Consider the TikTok travel influencer jetting to Europe and Asia, embarking on glamorous adventures on sleeper buses and bullet trains, backpacks ready and views everywhere.
Consider this: you can pack a bag and walk out your door, even today, and have your own glamorous transit adventure in a dreamy location, with no plane required.
Cannon Beach is a delightful seaside village next to arguably Oregon’s biggest Instagram star: Haystack Rock. And a very nice bus takes you there twice a day from Portland, Beaverton and Hillsboro.
On a recent late fall day, I left my house before dawn with a backpack and a three-year-old in a collapsible stroller, and we set off on our sweet little trip.
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Taking public transport is one of the true perks of living in a city. You can go pretty much anywhere in Portland and the surrounding area for $2.50. is it perfect no Is it an amazing resource available to everyone? Yes.
So we walked (or strolled, depending) to our nearest bus stop. Because it was Sunday and with a three-year-old you need to bulk up a bit if you want to be on time everywhere, we were 23 minutes early, which meant walking a few stops and watching the sun rise.
I’m sure someone, somewhere, will say that the time restrictions that the Transit brings make it impossible to do with children, but in turn these restrictions add to the fun – a ride on the Transit has parameters, that limit options and force you to make decisions and a plan before you go. There is no such thing as waking up late on the street when children are screaming from car seats, feeling stressed and rushed. You… just leave early to make sure you’re on time. No stress. And kids love buses almost everywhere.
At least my kid Nona loves a bus. She was happy to saddle up and head downtown, and even happier when her grandparents (my parents) got on at a few stops later.
You could do this trip with one adult per child, but I find vacations are more fun when the adult to child ratio increases. Also, my parents are experts in public transport and I enjoy spending time with them.
Together the four of us got off the city bus downtown and then walked through Old Town to Union Station. Again we were a bit early but that meant extra time to walk around the station and get hot drinks for the adults.
The Point Bus Northwest route runs from Portland to Astoria with five stops along the coast. The bus itself is a nice coach with comfortable seats and a small bathroom. The journey takes less than two hours and, unlike a car trip, takes zero years of your life.
Purchase bus tickets through Amtrak.
Nona played with some toys, snuggled in a few times, and used the bus restroom.
When we got to Cannon Beach, we got off the bus and headed to the Hallmark Resort and Spa (1400 S. Hemlock St.). I chose the Hallmark because it’s outside of tsunami territory, high on a bluff across from Haystack Rock with beach access. (“Wow,” Nona said upon seeing the view.)
They also serve warm cookies at check in which I didn’t notice started at 4pm
Since it wasn’t 11am, we put ourselves on an early check-in list, dropped some bags, and walked down Hemlock Street, Cannon Beach’s main drag, in search of food.
We opted for rooftop fish and chips and clam chowder at the Ecola Seafood Restaurant & Market (208 N. Spruce St.). The day was sunny and surprisingly warm and both the salmon and halibut were crispy on the outside and slipping apart on the inside, everything fish and chips should be. The clam chowder was good too, and the toasted, buttery garlic bread reminded me of Mo’s when I was a kid in the best possible way.
The food isn’t cheap — $26 for a four-piece halibut fish and chips — but there’s not much cheap food in Cannon Beach or anywhere else these days.
After lunch, we strolled over to Bruce’s Candy Kitchen (256 N. Hemlock St.), an outrageous sugar blast that was a highlight for the youngest member of our group. We bought several items, including a pumpkin-shaped chocolate, which she happily munched on for the next fifteen minutes while we took turns pushing the stroller on the hard sand at the beach.
Our room wasn’t ready, so we stopped at the Bald Eagle Coffee House (1064 S. Hemlock St.), a functional but cute little coffee shop connected to an art gallery. The woman behind the counter was absolutely lovely and made a ‘lukewarm’ vanilla steamer for the youngest, decaffeinated coffee for the oldest and a black tea for me.
The weather continued to be the star of the show — a sunny day on the Oregon Coast is better than a million-dollar lottery jackpot win — and we sat outside and watched the pedestrian traffic on Hemlock Street.
After a quick round of Cannon Beach Book Company (130 N. Hemlock St.) the hotel called and said our room was ready. So we went back to Hemlock.
Our room at the Hallmark was cozy and inviting, with a huge comfortable bed, a gas fireplace, and a small side window overlooking the beach. But we didn’t hang around long. Instead, we put on bathing suits and went to the indoor pool.
The Hallmark has a main pool with a small, 12-inch deep side pool “for little kids,” as Nona noted. They also have two hot tubs (one hotter and away from the main pool) and an adults-only sauna.
We went back and forth between hot tubs and the pool, enjoying the plethora of watery options.
After the pool we dried off and changed into clean clothes to head down the beach for dinner.
Cannon Beach is epic walkable, and who really wants a car when you can walk down a world-class beach from many hotels to downtown where most groceries are located?
So we walked down the beach, occasionally carrying the three-year-old, and then turned off to go to the Driftwood Restaurant & Lounge (179 N. Hemlock St.).
The Driftwood has a beautiful terrace, but unfortunately minors are not allowed. Doesn’t matter. The inside is full of wood and (electric) candles and vibrations. The restaurant is 75 years old and it’s the kind of place your grandpa would love, but so will you.
My parents split shrimp Louis, Nona had a grilled cheese, and I opted for the prime rib and shrimp special. All dishes deserve good marks. My prime rib was really rare, tender and delicious, especially with the horseradish sauce. The Pinot Noir from Pete’s Mountain of West Linn was a great complement, although I couldn’t finish such a huge glass. The cocktails my parents tried—a ginger mule and an old fashioned—were strong but delicious.
After dinner we walked back to the hotel along the beach in the dark. There was almost no moon and only two bonfires on the beach. Haystack Rock was still visible, black against the sky, and stars and planets twinkled.
We snuggled into the cozy bed, cheered and watched some hotel TV (another highlight for Nona) before falling asleep.
In the morning, Nona took a dip in the hot tub in my parents’ room while I walked down another dark, empty beach to Cannon Beach Bakery (240 N. Hemlock St.) for breakfast.
I selected a blueberry muffin, a chocolate muffin, a slice of pumpkin bread, and a Marionberry scone, all of which were enjoyed by the crowd at the hotel.
We didn’t have too much time for the lolly gag as the bus leaves again at Cannon Beach at 9:20am. So we checked out and went to another cafe to buy more pastries because you should always have some on the go. Sleepy Monk Coffee Roasters (1235 S. Hemlock St. A).
There are many things to recommend about the Sleepy Monk – it’s right next to the Point bus pick-up stop, it has great outdoor seating with a view of Hemlock, the coffee is good (according to my parents), the vanilla steamer is good (according to my daughter) and the orange and chocolate scone is very good (in my opinion).
It wasn’t long before we were back on the bus, having snacks and naps, and then back to Portland, on Trimet, and home. A really relaxing and beautiful trip, all made possible by the fact that I didn’t have to spend a second driving.
– Lizzy Acker
503-221-8052; [email protected]; @lizzyacker
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