The coast of Oregon is full of small, charming oceanfront towns that are ignored by most tourists. The city of Manzanita, OR is one of these towns. This hidden gem is a great place to visit with many things to do both in town and nearby.
We love Manzanita for its simplicity and beauty. The 7-mile beach, the nearby state parks, the walkable downtown, and the friendly locals all make this town even more attractive. So, if you are planning to explore the Oregon coastline then consider stopping for a night or two.
So, get ready to learn about this coastal town with our full visitor guide to Manzanita, OR. We’ll cover everything from getting there to things to do and even give you recommendations on restaurants and hotels.
Is Manzanita, OR worth visiting?
Let’s start with this simple question: is Manzanita, OR actually worth visiting? In our opinion, yes. This place is perfect for the kind of travelers who want to see quiet, low-key places along the Oregon coast.
Not everyone is looking for bustling tourist centers. So if you are someone who would rather mingle with the locals, and experience Oregon in a more intimate way, then Manzanita will be a good place for you.
In short, if you like ‘slow travel’ then staying a couple of days or even more in Manzanita will be great for you.
Getting to Manzanita
Getting to Manzanita is very easy. US 101 also known as the ‘Oregon Coast Highway’ passes just next to town. Practically impossible to miss. It’s well-signposted, but a landmark near the turn is the Big Wave Cafe.
Coming here from Portland will mean driving around 1 hour and 45 minutes with a distance of 85 miles to cover.
Meanwhile, it’s only around 40 minutes from the town of Tillamook with a driving distance of 26 miles.
Best Things to do in Manzanita, Oregon
Now that we’ve got the basics out of the way it’s time for the fun stuff. Let’s see what are the top things to do in Manzanita, OR.
1. Spend time on Manzanita Beach
One of the best ways to spend time in Manzanita is to actually use the local beach. It’s a beautiful 7-mile stretch of sandy shore.
You can take your dogs out in the open, you can walk barefoot on misty mornings, can light a bonfire under the beautiful night sky, and much more. The possibilities are almost endless.
This is an incredibly beautiful part of the Oregon coastline. You’ll find yourself drawn to the beach for short strolls even if you didn’t plan to spend a lot of time there.
2. Surf the waves of Short Sand Beach
All right, are you ready to get more up-close and personal with the ocean? Then we highly recommend the famous surfing beach of Short Sand Beach. Do note that it’s behind a short hike so this beach is not for everyone.
It’s one of the most beautiful places in Tillamook county. We’ve even featured it as one of the top beaches to visit in Tillamook.
Whether you want another beautiful beach at your disposal or you want to actually ride the waves Short Sand Beach is an amazing location.
3. See Nehalem Bay State Park on horseback
Horseback riding on the beach is a classic Oregon activity. Luckily there’s one company in Manzanita that lets you experience this unique thing to do.
There’s one service provider called Oregon Beach Rides in Manzanita. They are the place if you want to explore the area on horseback.
They offer different lengths of tours. Usually, you will be taken around the local beach, where you have a chance to get to know your horse and take in the scenery. Then you’ll head into Nehalem Bay State Park where you will explore the dunes and sandy landscape.
When it comes to Nehalem Bay State Park, even if you don’t want to do horseback riding, it’s a nice place to see. The sand dunes are beautiful and there are plenty of walking trails available.
4. Hike in Oswald West State Park
Oswald West State Park is the state park that is home to Short Sand Beach. However, if you want to look past the beach there’s so much more to explore here.
There are beautiful hiking trails that will take you through picturesque nature. You can hike up to Blumenthal Falls and the Cape Falcon Lookout which provides some of the best views of the Oregon coast.
There’s also the Elk Flats Trail which ends at Elk Flats Rock a scenic spot of the beautifully rugged and rocky shore.
The Neah-Kah-Nie Mountain Trail is also popular among tourists and locals alike. The viewpoint at the top of the mountain is simply jaw-dropping.
5. Shopping and more on Laneda Ave
Manzanita, OR has a great and walkable downtown. It’s on Laneda Avenue and it’s a nice place for shopping, eating, or grabbing your morning brew.
The small street is lined with local businesses so this is definitely the place where you should spend your money if you want to support the community. Laneda Ave also houses the Visitor’s Center for Manzanita where you can learn about current events nearby and grab some good offers for tourists.
Two places we’ve loved on Laneda Ave for going out are The Winery at Manzanita and MacGregor’s Whiskey Bar. Both of them are great and as their names suggest they cater to different crowds. If you are looking for a fun evening you can visit these.
6. Explore the picturesque Hug Point State Recreation Site
Hug Point State Recreation Site is definitely among the most beautiful parks on the coast if you ask us. Trails of the park will take you around the best places to explore inside and most of them end right on the coast.
The coast is sandy, and rocky, and has multiple waterfalls. It’s a picturesque place so get ready to fill your Instagram with amazing photos.
7. How about a game of tennis or golf?
When it comes to sports there are some local opportunities in Manzanita, OR. There’s the Hallensted Park Tennis Court where you can play a few games of tennis in a beautiful environment.
Then you can go over to Manzanita Links which is the golf course of the city. It’s a small 9-hole course but let us assure you that the scenery more than makes it up for the small size.
8. Fishing, crabbing, and kayaking
Another classic activity that you can do in Oregon is taking to the ocean. Two of the most popular charters are fishing and crabbing charters. You’ll learn how to catch fish or crabs directly from the ocean.
If you want something more relaxing then you may as well try kayaking. Renting a kayak and paddling up the beautiful Nehalem River is surely something that will stay with you as a great memory.
The easiest place to rent or to sign up for a tour nearby is Wheeler Marina. It’s just a short 5-minute drive away.
9. Visit the legendary Cannon Beach
Cannon Beach is a beautiful spot on the Oregon Coast. It is well-known for its long, sandy beach and Haystack Rock which is a summertime haven for tufted puffins.
It’s a great place near Manzanita, OR and it’s perfect if you are looking for a day trip. Although it’s another small town on the coast you can expect it to be much busier. In reality, the two towns are very similar, but somehow Cannon Beach became more popular throughout the years of tourism in the area.
How many days to spend in Manzanita?
Manzanita is an ideal stop on a longer Orgeon coast exploration itinerary. In this case, we recommend 2 to 3 days in town. It should be enough to experience the feel and atmosphere of the place and not get bored.
However, if you are looking for a place to truly unwind, relax, and just forget about the everyday hassles, then you can easily spend a week-long vacation in Manzanita. Take it slow, enjoy the coast, enjoy the local attractions and take tons of photos.
Our favorite restaurants in Manzanita
Now, we’ll give you some nice restaurant recommendations in Manzanita. Of course, many of the local restaurants are excellent so it was hard to pick out some, but we do have our favorites.
The restaurant called Yolk in Manzanita, OR is probably one of the best places in town. It’s quite a recent addition to the restaurant scene as they have first opened in 2018.
Yolk is a breakfast and lunch restaurant. They try to keep everything always fresh and this results in excellent food quality. So, hop in for some scrambled eggs in the morning or maybe enjoy some seafood a bit later.
Big Wave Cafe
Another restaurant we loved in Manzanita is Big Wave Cafe. You might remember that this is the place that marks the turn at US 101 and well, it’s not just a landmark, it’s also a great place to eat.
We highly recommend you get seafood here. From soups to main dishes they have some amazing meals that tasted really good.
Where to stay in Manzanita?
Finally, we’ve prepared two great places where you can stay during your Manzanita visit. Of course, there are multiple great spots in town so make sure to look at other hotels and apartments as well.
Coast Cabins is a 4-star hotel in Manzanita, OR. They offer small cabins for your stay and they pride themselves as kind of a boutique hotel. We can attest that the experience does feel unique and we loved the little cabins.
First of all, the views from most of the cabins are very pretty. They’ve got great amenities and even hot tubs. The only downside is that the beach is not very close.
The Houses On Manzanita Beach
If you want an oceanfront property for your stay or if you are looking for a longer stay then our vote goes for The Houses On Manzanita Beach. They’ve got multiple small houses and cabins on the oceanfront.
From smaller ones that sleep four to bigger ones that can accommodate up to 10 people, this place is a great pick. The houses themselves are nicely furnished and they are a pleasure to be in. And of course, you can step out of your vacation home and be on the beautiful beach in an instant.
Manzanita, OR – FAQ
Manzanita is mainly known for its 7 miles of beach and the beautiful sand dunes nearby.
It’s 7 miles long.