with the first mile being the steepest grade. So be warned, you’ll be huffing and puffing your way up hill!
Newly opened in 2021, you can now hike to the Neahkanie Mountain South Trail from Manzanita! Plan for about 7 miles round trip from the 101 trailhead all the way to the top of Neahkanie Mountain (and I clocked it as 1685 feet elevation gain!). If you’re starting from in Manzanita, it will be even longer of a hike.
6. Explore Arch Cape
Arch Cape and Falcon Cove sit just north of Oswald West State Park. While you won’t find anything beyond residential homes and a couple hotels in Arch Cape, the beaches are beautiful little spots. Which makes theses neighborhoods fun spots for vacation rental if you’re wanting a secluded ocean trip. Note: parking is very limited in Arch Cape, so don’t plan on finding a spot!
7. Walk Neahkahnie & Manzanita Beach
The beach of Manzanita reaches from Neahkanie Beach to the north all the way down to Nehalem Bay State Park. And with Manzanita village being so compact, you’re never too far from the beach for a walk or playing in the sand. Get ready for those epic Oregon coast sunsets!
8. Shopping Laneda Ave in Manzanita Village
Laneda Ave is the main drag of Manzanita village. And you’ll find a surprising amount of shops for a little beach town. From gift shops to clothing check out Wisteria Chic, Unfurl, T-Spot and Moxie Fair Trade. Also don’t miss the new and cute Wild Coast Goods in Nehalem right on 101 as you turn the corner. There’s also the smallest charming book shop called Cloud & Leaf Bookstore in Manzanita which is a great stop.
9. Coffee Shops and Bakeries of Manzanita
Everyone seems to have their favorite spot in Manzanita for coffee. Manzanita News and Espresso closer to 101, Manzanita Coffee Co on the beach side, and Wild Grocery & Cafe halfway between. My favorite was the old standby of Bread and Ocean Bakery which will be missed, but you can still stop by and find a new coffee shop in its place – Offshore Grill & Coffee House. And if you need some pie, Sisters and Pete’s Coffee & Treats offers coffee and pie. And over in Nehalem you’ll find Wanda’s Bakery with cinnamon rolls the size of a dinner plate.
10. Brunch in Manzanita and Nehalem
If you’re looking for breakfast in Manzanita, you have a few options. Yolk is the most popular brunch spot in Manzanita, serving all-day breakfast classics. Off Shore Grill & Coffee House is another tasty breakfast option off Laneda Ave. And Wanda’s Cafe and Bakery in Nehalem is also a great breakfast spot, which can get pretty busy!
11. Drinking in Manzanita
From the Winery at Manzanita to MacGregor’s Whiskey Bar, there are plenty of drink options in Manzanita. The San Dune Pub is also a popular spot for a pint and pub food. They also have a nice patio space.
12. Restaurants in Manzanita
Manzanita has some options for grabbing lunch or dinner at one of the more low-key beach town spots. From seafood at Big Wave Cafe, to burritos at Left Coast Siesta, Thai takeout from A Might Thai, Mexican food at El Trio Loco, or pizza from Marzano’s Pizza Pie. And if you’re staying in a vacation rental, you can grab groceries at Little Apple Manzanita Grocery & Deli in the village or the larger grocery store off 101 – Manzanita Fresh Foods.
13. Visit the Nehalem Riverfront
A couple minutes east of Manzanita on 101 is the little riverside town of Nehalem. There are several river access points in Nehalem, and a few restaurants and shops.
14. Kayaking or SUP on the Nehalem River
The Nehalem River is a great spot for kayaking or paddleboarding. You can paddle up river or around the Nehalem Bay and near Nehalem Bay State Park. Just across the river from Nehalem is Wheeler Marina which rents kayaks and SUPs.
15. Fish & chips at Riverside Fish & Chips Food Truck
Right next to the Nehalem River, you’ll find Riverside Fish & Chips food truck and picnic tables. And while you’ll find fish and chips up and down the coast, you really can’t beat the location of this spot!
16. Hoffman Center for Arts & Gallery
While Cannon Beach is often touted as the spot on the coast for the arts and galleries, Manzanita has some art scene too. The Hoffman Center for Arts is all about supporting the art community in Manzanita with a gallery, workshops and programs like their clay studio and writing workshops.
17. Manzanita Farmers Market
In the summer months, Manzanita has a local farmers market! It runs from the end of May to early October on Friday evenings at the Underhill Plaza off Manzanita Avenue and Division Street. Check the Manzanita Farmers Market site for latest hours and schedule.
18. Whale watching
While the central coast is more known for whale watching, you can also see whales from any high point or cape on the Oregon coast. So spots like Cape Falcon and Neahkanie Mountain near Manzanita, you can see whale migration, depending on the season.
19. Fishing or crabbing in Nehalem Bay
Nehalem Bay is known for fishing and crabbing! You can BYO or rent supplies from Wheeler Marina including bait, tackle, equipment, fishing licenses and boats!
20. Golfing at Manzanita Links
Looking at the map of Manzanita, you wouldn’t think you’d find a golf course squeezed in between town and Nehalem Bay State Park. But there is, and if golf is your thing, check out Manzanita Links for a fun community course.
21. Camping at Nehalem Bay State Park
Manzanita has it’s very own campsite with Nehalem Bay State Park just south of town between the village and Nehalem Bay. You’ll find tent sites and yurt camping. But you’ll need to book early as these spots fill up quick, especially in the summer months! Fun fact: there’s also a tiny air strip here called Nehalem Bay State Airport. BYO Plane!
Hikes near Manzanita, Oregon:
From easiest to hardest, here are hiking options in the Manzanita and Oswald West area, beyond just walking the beautiful beach!
- Oswald West Parking Lot to Short Sands Beach – 1.2 miles roundtrip
- Nehalem Bay Loop Trail at Nehalem Bay State Park – 1.8 miles roundtrip
- Neahkahnie Mountain from South Trailhead – 2.8 miles roundtrip (865′ elevation gain)
- Elk Flats & Devil’s Cauldron Lookout – 2.9 miles roundtrip (615′ elevation gain)
- Cape Falcon Trail – 4.6 miles roundtrip (623′ elevation gain)
- Neahkahnie Mountain from Manzanita Trailhead – 7 miles roundtrip (1685′ elevation gain)
Places to Stay in the Manzanita area
Manzanita has many lodging options. The most popular being vacation rentals and Airbnbs, which are great for families and larger groups. There are also a few hotels like Sunset Surf Motel, Spindrift Inn, and San Dune Inn. And camping at Nehalem Bay State Park. Arch Cape also has a couple boutique hotels like the Inn at Arch Cape and the Arch Cape Inn (yes, two different places!).
I hope you enjoy Manzanita! If you want to explore beyond the Manzanita area, you can always day trip up to Cannon Beach to the North or Rockaway, Tillamook, and the Three Capes Scenic Loop to the south. And please remember to pack it in/pack it out, respect nature and local residents of the coastal towns we visit!