Your Guide To Pacific City Oregon – Things To Do, History, And More

Cape Kiwanda. Photo by Einahpets32 via Flickr CC2.

If you'd like to visit Oregon's north coast off the beaten path and away from crowds, Pacific City is the perfect spot on the Pacific Ocean. From bonfires on beautiful Oregon beaches, to layered cliffs and rock stacks, hang gliding and more, Pacific City has always been one of my favorite places to visit on the coast.  This city on the Three Capes Scenic Route is an absolute must visit.

Pacific City Oregon History

pacific city oregon
The Post Office At Pacific City Oregon, date unknown. Photo from the Salem Public Library, Ben Maxwell Collection.

Pacific City Oregon is an unincorporated community in Tillamook County with a population of just over a thousand people. The area was first inhabited by the Nestuggas in 1845 (who called themselves Stagaush, meaning "People of Saga"), who escaped to the area we now call Pacific City after a wildfire inland destroyed their home and the game they were dependent on for food.

After the fire, the Nestuggas survived on fish from the Nestucca Bay, but were later taken from their new home in 1876 and moved to a reservation on the Salmon and Siletz river as settlers began arriving in the Tillamook Valley and along the Tillamook coast.

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An aerial view of Pacific City ca 1959. Photo via the Oregon State Archives, Oregon Department of Agriculture, OAG0025.

Early pioneers in the area arrived by seagoing steamers and others came over the mountains from inland. By 1886 the Linewebber and Brown cannery was shipping 12,000 cans of salmon a year.

pacific city oregon
A woman sits atop the cliffs at Cape Kiwanda overlooking Haystack Rock. Photo via the Oregon State Archives, Oregon State Highway Division, OHD1508.

The area that is now known as Pacific City was named Ocean Park in 1893 by Thomas Malaney. The next year in 1894 a flood destroyed most of the first buildings in Ocean Park, and the town was moved to higher ground to avoid future disasters. In 1909 the name of the small coast town was changed to Pacific City, since there was also an Ocean Park Washington.

pacific city oregon
Two fishermen launch their boat into the Pacific with Cape Kiwanda in the background in 1960. Photo via the Oregon State Archives, Oregon Highway Division, OHD6704.

The fishing industry had all by wiped out the populations of salmon by 1926, so commercial harvesting was halted. Commercial fishermen began to use small dories to fish, a tradition that is still alive on the coast in Pacific City today.

Haystack Rock In Pacific City

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One of the Haystack Rocks in Oregon at Cape Kiwanda. Photo by JATomlinson Photography.

I always enjoy walking along the coast in Pacific City and watching the stunning views of the sun going down behind Haystack Rock.

There are three haystack rocks on the coast in Oregon: one in Pacific City, one in Cannon Beach, and one in Bandon. Haystack Rock in Pacific City is more than 100 feet taller than the Haystack Rock in Cannon Beach, though it's a mile offshore, which makes it appear shorter.

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Scientists aren't 100 percent clear on how Haystack Rock in Pacific City was formed, but they believe there was a huge ancient lava flow that filled a canyon. Since then everything else has eroded away leaving Haystack Rock standing tall above the coast.

If you enjoy sandy beaches and pretty views of towering sea stacks, be sure to visit this scenic spot near Cape Kiwanda.

Where To Eat In Pacific City Oregon

seafood restaurants Pacific City Beer
Image via Pelican Brewing / Facebook

When visiting Pacific City, be sure to check out Pelican Brewing. The jaw dropping views of Cape Kiwanda, beer-inspired food, and award-winning beer make this a local favorite spot to relax and have a good meal.

A salmon BLT wrap
Salmon BLT Wrap at Pelican Brewing. Photo via Yelp by Shana W.

The best spot to sit in good weather is out on the patio, so you can enjoy the fresh Pacific ocean air and take full advantage of the view.

Where to eat Pacific City Oregon Coast
Hot Cocoa from Stimulus Coffee and Bakery. Photo via Stimulus Coffee and Bakery Facebook Page.

Another must visit is Stimulus Coffee + Bakery in downtown Pacific City. This is a great spot to satisfy your sweet tooth and grab a cup of coffee before you head out to walk on the beach.

Where to eat Pacific City Oregon
Cinnamon Bliss at Stimulus Coffee. Photo via the Stimulus Coffee and Bakery Facebook Page.

Aside from a long list of delicious coffees and treats, they offer bagels and sandwiches, so it's the perfect place to stop by at any time of day.

What To Do In Pacific City Oregon

pacific city oregon
Photo by Andrew Malone via Flickr CC2.

One of the best things about Pacific City is all of the outdoor activities there are to enjoy. From exploring the natural beauty of Cape Kiwanda to learning to hang glide, there's something for everyone here.

Explore Cape Kiwanda

cape kiwanda
Cape Kiwanda as seen from the beach in Pacific City Oregon. Photo by JATomlinson Photography.

Cape Kiwanda is one of Oregon's many natural treasures.  Treacherous yet beautiful at the same time, Cape Kiwanda offers opportunities to sand board on the sand dunes, go whale watching, hang glide, and more on this scenic stretch of coast.

sand dune
Photo by Thomas Shahan via Flickr CC2.

A 300 foot high sand dune offers the perfect spot for hang gliding and sand boarding, while the pristine beach below is good for playing in the water, sitting around a bonfire as the sun goes down, flying a kite, and fishing.

cape kiwanda
Cape Kiwanda. Photo by Mattia Panciroli via Flickr CC2.

Hikers enjoy the 2.2 mile hiking loop that starts at the Cape Kiwanda Trailhead and is open year round. Learn more about what the gorgeous Cape Kiwanda in Pacific City has to offer in our full guide here.

Green Acres Beach & Trail Rides Tours

pacific city horseback riding
Pacific City Horseback Riding

1-hour ride

You can go horseback riding for one hour at Green Acres Beach & Trail Rides in Pacific City. After making your way to Bob Straub Park in a few minutes, you will return to the water's edge once you have double-backed. The sand dunes will be your next stop when you return to the water's edge.

Riders of all levels are welcome to take part in this ride, which costs $110 per person.

The Park Tour

This 2-hour Park Tour is perfect for the more experienced rider who is looking for more than a relaxing beach ride. This ride leaves the base of the spit early and heads toward the Nestucca River.

At the end of the ride, you may choose to stay up on the dunes, or return down to the waters edge from the spit.

Reservations are required over the phone. Please call 541-418-2313. This ride is geared for experienced riders only. It costs $250 per rider.

Private Rides

Reservations are required for private rides, which are available at 541-418-2313 during the peak season.

Camel Rides

Take a camel ride with Calvin and Frank at their corral in Pacific City and capture a great photo with breathtaking views. All ages welcome, and two people can ride together.

To find out if Camel John is available, call 503-457-3161. Head over to their official website here for more info.

Whale Watching

Grey whale jumping
Sam Beebe / Flickr

If you want to see gray whales from shore, watch them from a high vantage point (such as Cape Kiwanda) on a calm day. Whales are spotted by their spouts as they surface. The whale exhales a burst of water and vapor up to 12 feet high when it surfaces. If the ocean is too rough, it can be hard to tell a whale from a breaking wave. (Cape Lookout is a good place to see them). Cape Lookout is 12 miles north of Pacific City. On your way to the cape, you can check out the Sand Lake recreation area. Popular with OHV riders, the Sand Lake Recreation area features 1,076 acres of open sand dunes. You should also visit Cape Meares if you get the chance.

Pacific City Beach Surfing

The surf in Pacific City is amazing, thanks to the beach and reef break that's accessible and consistently good. Did we mention there's a pub adjacent to it as well?

As with all Oregon coast waves, you'll need a 3/4 wetsuit, booties, gloves, and a hood if you don't want to get a painful brain freeze. Get ready to rip waves like never before.

The best Pacific City beach access is at Cape Kiwanda off Hungry Harbor Road.

Visit Bob Straub State Park

Bob Straub State Park in Pacific City Oregon Cool Beaches
Bob Straub State Park. Photo by Jasperdo via Flickr CC2.

This state park was named after Robert Straub, a former Oregon Governor who was a strong supporter of conservation of natural resources, and the Oregon Beach Law.

Bob Straub State Park near the small town of Pacific City provides access to a sandy beach, has restrooms, and is a great spot to explore the Nestucca sand spit. There's a county parking lot next to the park, which costs $4 to park in. There are also restrooms available at the park.

Experience The Thrill Of Fishing The Waterways Of Pacific City

Fishing Pacific City Oregon
The Nestucca River in Pacific City Oregon. Photo by Holly Hayes via Flickr CC2.

Pacific City is well known for its awesome fishing spots. People love fishing in the Nestucca River, which has spring Chinook salmon, fall Chinook, Coho salmon, coastal cutthroat trout, and steelhead.

On the North end of Pacific City is Town Lake, which is stocked heavily with Trout during the spring and summer. People also enjoy catching huge Ling Cod at the beach in the surf.

Recreational Activities: Search Through Tide Pools And Go Bird Watching

tide pools oregon
Above/Below a Tidepool at Cape Kiwanda - Anthopleura elegantissima and Anthopleura xanthogrammica Sea Anemones / Image via / Flickr / Thomas Shahan

For family fun, stunning Cape Kiwanda has a marine garden with many tidal pools you can search through to see starfish and other sea creatures during low tide. This is a great activity to do with children. Please keep in mind that sea life and other animals should never be touched or removed from their habitat. These are living creatures that should stay where they're found and not be taken home.

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Seastars at Cape Kiwanda. Photo by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife via Flickr CC2.

Bird watching is another popular activity in Pacific City, which is home to bald eagles, sea gulls, crows, ravens, pelicans, puffins, migrating Canadian geese, and herons. What better way to take in beautiful scenery and the ocean view than to find a quiet place to watch migrating shorebirds?

Watch The Dory Boats Launch And Come In For The Evening In Pacific City

Pacific City Dory Fleet
A Dory In Pacific City. Photo by David Merwin via Flickr CC2.

Watching the Dory Boats launch or come in for the evening is a fun event in Pacific City.

Cape Kiwanda Dory Boats
A Dory Comes In For The Night. Photo by Chriss Haight Pagani via Flickr CC2.

In the evening the Dory Boat fleet comes ashore at high speeds right onto the beach.

Learn To Hang Glide And Paraglide

paragliding cape kiwanda
Paragliding at Cape Kiwanda. Photo by Doug Kerr via Flickr CC2.

Hang gliding and paragliding have been a favorite activity in Pacific City for over forty years due to the excellent winds and high dunes of Cape Kiwanda.

Anyone who is able to move their own body weight and sprint is able to take introductory lessons. Lessons start low down on the flat beach, and progress upward to the higher dunes. Take a look at the hang gliding lessons a man is taking in the video below:

During warm months the Oregon Hang Gliding School trains those who want to get certified, as well as those looking to try it out for the first time.

Every June the Kiwanda Single Surface Hang Gliding Festival takes place in Pacific City, hosting fun spot landing contests, as well as other activities for enthusiasts.

Can you drive on the beach in Pacific City?

You can drive on the beach and access it from two places in Pacific City: across the bridge at the end of Pacific City Ave, and off of Hungry Harbor Road on the north side of Pacific City. Please respect the signs and drive only where it is allowed.

Oregon Coast Tours

There is no better private transportation company in the Pacific Northwest than Oregon Coast Tours. Regardless of whether you need a party bus for wine tours, brewery visits, or the next wedding, or a bicycle shuttle for your next Oregon Coast bike trip, Oregon Coast Tours has you covered. Based on your travel style, your guide will customize the day.

With Oregon Coast Tours, you won't have to worry about planning or driving as one of the most challenging tasks on the busy Oregon coast is parking.

Contact Info

522 Brooten Road
Pacific City, Oregon 97135


Please Note: Activities such as hang gliding, paragliding, hiking, swimming, and exploring are at-your-own-risk activities. Please learn about the danger of sneaker waves before visiting the coast.

Please follow the seven principles of Leave No Trace when visiting our gorgeous natural areas to keep them pristine and open to the public for generations to come.

Are you interested in another fantastic place to visit along the Oregon Coast? We recommend checking out nearby Lincoln City for fun things to do. Lincoln City offers beaches, handmade candy, kite flying and more. You can also hike to God's Thumb in Lincoln City for more scenic views.

For more awesome places nearby and incredible views check out our Oregon Coast Guide, and find all the best spots to search through tide pools on the Oregon Coast.

What's your favorite thing to do in Pacific City Oregon? Let us know and share your photos with us. Tag the friends and family you want to go o Pacific City with!

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