Driving south along Highway 101, you can't help but stop and peak over Oregon's steep cliffs. From high above you see something special lies beneath. The area you are looking down upon is the Manzanita Area -- the three little towns of Manzanita, Nehalem, and Wheeler. With only two miles between each town, they are strung together along Highway 101 like pearls on a necklace surrounding Nehalem Bay. The area is just sixteen-miles south of Cannon Beach, but worlds apart. Manzanita, Nehalem, and Wheeler offer a laid-back, undiscovered coastal destination.
The town of Manzanita, the largest of the three, sits right on the edge of the Pacific Ocean and has a magnificent beach. The town of Nehalem, the oldest of the three, is located along the banks of the Nehalem River; and Wheeler -- "the little town with the million dollar view" -- overlooks beautiful Nehalem Bay.
While in Manzanita you can rent a funcycle, play in the sand, or just go fly a kite. You can ride a horse along the beach in Nehalem Bay State Park, go antique hunting in Nehalem or Wheeler, or rent a boat or kayak and explore the Bay and the River. Kayaking is a very popular activity in this area. If you time your trip using the tide table, you can travel up river while the tide is coming in, and then let the river carry you down as the tide recedes -- "look ma, no paddling!" Or rent one of the Wheeler Marina's little motorboats and cruise up (about two miles) to Nehalem where you can hop out and have lunch or explore the historic little town from the water.
There are also a number of terrific parks and beaches to visit that are close to the area. These include Arcadia Beach, Hug Point, and Oswald West State Park. Oswald West State Park is just 5 minutes north of the area and simply can't be missed. This park has several terrific trails for hiking. There are two creeks flowing through the park, Short Sand Creek and Necarney Creek. When you make the 1/2-mile trek to the Ocean along the scenic trails, you will find a beach with some sand, some rock, and tons of driftwood. You will also find that this is a favorite spot for surfers. Bring the camera and your hiking shoes for this location.
Nehalem Bay State park, right between Manzanita and Nehalem, offers horse rentals, great bike trails, and has a terrific beach of it's own. This park requires you to pay for day use. Make sure to take a look at our Manzanita Area Picture Gallery for views of this park and the others!
Taken together, the three towns of Manzanita, Nehalem, and Wheeler, offer all the amenities for a comfortable getaway: grocery stores, a pharmacy, liquor store, video rentals, and several outstanding restaurants; there’s even a winery between Nehalem and Wheeler! And all of this without sacrificing the intimacy and relaxed pace of small-town coastal life.
If you like that small-town feel, with a river and beach that isn't small at all, you are going to love Manzanita, Nehalem, and Wheeler.
A special thank you to Winston Laszlo of the Old Wheeler Hotel for this description! NWcoast.com has personally visited the Old Wheeler Hotel and found it to be as intimate as a bed and breakfast but as private as a hotel. The views are fantastic as well! Click here to visit them now!