The thrill is always the same as we turn off of Highway 26 and head south on 101. First, we roll down the windows to feel that initial gust of clean ocean air. Soon, we crest a hill and below us is the majestic Pacific. Fifteen minutes later and we’re in the town of Manzanita, nestled next to Neahkahnie Mountain. It’s cute without being cutesy, and quaint without smacking of the “we’re here just for the tourists” vibe.
We pull into the Inn at Manzanita, just one block from the beach, and the lush grounds and cozy-looking buildings are understated and welcoming. Our room, “The Stargazer”, has an “ocean peek” both from the deck and from inside the room. There is a fireplace, though we hope it doesn’t get so cold we need to use it.
For dinner that first night, we decide to walk across the street to Marzano’s Pizza. The smell of fresh-baked pizza greets us as we open the door. One pizza, one Caesar salad, and one pitcher of Mirror Pond, and we are ready to put our full bellies to bed. The ocean breeze whispers through the skylight, and the sound of the tide lulls us to sleep.
During our vacation, we explore the galleries that line Laneda Avenue… there’s everything from local crafts and jewelry to eco-friendly apparel from around the world. We indulge in rejuvenating spa treatments at Spa Manzanita. We enjoy a meal at Left Coast Siesta and some delicious pastries and lattés from Bread and Ocean. And Friday evening treats us to the local Farmers Market, where locals and tourists crowd the booths to enjoy crepes, smoked salmon, kettle corn, berries, fruit, and freshly cut flowers.
But the real highlight is the beach. While in Manzanita, we return again and again to feel the sand between our toes, gaze out toward the horizon, and breathe in the salt air. The beach, it never gets old. Our last night there we are rewarded with a dramatic sunset, replete with rose-colored clouds and reflected sun glow on the waves. We are reminded of the slogan posted at our hotel, “If you’re lucky enough to be at the beach you’re lucky enough,” and realize how true it really is.