Yes, Tillamook is where you go for cheese tasting, ice cream cones and melty grilled cheese sandwiches any time of year. But there’s much more than just dairy cows here. An hour west of Portland, this lush coastal gateway is a hotspot for fishing, paddling, foraging, camping, hiking and dining with a true sense of place. It’s also a dreamy spot to have a picnic with stunning views of the Pacific Ocean, Haystack Rock and the Little Nestucca watershed, with a short post-meal walk on an accessible trail at the Nestucca Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Need more ideas? Here are several old and new sites to explore on your next trip to Tillamook.
Take to the water
Moonlight paddle, anyone? Kayak Tillamook leads guided trips for visitors of all skill levels through local waterways through October. You can go paddle out to go clamming, learn how to identify local birds and wildlife or just delight in the magical scenery around you. This outfitter and dozens of others are part of the new North Coast Food Trail, which launched in April 2018, spotlighting homegrown places to farm, fish, forage and dine in Tillamook County. If you want to paddle on your own, download a free water trail guide to help plan your trip.
For old time’s sake
Twin Ranch Covered Wagon Camp has been open for tent camping and small camper vans for a while, but new in 2018 is the opportunity to sleep in a covered wagon — complete with your own futon (just bring pillows and blankets or a sleeping bag). Visitors can reserve up to 10 wagons in a group and be circled around a campfire for maximum fun.
A former Naval Air Station during World War II, the Tillamook Air Museum is chock full of several dozen decommissioned aircraft (jets and helicopters too), vintage fire trucks from the 1930s to ‘50s and even a 1917 Heisler locomotive for all ages to enjoy.
Oyster fans can look for the fascinating public tours offered at Whiskey Creek Shellfish Hatchery and Nevor Shellfish Farms — an intriguing mix of science, agriculture and modern food culture. Pick up a dozen fresh to go, pack them on ice and enjoy a feast later. Just two miles south from Nevor is the headquarters of Jacobsen Salt Co., where sea salt from Netarts Bay is harvested, processed and now sold worldwide.
The guides at Tillamook Eco-Adventures offer multiple trips focused on touring local dairylands and exploring area waterfalls, secret vistas, wineries and breweries. There’s even one focused on a search for Sasquatch through the forest.
Treat your tastebuds
If you’ve got exotic taste in beers, you might like De Garde Brewing’s tasting room in downtown Tillamook (age 21 and over), where these brews are wild fermented and aged between three months and three years. Look for the Nelson Hose, a dry-hopped spontaneous wild ale aged in oak barrels with sea salt, coriander and citrus peel.
For fresh-baked bread, raw honey, pasture-raised eggs, local produce and more artisan goods, Food Roots and FarmTable Storefront is open to visitors at its year-round downtown location, as well as at its seasonal farm stand at the Tillamook Farmers Market, June through September.
Cap your trip with a visit to the Tillamook Cheese Factory Visitors Center, which is preparing to debut its new space for cheese sampling, tours and ice cream galore in summer 2018. Until then, they’re still very much open for business in their temporary building in the parking lot. There’s plenty more cheese (and wine) tasting, not to mention a downright tasty clam chowder at Blue Heron French Cheese Company, a mile away.
To book your stay, visit Tillamook Coast’s lodging page for plenty of options.
By Jen Anderson
Photo of Twin Ranch Covered Wagon Camp courtesy of Visit Tillamook Coast