The Oregon Coast: Exploring Tillamook


The Tillamook County line runs south of Neskowin and north of Manzanita; a 1.5 hour span along Highway 101. The town of Tillamook is perhaps the most well known destination within the region; made famous by the Tillamook Cheese Factory and the many farms that feed into the local dairy cooperative.

Tillamook is built up along the southern end of Tillamook Bay and is somewhat inland compared to seaside cities running up and down the Western edge of the state. Highway 101 cuts through the middle of downtown Tillamook and is bisected by Highway 6, one of the major arteries feeding to the coast from Interstate 5 and greater Portland.

To experience the Oregon Coast, take the Three Capes Scenic Loop north along the bay and follow signs leading to the Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint. This free attraction features the Cape Meares Lighthouse, Oregon’s shortest lighthouse, the tallest sitka spruce tree in the State, and an Octopus Tree named after its tentacle-like appearance.

Continue south along the Cape Meares Loop Road and enjoy miles of sandy beaches in picturesque Oceanside. Netarts Bay is popular with paddlers, crabbers, clammers, and beachcombers. If you hunt for your dinner, be sure to pick up an Oregon State Clamming and Crabbing license (available annually or just for the weekend).

If you are traveling with kids, fun options are Bay Breeze Mini Golf, the Tillamook Air Museum, and the Tillamook Forest Center. Blue Harbor French Cheese advertises a petting farm, but know that the experience is less hands-on than everyone might expect.

Tip: Read this story for seven fun places to explore in Tillamook with your kids in tow. 

Look for the turnoff to Munson Creek Falls just south of Tillamook. Cascading 319 feet to the valley floor, Munson Creek Falls is the tallest waterfall in the Coast Range. Follow the ¼ mile hike back to a viewing platform (this is an easy walk for kids). If your car has low clearance, take it slow. There’s also not a lot of room to make a turnaround in the trailhead parking lot.

Heading south, Wheeler Bay is another popular paddling destination. Elk and seal are often sighted on the banks of Nehalem Bay. If you antique, make sure and check out some of the store around the small downtown district. Creative Fabrics is a destination quilting store located right on Highway 101. Rising Star Café remains one of our favorite restaurants in the region.

End the day in Rockaway Beach, a popular summertime destination for building sand castles, flying kites, and Hawaiian shaved ice. Board a historic steam locomotive train at the Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad depot near the Rockaway Beach Chamber of Commerce. Or simply browse for souvenir t-shirts and shells in the many shops lining both sides of Highway 101. If you’re looking for an authentic, locally made trip memento, stroll down to Ring of Fire Glassworks on the south side of town.

End a perfect day watching the sun sink into the Pacific Ocean from anywhere on the seven-mile long beach.


About the Author

Julie Henning
Julie Henning is a freelance writer and journalist based out of Eugene, Oregon. She is a member of the Society of American Travel Writers and owner of the family-travel website RoadTripsForFamilies.com. She is a recent past member of the Midwest Travel Writers Association and the Association for Great Lakes Outdoor Writers. Julie is the Oregon Coast destination specialist for Bindu Media, an itinerary-focused website launching in Spring 2016 and featuring the work of 200+ professional, indie travel writers. Julie has been published in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Wisconsin State Journal, The Daily Journal (Kankakee, Illinois), the Rochester Post Bulletin, Wisconsin Natural Resources (DNR) Magazine, Sustainable Chicago Magazine, Group Tour Magazine, Student Group Tour Magazine, Silent Sports Magazine, Intercom Magazine, Roadtrippers.com, and FTF Geocacher Magazine. Julie has appeared on Wisconsin Public Radio, Ohio Public Radio, and KCBX FM Central Coast Radio and is an affiliate producer with the Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer, a National Public Radio travel podcast. She has blogged for TravelWisconsin.com, Travel Oregon, and VISIT Milwaukee. Julie travels with her three kids and black lab as much as possible and lives by the motto, "Not all who wander are lost." Check out some of her best work at www.juliehenning.com.