Cannon Beach is a small town on the Oregon coast, but it's got a big reputation. And yes, there's an actual cannon.
Part of the Lewis and Clark Expedition visited what became Cannon Beach in 1805-1806, and a settlement called Elk Creek grew there in the mid-1800s. In 1922, the community was renamed Cannon Beach after a U.S. Navy ship's cannon that had washed up on the shore in 1846. The actual cannon is on display in a city museum, with a replica perched near the coastal highway.
Today, Cannon Beach is known for its art galleries, fine restaurants, boutique hotels, and beautiful beaches. The iconic Haystack Rock – a National Wildlife Refuge – juts out of the ocean very close to shore, and at low tide the tide pools around its base are otherworldly. Nearby, Ecola State Park offers spectacular hiking and views overlooking the Pacific.
From Portland to Cannon Beach is almost a straight shot to the west and only a 90-minute drive – so it's easy to understand why so many Portlanders head for Cannon Beach when they want a coastal escape. Lots of city dwellers have vacation homes in Cannon Beach, too, so if you're planning to stay at the coast for a few days you can look into renting a house or apartment instead of a hotel.