Rarely does the name Gearhart come up in discussions of Oregon Coast trips. Long overshadowed by well-known locations like Astoria, Seaside, or Cannon Beach, and southward towns such as Manzanita, Pacific City, and Coos Bay, the tiny, serene town of Gearhart is such a well-kept secret that to most ears, the name sounds like that of a tool or auto company.
It is, in fact, a gorgeous hidden gem, and on a recent visit with my sister, Gearhart provided a lovely dose of solace and seclusion, with easy access to popular nearby beaches and activities.
Saturday midday. After a late start, our first destination was a one-bedroom cottage at the Drifthaven at Gearhart, an Instagram find from Foodie Snitch that looked irresistibly cute and cozy. It did not disappoint: once we were greeted with warm rum coffee, it was hard to leave the fireplace and head back out into the misty weather. We wandered outside along Pacific Way, the main drag, past the local bakery, minimart, Dairy Queen, and bowling alley.
Saturday afternoon. We made the 20-minute drive to Cannon Beach to check out Haystack Rock and grab some seafood to cook. On the way back to the cottage, I was truck by Gearhart's quaintness. At under two square miles, with a population of under 2,000 people and no grocery store, locals and tourists alike spend their time either in their beach homes, along Pacific Way, or golfing at the course that bills itself as the oldest west of the Mississippi River, Gearhart Golf Links.
Saturday evening. After homemade crabcakes and wine, we sunk too deep into the couch to make the trek across the street to lounge on the patio at Good Times, a new all-day counter-service eatery offering options like shakshuka and pork belly arancini and oysters, as well as a variety of wines. I'll dine there next time. Despite two beds, my night comfortably ended downstairs on the couch.
Sunday morning. On a morning run, I checked out Gearhart’s beach. Once the sand hit my feet, I understood the allure. There were only a handful of souls sharing the sand with me, all taking in the gray-but-wondrous morning. Along the way, I dodged countless crabs that washed up to their final resting places.
Sunday brunch. Unfortunately, everyone else's Sunday morning plan was also mine. The line at Pacific Way Café was almost out the door. I took one last look at the flaky croissants behind the counter before heading a few hundred feet to By the Way, a quirky gift shop I'd passed on my earlier run that carries art, books, clothes, kitchen gear, even a coffee counter. We sipped and chatted for an hour.
Sunday midday. Goodbye, Gearhart! It was time to leave our cottage and head to our next adventure, but not without a trip back to the beach. (Who can resist an empty beach?) We took photos and Facetimed our parents, letting them know that we'd found the perfect destination for a quiet adventure. On the way out, we took our talents to Bell Bouy of Seaside—a family-owned restaurant that doubles as a seafood market, and agreed that the Gearhart's tranquility is well worth the trip.