Manzanita Beach: Where to Eat & What to Expect
Manzanita may be one of the best-kept secrets of the northern Oregon Coast. Perhaps it’s because Highway 101 only skirts the very edge of the quaint downtown area of this small coastal town. Maybe it’s because people get to the end of Highway 26 and don’t feel the need to venture beyond the Coke or Pepsi binary of Seaside and Cannon Beach.
Whatever the reason, Manzanita is largely left without crowds for most of the year and only suffers a fraction of the weekend population explosions that its more northerly sisters go through all summer.
Where to Stay in Manzanita, OR
Nehalem Bay State Park
Occupying the several acres of the Nehalem Spit between the Pacific and Nehalem Bay, this state park features many ADA accessible features, showers, playground equipment, a boat ramp, hiking, places to fish, an equestrian area, and other recreational opportunities.
The campground has 265 sites that offer electricity and water, eighteen yurts (two of which are pet friendly), a hiker biker camp, and its own airstrip with primitive fly-in sites. Best of all, the park is right outside downtown Manzanita, so you can walk up the beach to get to restaurants and shops.
The Awtrey House Bed and Breakfast
The Awtrey House is a beautiful, modern B & B located just outside the North end of town on the way up Neahkahnie Mountain. Built by architect Dennis Cutler for host and former NBA basketball star (yes he was a Trail Blazer for a while) Dennis Awtrey, The Awtrey House has two guest rooms.
Each guest room has its own private terrace with a panoramic view of the Pacific, a woodstove, a soaking tub, overhead rain shower, a king-sized bed, a writer’s desk, and many other amenities. And yes, you do get an amazing breakfast if you stay there! Book early though, as the house’s guest rooms are usually reserved well in advance of summer weekends.
Sunset Surf Motel
If you need a bed to sleep on and don’t own an RV, and if you’d prefer proximity to the beach over luxury accommodations and chic surroundings, then the Sunset Surf Motel should be on your list. Located right across the street from the beach at the end of Manzanita’s main drag, this spot could be just the place for you.
Where to Eat in Manzanita
One of the only places on the Oregon Coast for contemporary fine dining, Blackbird offers guests a menu worthy of many of the top restaurants in Portland. The menu changes frequently, but always features great salads and starters, excellent options to share, and seafood and meat entrees well beyond what you believed you could get on the coast, and at a reasonable price.
One of the better restaurants on the Oregon Coast, the Neah-Ka-Nie Bistro serves up quality steaks, seafood, and small plates seven nights a week to regulars and tourists. They have a nice little craft cocktail program, an excellent wine list, and one of the area’s nicest patios for dining al fresco when the sun is shining.
Sand Dune Pub
With a menu that’s loaded with bar classics and standard coastal fare, the Sand Dune Pub is a big favorite with locals and visitors alike. Only two blocks from the beach, this local hot spot features live music on weekends during the high season, a fantastic outdoor patio, and multiple local craft beers on tap.
Manzanita’s Local Attractions (Beyond the Beach and Shops in Town)
The hike to the summit of 1600-foot Neahkahnie Mountain is moderate in intensity with only fourteen-hundred feet of elevation gain over the trail’s five and a half miles. With sweeping views of undeveloped segments of the Oregon Coast, old growth stands sheltering trees that are older than the nation, and wild flowers that are hard to find anywhere else in the world, this hike is well worth the $0 cost of admission, and whatever time and effort it takes to reach the summit.
One of the least populated beaches on the entire northern half of the Oregon Coast, Short Sands in nearby Oswald West State Park requires that you walk a paved half-mile through impressive stands of coastal Douglas fir, Western Red Cedar, and Hemlock to get there. But what you get in return is a beach nestled in a cove sheltered by massive rock formations on both its north and south sides. A big draw for those just learning to surf and families looking for gentle, predictable waves on the Oregon Coast (a difficult thing to find at times), Short Sands almost never feels overcrowded, no matter how many people brave the short walk to the beach.
Get in on Manzanita While You Can
Manzanita is named for a native word that literally means “hole in the sky,” and it lives up to its namesake. With Neahkahnie Mountain sheltering it from the storms that soak most of the Oregon Coast in the off-season, Manzanita has remarkably mild weather year-round. With a beautiful beach and campground right in town, a host of great shops and restaurants, quaint and affordable accommodations and great outdoor recreational opportunities just outside of town, Manzanita could blow up at any time. Make sure you get your taste of it before that happens!
[Photo Credits: Flickr; Oregon State Parks; Sunset Surf Motel; Blackbird; Wikimedia Commons]