Nehalem Bay is south of Manzanita. It’s rowboat calm and in the -ber months, like November, it’s a popular place for crabbing. Jetty Fishery Marina & RV Park has been run by the Laviolette family here for 32+ years. Well reported on in travel articles, JFM, where you can picnic, camp, fish, etc., has been called the best place on the West Coast to buy seafood. Steamer clams are popular.
At the southeast end of Nehalem Bay is Wheeler, a thriving timber town until the Tillamook Burn and now a community of 400 people hoping you’ll stop to shop, eat, stay, etc. The burn was actually a series of forest fires destroying 554 square miles of trees while occurring roughly every six years between 1933 and 1951.
More than 3 times larger than Wheeler, Rockaway Beach holds the Firecracker Wiener Nationals dog race on July 4 every year. The town of Garibaldi at the top of Tillamook Bay has a busy harbor well-known to fishing people and crabbers. Manzanita to Tillamook is, in my opinion, the most rustic, least-affected-by-change stretch of the Oregon Coast.
Tillamook is the “city” of the North Coast and a somewhat charmless, flood-prone service community of almost 5,000 that gets 90 inches of rain every year. Tillamook has 2 attractions. One is an air museum in a World War II blimp storage facility. In fact, the hanger, definitely an impressive sight, is “the largest wooden clear-span structures ever built” according to Oregon Coast’s Mile-by-Mile Guide.
Two is, hard to believe, one of the biggest attractions on the entire West Coast, the Tillamook Cheese Factory. Upstairs, you can learn virtually everything there is to know about cheese production and get a comprehensive view of exactly that happening. Did you ever fall asleep while walking? I almost did exactly that while reading about cheese in the TCF. One-third of all cheese sold in LA in 1917 came from Tillamook. It takes 10 pounds of milk to make 1 pound of cheese. Zzzzzzz. Downstairs was an incredibly long line of people waiting to buy Tillamook ice cream, which was worth the wait. The enormous gift shop had, seemingly, every item of kitsch ever conceived. I’ve been to the Tillamook Cheese Factory 3 times now.
Nine miles west of Tillamook is Cape Meares, a perfect spot to be at sunset. Cape Meares State Park is home to the largest Sitka spruce tree in Oregon and the shrimpiest of the 9 lighthouses on the Oregon Coast. Only 38 feet high, its top can be seen from the descending path to it. However, its Fresnel is unique, one of only 2 eight-sided lenses in the U.S. You have to go to Hawaii to see the other one. Unfortunately, 2 drunk men wielding guns did severe damage to it in 2010, and it remains broken until half a million dollars can be collected.