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Cannon Beach, Oregon

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Cannon Beach, Oregon
photo by Andrew Collins
Where do gay and lesbian Portlanders go when they're craving fun at ocean? The artsy, sophisticated, yet low-keyed towns of Cannon Beach and Manzanita are a couple of the most gay-popular destinations along Oregon's rugged and serene North Coast. You won't find any real "scene" out this way, but the many hotels and B&Bs in Cannon Beach are all pretty much gay-welcoming, as are the hip restaurants and cafes here and in Manzanita, 15 miles south. Farther north up the coast, the lively small city of Astoria also has a considerable gay following.

From Portland, it's an easy and scenic drive over the Coast Range Mountains to the beach - just drive west on U.S. 26, cutting south down Hwy. 53 if you're bound for Manzanita, or continuing to U.S. 101 (Oregon's Pacific Coast Scenic Byway) and turning left (south) to reach Cannon Beach. Give yourself about 90 minutes or a bit more to reach either town. You can then use U.S. 101 to drive back and forth between Manzanita and Cannon Beach - this stunning drive passes over high bluffs and through the pine-studded forests of Oswald West State Park.

Cannon Beach is a small town with about 3 miles of stunning beachfront with dramatic rock formations off the shore, the most famous being Haystack Rock (pictured in this photo), which rises about 240 feet above the water. Manzanita is smaller and a bit funkier than Cannon Beach, with a charming little main drag lined with cute shops and cafes. For tourist information on the area, contact the Cannon Beach Chamber of Commerce and the Nehalem Bay Chamber of Commerce for the 411 on Manzanita and the surrounding area.

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