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Dreaming of Travel: Manzanita

A new Oregon coast book inspires us to look ahead to better, beachier days


We can’t travel yet, but we can dream.

In this second excerpt from the new book “Day Trips to the Oregon Coast: Getaway Ideas for the Local Traveler,” by Bend author Kim Cooper Findling, take a mental trip to Manzanita, one of the most-loved cities on the northern Oregon Coast.

Manzanita is a beloved destination for many longtime visitors. Like Cannon Beach, Manzanita is an artsy town with a wide sandy beach, easy walkability, and oodles of charming wood-shake buildings. But Manzanita is just a little bit smaller and a little bit mellower than its cousins to the north. As a destination, it flew under the radar for a while, and while the town has most definitely been discovered now, it holds its quiet past. It’s easy to feel relaxed and comfortable wandering around this small, lovely town.

Manzanita, the apple of many people's eyes on the Oregon coast. - COURTESY KIM COOPER FINDLING
  • Courtesy Kim Cooper Findling
  • Manzanita, the apple of many people's eyes on the Oregon coast.

A lot of the appeal has to do with Manzanita’s singular charm. Maybe it’s the single street that leads from Highway 101 directly to the ocean. Nearly everything shop- and service-wise in Manzanita is located on Laneda Avenue, the town’s main business street. It leads to the sea and a large, flat beach just begging for a stroll.

Maybe it’s the lovely green landscaping around town. You’ll see examples of the town’s namesake plant on Laneda, too—look for the clumps of small, shiny green leaves that indicate manzanita. Maybe it’s the welcoming locals selling beach-friendly items and tasty treats to happy coastal visitors. Maybe it’s Neah-Kah-Nie Mountain towering protectively over the beach from the north. Maybe it’s all of the above. Whatever the source of the charm, Manzanita is an easy place to be and a difficult place to leave. 
Where to Go:

Oswald West State Park. Five miles north of Manzanita; oregonstateparks.org. Named for the 14th governor of Oregon, Oswald West State Park is a favorite destination for wildlife viewing, tide pooling, and surfing. A quarter-mile walk from US 101 through an old growth forest of spruce and cedar will take you to Short Sands Beach, one of the loveliest beach coves on the Oregon Coast and a very popular surfing spot. Sheltered by high cliffs on both ends and surrounded by well-preserved coastal forest, “Shorty’s,” as the locals call it, is a beloved beach by many. Several other trails lead to the Cape Falcon overlook or to the Oregon Coast Trail. Oswald West also offers many picnic locations, but no camping.
  • Courtesy Kim Cooper Findling

Cloud and Leaf. This little bookstore is everything a bookstore should be, with nooks, crannies, and books galore. You’ll also find plenty of Oregon authors’ works here, from memoir to young adult fiction to everything in between.

Bahama Mama’s Bikes, Boards and Beach Fare. Manzanita’s only bike and surfboard rental shop offers fat tire bikes, sit down cruisers, surfboards, paddleboards, and boogie boards for rent or sale. Cruise the beach in style, or just pick up a hat, towel, sunglasses or other beach goods.

MacGregor’s Whiskey Bar. The bartending wizards at MacGregor’s can whip up anything you desire, though the focus is on the over 140 bottles of whiskey they keep on hand. Great food including traditional Scottish favorites and meat and cheese platters keeps you from getting hungry. Consider visiting on Thursday, which is trivia night.

Spindrift Inn. Built in 1946, Spindrift Inn still retains quaint charm and cozy appeal with beachy, comfortable decor. Affordable rooms open onto a private inner flower garden, where you can relax away from the bustle outside. Quilted bedspreads and kitchenettes make this place cozy and convenient.

See the first installment in this series, on Astoria, Oregon, here.

Excerpted from “Day Trips to the Oregon Coast: Getaway Ideas for the Local Traveler,” Globe Pequot Press, April 2020.

Available for mail order from Central Oregon bookstores: dudleysbookshopcafe.com, roundaboutbookshop.com and paulinaspringsbooks.com.

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