in partnership
Running on the beach at Manzanita is pretty much required. (Image: Rebecca Mongrain/Seattle Refined)

Making Manzanita Memories

Years ago, I had a co-worker who would rave and rave about Manzanita. She talked about this mythical place on the Oregon Coast that had a quiet beach, a small town full of dog-lovers and delicious restaurants. Her family would spend two weeks every August in Manzanita and it was the highlight of their year. It took me some time but when I finally visited Manzanita, I found everything she reported to be true.

Manzanita is about 4.5 hours from Seattle, just off Highway 101, south of Cannon Beach but north of Tillamook. The turnoff into town is quickly missed if one is not watching. Unlike a lot of towns on the Oregon Coast, you do not pass through the center of Manzanita while traveling on Highway 101. The main street of Laneda Avenue is a bustling thoroughfare though with wide sidewalks for walking and lots of stores and restaurants. The main attraction though is the beach.

Beach Time
Manzanita’s beach stretches for seven soft miles of sand. Mount Neahkahnie frames the beach to the north with Nehalem Bay State Park laying to the south. This quiet beach can draw crowds but is wide enough to allow for quiet reflection. Mornings on the beach are usually fog covered but the sun almost always comes out on summer afternoons. This is a beach for kite-flying, windsurfing, surfing, chasing the waves and enjoying the beautiful sunsets.

Bahama Mama provides equipment for most beach activities from beach bikes to boogie boards and surf boards. They also have your beach clothing covered in case you forgot to pack hats, flip flops or other beachwear.

Sunsets walks along the beach are irresistible for photography lovers looking to capturing the light of the Oregon Coast. I usually take approximately 1 million photos a day when we visit. I tried to cull my photos for this story but couldn’t resist showing off the beauty of Manzanita.

This beach is perfect for families looking to run out their wiggles, couples looking to relax on the sand and active beach lovers looking for the ideal wave.

The main drag of Laneda Avenue is short but packed with locally-owned stores, a spa, restaurants and even a small but well-stocked grocery store.

For those looking to relax, Spa Manzanita provides a place for pampering. With a staff of 12-14, Spa Manzanita has been in business for over 9 years. Stop in for an afternoon of body treatments, facials, manicures, pedicures and more.

The Cloud & Leaf Bookstore is an independent bookstore in the center of town. The staff will gladly provide you with book recommendations and is a great place to browse books.

The old-time candy shop, Manzanita Sweets always draws my family in for afternoon treats. Stocked full of taffy, novelty candies and delectable chocolates, this is a hard shop to resist.

Next door is a delightful shop geared toward children, Toylandia. My kids wanted to spend hours inside and asked to buy every single toy inside the store.

True to Manzanita’s reputation as a dog-lover’s paradise, they even have a shop just for dogs, Four Paws on the Beach. My dog-loving child quickly headed into the store to pet the shop dog and look for gifts for our hypothetical dog.

Then annual festival, Muttzania celebrates dogs on September 17th and 18th with a pet parade, contests, an animal costume contest and demonstrations. It’s a week of dog-gone fun!

Good Eats
Manzanita is a food lovers paradise. There is an amazing pizza joint (sadly now just take-out), Marzano’s Pizza Pie with pizza to rival any big city restaurant. They also have gluten-free options too!

One of my favorite Mexican restaurants is in Manzanita, Left Coast Siesta. Their overly large burritos can fill you up for lunch and dinner. All of the food is fresh, simply made and combined with their friendly staff, makes this a restaurant to stop in for a meal.

Blackbird and!menu/cqj0Neah-Kah-Nie Bistro provide fantastic, local food options that are best enjoyed without children. The Manzanita Coffee Co. provides great cups of coffee and large scoops of Tillamook Ice Cream right next to the beach.

Friday nights in the summer brings The Manzanita Farmers Market with a large variety of restaurant, food and craft vendors. The market gets busy so head there early for the best options and load up on some flats of berries, peaches and other local produce options. My kids quickly found local kids doing face painting for a donation and convinced us to hand over all our money so they could get their faces painted. The results were delightful.

While one could easily spend a week in Manzanita eating good food, reading long books and lounging on the beach, Manzanita is also a place to pack in activities.

SUP Manzanita provides lessons for those learning to paddle board and those looking to improve their skills. Owner Janice Gaines takes people out to the Nehalem River for lessons on glassy smooth water. Boards can be provided and the experience is out of this world.

Hikers will love the Neahkahnie Mountain Trail. Trek to the top of the mountain for breath-taking views of the beach and Tillamook Bay.

Nehalem Bay State Park is just a few miles south of Manzanita and provides miles of beach walks and hikes. It is also the beach most people ride their horses or go for a group horse back ride.

Learn how to Kitesurf with SA Kitesurf. This unique sport is ideal for Manzanita where the lighter wind helps with learning to control a kite safely.

Manzanita is a beach house paradise with plenty of vacation home inventory. We’ve rented various homes from OceanEdge Vacation Rentals for years and have yet to find a bad house. Our favorite house might be the last one we rented which was across the street from the beach and a mere two block walk to the center of town.

Other vacation home rental companies include Manzanita Rental Co. and Sunset Vacation Rentals. Some homes are pet-friendly so make sure to check for pet rules before bringing Fido along. You can save money by coming during non-peak times and foregoing some of the luxury additions like hot tubs or ocean side homes.

For those more interested in hotels, Manzanita has a few small inns. The Inn at Manzanita offers luxury accommodations while Coast Cabins has high-end wood cabins with spas and communal fire pits.

Campsites are available at Nehalem Bay State Park with excellent facilities and activities.