Snow on the coast near Haystack Rock.

If you’ve never visited the Oregon Coast in the December, you’re missing out on one of the best times of year. Some call it the “off” season, however, the magic here truly has no off-season.  Between holiday celebrations, whale watching adventures, and (of course) those spectacular winter storms, December is the perfect time to get a real understanding and grow a true appreciation for the changes in weather that this area experiences through the winter months, while getting to enjoy the local events that exude holiday spirit.

How to Experience the Oregon Coast in December

1. Attend Haystack Holidays

Haystack Holidays is a must-see in Cannon Beach. The festival usually runs from mid-November through December and features a variety of activities and events. Special highlights include Mimosa Madness (Cannon Beach’s version of Black Friday), a traditional Lamp Lighting Ceremony, and the annual Christmas concert. For more information regarding the Haystack Holidays festivities, check out the official schedule

2. Ride the Candy Cane Express

The Candy Cane Express is a historic steam locomotive that offers incredible views of the Oregon Coast in December. While traveling from Garibaldi to Rockaway, passengers can sip hot chocolate, munch on Christmas cookies, and even enjoy a visit with Santa. The excursion runs Saturdays and Sundays in December, and you’ll want to guarantee your spot by reserving in advance.

3. See Santa at the Station

Traveling with kids? Take them to see Santa Claus at the fire station in Rockaway Beach or in Manzanita during the Holiday Bazaar. Little ones will have the chance to tell Santa what they’re wishing for this year. Cookies, cocoa, and coffee are available, and there will be plenty of photo opportunities for everyone!

4.The Daring Polar Bear Plunge

Are you courageous enough to brave the chilling winter waters on the Oregon Coast? Consider tackling the Polar Bear Plunge, a local tradition. On New Year’s Day, participants of all ages meet at the south end of Arch Cape, or directly on Manzanita Beach, and run into the frigid waves of the Pacific – no matter what the weather. Brrrr! Looking for more details? The time of the Polar Plunge changes based on the tides each year. Check our Facebook page as we’ll post more information about the event as soon as it is announced!

5. Whale Watch

Whale watching is a bucket list activity for many. Each year, roughly 18,000 whales pass along the coast during Whale Watch Week (the week between Christmas and New Years) on their journey south. Specially trained volunteers are stationed at several whale watching sites, including Ecola State Park, Cape Meares and Neahkahnie Mountain, to answer any questions you may have and help you spot these majestic creatures in their natural habitat.

6. Embrace the Stormy Season

There is nothing quite like hearing the waves of the Pacific crash as the coastal winds answer back. The Oregon Coast is famous for its wild winter storms (just watch this YouTube video) and when you stay with us, you’ll have a front row seat. It’s a great way to experience the power of nature. Cozy up with a bottle of locally crafted wine, turn off the TV, and listen to nature from the comfort of one of our luxury homes – you’ll thank us later. 

7. Admire Christmas Lights

Each winter, millions of dazzling lights welcome Santa and his sleigh to the Oregon Coast. Decorated homes light up the sky, and parades, festivals, and tree lighting ceremonies abound. Some of our favorite places to see the lights include:

  • Cannon Beach in Lights
  • Cannon Beach Lamp Lighting Ceremony
  • Seaside Festival of Trees
  • Seaside Holiday Parade of Lights
  • Rockaway Beach Holiday Gift Fair
  • Rockaway Beach Tree Lighting Ceremony

For event details, read our blog.

Book Your Stay with Starfish Vacation Rentals

Santo Cristos Twinkling lights at night
Now that you know how to experience the Oregon Coast in December, it’s time to start planning your trip! Our winter vacation rentals in Manzanita, Arch Cape, Rockaway Beach, and Cannon Beach have everything you need for a memorable getaway. We even offer vacation specials and direct booking on our website to help you get the best price on your lodging! All you have to do is check our availability and make your reservations today. We look forward to celebrating the holidays with you!

Wondering what it’s like to stay with Starfish Vacation Rentals? Check out our guest services.