The Oregon Coast is a solid choice for those who want to escape the city, soak up some sea air, and forget about their real-life responsibilities for a moment, but picking the best coastal destination can be tricky. There are so many towns lining the coastline—all with their own quirks, activities, and sights.
Cannon Beach and Newport are both great choices, and we’ve created this handy overview of both towns to help you decide which to choose!
Choosing between Cannon Beach and Newport
Size, Location, and Vibe
Cannon Beach is a quaint town with a population of just over 1,700 about an hour and a half from Portland. Newport is larger, located 2.5 hours from Portland, with a population of approximately 10,000.
Like any town, each spot has its own unique vibe. Cannon Beach has a relaxing, charming feel that will make you want to curl up on the beach with a book or take a leisurely stroll to the art galleries in town. Newport has a strong beach-town vibe with a highly active bayfront and more family-friendly activities, which can keep visitors busy during rain or shine.
Scenery and Outdoors:
Cannon Beach is home to the famous Haystack Rock, which is a 250-foot basalt formation that towers over the beach and provides locals and tourists with scenic views and photo-ops year-round. For outdoorsy types, Ecola state park is a short 5-minute drive away from town and home to many trails and loops that allow hikers a chance to explore both the forests and beaches. Oswald State Park is also nearby, which has 2,500 acres of mountains, redwood forests, capes, and coves with campsites and 13 miles of trails to explore.
Newport has a vibrant bayfront where you can watch sea lions lounge in the sun (and hear some heated barking discussions!) while fishermen unload their catch from the docks. And Newport’s great for outdoorsy types, too—the Yaquina Bay State Recreation Site is a great place to spend the day if you want a mix of historic monuments and beautiful scenery on a bluff overlooking the ocean. You can picnic, wander the trails, visit a fisherman’s memorial shrine, and look at the historic Yaquina Bay Lighthouse and iconic Yaquina Bridge.
Activities and things to do:
Both towns have unique shopping options, with specialty shops, boutiques, sweet shops, and galleries. While the majority of Cannon Beach’s shops are in close proximity to the town center, there are multiple hot spots for shopping in Newport including the downtown Deco District, Nye Beach, Southbeach, and the Historic Bayfront.
Newport is also considered a bit more “kid-friendly” compared to Cannon Beach because of family-friendly destinations like the Marine Science Center, aquarium, and Pacific Maritime and Heritage Center. And once the family has utterly exhausted itself with all there is to see, you can take a nice break by checking out the latest blockbuster at Newport Cinemas.
Newport’s plethora of indoor activities does not mean it doesn’t have its fair share of outdoor fun. Nye Beach is a great beach if you want to stay in town and Beverly Beach State Park, one of the most popular beaches on the coast, is only a short drive away.
All that being said, if you and the kiddos are set on Cannon Beach, there are a ton of activities that families can enjoy. If the weather is pleasant, consider renting a kite or bike and spend the day playing in the sand! If you want to soak up the beach but not drive anywhere, Haystack rock is a great place to explore in low tide.
If you are looking for indoor activities for the family, Cannon Beach Escape Room is a fun family activity that combines physical activity with puzzle-solving, while your group works together to solve puzzles and gather clues to escape one of the themed rooms.
Cannon Beach is also a great place for art lovers. The town is home to over 10 art galleries, which hosts artworks from local and regional artists. They also have a playhouse where you can see live dramas, comedy shows, and musicals.
The best part about Newport and Cannon Beach? They both have a Hallmark Resort! Both properties are extremely family-friendly and welcome dogs! When you check in with your furry friend you’ll receive a goodie bag with treats, toys and doggy clean-up bags for your stay. Cannon Beach features an amazing spa and at Newport, you can enjoy delicious beachfront dining at Georgie’s Beachside Grill with stunning views.
When you check in, ask your front desk staff for activity recommendations—they’ll be happy to let you know their favorite food spots, beaches, and more!