This Charming Oregon Coast Town Is an Under the Radar Gem

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One of the most iconic landmarks on the Oregon Coast is Haystack Rock, which towers over the beach in Cannon Beach. But did you know that there are actually two sea stacks named Haystack Rock on the coast?

The other sits in the waters just off the coast from the tranquil, off-the-beaten-path town of Pacific City.

Pacific City is situated along a stretch of the coast where Highway 101 shifts its route inland and away from the coastline. This keeps traffic low and vibes high as visitors and locals spend their day fishing, surfing, and launching boats in a uniquely Pacific City way.

a man and woman married couple walk their dog along the seashore while holding hands
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Things to Do in Pacific City

Pacific City is one of the best towns in Oregon to just kick back and enjoy the beach life. With miles of sandy beaches, you’ll have no problem finding your own slice of space away from the little crowds you can find here.

Watch Dory Boats Launch from the Beach

 A dory fishing boat being launched from the beach at Pacific City on the Oregon coast.
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Pacific City is home to a fleet of dory boats that are launched from the beach directly into the surf. These boats aren’t just launched for fun; they are working fishing boats heading out to catch tuna, salmon, and crab.

Grab a seat along the sand or at the nearby Pelican Brewing Company to watch the action as these boats are pushed into the surf in the morning and race in on incoming waves in the afternoon.

Paddle the Inner Bay

Before reaching the Pacific Ocean, the Nestucca River lazily flows past Pacific City and into Nestucca Bay. The lands around the bay are all protected areas, with Bob Staub State Park on the ocean side and Nestucca Bay National Wildlife Refuge on the south and east.

This makes the bay a delightful place to paddleboard or kayak to look for wildlife and explore the estuaries.

If you need a kayak or paddleboard, head over to Nestucca Adventures, where you can rent them by the hour.

Climb the Cape Kiwanda Sand Dune

Pacific City Beach, Oregon, USA. Popular out of the way beach on Oregon's central coast. Featuring a large sea stack offshore, beautiful sand, a surfer destination, and beachfront brewery/restaurant.
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Kape Kiwanda looms large over the north end of the beach in Pacific City. Getting to the top is no easy feat, though, as it requires climbing up the steep, sandy slope of this 240-foot-tall dune.

If you’re there with kids, they will probably run up and tumble back down the dune a half dozen times in the time it takes you to make one trip up, but that’s all part of the fun.

Once you make it to the top, you’ll have commanding views of the coastline from north to south. Just be sure to stay away from the edges of the bluff, as they are very unstable. A few visitors each year take a tumble and have to be rescued from the pounding surf below.

Grab Breakfast at the Town’s Grateful Dead Themed Bakery

Pacific City’s small downtown truly feels like a local spot, as it is home to coffee shops, a grocery store, the library, etc., rather than a bunch of tourist shops.

One of our favorite places to stop in downtown Pacific City is at the Grateful Bread Bakery. This charming bakery has been serving up baked goods and hearty breakfasts to locals for over 30 years and have shown no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

Explore Bob Straub State Park

A white dog with a black eye patch at Bob Straub State Park
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Located on the south end of town, Bob Straub State Park covers nearly 500 acres of land where the Nestucca River flowers into the Pacific Ocean.

This area is popular with hikers, horseback riders, and fishermen looking to try their luck at catching one of the monster king salmon that return each year to the Nestucca to spawn.

Bring your hiking shoes and some water if you plan to walk the length of the park, as the trails here are covered in loose sand, which makes the trek more difficult than you might expect.

Stop by Pelican Brewing Company

Surfer on Pacific Ocean
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Pelican’s brewpub in Pacific City offers one of the best views of any brewery or restaurant in the state. Situated right on the edge of the beach, you get commanding views of Haystack Rock, the dory boats, fishermen, and surfers riding the waves offshore.

Try a glass of their iconic Kiwanda ale. You won’t be disappointed.

About the author
Derek Carlson
Pacific Northwest native, cross-country skier, hiker, mountain biker, wannabe fly fisherman, writer and owner of Roam the Northwest