Article Overview: List of the best things to do in Tillamook
As a lifelong local who’s been visiting the Oregon coast for decades, Tillamook stands a mile above the rest in my memories.
Blame in on the world-class ice cream (and cheese) from the city’s namesake creamery if you must, but the Marionberry scoop alone is worth the trek from Portland.
But alas, there’s more to do in Tillamook than eat your weight in ice cream, so let’s cover some of the fun activities worth knowing about before embarking to the coast.
Let’s jump right in.
Best Things To Do In Tillamook | Visiting Tillamook, Oregon
Visit the (Famous) Tillamook Creamery
Let’s kick off this list of the best things to do in Tillamook with a crowd favorite, the Tillamook Creamery.
Touristy? Absolutely. Dare I say, cheesy? You bet! But still 100% worthwhile.
As cliche as it may be, visiting Tillamook Creamery really is one of the best activities in Tillamook (tour the creamery and see for yourself).
Even if learning about this world-renowned cheese isn’t your thing, eating it probably is.
The tour gives you a glimpse of how this top-notch cheese and other dairy products are manufactured, and offers plenty of free cheese samples to enjoy. You’ll also learn about the history of this beloved Oregon company.
As if indulging in the incredibly creamy cheese isn’t enough, the factory also serves their world-famous dairy ice cream. The creamery was recently redesigned, a beautiful architectural experience.
Order a simple scoop on your choice of cone or an entire banana split to yourself—no wrong choices here. Admission is free, so really there is no good reason to skip this interesting Oregon coast staple if you’ve got some time to spare.
Cheese samples and delicious ice cream, is it any wonder why visiting this creamery is one of the best things to do in Tillamook?
Pop into Nevør Shellfish Farm for fresh oysters
Seafood lovers are spoiled for choice at the Oregon coast. Don’t make the mistake of eating burgers while visiting! Instead, make your way to Nevør Shellfish Farm for fresh caught oysters at reasonable prices.
As such, I’d argue that popping by the Nevør Shellfish Farm is one of the best things to do in Tillamook for foodies.
The unassuming shack is easy to drive past if you don’t know to look for it. The hand-written signs on the edge of the parking lot serve as a cue — pop in! Selling oysters by the dozen, this is a great spot in Tillamook Bay worth knowing about.
You’ll have a choice to make: take your oysters to go or get them shucked on site.
You know the drill: unshucked oysters are less expensive but a hell of a lot more effort. If you order the unshucked oysters they’ll be placed in a bag with ice for transport. Doesn’t get fresher than this.
We usually swing by whenever we’re visiting Tillamook and have made a tradition out of picking up two dozen oysters to-go. We eat half raw and make Oysters Rockefeller with the rest.
Splitting oysters and wine while a cozy fire rages on in the background, this has to be one of the most romantic things to do in Tillamook.
Visit the Jacobsen Salt Co.
Jacobsen Salt Co. probably needs no introduction. Anyone that’s ever accidentally spent $120 recreating their favorite $20 restaurant meal has probably purchased some “bespoke” salt from these folks.
Heck, we have a friend that lives in NYC and I swear that guy only cooks like two meals a year. Know what he has in his (tiny) apartment? Jacobsen Salt — yep, this salt is that famous.
Offering interesting flavored salts (like lemon), Jacobsen Salt can typically be found in high-end grocery stores. Well, why not go directly to the source while visiting Tillamook?
Hand-harvested from Netarts Bay, a tiny (tiny!) shack by the sea welcomes 1-2 visitors at a time to gander over a handful of salts on offer. I typically buy the small tin containers ($4-5) and give them out at souvenirs for friends.
Hike Munson Falls
Munson Falls is the largest waterfall in the hills of the Oregon coast range, tumbling a whopping 319 feet down to meet the creek below.
What makes this waterfall even better is that it’s super easy to access: the trail is just a quarter mile.
The hike takes you through an impossibly dreamy old growth forest so green and vibrant it feels Photoshopped.
The forest is grand in every way: massive and ancient Western redcedars, Sitka spruces (including one of the country’s tallest!), and Doug firs frame this towering waterfall, and walking along the trail feeling so small in comparison gives visitors a true sense of how epic nature can be.
The river that the fall flows into is prime habitat for salmon who come here to spawn each year, and the forest itself provides the perfect home for countless bird species, deer, squirrels, and amphibians that you’ll likely see scurrying between ferns and shrubs.
So if you’re in the mood to get your heart pumping, don’t overlook Munson Falls, one of the best active things to do in Tillamook.
Enjoy a Brew at de Garde Brewing
If you’re an avid sour ales fan, make a beeline to de Garde Brewing. Established in 2014, it didn’t take long for locals to acknowledge it one of the best breweries on the Oregon coast.
But don’t just take my word for it — De Garde Brewing is laden with prestigious awards for their velvety concoctions.
And it’s not hard to see why. Offering unforgettable high quality sour ales, creativity is the strong suit at de Garde Brewing. What makes this Oregon coast brewery unusual is the brewing method.
De Garde is one of a few breweries in the world that uses a coolship method to make beer. A coolship is a flat, open top vessel used for cooling wort (liquid extracted from mashing).
As such, the beers are made with natural-forming wild yeasts from the coastal air.
The owners, a husband and wife duo, were blindsided by the instant success. Avid beer enthusiasts travel thousands of miles to try these beers, which is why no list of the best things to do in Tillamook, Oregon is complete without mentioning this gem.
If you’re more of a traditionalist, fret not. De Garde has a rotating menu of six guest taps catering to well-loved styles like lagers, ciders, ales and IPAs. But between you and me, it’d be a shame to miss an opportunity to try the best sour ales at the Oregon coast.
Go Horseback Riding While Visiting Tillamook
When we were kids, my younger sister was obsessed with horses. Full-on “I would leave my family to go live with horses” type of obsessed. I encouraged my parents to call her bluff, but they couldn’t take the risk.
Instead, they surprised us with horse rides at the coast and it was (easily) one of the best memories we share to this day.
If you’re visiting Tillamook with kids in tow, take my word for it — signing up for horseback rides is one of the best things to do in Tillamook for families.
While horseback riding is certainly something that takes a few tries before you start to feel fully comfortable, you don’t need to be a pro by any stretch of the imagination.
The feeling of sitting atop a horse as it slowly treks (okay, randomly gallops…) through the waves is the experience of a lifetime.
Rest assured that the horseback riding companies are extremely professional and highly equipped to keep you and your family safe during your ride.
They even offer miniature horses for small children, and youngsters can also ride with an adult as needed. The horses are well trained and make for the perfect companions to hit the coastal trails with, especially with the stable owners guiding you along the way.
Check out the Octopus Tree
Right on Cape Meares is an especially interesting (and aptly named) Sitka spruce known as the Octopus Tree. The massive branches of this tree have grown into a shape vaguely resembling a multi-legged octopus.
Though there are definitely more than 8 “legs” on this octopus-like tree, the name is a fitting way to describe the twisting, intertwined branches of this unique spruce.
No one really knows why this tree grew in such an interesting formation, but it could have something to do with the strong gusts of wind on the coast, or perhaps a genetic mutation that affected the way its limbs grew.
You can get a 360 view of this leggy giant by walking around the tree on a designated concrete footpath that is accessible to folks of all ages and abilities.
Don’t forget to walk just a little further to check out Cape Meares, a majestic headland with gorgeous views out over the ocean.
Anyway you slice it, checking out the Octopus Tree is one of the most iconic things to do in Tillamook, so don’t skip it.
Explore Cape Meares Lighthouse
Part of the Three Capes Scenic Loop, Cape Meares is home to a lot more than an octopus-shaped spruce tree. The area is noted for having some of the best ocean views on the entire coastline.
On top of being incredibly beautiful, the Cape is teeming with wildlife, native plant life, and a special little lighthouse.
The Cape Meares lighthouse is the shortest one on the coast, but don’t let its stature fool you! The structure houses one of the biggest kerosene-powered Fresnel lenses to ever have been made.
Mariners could see the light from 21 miles away! This small but mighty lighthouse guided seafaring folks safely around the jagged headlands of the Oregon coast and still stands as a testament to the rich historical ties people have long had with the sea.
Open to visitors from April through October, admission to the lighthouse is entirely free.
Afterward, walk a short 0.8 mile path through old growth forest to the Octopus Tree (if you haven’t already), and scope the ocean horizon for signs of spouting Gray whales who are easier to spot from this elevated vantage point.
Also be sure to look around the cliffs below the lighthouse for nesting shorebirds like the funny-looking Brandt’s Cormorants with their wings spread out Titanic-style drying in the sun.
Further Reading: The 11 Iconic Lighthouses at the Oregon Coast (+Interesting History)
Take in the views at Cape Lookout
Another stop on the Three Capes Scenic Route, Cape Lookout is the perfect place to spend a night or a week of nights while in the Tillamook area.
Located on a spit on the Tillamook Bay, exploring Cape Lookout is one of the most adventurous things to do in Tillamook for hikers, beachcombers, campers, and everyone in between.
The list of activities to partake in at this unassuming park seem endless. Hike over 5 miles of intersecting trails that weave between beach and forest.
Comb the beach for interesting shells and agates. Ride ORV’s on the sand (with a permit) and kayak and fish along the water.
Sunbathe or swim in the glistening waves, scan the clear blue skies for shorebirds in flight, or take a guided tour to discover some of the local wildlife living around the Cape.
Drive to the Harker’s Island Visitor’s Center and explore exhibits full of information about the local history and ecology. You can even take your own boat out to some of the small undeveloped islands just off the coast here–a rare experience for sure.
Camping at Cape Lookout
If you’re thinking about camping, Cape Lookout is by far the best place in the area to hunker down. This area is one of the few places left on the coast where you can still tent camp on the sand.
There are multiple campgrounds in the park, some of which are further inland (we get it, camping on the sand on a windy night isn’t our favorite thing either).
If you really want to go all-out, consider reserving one of the “deluxe cabins” at the campground, especially if you’re traveling with folks who need extra accommodations (or just don’t want to set up a tent!).
The cozy cabin vibes you’ll get from these spacious and pet-friendly yurts is unmatched.
Further Reading: 12 EPIC Campgrounds at the Oregon Coast
Hop Aboard the Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad
Make the day even more special by hopping out of the car and onto the rails for a whole new way to experience the area. Riding the scenic railroad is one of the best things to do in Tillamook with kids.
The Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad operates a historic steam locomotive, taking visitors on a peaceful ride through coastal forest and farm country. Operating every day in summer months, this train is a one-of-a-kind experience that seems like an escape to a simpler time.
There’s something charming about squeezing into a rail car, sipping some tea over a good book, and glancing up occasionally to look out over the ocean from the window of a train.
The train rolls along 46 miles of track between Tillamook Bay and the coast range, providing ample travel time for maximum views. This is definitely one of the most unique things to do in Tillamook.
I can almost hear the whistle sounding as the train pulls away from the station, whisking us off on a breathtaking adventure straight out of history and into the scenic heart of Tillamook county. All aboard for some old-fashioned fun, steam train style!
Learn Something New at the Tillamook Forest Center
Whenever I’m headed down the highway toward Tillamook I like to get out and stretch my legs at the Tillamook Forestry Center.
Small enough to wander through in under an hour if you’re short for time, this little side quest won’t take you too far off your route out to the coast. The museum is a fascinating overview of the history of the Tillamook forest and the rest of the coast range.
The Center devotes much of its floor space to informational exhibits about the extensive logging activity that has wiped out much of the old growth forest in the region.
This history, while sometimes difficult to acknowledge, is curated well by Forest Center staff and provides important knowledge on lessons learned as logging has evolved to be a more sustainable undertaking.
The Center does an excellent job of supporting the inevitable human need for tree harvesting while providing an overview of how we can do this responsibly and learn more about the forest we get so much of our commercial products from.
Their exhibits on the wildlife, plants, rivers, and geology of the coast range are wonderful, and we especially enjoy the interactive displays. If you have time, definitely check out the fire lookout right next to the parking lot!
This tower is an example of some of the real-life fire towers set up around the country where people live and watch for wildfires.
Climb up to the small room and imagine living there for months on end. Barely large enough for a single cot and some cookware, the cramped quarters of a traditional fire lookout really puts tiny home living into perspective!
Visiting Tillamook? Eat Your Weight in Seafood
Okay, narrowing down the best of the best food in Tillamook is a tall order. We know that when it comes to people’s taste in food it really is super personal. But hey, we still think it’s helpful to share our faves (that also seem to be the favorites of many of our friends).
If you still have an appetite after scarfing all of the cheesy goodness from the Tillamook Creamery, head out on the town for some mouthwatering seafood.
When in Rome, or in this case, at the beach, right? The Fish Peddler is at the top of our list for a family-friendly fish (and shellfish!) meal.
The clam chowder is perfectly seasoned and is the most comforting meal we can think of after a long day of adventuring along the coast. We also love coming here for their oyster shooters which we know will be consistently fresh and delicious.
Another great spot to check out is Blue Heron French Cheese Company.
You’re probably tired of cheese by now (ha, who are we kidding?) but rest assured that Blue Heron has far more than dairy products. This restaurant offers a robust menu of home-cooked meals that are ridiculously satisfying.
Take home gift boxes of chocolates and — you guessed it, more cheese. Blue Heron also has a petting zoo. Yep, an actual petting zoo. We’re not here to ask questions about why in the world a restaurant/cheese maker also decided to throw in a petting zoo experience, but we’re not here to complain about it either.
Suitable for kids and adults of all ages, this bustling petting zoo has tons of friendly and happy animals, including chickens, donkeys, and even ostriches. Effectively making this one of the best things to do in Tillamook for families with younger kids.
Bonus: Explore the Evergreen Air & Space Museum en route to Tillamook
While crafting this list of the best things to do in Tillamook, I ran some ideas by my younger sister. I told her I wanted to mention the Evergreen Air & Space Museum and while she agreed with decision, she encouraged me to not make my explanation of it nerdy — which removed 80% of my arsenal.
From airplanes to rocket ships, people have been inventing (mostly) genius ways to launch themselves into the sky and through the stars beyond for over a century now.
While many of us have probably experienced flying in a generic airplane, the fast-growing history of engineered flight vessels stretches far beyond commercial airliners.
On the highway out toward Tillamook, Evergreen beckons travelers with its shiny planes parked right out front of the massive museum. Seriously, when we say this place is massive, we mean it: the state-of-the-art glass building isn’t just big enough to fit a plane in–it fits dozens!
In fact, this museum is home to the infamous Spruce Goose, the largest wooden airplane ever constructed. Guests can walk inside of the cockpit of this plane and peer down the entire dizzying length of it.
Beyond this total engineering marvel lie dozens of other planes, rockets, space vessels, and aviation-related artifacts and memorabilia.
You could literally spend hours here learning about the history of flight, admiring the retired aircraft, and even put yourself right in the control center of a rocket launch in a control center simulator.
You don’t need to be a history buff to see that this is one of the best things to do near Tillamook.
Visiting Tillamook, Oregon Best Things To Do In (Post Summary)
In sum, here’s a quick list of the best things to do in Tillamook, Oregon. Hope you enjoyed!
- Visit the (Famous) Tillamook Creamery
- Hike Munson Falls
- Enjoy a Brew at de Garde Brewing
- Visit the Jacobsen Sea Salt Factory
- Pop into Nevør Shellfish Farm for fresh oysters
- Go Horseback Riding While Visiting Tillamook
- Check out the Octopus Tree
- Explore Cape Meares Lighthouse
- Take in the views at Cape Lookout
- Hop Aboard the Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad
- Visit the Evergreen Air & Space Museum
- Visiting Tillamook? Eat Your Weight in Seafood
- Learn something new at the Tillamook Forest Center