Summer is just around the corner in Oregon. I can feel it. The trees are starting to blossom with fragrant flowers and every now and then I feel a warm breeze pass by. I’m no longer commuting to/from work in the dark and it’s not the end of the world if I leave a jacket and umbrella at home. To me, the summer is when Oregon begins to feel like the Oregon I’ve had a crush on my entire life. And in my own humble opinion there is no better place to kick-off Oregon summer than with a trip to the Oregon coast. If you find yourself on the south end of the Northern Oregon coast (after a stop at the Tillamook Cheese Factory, of course) check out some of these spots that will surely get you outdoors and in the Oregonian summer spirit.
Three Capes Scenic Loop (for a detailed route description, but also stop by the Tillamook Chamber of Commerce for a driving map)
Just outside of downtown Tillamook is the start of a breathtaking driving route called the “Three Capes Scenic Loop.” The route is roughly 40 miles along one of the most spectacular stretches of the Oregon coast, through Tillamook Bay, the Bay Ocean Spit, Cap Mears, Oceaside, Netarts Bay, Cape Lookout, Sandlake’s dunes, Kiwanda State Park and Pacific City. There is so much to explore at every turn. Don’t forget your camera!
Kilchis Point Reserve
Hike your way through the rich history of a site that was once the home of the largest Native American village on the Northern Oregon Coast, the home of Tillamook County’s first pioneer settler Joe Champion as well as the place where the Morning Star (the ship you see on the front of every Tillamook package) was built.
Cape Mears + Sitka Spruce Tree
There are few spots on the Oregon coast more beautiful than the view from this lighthouse. Take the short (but steep!) walk from the parking lot to explore the lighthouse and soak in the views. Don’t forget to take a short trail to see the enormous Sitka spruce tree, known as the Octopus Tree, and can be traced back to ceremony and traditions of the earliest Indian settlers.
There are some parts of Tillamook best explored by water. And with five estuaries, four bays and seemingly endless sloughs and inlets, this area is one of them! Rent a kayak and hire a guide to explore miles and miles of waterways.
Whale Watching at Cape Lookout
If you decide to make the 5-mile round trip hike to the end of Cape Lookout I can guarantee you won’t be disappointed. Bring your binoculars and settle into a seat to watch a likely show from grey wales.
Tillamook Forest Center
On Highway 6 your way in or out of Tillamook stop by the Tillamook Forest Center for hands-on activities and interpretive exhibits that teach guests about sustainable forest management.
Dunes at Cape Kiwanda
As you make you way along the Three Capes Scenic Loop make a pit stop at Cape Kiwanda to do a classic Oregon beach move: the sand dune climb. The moment I start the race to the top of the dune I’m instantly reconnected with my childhood. If racing to the top of a sand dune isn’t your thing consider renting an ATV.
Munson Creek Falls
Just seven miles south of Tillamook is an impressive 319-foot waterfall, the tallest in the coast range. The waterfall is just a ½ mile hike off the parking area, unless you want to venture up to the upper trail for spectacular views at the summit.
If your summer visit to Tillamook isn’t as sunny and warm as you had hoped – fear not! It is still a wonderful place to visit if the elements keep you inside. For tips on indoor fun in Tillamook spend a few moments reading this post (link to post #1.)
To learn more about activities, events, restaurants and more in Tillamook visit the local Chamber of Commerce online at or in person at their office, located in Tillamook at 3705 Hwy. 101 North (next to the Tillamook Cheese Factory.)
Guest post written by Mary Cecchini