Out of the Ordinary on the North Oregon Coast

By Ann Powers | Monday, January 7, 2019

“I’m bored” is not something you hear often (if ever) on Northern Oregon Coast. There’s hiking, kayaking, fishing, surfing, camping, eating, drinking, antiquing, beachcombing, shopping and the list goes on. It’s all fun, and it’s all fabulous. But sometimes you get a wild hair to do something a little offbeat. We have plenty of that too. Here are a few suggestions.

A Curious Approach to Crabbing

Just north of Rockaway Beach on Hwy 101 you’ll find Kelly’s Brighton Marina. If quality and quirky had a baby, this place would be the love child. The family owned and operated spot has a laid back Parrot Head vibe. It’s a great place for crabbing, fishing, boating, RV parking, tent camping, enjoying Oregon’s great outdoors and dockside beer drinking around a cozy fire pit that overlooks Nehalem Bay. There’s also a convenience store onsite stocked with bait, tackle, snacks, beverages, ice, marine-grade gas and more.

When you meet Kelly you’ll quickly realize he’s obviously having a good time in life and wants others to do the same. But underneath his happy-go-lucky demeanor there’s a unique philosophical side offering pearls of wisdom that he somehow always ties back to crabbing – kind of like a Dungeness dharma. For example, I went out in a boat with Kelly not too long ago and threw a few crab rings. Over the course of the afternoon during the crabbing trip, he inspired me with a few of those insights ...

“It’s crab therapy,” said Kelly. “I’m always looking for the answers to life. I use my boats more than people use their cars, and I try not to take that for granted. Just live life every day. Before you know it ... shoulda, coulda woulda.”

Kelly’s fun-loving spirit seems to run in the family. His brother, Damien, owns Jetty Fishery Marina & RV Park just down the road. Every summer they team up to host the annual Crab Derby Days to benefit local causes. Their mom, Shirley, helped the fundraiser launch with a bang about 15 years ago when she got a local doctor to donate a vasectomy as one of the prizes.

There's a lot of love going on here: Visitors love returning to the Kelly’s Brighton Marina year after year. The staff will readily admit they love working there. And Kelly and his family truly love helping people make new memories. And if I were to bet, you'd love it too.

A Different Kind of Date Night

Speaking of love … in the heart of art-centric Cannon Beach you’ll find the Coaster Theatre Playhouse on the corner of Hemlock and First Streets. The charming wood-shingled structure was originally the Coaster Roller Rink built in the 1920s. It was a favorite date-night spot where couples could cruise along on roller skates and catch a silent film in a single evening.

In 1972 a Portland patron of the arts, Maurie Clark, purchased the historic building, gave it a major makeover and reopened it as the Coaster Theatre Playhouse with plays, musicals and special performances. When Maurie died in 2001, it became a nonprofit. Today it remains one of the few live theaters gracing Oregon’s coastline. This quaint community theater also has a popular children’s program called Coaster Kidz. The program hosts several youth camps throughout the year with focuses on acting, singing and dancing.

Tickets and season subscriptions are now on sale for the 2019 season opening with Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike on February 1. One feature that hasn't changed? It’s still a great place to take a date. Give the box office a call at (503) 436-1242.

Crushing those Coastal Calories

Crab legs swimming in butter, saltwater taffy galore, ice cream at every corner and gulping microbrews like there’s no tomorrow. Yup, you’ve probably racked up a few coastal calories during your Pacific Northwest getaway. I’ve always held the belief that calories don’t really count on vacation. But if you’re looking to burn a few, hop on a pedal-powered railroad cycle from Oregon Coast Railriders in Bay City. It’s a great way to cruise the Northern Oregon Coast, view some stellar scenery and work off the creamy clam chowder, deep-fried cheese curds and marionberry pie you had for lunch.  

You’ll self-pedal the way through a variety of breathtaking landscapes during the two-hour, round-trip workout from Bay City to Tillamook. The four-seated railroad bicycles travel along an interactive portion of the Port of Tillamook Bay Rail Road for a 12-mile outdoor excursion. It's a favorite among cyclists, history buffs, railroad enthusiasts, birdwatchers and nature lovers. Make sure to bring your camera, because there are photo opportunities at every turn. 

Reservations are recommended during the summer’s peak season. Each trip can accommodate up to 38 people and includes two guides. Oregon Coast Railriders is open seasonally. If you’re currently on the coast, then it's all the more reason to return for a visit in May when they reopen! After all, there are worse things, and another trip to the Pacific Northwest is never one of them. For more information about Oregon Coast Railriders, call (541) 786-6165.

Like I said, boredom is uncommon here on the Northern Oregon Coast. And for even more adventures, make sure to check our Daytime EventsNightlife and Community Events listings. 

About the Author Ann Powers
Ann Powers is a reporter and writer who has lived and worked on the Oregon Coast. She is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin - Madison and currently working on her master's degree in multimedia journalism at the University of Oregon's Portland campus. Originally from Wisconsin, she now calls Oregon home, describing it as, "the Midwest of the Pacific Northwest," due to its dairy-state status, beautiful environment and friendly people.