Late summer and early to mid-autumn is one of the best times to visit the Oregon coast, with the weather often idyllic and few crowds. Fall is the warmest time of the year here, due to the interaction between the water that was warmed by the sun, cooler temperatures inland and air flows from the east. What better way to take advantage of it than a picnic? There are a number of fantastic spots, but these are truly the best of the best.
Bring a blanket, a picnic basket filled with delicious food, and don’t forget your binoculars and your camera.
Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach
Haystack Rock is a famous landmark – you’ve probably seen it in films like “The Goonies” and “Kindergarten Cop.” Here you can not only enjoy a picnic on the beach, but you can also explore tide pools, watch for nesting puffins from early spring to early summer, or even catch a glimpse of migrating gray whales.
The Rock is protected as a wildlife refuge and a seabird nesting colony. Conservationists encourage visitors to look closely, touch gently and step carefully, taking only pictures.
Ecola State Park, Cannon Beach
Ecola State Park boasts a number of idyllic picnic spots. Follow Ecola Park Road from Cannon Beach through old growth rainforest and end with spectacular views of the Pacific and Tillamook lighthouse. Picnic tables are situated in a grassy area on the cliffs, and often times elk can be seen grazing in the meadows.
Oswald West State Park, Arch Cape
Further down the coast, about 10 miles south of Cannon Beach is Oswald State Park. It hosts a beautiful beach cove that serves as a magical picnic spot. Smuggler’s Cove and the surrounding mountains help to protect the area from winds, making your picnic even more enjoyable. On the north end of the park, you can take pictures of a cascading waterfall, or take a short walk to Cape Falcon overlook.
At Yaquina Bay you can enjoy picturesque views of the ocean and the lighthouse close enough to the water that you can feel the mist while you’re nibbling on that fruit and cheese platter.
Jessie M. Honeyman Memorial Park
If you don’t want to picnic in the sand, Jessie M. Honeyman Memorial Park offers sandy beaches along the Pacific as well as grassy areas at the edge of a lake where you can enjoy your meal and go for a refreshing dip in the water too.
Face Rock State Park
If you want a breathtaking view of the South Coast’s magnificent rock formations, visit Face Rock State Park, where there are a number of stunning vantage points and picnic spots along the clifftops. A short trail will bring you down to the beach where you can walk for miles in either direction.
K.C. Dermody is the author of hundreds of travel articles both online and in print as well as the author of the “Best Travel Guide for First Time Visitors to Ireland.” She has traveled throughout the world and has a passion for imparting what she has learned from her experiences to others, but always appreciates coming home to the beautiful Olympic Peninsula in Washington State.