10 Best Things to Do in Rockaway Beach Oregon

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Rockaway Beach is a charming small town on the northern Oregon coast, 25 miles south of Cannon Beach. It has a long history of attracting tourists who come here to enjoy the many attractions and activities along the coast. In this blog post, I will share with you the 10 best things to do in Rockaway Beach, based on my personal experience.

10 Best Things to Do in Rockaway Beach Oregon
10 Best Things to Do in Rockaway Beach Oregon

Join me as we explore the bucket list-worthy ‘things to do in Rockaway Beach Oregon’. Each paragraph will unfold a new corner of the town, compelling you to leave behind the familiar and dive headfirst into the alluring rhythm of Rockaway Beach.

Visiting Oregon? Consider reading: Best Things to Do at Cannon Beach

List of 10 Best Things to Do in Rockaway Beach Oregon

Explore Rockaway Beach WaysideA scenic beachfront park with picnic areas and breathtaking views
Take a stroll along Rockaway BeachEnjoy a leisurely walk along the sandy shores of Rockaway Beach
Visit the Oregon Coast Scenic RailroadTake a ride on a historic steam train and admire the coastal views
Go crabbing at Nehalem BayCatch Dungeness crabs and enjoy a day of crabbing
Discover the Twin RocksMarvel at the iconic Twin Rocks formation off the coast
Take a hike in the Tillamook State ForestExplore nature trails and enjoy the lush greenery
Enjoy water sports at Lake LytleGo kayaking, paddleboarding, or fishing on this serene lake
Visit the Garibaldi MuseumLearn about the local history and maritime heritage of Garibaldi
Go fishing in the Pacific OceanCharter a fishing boat and try your luck at deep-sea fishing
Take a scenic drive along the Three Capes LoopExperience stunning coastal scenery and visit Cape Meares, Cape Lookout, and Cape Kiwanda
Things to Do in Rockaway Beach Oregon

Exploring the Rockaway Beach Wayside

Rockaway Beach Wayside is the main access point to the beach in the town center. It has a large parking lot, restrooms, picnic tables, and a playground. It is also the site of many events and festivals throughout the year, such as the Rockaway Beach Kite Festival, the Rockaway Beach Pirate Festival, and the Rockaway Beach Fireworks Display. You can find information about these events at the Rockaway Beach Chamber of Commerce.

Rockaway Beach Wayside
Rockaway Beach Wayside – Best Things to Do in Rockaway Beach Oregon

From the wayside, you can enjoy a panoramic view of the beach and the ocean, as well as the iconic Twin Rocks, two massive rock formations that rise from the water about half a mile offshore. You can also walk along the beach in either direction, or rent a bike, a kayak, or a paddleboard from one of the nearby shops.

Rockaway Beach Wayside is the hub of the town and the beach, where you can access various amenities, events, and activities.

Pro-tip: If you’re planning your day around the sunset, pack a picnic basket and a cozy blanket. The sunset view from here is one for Instagram stories.

A Leisurely Stroll along Rockaway Beach

Rockaway Beach is one of the longest and widest beaches on the Oregon coast, stretching for about seven miles from Tillamook Bay to Nehalem Bay. It is part of the Oregon Coast Trail, a scenic hiking route that spans the entire length of the state. The beach is open to the public and offers plenty of space for walking, running, playing, sunbathing, and relaxing. You can also find shells, sand dollars, agates, and other treasures along the shore.

Rockaway Beach
Rockaway Beach – Best Things to Do in Rockaway Beach Oregon

The beach is also a great place to watch wildlife, such as seabirds, seals, whales, and dolphins. You can spot them from the shore, or join a whale watching tour from Garibaldi or Depoe Bay. The best time to see whales is during their migration seasons, from December to January and from March to May.

Rockaway Beach is a beautiful and spacious beach, where you can enjoy nature, recreation, and wildlife.

Pro-tip: To avoid the crowds and truly relish the tranquility, aim to hit the beach early morning or late evening.

Consider reading: Best Things to Do in Florence Oregon

A Ride on the Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad

The Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad is a nonprofit organization that operates a historic steam locomotive between Garibaldi and Rockaway Beach. The train runs on weekends and holidays from May to October, and offers a scenic and nostalgic ride along the coast. You can choose from different types of tickets, such as coach, open air, caboose, or dinner train. You can also book a private charter for special occasions.

Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad
Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad – Best Things to Do in Rockaway Beach Oregon

The train departs from Garibaldi, a small fishing town about four miles south of Rockaway Beach. You can explore the town before or after your ride, and visit attractions such as the Garibaldi Museum, the Garibaldi Maritime Museum, and the Garibaldi Pier. You can also enjoy fresh seafood at one of the local restaurants or markets.

The Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad is a fun and educational way to experience the history and scenery of the coast. Book your tickets online here.

Pro-tip: Keep your camera handy for the section of the journey crossing the Garibaldi estuary; you’ll thank me later!

Crabbing at Nehalem Bay

Nehalem Bay is a large estuary north of Rockaway Beach, where the Nehalem River meets the Pacific Ocean. It is a popular destination for crabbing, fishing, boating, kayaking, and camping. You can catch Dungeness and red rock crabs in the bay, using pots, rings, or traps. You can also fish for salmon, steelhead, perch, and flounder. You can rent or buy crabbing and fishing gear from several marinas and shops around the bay, such as Kelly’s Brighton Marina, Jetty Fishery, and Wheeler Marina.

Nehalem Bay
Nehalem Bay – Best Things to Do in Rockaway Beach Oregon

If you want to stay overnight, you can camp at the Nehalem Bay State Park, which has a campground, a yurt village, a horse camp, and a hiker-biker camp. The park also has a boat ramp, a crab dock, a fish cleaning station, and a nature trail. You can also find other lodging options in the nearby towns of Nehalem, Wheeler, and Manzanita.

Nehalem Bay is a great place to enjoy crabbing, fishing, and other water activities, as well as camping and nature.

Pro-tip: Check the regulations and the best seasons for crabbing to ensure you’re going at the right time. And don’t forget your shellfish license!

Consider reading: Best Things to Do in Gold Beach Oregon

Discovering the Twin Rocks

The Twin Rocks are two massive basalt columns that rise from the ocean about half a mile offshore from Rockaway Beach. They are about 88 feet tall and 340 feet apart, and have a distinctive gap between them. They are one of the most recognizable landmarks on the Oregon coast, and have inspired many legends and stories among the local Native American tribes and the settlers.

Twin Rocks Oregon
Twin Rocks – Best Things to Do in Rockaway Beach Oregon

You can view the Twin Rocks from the beach, or get a closer look by taking a boat, a kayak, or a paddleboard. You can also learn more about the history and geology of the rocks at the International Police Museum in Rockaway Beach, which has a display of fossils, minerals, and artifacts related to the rocks.

The Twin Rocks are a natural wonder and a cultural icon, that you can admire from afar or up close.

Pro-tip: Twin Rocks are best viewed from the southern part of the beach, especially during sunset.

Hiking in the Tillamook State Forest

The Tillamook State Forest is a vast and diverse forest that covers over 350,000 acres in the Coast Range, south of Rockaway Beach. It is home to a variety of wildlife, plants, and ecosystems, as well as historical and recreational sites. You can hike, bike, horseback ride, or drive on more than 200 miles of trails and roads in the forest, and enjoy the scenery, the wildlife, and the fresh air.

Tillamook State Forest
Tillamook State Forest – Best Things to Do in Rockaway Beach Oregon

Some of the popular trails in the forest include the Wilson River Trail, the Gales Creek Trail, the Kings Mountain Trail, and the Elk Mountain Trail. You can also visit the Tillamook Forest Center, a museum and education center that showcases the history, culture, and ecology of the forest. The center has exhibits, a theater, a gift shop, and a suspension bridge over the Wilson River.

The Tillamook State Forest is a rich and diverse forest, where you can explore nature, history, and culture.

Pro-tip: Don’t forget your rain gear! This is Oregon, after all. Also, keep an eye out for the Roosevelt elk often seen grazing in the clearings.

Consider reading: Best Things to Do in Ecola State Park

Water Sports at Lake Lytle

Lake Lytle is a freshwater lake located just east of Rockaway Beach, across Highway 101. It is the largest lake in the area, covering about 65 acres. It is a popular spot for water sports, such as swimming, boating, kayaking, canoeing, water skiing, and jet skiing. You can also fish for trout, bass, perch, and catfish in the lake. You can rent or buy water sports equipment from the Lake Lytle Store, which also sells fishing licenses, bait, and snacks.

Lake Lytle Oregon
Lake Lytle- Best Things to Do in Rockaway Beach Oregon

If you want to stay near the lake, you can find several lodging options, such as motels, cabins, cottages, and vacation rentals. You can also camp at the Lake Lytle RV Park, which has full hookups, restrooms, showers, laundry, and Wi-Fi.

Lake Lytle is a fun and relaxing lake, where you can enjoy water sports and fishing. Kayaking, paddle boarding, or casting a line, the placid waters make for a fantastic day out.

Pro-tip: Rent equipment from the local shops. They’re reasonably priced and save you the hassle of lugging your gear.

Visiting the Garibaldi Museum

The Garibaldi Museum is a small but informative museum that tells the story of Captain Robert Gray, the first American to circumnavigate the globe and the discoverer of the Columbia River. The museum has a replica of Gray’s ship, the Lady Washington, as well as exhibits, artifacts, and models related to his voyages and the maritime history of the region. You can also watch a video presentation and browse the gift shop.

Garibaldi Museum
Garibaldi Museum – Best Things to Do in Rockaway Beach Oregon

The museum is located in Garibaldi, a small fishing town about four miles south of Rockaway Beach. You can combine your visit to the museum with a ride on the Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad, which departs from the same building. You can also explore the town and its attractions, such as the Garibaldi Maritime Museum, the Garibaldi Pier, and the Garibaldi Lighthouse.

The Garibaldi Museum is a fascinating museum that showcases the life and achievements of Captain Robert Gray and the maritime history of the coast. Its engaging exhibits transport you back in time, offering glimpses into Garibaldi’s rich past.

Pro-tip: Make sure to check the operating hours before your visit, as they can vary with the seasons.

Fishing in the Pacific Ocean

The Pacific Ocean offers some of the best fishing opportunities on the Oregon coast, with a variety of fish species and seasons. You can fish from the shore, the pier, the jetty, or a boat, depending on your preference and skill level. You can also join a fishing charter or a fishing guide service, which can provide you with the equipment, the bait, the license, and the expertise you need.

Some of the fish you can catch in the ocean include salmon, halibut, tuna, lingcod, rockfish, and crab. You can also fish for steelhead and trout in the rivers and streams that flow into the ocean, such as the Nehalem River, the Tillamook River, and the Wilson River. You can find information about the fishing regulations, seasons, and limits at the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Summary: The Pacific Ocean is a fisherman’s paradise, where you can catch a variety of fish and enjoy the thrill of the catch. Feeling the tug on the line and battling the strength of a tuna or marlin is adrenaline-packed.

Pro-tip: Always go with a reputable charter company. Also, remember to check the fishing regulations and the best seasons for each species.

Scenic Drive along the Three Capes Loop

The Three Capes Loop, a breathtaking 40-mile scenic drive along the Oregon coast, is an unforgettable experience that weaves through three magnificent capes: Cape Meares, Cape Lookout, and Cape Kiwanda. Each cape offers its unique blend of natural beauty, from stunning ocean vistas and lush forests to diverse wildlife. Along this route, travelers can indulge in a plethora of activities, encompassing historical landmarks, state parks, and local culinary delights.

Three Capes Loop Oregon
Three Capes Loop: Best Things to Do in Rockaway Beach Oregon

Start Your Adventure in Tillamook: A Haven for Cheese Lovers

Your journey begins in the charming town of Tillamook, renowned for its delectable cheese and dairy products. A must-visit is the Tillamook Creamery, where visitors can delve into the art of cheese-making, relish various cheese samples, and purchase delightful souvenirs. Additionally, the Tillamook Air Museum, with its impressive collection of vintage aircraft and intriguing exhibits, is a fascinating stop for history enthusiasts.

Cape Meares: A Blend of History and Natural Splendor

As you embark on the Three Capes Scenic Route from Tillamook, Cape Meares awaits as your first destination. This northernmost cape is home to the historic Cape Meares Lighthouse, dating back to 1890. The cape also boasts the Octopus Tree, an extraordinary Sitka spruce with eight branches stemming from its base. The cape’s hiking trails and viewpoints offer mesmerizing cliffside views, rocky landscapes, and birdwatching opportunities.

Cape Lookout: A Panoramic Paradise

Next on your journey is Cape Lookout, nestled within Cape Lookout State Park. This cape, a slender peninsula extending into the ocean, provides breathtaking panoramic coastal views. For hiking enthusiasts, the 5-mile Cape Lookout Trail offers an invigorating hike leading to the cape’s tip, where you might spot whales, dolphins, and sea lions. The park also features camping facilities, picnic spots, and serene beaches for relaxation.

Cape Kiwanda: A Haven for Outdoor Enthusiasts

The final leg of your journey takes you to Cape Kiwanda in Pacific City, the southernmost cape known for its striking sandstone cliffs, towering sand dunes, and the iconic Haystack Rock. Adventurers can ascend the sand dune for an elevated view of the rock formation and surfers. Embark on a dory boat tour for an up-close encounter with the ocean, or visit the Pelican Brewing Company, the region’s only beachfront brewery, for a taste of local craft beers and delicious food.

The Three Capes Loop is not just a scenic drive; it’s a journey through the heart of Oregon’s coastal wonders. With its diverse landscapes, rich history, and myriad of attractions, it promises an adventure that caters to all tastes. Whether you’re a nature lover, a history buff, or a culinary enthusiast, the Three Capes Loop is a destination that beckons exploration and creates lasting memories.

It’s a picturesque journey that showcases the stunning coastal scenery and the captivating trio of Cape Meares, Cape Lookout, and Cape Kiwanda.

Pro-tip: Make it a day trip. Pack a picnic, and don’t rush. Each cape has its own unique charm, and they’re all worth spending some time at.

Final Thoughts on Best Things to Do in Rockaway Beach, Oregon

And so, my sandy journey along the beautifully untamed Rockaway Beach, Oregon comes to an end. No words can do justice to the captivating coastal charm this one-of-a-kind location packs.

There’s a symphony composed by the Pacific that’s unique to Rockaway, an orchestra of the waves, the sea birds, and the salty breeze. Every moment was a postcard image, etched forever in my memory. Feasting on the freshest of seafood, setting foot on an iconic shipwreck, and wandering through the serene forests were only the start.

Trust me, when you’re enjoying that mesmerizing sunset from the vantage of the Twin Rocks, you’ll feel a level of serenity you never thought existed. Don’t just take my word for it, though. Pack your bags, grab your camera, and prepare to create your own stories and memories in Rockaway Beach.

I promise you’ll be drafting your list of ‘things to do’ here before your visit even ends. Until then, keep daydreaming of the Pacific waves, forested trails, and warm sandy beaches, just like I do.

The remarkable Rockaway Beach, Oregon, awaits your discovery!

FAQs on Best Things to Do in Rockaway Beach Oregon

Is Rockaway Beach Oregon worth visiting?

Rockaway Beach, Oregon, is indeed worth visiting for its stunning coastline, diverse activities for beach enthusiasts, and range of culinary options. Whether you’re seeking outdoor adventures or quaint small-town charm, it offers an array of experiences that beckon for a return trip.

How far is Rockaway Beach from manzanita oregon?

Rockaway Beach is approximately 12 miles away from Manzanita, Oregon. Driving between these coastal towns usually takes about 20 minutes, depending on traffic conditions and without significant stops along the route.

Is Rockaway Beach the same as Cannon Beach?

No, Rockaway Beach is not the same as Cannon Beach. They are distinct coastal towns in Oregon with their own unique attractions. Rockaway Beach offers a laid-back vibe and scenic stretches, while Cannon Beach is famous for its iconic Haystack Rock and artistic community. Both provide a variety of activities and sights to explore.

Why is it called Rockaway Beach Oregon?

Rockaway Beach, Oregon was named after the popular Rockaway Beach in Long Island, New York, reflecting the developers’ ambition to create a prominent coastal resort. The naming coincided with the development of the railroad from Hillsboro to Tillamook, aimed at improving access and boosting tourism to the area.

What are the top attractions in Rockaway Beach, Oregon?

Rockaway Beach is rich in natural beauty and recreational activities. The must-see spots include Rockaway Beach itself, the iconic Twin Rocks, the Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad, and Lake Lytle. For history buffs, the International Police Museum offers an insightful experience.

Is Rockaway Beach family-friendly?

Absolutely! With numerous parks, safe beaches, and family-oriented activities like kite flying and beachcombing, Rockaway Beach is an excellent destination for families. Facilities such as picnic areas and public restrooms are also readily available.

What outdoor activities are available in Rockaway Beach?

Rockaway Beach offers a plethora of outdoor activities. Visitors can enjoy beachcombing, fishing, crabbing, kayaking, hiking, and bird watching. Additionally, the nearby Tillamook State Forest presents opportunities for camping and off-road biking.

What dining options are available in Rockaway Beach?

Rockaway Beach boasts a range of dining options to suit various tastes and budgets. You’ll find everything from seafood restaurants serving local catch, to charming cafés, pizzerias, and burger joints. For a sweet treat, don’t miss the local ice cream and candy shops!

Can I bring my pet to Rockaway Beach?

Yes, Rockaway Beach is pet-friendly. Many outdoor areas, including the beach itself, welcome pets. However, please remember to follow local regulations regarding leash laws and clean-up duties. There are also several pet-friendly accommodations available.

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