Pacific City is one of the top summer getaways in Oregon. This little coastal town boasts tons to do and it’s one of my favorite places to go when inland temperatures start to rise.
Whether you’re looking to spend a relaxing weekend on the beach or take advantage of the outdoor splendor of the Oregon coast, you’ll find plenty of options in Pacific City. In this guide, I’ll highlight my 11 favorite things to do in Pacific City.
1. Hike the Bluffs at Cape Kiwanda
Cape Kiwanda is Pacific City’s most famous landmark, and for good reason. The cape offers commanding views of the ocean, long stretches of sandy beach, windswept dunes, and more.
You can spend a few hours tanning on the beach or hike around the bluffs to explore the dune grass and scraggly salt-soaked pines. Low tide reveals pools along the base of the cliffs with starfish, crabs, anemones, and other brightly colored creatures. The whole time you’re exploring, Haystack Rock stands mighty just off the shore.
While you might not think to take a trip to Pacific City in the winter, it’s worth going to the cape during a big storm. Waves slam against the bluffs and send spray dozens of feet into the air. It’s really something to see.
2. Take in the Views from Cape Lookout
Cape Kiwanda is just one of three sandy capes around Pacific City. Another is Cape Lookout, which juts nearly 1.5 miles into the Pacific Ocean.
The scenic Cape Trail winds through a Sitka spruce forest as you make your way out to the end of bluff. It’s pretty incredible when you emerge onto the lookout at the end of the bluff only to realize that the coastline is far behind you.
I love taking a hike out to the cape to catch sunset, but you can also go earlier in the day and watch the sun fall into the water from the beach. There’s a five-mile long sandy spit that extends north from the bluffs and you’re not likely to see many people if you hike all the way to the end of it.
3. Catch the Surf
The Oregon coast is famous for its cold-water surfing, which offers opportunities to catch waves year-round. You’ll definitely need a wetsuit even on the hottest days since the water stays in the low 60s for most of the summer.
If you don’t have your own gear, don’t worry. Moment Surf Co rents surfboards and wetsuits and even offers daily surf lessons. You can also rent a bodyboard or skim board on days when the waves are too rough to surf.
4. Paddle the Nestucca River Estuary
There are also tons of great kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding opportunities around Pacific City.
The town itself is right on the Nestucca River, a tranquil river surrounded on both sides by marshland and evergreens. If you want to explore further afield, you can also paddle around Sand Lake or Netarts Bay, both of which offer views over sandy bars to waves breaking on the ocean.
If you need a watercraft, visit Nestucca Adventures for a rental from Thursday-Monday. You can launch on the Nestucca right from their dock.
5. Stop for a Beer at Pelican Brewing
Pelican Brewing is a fixture on the Oregon coast. Founded in Pacific City in 1996, the brewery now has taprooms in multiple beachside towns including Tillamook and Cannon Beach.
The Pacific City brewpub has a great food selection and an even better beer selection. There are usually a few seasonal and experimental beers on tap, plus release parties a few times each summer.
The brewpub is basically on the beach. So it’s pretty fun to grab a drink, sit down on the patio, and watch surfers catch some waves.
6. Bike or Drive the Three Capes Scenic Loop
The Three Capes Scenic Loop is a 40-mile route that runs from Pacific City to Tillamook and back. It takes in Cape Kiwanda, Cape Lookout, and Cape Meares—three stunning landscapes that couldn’t be more different considering how close they are to one another.
All three capes offer hiking and views, so they make for a fun day and pair well with a visit to the Tillamook Creamery. Alternatively, you can bike the coastal roads north and then bike back to Pacific City on Highway 101. All of the roads have wide shoulders and are frequented by cyclists, so they feel fairly safe.
7. Spend the Night in a Yurt
Oregon State Parks famously offers yurts at many locations along the coast, including Cape Lookout.
If you’ve never stayed in a yurt at the coast, I can’t recommend it enough. You can watch the sunset over the water just feet from your shelter for the night. Then get a fire going on the beach and wait for the stars to come out.
The yurts themselves are cozy and rustic, but they offer heat, lights, and electricity. Just make sure to bring your own bedding since none is provided.
8. Grab Breakfast at the Grateful Bread Bakery
One of my favorite places to stop during a visit to Pacific City is the Grateful Bread Bakery. The cafe itself has a funky Grateful Dead theme that’s fun in itself, but it’s the food that keeps me coming back.
The bakery makes its own bread for french toast and sandwiches, plus serves up absolutely delicious biscuits and scones. It can get busy on a summer Saturday morning, so I recommend showing up early for breakfast.
9. Ride the Dunes in an OHV
Sand Lake Recreation Area, just north of Pacific City, doesn’t have the same cachet among OHVers as Florence, but the dunes are nearly as large in places. It’s a really fun place to ride and the ocean is in view virtually the entire time as you explore.
You can rent an OHV from Sandlake Tsunami ATV Rental, although you’ll need to be able to tow a trailer to get the OHVs from the shop to the dunes.
Another alternative is to check out eBike The Beach, which rents out electric fat bikes. These are legal to ride on the Pacific City beach, which has hard-packed sand that makes for pretty nice riding.
10. Charter a Fishing Boat and Catch Your Own Dinner
Commercial fishermen have been plying the waters off Pacific City for decades catching rockfish, cod, salmon, and sole. You can surf fish right from the beach, but for the best chance of catching a keeper I recommend booking a fishing charter.
There are multiple options in Pacific City including Pacific City Fishing and Haystack Fishing. You can go out for a full day or a half-day, and going with a local captain ensures you’ll go straight to the places where fish are known to congregate.
Even better, most of the fishing charters include crab pots, so you’re sure to get back to shore with a good catch for dinner.
11. Visit the Ghost Forest in Neskowin
The Neskowin Ghost Forest is an unusual sight along the Oregon Coast: a series of petrified tree stumps sticking out of the sand. The stumps are the remains of an ancient Sitka spruce forest estimated to be more than 2,000 years old.
The stumps are eerie and beautiful, covered in sea life and serving as home for tiny tide pools. Make sure to time your visit for when the tide is out, since the stumps are beneath the waves during high tide.
Pacific City is a gem of the Oregon coast and one of my favorite places to visit in the summertime. It offers surfing, hiking, tremendous views, and so much more. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing weekend getaway or an adventurous weekend on the water, you’ll find it in Pacific City.