Growing up in Oregon, my family and I spent many summer vacations at a large beach house in the (formerly) sleepy coastal town of Manzanita. A few things stand out about those trips: Hiking to Oswald West State Park, walking around town and Nehalem Bay, and climbing the sand dunes. Okay, also the time I sliced my toe open on the beach and had to get 8 stitches on the first day of vacation. But that’s another story.
Manzanita is the Perfect Weekend Getaway
I recently returned to Manzanita for an extended weekend, something I hadn’t done since 19...mumble-mumble. The town has changed (there was definitely NOT an Oregon Coast Cannabis store back then), but it still has the same beachy charm I remember. The main drag is packed full of little shops and restaurants, including a wine bar AND a whiskey bar. So, options. I, however, decided we should do as the locals do. An afternoon beer at the Sand Dune Pub. While it was stormy outside and the streets were empty, the pub was full and warm. They have plenty of beers on tap, bar food, and kitschy coastal decor. My idea of a perfect beach tavern.
Strolling Through Charming Manzanita
No trip to the beach would be complete without coffee and book buying. For our coffee and baked goods in Manzanita, we chose Bread and Ocean, conveniently located next door to Cloud & Leaf Bookstore, where, my parents informed me, they had purchased a copy of ‘Millions of Cats’ when I was only eight. Maybe that’s why the bookstore felt familiar (or maybe that’s because we spend a lot of time in bookstores). The entrance draws you in with an elaborate trellis full of passionflower. Hard to pass up. So we didn’t.
My husband and I spent our stormy weekend on the coast with my parents and mother-in-law, not exactly the crowd that wants to climb Neah-Kah-Nee Mountain, but still fans of the great outdoors. Lucky for us, our Airbnb was located just blocks from Nehalem Bay State Park.
The park is full of flat, paved trails through the woods and camp sites. Even in February there were plenty of people camping in RVs and Yurts. Sign me up for Manzanita yurt camping in winter -- they have electric heat!
Sand Dunes at Manzanita on the Oregon Coast
Then there are the DUNES! When I was little, we spent hours climbing around in the dunes outside of our favorite beach house. The trails wind up and over the hills for ages. After all these years, I think I expected them to be different, smaller maybe. I was so happy to find that they are still as inviting as ever. Just stepping onto one of the sandy pathways makes you want to take off running (though running in sand is torture). Even my mom ran up a dune like a kid.
Though the weather on this trip was too stormy for a picnic hike to Oswald West State Park (guess we’ll have to go back!), the town of Manzanita offers plenty of ways to spend your time. Between downpours of rain and hail, run up and down a few sand dunes for good measure.