Weekend Getaway: Pacific City

The Oregon coast doesn’t have the allure of white sandy beaches or warm water, but with rocky outcroppings rising out of the ocean and powerful waves crashing onto the shore, a trip to the Oregon coast is enticing in its own unique, awe-inspiring way.

“The beautiful beach with Haystack Rock is a majestic view to welcome our riders as they cross the finish line,” said Bryan Mayo, Regional Director of Special Events for the American Lung Association (ALA). “Having the Pelican Pub as our partner host for the finish line makes Pacific City a perfect ending location after an amazing ride.”

Each year, the ALA puts on the Reach the Beach bike ride to mark the beginning of cycling season in Oregon. Riders have options of starting in four locations (Grand Ronde-26 miles; Amity-55 miles; Newberg-80 miles; Portland-104 miles) depending on how far they want to ride to get to Pacific City, the final destination. Each rider is required to raise a minimum of $125 in tax-deductible contributions in order to participate.

“Pacific City is the perfect finish location for us,” said Mayo. “The community has been so welcoming and receptive to our participants, volunteers and staff. They really embrace the ride and are proud to have it be known as the destination for the kickoff to the Oregon cycling season while at the same time helping Oregonians around the state by supporting the mission of the American Lung Association.” This year marks the 27th anniversary of the ride on May 20.

Pacific City is a quiet town on the coast between Seaside and Lincoln City less than two hours from both Portland and Salem. The Nestucca River flows into the Pacific Ocean through the Bob Straub State Park, a great spot for fishing, marine wildlife watching, horseback riding and more.

As a weekend training destination, the trails around Pacific City and the beach itself make for great running. In the State Park, there is a 4-mile out-and-back trail (Nestucca Spit Trail), and the Cape Kiwanda beach run is a longer out-and-back option at 8.2 miles starting at the north end of the beach in Pacific City and heading south through the State Park to the Nestucca Spit.

At the north end of the beach, running up the Cape Kiwanda sand dune is a lung-busting, calf-strengthening workout with stunning views of Haystack Rock at the top as a reward. Three or four repetitions of climbing the dune will earn anyone a beer brewed locally at the Pelican Brewing Company right in Pacific City.

To flush the lactic acid out of the legs from running on the beach or sprinting up the sand dune, hop on a road bike for a 57-mile ride on the Three Capes Scenic Cruise. Starting in Pacific City, the loop heads north on the Three Capes Scenic Highway past Cape Lookout State Park and Cape Meares State Park. Both of these also have many trails and ocean views to enjoy. To refuel on the ride, stop for an ice cream at the Tillamook Cheese Factory along the route. The route also passes through the small coastal communities of Netarts, Oceanside, Cape Meares, and Tierra Del Mar.

Cross training is also an option in Pacific City with kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) and, for the brave and wet-suit clad folks, surfing and swimming in the ocean.

“SUP is excellent cross training, builds core strength and can be combined with yoga on the SUP boards for an incredibly fun workout,” said DJ McKay, owner of Nestucca Adventures in Pacific City. “We have been doing SUP Yoga since 2011. We leash up to ten boards off the dock, and our instructors have very experienced backgrounds.”

Nestucca Adventures is located at the Old Marina on the Nestucca River, an ideal location for putting in a kayak and exploring 4.5 miles to the mouth of the river, or 4.5 miles up to where it begins.

Surfing lessons, youth surf camps and rentals are available at Moment Surf Company in Pacific City, as well as beach apparel.

The small town isn’t lacking for good food, either. After a day of training in the sand, riding the roads or kayaking, a plate of the Pelican Brewery Company’s fish and chips or a bowl of local steamers can’t be beat. Other tasty meal options include Ben and Jeff’s Burgers and Tacos located next to Moment Surf Co., Mexican food at Los Caporales, pizza at Doryland Pizza, and other local grubberies.

Lodging options in Pacific City range from the Inn at Cape Kiwanda, cottages, house rentals (AirBnB, HomeAway and Shorepine Vacation Rentals are good places to look for lodging), and RV and camping options include Pacific City RV and Camping Resort, Cape Kiwanda RV Park and Haystack Village by the Sea.

Weather at the Oregon coast can definitely be hit or miss but on a blue-sky day, coastal towns like Pacific City make for a great change of scenery and training adventure for all fitness abilities.