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7 Best Things to Do in Tillamook, Oregon (A Visitor’s Guide)

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We've traveled extensively along the Oregon Coast—on more than one road trip. Tillamook, Oregon, was a great place to stop and spend some time, so it's well worth a detailed post that will help you get a taste of the area.

And in this case, that includes tasting the awesome locally-produced cheese and ice cream!

Best Things To Do In Tillamook, Oregon (A Visitor’s Guide)

Here are the top 7 things to do and see in Tillamook, Oregon:

  1. Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint
  2. Cape Meares National Wildlife Refuge
  3. Munson Creek Falls State Natural Site
  4. Tillamook Forest Center
  5. Tillamook Air Museum
  6. Tillamook County Pioneer Museum
  7. The Tillamook Creamery (Yummy!)

Keep reading for more detailed information on these attractions, including their cost, hours of operation, and links to their websites, if applicable.

In addition, I have included a list of the best places to stay while enjoying the top things to do in Tillamook at the end of this post. This post is part of a series of posts about various places along the Oregon coast, so if you're planning a vacation there, stay tuned for more!

If you're heading further south, don't miss our article on things to do in Gold Beach, Oregon, for more great suggestions.

1. Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint

Surrounded by the Cape Meares National Wildlife Refuge (#2 on this list), this park houses the Cape Meares Lighthouse. It also has the Sallie Jacobson Interpretive Kiosk and interpretive panels from key viewpoints.

The Cape’s location 200 feet above the ocean provides visitors with a beautiful view. From this location, you can see colonies of nesting sea birds, and many visitors have been able to spot bald eagles and peregrine falcons. In the summer, you could get lucky and spot resident whales, seals, and sea lions.

Pacific Ocean coastline south of Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint
Pacific Ocean coastline south of Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint | Photo by Rick Obst

Constructed in 1889, the Cape Meares Lighthouse stands 38 feet tall. It has the honor of being the shortest lighthouse in Oregon, but thanks to its location, it didn’t need to be any taller. From 1890 until 1963, the lighthouse was used to help keep ocean vessels from hitting the cliffs.

The Lighthouse is open to the public from April to October for no cost. It opens at 11 a.m. and closes at 4 p.m. daily, with tours available throughout. For more information on the lighthouse, you can check out this website.

The park is free and open from 7 am to dusk daily. You can check the website if you want more information about the park’s history or park advisories for when you plan to travel.

2. Cape Meares National Wildlife Refuge

This wildlife refuge consists of almost 140 acres of forest and offers scenic views. It features beautiful vertical coastal cliffs, rocky outcroppings, rolling headlands, and centuries-old Sitka Spruce and Western Hemlock trees. Oh, and there is a lot of wildlife to be viewed!

Cape Meares National Wildlife Refuge

Due to its unique location, Cape Meares provides visitors with panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean. One of its claims to fame is that from here, you can see two other refugees—the only place in the United States where this is possible!

If you enjoy hiking, visitors recommend several trails for viewing the old-growth forest and wildlife. The Cape Meares Scenic Trail is just under a mile long and moderately difficult.

The Sitka Spruce Trail is less than a quarter mile long and is an easy trail; visitors warn that the honk you hear on the trail is natural.

Wildlife Viewing

Now for the wildlife, you can view! You could be lucky enough to spot migrating Gray Whales from the headland. In addition, you can view harbor seals and sea lions.

You could encounter many different species of land-based animals. While rarely seen, black bears, black-tailed deer, and Roosevelt elk live in the refuge.

Many smaller animals can be seen while exploring the forests. This includes rodents, moles, and shrews. You can find different species of salamanders and frogs along the many bogs and marshes.

If birds are your thing, this is the place for you. There are many different species of nesting seabirds found along the cliffs.

These include Bald Eagles, common murres, pigeon guillemots, pelagic cormorants, black oystercatchers, and many other threatened species. The refuge also boasts a pair of peregrine falcons, formerly on the endangered species list.

Must-See Trees

The Champion Spruce, the state’s largest Sitka Spruce, measures over 144 feet tall and has a circumference of 48 feet. The crown, or top branches of the tree, spreads over 93 feet! It is estimated that this beast of a tree is somewhere between 750 and 800 years old.

The Octopus Tree is a huge Sitka spruce appropriately named due to the numerous branches growing out like tentacles. The base of the tree is 50 feet around, and the branches extend over 15 feet from it. Once they start stretching toward the sky, they measure over 100 feet high.

The refuge is free to visit and stays open year-round. A gate controls access, which opens at sunrise and closes at sunset. There is no visitor center, but you can find more information on their website.

3. Munson Creek Falls State Natural Site

This park is home to not only Munson Creek Falls but also ancient western red cedar and Sitka spruce trees. Encompassing over 62 acres, it is considered a paradise for photography enthusiasts, especially during the fall when the leaves change colors.

Munson Creek Falls in Tillamook County, Oregon
Munson Creek Falls in Tillamook County, Oregon | Photo by Rick Obst

Munson Creek Falls is one of Oregon’s largest waterfalls and the tallest in the Coast Range, with a dramatic 319-foot drop. The hike to reach the falls is moderate, but people say it is accessible to anyone who wants to see the falls.

The lower trail is only a half-mile walk to the base of the falls, and a perfect little picnic area is available to take in the view. The upper trail is more difficult but gives hikers amazing views of wildlife, foliage and a cool view of the falls from the summit.

Previous visitors warn that there is no restroom available at this park, so plan ahead! The park is free to enter and is open year-round. While the information is not very detailed, you can check out the Oregon State Parks page for this park here.

4. Tillamook Forest Center

Considered the Coast Range retreat, this education and recreation center is a must-see in Tillamook. Focused on experience and exploration, the Forest Center showcases the legacy of the historic Tillamook Burn, Oregon’s forest history, and a monumental reforestation effort.

Taylor Studios fabricated a variety of exhibits for Tillamook Forest Interpretive Center. This includes a replica forest (shown here) illustrating five phases of forest development in succession.
Taylor Studios fabricated various exhibits for Tillamook Forest Interpretive Center, including a replica forest (shown here) illustrating five phases of forest development in succession. | Photo by Taylor Studios, Inc.

At each end of the center, 40-foot-tall replicas of forest fire lookout towers are erected. These towers are climbable and offer an amazing view of the center. In addition, a 250-foot-long suspension bridge crosses the center and ends at the Wilson River Trail.

Many interactive exhibits focus on the past, present, and future of Tillamook State Forest. Friendly and knowledgeable forest guides are present to answer questions and help visitors get the most from their visit.

People suggest you plan so you can enjoy your visit to the fullest. For example, if you want to explore the area around the center, you should dress for the weather and hike in the forest.

You should have good, sturdy shoes, a rain jacket if necessary, and insect repellant. You should also bring a water bottle, snacks, and sunscreen.

Admission and parking are free to visitors. The hours change with the seasons, so check their website for information about when you will be in the area. Oh, and to warn you, this area has no cellular phone coverage.

5. Tillamook Air Museum

Tillamook Air Museum in Tillamook, Oregon, USA
Tillamook Air Museum in Tillamook, Oregon, USA | Photo by Rick Obst

The Tillamook Air Museum offers visitors a chance to explore wartime and aviation-themed artifacts from World War II to the present day. These include rare WWII medals, gear, photos, documents, and uniforms.

It is housed within Hangar B, which was built in August 1943 during World War II to defend the West Coast.

It was constructed to house eight K-Class airships and blimps built to patrol and house anti-submarine warfare operations. Decommissioned in 1948, the former Naval Air Station is the perfect location for the museum.

Tillamook Air Museum Veterans Day 2016 PZL-Mielec Lim-6 front
Tillamook Air Museum PZL-Mielec Lim-6 | Photo by Articseahorse

The museum has a theater that allows visitors to view the history of Hangars A and B. The theater also explains how Tillamook, and more specifically, the Naval Air Station, was vital to the defense of the Pacific Northwest after Pearl Harbor.

On display are many different engines, some dating back to the early days of aviation. The collection includes engines from the 1920s through the 1950s.

The Helium Room has remained untouched and allows visitors to glimpse into the running of the air station during this historic part of US history. Here, you can learn about the tools and machines integral to the functioning of the airships.

Many other exhibits help visitors get a real glimpse into life during World War II. The Anderson Air Raid Shelter Exhibit is a walk-thru experience of life in a British shelter during the “Blitz.” In addition, there is an army tent exhibit, a WWII diorama, and artifacts from an SB2C Helldiver crash.

The Museum is open to the public Wednesday through Sunday from 10 am to 4 pm. Admission for adults is $10.50, and for young people ages 7 to 16, it is $7.25. You can check their website for a more detailed breakdown of admission prices.

6. Tillamook County Pioneer Museum

Founded in 1935, this museum has 19 different display areas focusing on the history of the North Oregon Coast.

This history includes prehistoric specimens, the Tillamook Indians, and Captain Gray, as well as current exhibits about the coast. There are also temporary exhibits on display throughout the year.

The Museum has a library that gives visitors a different look into the county’s past. People visit this library for genealogical information, including obituaries, unpublished family books, cemetery and baptismal records, and many other items helpful in researching ancestry. In addition, you can peruse transcribed oral histories and magazines.

The Museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 am to 4 pm and closed on major holidays. Admission is $4 for adults, $1 for students, and children under 10 are free. You can go to their website for more detailed information, including the address.

7. Tillamook Creamery

Perhaps the tastiest part of visiting Tillamook is the functioning creamery, which allows visitors to come in and learn all about Tillamook products. This creamery churns out more than 160,000 pounds of cheese every day!

Tillamook Creamery

This self-guided tour has interactive kiosks, viewing windows, videos, and other stops. The tour ends with an opportunity to sample the products you watch being made. 

In addition to touring the facility, there is a farm exhibit. This exhibit gives you a glimpse of what life is like on a farm and what goes into keeping cows healthy so that they can produce the milk necessary for all the products made at the creamery.

After all that learning, you can check out the dining hall, which features an ice cream counter, yogurt bar, and espresso counter. The chef-crafted menu utilizes Tillamook products made within the creamery.

Before you leave, you can shop at the Tillamook store. Here, you can buy products from the creamery and apparel. They also have Oregon-made kitchen staples so that you can bring home unique gifts and goodies.

The Creamery is open year-round, but the hours change depending on the day and season. For detailed information about when you can visit, go to their website.

Where to stay in Tillamook, Oregon

If you are lucky enough to stay more than a day in Tillamook, these are my suggestions on where to stay. I have included links to the locations; they are from my favorite place to make reservations, www.booking.com.

The Ashley Inn of Tillamook The Inn is centrally located and has a spa. It is the best-rated hotel in the area and if you are traveling with a furry friend, this location is pet-friendly.

Shilo Inn Suites Tillamook: If you want something more romantic, this is the place for you. There is an indoor swimming pool and hot tub, a restaurant with a full bar on site, and is highly recommended by couples.

How long should you spend in Tillamook?

Tillamook is a great stop along the coast - but how long should you allocate to the visit? That depends on your overall itinerary, of course.

If you're traveling along the coast looking for stops, you could spend an hour at the creamery, enjoy sampling the cheeses and ice cream, and move on. That's what we did on our first trip to the area.

If you find any of the attractions mentioned here interesting, you could try to allocate half a day to exploring this Oregon location.

Finally, you could center your Oregon Coast vacation around this coast area, wherein Tillamook could take up to 2 to 3 days of slow-paced exploration.

I hope you found this guide useful. If you've visited Tillamook or you live in the area, leave me a comment and let me know if there's anything else you think we should add to this post!

For more fun activities in Oregon, explore our guide on 12 fun things to do in Eugene, Oregon.

Best Things to do in Tillamook, Oregon (A Visitor's Guide)

 
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