Quiet time in Cannon Beach

Visit Oregon's northwest shore at its mistiest, moodiest best
Bonnie Henderson

In the dark evening of a rainy day, drive down Hemlock Street in Cannon Beach. Pass the shingled storefronts; the windows displaying T-shirts, sweaters, and hand-blown glass; the hand-lettered signs. You might be the only living soul in town, judging from the empty sidewalks.

But pull over where lights and an "open" sign encourage ― here in downtown Cannon Beach, or half a mile south in midtown, or past the darkened summer houses, where a hand-drawn crow and a pub sign beckon. Well, any port in a storm. You walk into the Warren House Pub and find out where everyone is ― inside, of course, dry as a bone, if not here then somewhere else, catching up on gossip over beers all around or tête-à-tête in a booth, noshing on ribs or sampling smoked leg of lamb.

In the morning, don't count on sleeping-in weather. You could easily wake to white cumulus clouds boiling in a blue sky nearly bright enough to blind. That's your green light to get out and walk the wide beach before the next shower―there's more than 5 miles of sand between Ecola Creek and Arch Cape, and another mile of beach north of the creek.

Cannon Beach's creature comforts

Cannon Beach is 80 miles northwest of Portland; take U.S. 26 to its intersection with U.S. 101, then go south about 3 miles. For more information, contact the Cannon Beach Chamber of Commerce ( www.cannonbeach.org or 503/436-2623).

LODGING

Cannon Beach Hotel. Small, European-type inn is stylish and sweet, and it's just steps from Haystack Rock. Dinner (including room service) is available from JP's Restaurant (closed Sun). From $55. 1116 S. Hemlock St.; www.cannonbeachhotel.com, (800) 238-4107, or (503) 436-1392.

Inn at Cannon Beach. Bungalow-style buildings are clustered around a courtyard at this charming, pet-friendly lodging, opened in 2000, one block from the beach. From $129. 3215 S. Hemlock; www.innatcannonbeach.com, (800) 321-6304, or (503) 436-9085.

The Ocean Lodge. Opened last fall, this large timber-and-stone oceanfront resort welcomes families and pets with its big rooms, minifridges, microwaves, and fireplaces. From $159. 2864 S. Pacific St.; www.theoceanlodge.com, (888) 777-4047, or (503) 436-2241.

Stephanie Inn. Over-the-top luxury puts this oceanfront inn in a class by itself on the Oregon coast; furnishings are elegant, the service superb. From $179. 2740 S. Pacific; www.stephanie-inn.com, (800) 633-3466, or (503) 436-2221.

The Waves Motel. The Waves is actually a collection of four contemporary buildings―three of them with ocean views―right downtown. Two sister properties, the White Heron Lodge and the Argonauta Inn, offer more choices, from funky to fine, on or near the beach. From $89. 188 W. Second St.; www.thewavesmotel.com, (800) 822-2468, or (503) 436-2205.